How To Determine Arrow Length – 101 Guide

Jeff
| Last Updated May 24, 2021

Determining the best arrow length for your bow is never easy, especially if you're a beginner.

There are various factors affected by arrow length, such as accuracy, safety, and speed.

With each bow's draw length and weight, you need a different arrow size.

Arrow Length Terminology and Common Concepts

Archery as a sport has many terms and jargon that are often used whether you're buying gear or firing arrows on the range. We'll explain the commonly used terms for arrow length and the concepts behind them.

  • Anchor Point: The point touched by the drawing hand of the archer. Marks where the draw stops.

  • Archer: The person practicing archery.

  • Arrow: A long projectile shot using a bow. Has fletchings, a shaft, and a tip.

  • Arrowhead: The front of the arrow, also known as its head, tip, or point.

  • Arrow Rest: A part used to hold the arrow on the bow, keeping it in place and level until the archer fires.

  • Bow: The tool used in archery to fire arrows, whether for sport or hunting.

  • Broadhead: An arrowhead typically used for hunting with a large sharp blade.

  • Drawing: The act in which an archer pulls back the string of the bow.

  • Draw Length: The measurement of a bow that defines the distance from the nocking area to the throat of the grip, plus 1 ¾".
  • Draw Weight: The amount of force required to draw the bowstring back to its draw length. Measured in pounds.

  • Flex: The amount of bend that an arrow provides. This aspect is in contrast to the spine.

  • Grouping: The collective pattern of shots depicting accuracy.

  • Limbs: The arms of a bow.

  • Nock: The notch at the rear side of an arrow where the bowstring sits.

  • Overdraw: A situation where the bowstring is too short for the bow.

  • Release: Letting an arrow pulled back go, allowing it to fly through the air.
  •  Riser: The middle part of the bow containing the grip, often anchoring the two limbs in place.

  • Shaft: The central portion or body of an arrow.

  • Shelf: The spot where the arrow rests on the bow while aiming.

  • Spine: Contrasting to the flex of an arrow, this represents the stiffness of an arrow.

  • Wingspan: Same measurement as your height in inches

How to Determine Proper Arrow Length

Determining the proper arrow length for your bow is an easy way to improve your skill at archery. Additionally, measuring for the ideal length will ensure that you don't use any short arrows and accidentally harm yourself. Properly sized arrows are more comfortable to fire and more accurate. 

These methods are used for target points and should get slightly increased if you're using hunting tips. This adjustment is quickly made by adding the tip's length to your measurement.

Photo credit: plugeek.com

Beginner Arrow Length Using a Longer Arrow

This method requires an assistant to mark off the ideal arrow length. Additionally, you'll need a marker, an extra-long arrow that's at least 3 inches more than your reach, and a bow with light draw weight.

Begin by holding out the arrow with the nock placed on your chest and the furthest part between your outstretched arms and hands. Ensure that you have at least 3 inches from the tip to your fingers. 

Take your bow and draw the arrow until it's under your chin or in the anchor position. For the best effect, you must ensure that you have the correct posture and technique. Hold this position until after your assistant has marked the arrow.

Your assistant needs to mark the arrow where it meets the riser. This distance ensures that you won't overdraw your arrow.

Beginner Arrow Length Using a Measure

This alternative method is similar to the previous one but requires only an assistant and a tape measure. You don't need an arrow to measure against. A compound bow's archer will have a different anchor position depending on the release mechanism.

Without holding a bow or anything, take the correct stance and technique for drawing your bow back fully. Grip the end of the tape measure and have your assistant pull it until it reaches your bow hand. It's important to pinch the tape as though you were gripping an arrow.

Loosely outstretch your hand and measure until the end of your thumb. Once you've reached this measurement, you'll need to add one inch to account for the riser of a bow. 

Finding What's Comfortable

Once you have an arrow size that fires and draws easily, you may want to adjust it until it matches your needs, especially if you're focusing on accuracy or speed. However, there are important issues to note before changing your arrow size. Additionally, you'll need to measure your arrow size correctly. 

These changes are small ones you'll need to observe and experiment with to find the ideal sizing.

Photo credit: muskethunting.com

How Arrow Length Impacts Your Shots

Arrow length plays a vital role every time you fire your bow. A poor length choice will harm your accuracy, speed, and potentially yourself or others. 

Accuracy

A longer arrow both groups better with your shots and is more accurate when shot, due to its weight and response to the air as it travels. A smaller arrow is faster for this reason; however, this speed sacrifices some accuracy. . If you're competing in a speed-based event, you'll notice the difference in speed when using shorter arrows.

Speed

The flexibility of an arrow changes with its length since longer arrows are more flexible. The stability of an arrow changes as well with size due to this flexibility. As the arrow flies through the air, it will move and flex in response to the wind. 

Credit: wired.com

Increased resistance due to flex will decrease an arrow's speed. However, the flexibility allows it to stay on target as it's shot. 

