What is an Arrow Chart?

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What is an Arrow Chart?

Bowhunter at Full Draw
It’s critical to know what your equipment is and is not capable of doing in the field. Hunter shown wearing Lost Camo.

Understanding your bowhunting equipment is just as important as understanding the game you are pursuing. In fact, many could argue it is of more importance. It’s critical to know what your equipment is and is not capable of doing in the field. Arrow charts can help tremendously when trying to completely understand your archery gear. An arrow chart will tell you which arrow you should be shooting out of your bow based on certain criteria like cam type, point weight, draw weight and arrow length. All of these factors combined together will determine which spine (or stiffness) of arrow you should be using. Shooting the proper arrow will allow you to maximize your shooting performance and the effectiveness of your bow.

How to Read an Arrow Chart

Arrow charts are extremely useful and beneficial to archers of all skill levels, but they obviously won’t provide the information you are looking for if you don’t know how to read them. There are certain specifications to consider when gaining information for an arrow chart to decide the exact arrow that will fit your bow. The first is cam type. There are several types of cams used today’s bows, each with its own unique set of properties that affect arrow selection and arrow flight. The major categories of cams are medium cams, single cams and hard (or speed) cams. Of course you also have recurve bows and the modern longbow as well.

The next criteria you will need to know is your point weight. Point weights vary greatly these days; however, the most popular point weights are 75, 100, 125 and 150 grains. If you are unsure which weight to use, try starting with 100 grains. The vast majority of archers and bowhunters use a 100 grain head with great success. Just be sure that your practice points and hunting points are of the same weight!

You will also need to know your draw weight, which is the required poundage used when pulling your bow back. If you don’t know your draw weight you can either purchase a draw weight scale or visit your local bow shop, where they are sure to have one available. Most adult archers find that a draw weight between 60 and 70 pounds works well on most big game animals.

Hunter advancing through Woods with BowArcher
Most adult archers find that a draw weight between 60 and 70 pounds works well on most big game animals. Hunter shown wearing Lost Camo.

Finally, you will obviously need to know your arrow length. Remember that your arrow length is measured from the inside of your nock (the groove) to the cut end of the arrow. It is NOT measured from the end of the nock to the end of the point, or the end of the arrow shaft to the end of the shaft. Now that you know your criteria you can begin searching for your perfect arrow. It may seem like reading an arrow chart is difficult because it looks like just a bunch or rows, columns and numbers, but that is not at all the case. Using your found criteria (cam type, draw weight, point weight and arrow length) you can actually find the information you need rather quickly. Simply locate your measurements on the chart and follow them down to determine you correct arrow selection.

Since there are so many point weights available, the chart will provide 4 options starting with 75 grains going as high as 150 grains with 25 grain intervals. Those weights are averages of a broader selection of field points. For example, if you shoot an 85 point head you will refer to the 75 grain column; if you shoot 110 grains refer to the 100 grain column and so on and so forth.

It is then up to you to chose a shaft from the chart based on you preferred shaft material, shaft weight, and the type of shooting you will be doing (archery target, small game, big game, etc.). Please keep in mind for your sake and the animals, if you are going to be hunting larger game, heavier shafts are highly recommended.

Choosing the Right Hunting Arrow

Assuming the majority of your archery shooting will be hunting related, it is important to choose the correct arrow size geared to your hunting scenario. Most arrow charts will recommend several shaft sizes of various diameters and weights. When selecting a carbon arrow most bowhunters find that a shaft weighing between 8 and 11 grains per inch will fit the majority of their needs. For larger game such as moose or grizzly bears it is often recommended to go with an even heavier arrow.

How Arrow Weight Effects Penetration

In today’s world of incredible archery technology, it seems as if everything is engineered to be lightweight and fast and that speed is a virtue. While this may be true for some gear, it certainly is not true when looking for your hunting arrow. Yes, a lightweight arrow will achieve faster speeds out of the bow and get to your target more quickly and be more forgiving, but it adversely affects arrow penetration and kinetic energy.

Many archers are turned away from a heavy hunting arrow believing that it will slow down their arrow speed so much that they won’t be able to shoot as far effectively or that deer will duck their arrow. This is simply not the case, and a heavy arrow actually increases the lethality of your hunting setup. A heavier hunting arrow will deliver more kinetic energy and thus offer better penetration. A heavier arrow will result in more pass-throughs because its downrange energy will lose less momentum after entering the animal.

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