Parts of an Arrow – What You Need To Know

The aim of this article is to teach you more about the arrows that you shoot from your bow. Many people don’t think about the arrow but understanding the different parts of an arrow is just as important as knowing about your bow.

The 4 Parts of An Arrow

Parts of An Arrow


Understandably the tip is the most dangerous part, although you can cause some pretty bad injuries with the other side too! There are several different types of arrowheads, each one aimed at different types of archery and for different uses. Field tips are the ones that are used in target archery, whilst broadheads are used in hunting.

If you are just learning then you would be wanting to use a field tip and more often than not the bullet tips, these are also the best when using an archery target.


The shaft is the largest part of the arrow, you may initial think it’s just there for length but the shaft plays an important role. If you are using an arrow with the wrong shaft, you will find that it impacts on your accuracy. When you look at the arrow you need to think about two important things, the weight and spine deflection/tolerance.

Arrow shaft

Typically shafts are made from 4 different types of material;

  • Aluminum
  • Carbon
  • Wood
  • Fiberglass

Fiberglass is typically the cheapest type of arrows that can be purchased, these are often what are used in Youth Archery Sets.

Wood shafts are what you will usually find traditional archers use, or those that are taking part in some form of reenactment. Aluminum shafts tend to be a lot more durable and more affordable than carbon, however carbon has less weight so often down to person preference. There are shafts that come in a carbon-aluminum blend.

There are 4 important things to consider about the shaft when choosing an arrow;

Weight – If the shaft is lighter then it will get to the target quicker and therefore it has less movement mid flight. At the same time the more weight, results in the strength of the hit when its reached the intended targeted. This does tend to be down to personal preference, as well as intended use.

Spine – The spine is the measurement of how flexible the shaft is, also known as the stiffness. When we shoot the arrows, they do have a degree of flexing which can impact on how accurate your shot is. Spine is not easy to calculate, however most will advise on what draw weight should be used to shoot that specific arrow.

Diameter – The standard diameter is 5/16” and 9/32”, you can get thinner ones and this can often improve penetration.

Thickness of Shaft Wall – the thickness of the walls within the shaft, this impacts the weight and the spine.


The fletching is at the end of the arrow and is made from either feathers or plastic. Plastic are more common as they are not as expensive and more durable, even more so if shooting outside in poor weather. Feather fletching are more popular in traditional archery and those that do reenactments.

The fletching is made up of 3 vanes, you will see that two are the same color and the 3rd is a different color. The one on its own is often known as the cock feather, whilst the other two are called the Hens.

When you nock the arrow onto the bowstring you use the vanes to determine which way round the arrow goes. The Cock feather/vane should be facing away from the bow, this prevents the vanes hitting the arrow rest as it leaves your bow.

The fletching is also used to put a bit of spin on the arrow and produce drag, which helps to improve the accuracy and the stability whilst in the air. More often than not when you purchase arrows, you can select the color of the vanes and they will be attached. As you can more advanced, you can start to make your own with a fletching jig.

The Nock

At the end of the bow you will see a plastic tip, this is known as the nock. It is this that connects to the bowstring and holds it in place. They do come in different size, if you use the wrong one then you could find your accuracy being off.

If the nock is not the right size then you can find the arrow simply slipping off the bowstring, if its too tight then it won’t come off when you release the arrow. Both of these can be unsafe and also dramatically impact your accuracy.

If applying your own nock, the most common way of doing this is the press-fit. It is incredibly easy for you to be able to replace nocks, rotate them so they fit better.