Choosing the Correct Arrow Length: A Quick Guide To Measuring and Cutting Your Own Arrows
- 26 Oct, 2016
Choosing the correct arrow length is one of the many difficult choices required of archers and hunters in the vast modern world of archery and bowhunting. In this article we will discuss the fundamentals of selecting the correct arrow length and how to measure & cut your own arrows to that length. Here are the 4 basic considerations to keep in mind:
- Draw Length
- Measuring the Arrow
- Making the Cut
1. Draw Length
The first step in selecting the correct arrow length is determining your draw length. Unlike longbows or recurves that can be practically drawn back to any length, compound bows have a determined draw length (28”, 29”, 30”, etc.). This refers to the idea that when the bow is pulled all the way back until it “locks” into place, so to speak; this means you are at the set draw length of the bow. The most basic way of selecting your draw length is to measure your arm span and divide it by 2.5.
Here is a helpful visual:
Notice from the image that you do not need to fully extend your arms to the point that you feel like you are stretching. Have someone measure the distance between the tip of your middle finger and other middle finger and divide by 2.5. This will give you an adequate draw length to which you can now set your compound bow.
2. Measuring the Arrow
Now that you have determined your draw length, you can measure your arrows. If you visit your local bait shop, they will be able to help you select the correct arrow length, but you can also do it yourself if you already have some arrows. I find it helpful and reassuring to do it myself just to ensure the comfort of the determined arrow length. To accomplish this you will have to recruit a helper; I typically offer some jerky in return for the help. :) Now that you have your happy helper, simply nock an arrow and draw your bow back to the set draw length. Have your helper stand on the side of you with a marker and mark between ¾” to 1” forward of the rest. Now you can take the arrow using a measuring tape or ruler to determine the needed length of your arrows. Properly measuring the arrow is important; ensure that you measure from the front of the nock (where the bow string comes in contact with the nock) to the mark made on the arrow. This will give you an adequate arrow length. Keep in mind the type of broadheads or field tips you are using as well to make sure you leave enough clearance for them to operate properly and safely.
This is a helpful illustration:
3. Making the Cut
Now that you have your arrows measured it is time to cut them! Cutting your arrows correctly is very important and should be done using a high-speed cutoff saw. A rotary tool paired with the right abrasive wheel will get the job done too. Avoid using a hacksaw as this will likely result in fragments of carbon. I like to bring my arrows to a local bait shop to have them cut; I hope to get my own arrow cutting saw soon though! If you do decide to cut your own arrows ensure that you rotate the arrow as you are cutting to create the smoothest cut possible.
An arrow can inflict serious injury, so it is critical that when selecting the correct arrow length you do not cut too short of an arrow. Too short of an arrow can result in the arrow falling off of the bow’s rest leaving the shooter in a vulnerable position of shooting their forearm or hand. In order to prevent this always ensure you leave enough length on your arrows the first time around. You can always shorten your arrows in the future. I find that measuring twice and cutting once is always your best bet!
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