Safety

An arrow that is too short is extremely dangerous, resulting in serious injuries. As you draw back your bow and the arrow falls off its rest, the tip will typically point into your hand. If you fire the bow like this, you'll impale the arrow through your arm.

Should the arrow not harm you, it might hit someone else as it won’t fly remotely near where you aimed. Using an arrow that's too short may be lethal in some circumstances and should be avoided.

Common Arrow Lengths

There are many standard arrow sizes you can buy in-store or online. While this lacks the customizability of finding your optimized length, it is an excellent guide for beginner archers. 

Additionally, using standard arrows is a great starting point for figuring out your ideal size.

The most crucial aspect of any arrow length is to ensure it fits correctly on your bow at the draw.

Photo credit: astraightarrow.net

Recurve Bows

Arrows that are 30 inches in length can typically be used for almost any bow as the size is prevalent. The ability to purchase these almost anywhere makes them an excellent tool for any beginner archer. As these pieces are easily replaced, you can afford to make mistakes as you improve your accuracy.

Overall, the arrows are long and will accommodate most bows with plenty of lengths to spare. However, these often see use on recurve bows due to their extra size.

Compound Bows

27-inch arrows are used for a wide variety of bows with different draw weights and lengths. The arrows are generally seen used on bows with a draw length between 26 inches and 29 inches. However, if you're using the arrow on longer draw lengths, you need to be cautious to prevent the tip from passing the bow's rest.

Longbows

As longbows vary in size and draw length, there are no set sizes suitable for these bows. However, a 30-inch arrow will typically work with room to spare on almost any bow, including longbows.

Arrow Length vs Arrow Size—What's the Difference?

While many mistake arrow length and arrow size as the same measurement, they are two separate elements. 

Arrow Length

Arrow length refers to the shaft of an arrow. Arrow length is determined by the distance between the backside of the point and the throat of the nock. The measurement that's right for you depends on both draw weight and draw length.

The arrow length affects your flex and spine, determining the speed and accuracy of the arrow. Additionally, you need to change the size of your arrow based on the bow you use.

Arrow Size

Arrow size refers to the stiffness or spine of an arrow. Arrow size plays an impact on the weight and speed of an arrow. Poor arrow sizing will result in inconsistent grouping and lower accuracy. Choosing the best arrow size is more complex than finding an arrow length you prefer to use.

Conclusion 

Knowing how to determine the best arrow length for your needs is essential to any archer. You can use commonly picked arrow lengths without this skill but may lose minor accuracy or potentially hurt yourself. 

This aspect is a crucial part of archery and will impact how you shoot and where your arrows land. Fortunately, keeping in mind this article next time you're shopping will help simplify the process.

People Also Ask

Determining your arrow sizes for different draw lengths and determining how long and short arrows affect your aim are common questions. In this section, we answer whether size impacts speed or accuracy and the risk of having too short an arrow. 

Are Longer Arrows More Accurate?

A longer arrow offers more stability in flight, making it slightly more accurate. A shorter arrow has a stiffer spine that affects how it reacts as it flies through the air. The weaker spine of a longer arrow is more flexible. This difference plays a minor part. However, with consistent arrows, you can achieve consistent results.

Do Shorter Arrows Fly Faster?

Shorter arrows are generally constructed to be lighter and stiffer than their lengthier counterparts. This weight change allows it to travel both further and faster than a longer arrow. The stiffer the arrow, the faster it flies as the wind resistance affects it less, providing the additional speed.

What Might Happen If An Arrow Is Too Short For the Bow?

A short arrow that doesn't match your bow is impractical and dangerous. If you accidentally release the arrow after drawing it too far back, you risk firing it into your hand or arm.

Additionally, your draw length is limited by your arrows, reducing the effectiveness of the bow.

How Long Should My Arrows Be For a 29 Inch Draw?

When picking your arrows for a bow with a 29-inch draw length, you want at least 0.5' to 1.5' additional size past the bow's rest. This added length ensures you don't draw the arrow too far back and helps protect your hand if you're firing broadheads. As such, it's common for 27.5" arrows to see use with a 29-inch draw bow.

How Long Should My Arrows Be For a 27 Inch Draw?

As the ideal arrow length places 0.5' to 1.5' clearance past the rest at full draw, the best arrow for your bow is easily measured. For the most part, this is a preference and should get measured in a store. However, the typical arrow size for a bow with a 27-inch draw length is between 25' and 28'.

How Long Should My Arrows Be For a 26 Inch Draw?

Commonly, 25 to 27-inch arrows are used on a bow with a draw length of 26 inches. This length provides enough clearance and comfort for archers when aiming. However, for the best result, you should measure an arrow and mark off 0.5' to 1.5' after the rest from a full draw.

Is Arrow Length Different For a Beginner?

As a beginner, your arrow size will be more generalized until you find an option that's comfortable. The easiest way to find the ideal length as a beginner requires a tape measure and someone to assist you. 

Pinch the tape as though you were drawing back your bow and point your other arm outwards. The distance from where you draw to the print of your fingers is the ideal length for a beginner.

Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.