Updated: Jun 3, 2019
I’m going to take you through a step by step process of arrow building from selecting the right shaft right through testing and building the perfect arrow for your needs.
The first step in getting the perfect arrow is knowing what the end use will be. Are you wanting to shoot small to medium game, large animals, a mixture of both or even just some 3D or target archery?
As with most things in life there is not one arrow that will cover all aspects well. Sure you can use the one arrow for all the above scenarios but it wouldn’t be the best arrow for each one. An arrow that will work best on say big pigs or buffalo won’t be the best for 3D and would certainly be overkill for bunnies. The physical weight, spine and strength for big game can be vastly different than for small game. When I built a set of arrows to take up north for buffalo a few years ago, I used a heavy stiff shaft that I knew would be strong enough to handle those big beasts. They were different to my normal arrows that I use for deer. Likewise I have a completely different setup for target and small game.
When selecting a shaft the most important thing to consider is the spine. The spine is simply a measure of the stiffness of the shaft. Basically it is a measure of how much it bends when pressure is applied to it. Stiffer shafts are needed when you shoot heavier poundage, have a longer draw length or shoot a heavier broadhead. Most arrow companies have some sort of arrow spine chart on their website that you can use to assess which shaft will be right for you. Just make sure you enter your details in correctly and when in doubt it is always better to go a little stiffer in spine when shooting a compound bow with a release aid.
Once you have worked out the spine you need then it’s just a matter of selecting the weight you need. Lighter arrows are generally around 8 grains per inch, medium weight around 10gpi and Heavy 12+gpi. Most good arrow manufacturers will have an arrow in each category so you can get what you need from the one manufacturer if you have a favourite.
The next step is setting it up with regards to inserts, vanes and broadheads. Nowadays there is a great deal of variety when it comes to inserts in regards to weight, material they are made from and even manufacturers. You no longer have to use the inserts that are supplied with the shafts, there are now lots of options available. It is now more prevalent for bowhunters to want to have a larger FOC so heavy inserts seem to be all the rage as well as many wanting a footed shaft as well.