Crossbow hunters tend to focus on their bow and its accessories when it comes to choosing a bow. After all, the crossbow is the biggest and expensive equipment that contributes the most to adequate, accurate, and reliable shooting.
However, the bow is only half of the equation, and the other half is the arrow. The weight of arrows can have a significant impact on sighting-in and accuracy. Arrows can be made from fiberglass, wood, aluminum or carbon. Selecting the appropriate arrow increases the effectiveness of your bow.
Some people refer to the crossbow arrow as a bolt. They both are same, but technically a bolt had no stabilizing vanes near the back, while the arrow always does.
Different Parts of the Arrow
The modern hunting arrows are a great combination of high tech material and advanced design. Those days are gone when primitive people used simple bolts of wood, reeds, or bone. With the advent of aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon arrows, technology began to make its mark. However, the basic part remains the same.
There are four main parts of an arrow:
Arrowhead is the point of the arrow. There are different types of arrowheads, each one aimed at different types of archery or hunting and for different uses.
Two main types of arrowheads:
Broadheads are great for hunting larger game such as deer or elk. These are provided with either three or four razor blades.
- Fixed-blade broadheads: These come with fixed razor sharp blades. In fixed-blase type entire broadhead is one single element.
- Removable blade broadheads: This blades can be removed from the broadhead and replaced when necessary.
- Expandable blade broadheads: In this type, blades are hidden and only open up once the arrow hits the animal, causing maximum damage.
It is also known as “Target Points.” Field point are made for practice, target in archery. They don’t have sharp edges so they can’t be used for hunting games as they will not be able to cause enough internal damage to kill the animal quickly. They are available in a bullet point with a conical head that has a pointer head and a grabbing point. Field point uses wire hooks to keep the arrow from being lost in the grass or dense bush.
These points are usually screwed into the front of the bolt shaft, though some cheap arrows come with glued on, non-detachable points.
Generally, they weigh 120-125 grain total. When buying new field-points, make sure that they are the same weight as original ones that come with your crossbow package. Use of lighter arrow points than recommended by the manufacturer can lead to injury and damage to your crossbow.
It is similar to field-points. Blunt point is used for small game such as rabbits or squirrels. They are usually made of plastic, rubber or steel.
The shaft is the backbone to the arrow. It has a spot for all of the other parts to attach. Most modern crossbow arrows are made from either aluminum or carbon, and these materials are light in weight, very resistant to bending and don’t splinter. Aluminum shafts are durable and more affordable than carbon.
Factors to consider while choosing Shafts:
Weight: The weight of the arrow shaft is represented in “grains.” Lighter weight flies faster with a flatter trajectory, whereas added weight increases penetration. A general rule is five to six grains for each pound draw weight. Therefore, make sure that the arrow shaft matches bow’s weight and particular draw length.
Spine: It comes with varying degrees of stiffness, that stiffness is referred to as the “spine” of the bolt. Correct shaft spine depends on the particular crossbow setup. To determine the correct arrow spine can be complicated. Manufacturers sell their arrows as suitable for draw weights, and this is sufficient for most hunters.
Diameter: It is believed that smaller diameter shafts impart greater kinetic energy upon impact and being thinner. It provides better penetration — however, most use 5/16″ and 9/32″ shafts.
Shaft wall thickness: It is related to both weight and spine.
The nock is either aluminum or plastic tip with a slot located on the rear of the arrow. It snaps onto the string at a point called the ‘nocking point’ and holds the bolt in the correct shape.
It comes in varying sizes to fit different strings, whereas having the wrong size can affect accuracy. There are two types of nocks to be found on crossbow bolts: the half-moon nock and the flat nock. The half nock has a groove that you’ll need to align with bow string before firing the bolt.
Different manufacturers recommend a different type of nocks, such as Barnett recommends using half-moon nocks. These are also sized to fit different arrow shaft sizes.
- Press Fit Nocks: This is the most common type used. It slides inside the hollow shaft and locks into place. This is made to fit the standard shaft inside diameters from .166″ to .246″.
- Pin Nocks: These nocks fit over and lock onto a pin on the end of the shaft. Competition shooters mostly use these nocks and are of universal fit.
- Over Nock: These nocks slide tightly over the end of the shaft. Overnocks are available in many different sizes.
- Conventional Nocks: These types fit over shafts with a cone-shaped end and are pressed onto a place or glued.
These are the synthetic vanes or real feathers on the rear of an arrow. The purpose of the fletchings is to stabilize the trajectory of the bolt mid-flight. This helps it keep going in the proper direction. The cock vane should be facing away from the crossbow, as this prevents the vanes from hitting the arrow rest as it leaves the bow.
Modern bolts come with three fletching jig. Two feathers will be the same colour, and one will have a different color called the cock feather. The cock vane should be facing away from the crossbow and prevents the vanes from hitting the arrow as it leaves your bow.
Some Important Points To Keep in Mind
- Never use arrowheads and arrow shafts that are lighter than recommended by the manufacturer. Using lighter ones can mean pretty much the same as dry-firing your crossbow, that lead to bow malfunction.
- Usually, some crossbow packages include bolts with target practice field-points. You have to purchase hunting broadheads separately.
- Make sure both the broadheads and field points you use are of the same weight as the heads you received with your crossbow package.
- Use heavier arrows than recommended, while safe, will reduce the velocity of your bow.
It is crucial to understand the parts of the arrow as this will help you improve the accuracy of your shot. All the above factors and parts of the arrow come together to determine performance and must consider achieving the most effective configuration for the bow setup.