Basically, durability refers to how long something is going to last in the field or how much use it can withstand until it wears out. The material that makes an arrow defines its durability. As an entry-level archer, you can rely on your local archery retailer or instructor to advise you in choosing the correct arrows, but this to speed up the process, here are some of the choices that you may be guided towards.
Authentic Wooden Arrows
These are the arrows that the CGI in movies like “300”, Gladiator and Lord of the Rings would have you believe swarm over the horizon like millions of malevolent wasps during a battle.
Arrows were very time consuming to make in the olden days. Manufacturing was handed over to experts called “fletchers” early on. Lower quality arrows were used for the volley attacks that are shown in film, because they were less accurate, but were they ever fired in such large amounts?
Herodotus recounts in his history the Spartans received word that the Persians released arrows in such large amounts that they darkened the sky, so the stories of huge quantities of arrows being made for war are true.
For anyone interested in old-school-style archery, shooting wooden arrows are the only way to go. These are the go-to favorites of traditional bowhunters and archers.
For a real artisanal flair, it is possible to make wooden arrows yourself. This will be a real labor of love as the wood shaping, feather fletching and barb cresting take patience and skill to implement. If buying them, they are inexpensive and accessible.
Whether your wooden arrows are bought or home-made, they are prone to break or warp with limited durability. They are suitable for longbows and recurve bows only.
Fiberglass arrows will be well known to anyone who spent time at an archery group program or youth camp. They are the favorites of these institutions because of their low cost, variety of lengths and reasonable reliability.
They are a perfect fit for any entry-level archer who wants to get to know the sport a bit before committing to a more expensive or high-tech arrow type. They come ready-made in consistent batches from any retailer specializing in sports gear.
The uniformity of fiberglass arrows makes them impossible to customize and they can be prone to splintering. This doesn’t mean you will get a splinter in your finger – it means that there have been reports of the arrows fracturing on use. This is a key point in their durability/safety.
The fiberglass arrow is heavier and this will impact their accuracy when used to hit targets at longer distances. This is not a main concern of a beginner though. They are suitable for recurve bows only.
Aluminum arrows are a great choice for the archer who has mastered archery basics and wants to start building their own kit.
Aluminum is accurate for up to 18 meters (19,8 yards) and further – these are competition distances. They have superb durability and straightness and can be customized for length, diameter and rigidity (called spine in archery). This makes them perfect for a first foray into competitive archery without costing the earth.
Your nearest archery store can custom-make aluminum arrows for you to your unique specifications. They can also be personalized with your choice of fletching color.
These arrows have the drawback of bending (called canoeing, because they follow the shape of a canoe) if they are hit by another arrow and they are costlier than fiberglass and wood arrows. They are suitable for compound bows and recurve bows.
If a reasonably priced arrow with good durability is what you seek, once you have a few lessons under your belt, then carbon arrows may be a good fit for you. They have excellent accuracy when flying out of recurves and will not break the bank for someone seeking out a mid-priced arrow for competitions.
The carbon shafts are uniformly straight which improve accuracy. The rigidity (spine) and diameter options can be custom sized as can the fletching and wraps. Carbon arrows’ durability is solid but they are still very fast and lightweight.
On the negative side, carbon arrows can splinter and this may not just shock but also hurt the archer.
These arrows are better for any archer using a long-distance recurve bow or a compound bow. They are what Olympic Champions choose to use and get their name from an aluminum and carbon composite. They have the best uniformity of the spined arrows and shoot straightest.
Like anyone would expect from Olympic competition standard arrows, they offer customized sizing, diameter and rigidity (spine) options. They are the highest quality and would be wasted on anything other than long-distance shooting, whether indoors or outdoors.
With all of these considerable advantages: durability; accuracy; rarely breaking or splintering – the one concern is the composite arrows’ price point. They are expensive and you can lose them just as easily as any other kind of arrow. They have been known to break but with less splintering.
Composite arrows should only be bought from an experienced retailer or with the help of a coach/instructor. They will know how to match the right spine choice to the correct bow. As cool as they are, they are recommended for the advanced/serious archer’s use only.
Durability is important because a damaged arrow can be dangerous. Things that can affect an arrows durability is improper handling or transport, impacting with another arrow, and continual reuse. Always inspect an arrow carefully before using it.