Getting Serious: Helping Them with New Arrows

I have been very busy getting out some new books (more on those later), so I kind of fell behind in my posting, so this is the first of a series of three posts on the same topic, in an effort to catch up. Steve

Of all of the minefields in archery equipment, the absolute worst is arrows. Many archers with decades of experience seem not to know the basics of arrow selection and tuning. This is why you will be called upon, often, to help serious new archers in getting new arrows.

New Arrows
When archers become serious about the sport, they are often improving at a rapid pace. Part of that improvement involves draw weight increases and also draw length changes, even if they are not still growing (developing form generally leads to a different draw length). All of these changes will eventually require a different arrow, how different depends on a great many things, things like the student’s budget for archery gear, the student’s competition venues (indoor and outdoor archery have different requirements as do 3-D and target).

When changing from one type of arrow (say aluminum shafted ones) to another type (all carbon or aluminum-carbon) is basically like starting from scratch. There is a long list of information needed to make any arrow purchase. Here’s a list:

  • What kind of bow do you shoot (recurve, compound, longbow)? If it is a compound, what kind of eccentrics are on the bow (high, medium, or low energy)?
  • What is the draw weight of your bow at your draw length? If it is a compound, they want to know the “peak weight.”
  • What is your draw length?
  • What shaft manufacturer do you want your shafts from?
  • What size shaft?
  • What “cut length” for those shafts (how long do you want them to be)?
  • What kind of arrow points do you want installed?
  • What weight of arrow points do you want?
  • What kind and size of nocks do you want?
  • What color nocks do you want?
  • What manufacturer and kind of fletches do you want?
  • What size and color of fletches do you want?

And, if you order wrong, the sellers are under no obligation to take them back. The error is yours, not theirs. This is not an impossible task, but you will need help. Everyone needs help from time to time, even us.

If you have a high quality archery shop in your neighborhood to send your students to, they can solve most of these things for you. They can show them all of their choices and then can build the arrows you need. Be sure to have them take their bow along because some things need to be measured.

They Will Need Help
Even if there is a quality shop nearby, there are still myriad problems. Have you seen how many arrow shaft makers there are? How familiar are you with them?

We have a base set of manufacturers we recommend as we have experience in working with those shafts and can thereby help more effectively. Of course, if a special deal shows up on another brand, those are always worth considering but caution is always needed in that case.

We have an entire process when fitting students for a new bow (Bowfitting) or new arrows (Arrowfitting) which we have written about before. We use a form and fill in all of the information above as we go (not necessarily the colors). This involves measuring their draw length and draw weight, and determining whether these are going to change in the future and by how much.

We do this and encourage our students to get archery catalogs from online retailers, like Lancaster Archery Supply, so they can look things up and educate themselves. They can also go online and check out the retailers there. If you do have a good local shop, we urge you to recommend them, even if they do not have the best prices your students can find scouring the Internet. They have something to offset the best price and that is personal service. You get very little of that, or none, when buying remotely. And, basically, if enough of you do not support your local shop, it will cease to exist and you will not have that option any more. Of course, if they provide poor service and outrageous pricing, they do not deserve your student’s patronage. As coaches when we refer students to shops, we follow up and ask if they felt they were well-served. If not, we stop making recommendations of that shop. We also suggest you go to the shop, if you haven’t already, and introduce yourself and see what they can offer your students. Some shops specialize in serving bowhunters, many fewer specialize in serving target archers, a few try to do both. Many owners are quite cooperative and will work with you to stock a few things commonly needed or to make things easier to order for your students. Some even have specialist employees that you can direct your students to when they visit the shop.

If they cannot manage to get arrows custom made, someone will have to assemble them. You will probably be called upon to do this many times for many students, if you have the skills involved, but we suggest you also teach them how to do this for themselves. It doesn’t require much equipment or skill, just some practice and a few supplies and tools. And they will be able to do repairs for themselves and possibly make their own “new” arrows in the future.

Tuning Them In
Tuning arrows to an archer and his/her bow is making minute adjustments to the arrows so that they perform as well as can be. This is where being able to assemble arrows, at least in part, is very valuable. The most important tuning parameter for any arrows is shaft length. The basic tuning procedure for new arrows involves buying the arrows or shafts full length and then cutting them in stages until they perform as well as can be. We will address that in the next issue.


Filed under For All Coaches

2 responses to “Getting Serious: Helping Them with New Arrows

  1. A great idea would be to ascertain if the archery shop makes many arrows for Olympic Recurve style archers. I have the experience that some shops expect most clients to be hunters and compound archers and have little experience making quality target arrows – or do so without much enthusiasm. Just something to think about.


  2. Yeah, this is a problem. The industry took, mistakenly, that target archer was the weak step-sister of bow hunting. The recent ATA nationwide surveys shows that to be exactly the opposite of what is true. Not only that, but target archers buy more archery gear than do bowhunters (per capita) so they have really been barking up the wrong tree. If you run a youth program, we recommend that you go to your local pro shop, if there is one, and see if you can strike up a relationship to provide better service for your students.

    I stop by pro shops every time I see one and I can tell who there clientele is three steps passed the door.

    Liked by 1 person

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