• Jared Oakleaf

Build the Perfect Arrow: Save Time and Money

Updated: May 10, 2018

Twenty years after first laying eyes on it, I am reminded of the picture of the boy standing at a stack of arrows. "The Chuck Adams Match Point Tuning System" (1997) stated:

"You must use a shaft selection chart to choose from the wide variety of arrow shaft sizes available. You won't select the right size by accident."

The Truth: The charts consist of a dangerous mix of vague and specific.

I was 15, and the guidebook made bow tuning sound simple. However, in implementation it proved complex. I thumbed through 29 pages of text. Soon after, I was slamming arrows through paper with an incurable right tear. Frustrated, I gave up on bare-shaft paper tuning.

Meanwhile, my broadhead flew different from my field points. Different arrow combinations and tuning techniques brought little difference. In reply, I pushed my pins for my broadhead.

The boy in the guidebook kept tormenting me. That ghostly photo, suggested that the charts were incorrect. The only answer being to blow a fortune on arrows, cutting and tinkering until I accidently landed on the perfect combination.

I was wasting cash on arrows destined for the throwaway pile. In addition, I purchased and destroyed targets at an alarming rate. The cost was adding up fast.

The Mistake: I had chosen the wrong arrow. When a broadhead tipped arrow does not impact the same as arrows with field points, you are seeing the outcome of poor arrow flight. Adjusting your sights for your broadhead or choosing a mechanical broadhead is not a solution. The correct arrow is the foundation to good arrow flight.

I did not realize that the spine of the arrow changed based on the cut length and the accoutrements. Every step of arrow building, from the nock to the point, can alter the dynamic spine of that arrow. Dynamic spine is the spine of the finished arrow. In contrast, the static spine is the unfinished tube that begins the arrow.

It took a decade of failed trial and error before I had the breakthrough on arrow building. While reading online forums, I found an arrow-selection-software. I downloaded it and stared in wonderment at the tool that lay before me. A demo and comparison video of arrow selection charts and software is available in the notes section of this post.

I discovered that arrow length is the least variable and most important choice. This statement is especially appropriate if you do not wish to modify your arrow components. The charts recommend that you select arrow length based on your draw length. It further suggests that your shaft be 1-2 inches past your riser. In contrast, the software calculates exact cut length. This is the length you need to cut the arrow, to produce the correct dynamic spine.

Today, I am meticulous during arrow construction. But, I invariably start it with the On-Target2 Software by Pinwheel Archery. If you buy this software and go off the default inputs, your arrows will improve. Yet, by borrowing a few tools, you can enhance the accuracy of the software.

To ensure the inputs going into the system are accurate, I always use the following:

  • Archers scale to measure the component weight and finished arrow weight.

  • A draw weight scale to measure the exact poundage of the bow and let-off percent.

  • A chronograph to get the true speed of the bow.

I start with one arrow that is spined correctly based on the stock inputs contained in the software. The arrow is fired through the chronograph. I then adjust the IBO speed of the bow until the calculated velocity matches the actual speed. Now I am ready to fine-tune the dynamic shaft of the arrow to fit my setup.

My broadheads now impact with field points out to 60 yards. Bare-shaft tuning is an essential part of this process and there are several other steps. Building the perfect arrow is always the first step.

The Answer: Be technical about arrow building. Use computer software to help build the perfect arrow. Make sure you are choosing the correct dynamic spine for your hunting situation.

I can now look back at the kid in that tuning guide and laugh. I don’t need to experiment with arrows anymore. I shoot my expensive 3d targets with field points because they fly the same as my broadheads. The resources we have at our fingertips today, save us money and time. These resources also make us better bowhunters.


A video demonstration comparing the selection charts to the software is available at: https://youtu.be/mxnEshJ1GsQ

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