Before we can start tuning, you got to have arrows to shoot. Wood, aluminum, or carbon arrows will shoot well and is personal choice. The most important consideration with arrows are spine, straightness, and weight. Spine and straightness are of primary importance. 30 or 40 grains weight variation at hunting ranges will make little difference in point of impact so is #3 in importance.
At 20 yards, most folks would see little if any difference with 100 grain variation, however….If the weight variations cause variation in spine, you’ve got problems. Spine and straightness, however, can not be compromised especially with broadheads. Be aware if you are going to shoot competition that arrow material restrictions may apply in certain classes. Arrow length should be your draw length plus 3/4″. For tuning purposes, we want to start with shafts about 2″ longer than needed in the finished arrow.
Arrows that are going to be shot off the shelf, as most folks do, need to be fletched with 5″ or 5 1/2″ feathers if broadheads are going to be used, and in either a left or right helical twist. The twist doesn’t make any difference but all your arrows should be the same.
Wood arrows are considered by some to be more traditional, especially with longbows but they have their drawbacks. Good wood arrows are not cheap, even more expensive than aluminum. Building them yourself won’t help much if you are as picky with them as I am. If I get 18-24 arrows out of 100 shafts, I’m lucky. First they must be matched closely in spine and weight, second they must be straight, and third they must be sealed well so they do not warp from moisture! A source I recommend for quality wood arrows is Old South Traditional Arrows.
Aluminum arrows are great, very straight and consistent spine. Spending a little more on XX75 or XX78 shafts will save you money in the long run as they do not bend or break as easily as cheaper aluminums. Carbons are straight, tough, and can be expensive! Lots of people really like them. For the safety of your bow and to absorb enough energy from your bow, your arrows need to weigh 8 to 10 grains per pound of draw weight. Up to 12 or 14 grains/pound for hunting large game. This can be a problem with carbons and some aluminums. Weight may need to be added or a different arrow chosen.
ARROW SELECTION CHART
Arrow Length Aluminum/Wood
From string groove in nock to back of point
Once you have decided what arrow material you want to shoot, it’s a good idea to get 3 or 4 of the recommended size off the chart plus 3 or 4 above and below for tuning purposes. Once you find the size that flies best, then spend the big bucks for a dozen or two. You need to think about what weight tips you want to shoot. The chart is averaged for 125 grain tips.
Fine tuning of arrow spine can be done by going up or down in point weight, arrow length, and adjusting the side plate thickness on your bow. A heavier point will make the shaft weaker and a lighter point will make it stiffer. If you get arrows that are too stiff or weak in spine, you may be forced to either shoot a heavier or lighter point than you wanted or have to buy new shafts. It is better to err on the stiff side as it is easier to go up in point weight to correct a stiff condition than it is to go down to correct a weak condition.
Practice field tips need to be matched to the weight of the broadheads you want to shoot. Most broadheads suitable for hunting with traditional bows are 125 gr, 145 gr, 160 gr, or 190 gr. For tuning purposes, I’d recommend at first buying an assortment of 125 grain, 145 grain, and 160 grain field tips to be used in the tuning process. Don’t buy your broadheads yet until we find out what weight is going to fly best with your arrows.
Arrow nocks should fit the string without being too loose but at the same time, too tight can cause all kinds of arrow flight problems and you can lose as much as 10 feet/second! When nocked, you should be able to point the arrow straight down without the arrow falling off. It should fall off with a light tap on the string. If your nocks are too tight, fold up some 150 grit sandpaper and run it through the nock until it fits properly.