What Are the Best Wooden Arrows?
While I wouldn't say that I'm solely a traditional archer—I focus mostly on target archery with a recurve—I absolutely love hanging around traditional archers and longbow users, and there's one reason why:
Traditional archers are PASSIONATE about archery.
Seriously. They eat, sleep, and breathe archery. I've never met a traditional archer who wasn't 100% enthusiastic, and 100% enthusiastic about getting others to enjoy archery. They're the best.
And, as you'd imagine, traditional archers use wooden arrows. Here are some of the best wooden arrows I could find, along with a discussion of the advantages/disadvantages of wooden arrows, the joys of making your own arrows, and why you need to choose the correct weight on your bow.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wooden Arrows
Before we jump into your options, let take a look at some of the reasons wooden arrows make the grade, and some of the reasons they can be a pain. We'll start with the "pros" first:
- They're easy to select. With carbon and aluminum and hybrid arrows, the selection process can be very confusing. You need draw weight, arrow length, tip weight, and so on. A lot of new archers get overwhelmed when selecting carbons and aluminums. Wooden arrows, on the other hand, are pretty simple: they're usually spined for bows between two certain weights. If you're shooting a 45-pound bow, you'll find a lot of wooden arrows made for bows between 40 and 60 pounds. This is perhaps my favorite part about wooden arrows, because selecting and tuning arrows can take a lot of work.
- You can learn to fashion them yourself. I talk more about that below, so I'll leave that alone for a minute.
- They're the ORIGINAL arrow. If you think about the history of archery—that is, humans with bows—it goes back tens of thousands of years. Modern arrows, with their precision straightness and almost-zero-variance weights, are only a few decades old. They are literally a flash in the pan when it comes to the history of archery. When you're using wooden arrows, you're using a tool that was used for humankind going back eons. There's something really amazing and primal about that.
- Once you get good enough, you can hunt with them.
- Lastly—they're downright gorgeous. Wooden arrows are often fletched with decorative arrows, crests with family names, and natural materials (such as twine) to hold it all together. Those Green Turkey Feather arrows I list below are a thing of beauty.
- No two arrows are the same, and that can make consistency difficult. That can be frustrating, especially if you're a consistency-obsessed archer. But, the flip side of that is, any difficulty you have in groupings is explained away by the imperfection of arrow! This sounds like a cop-out, but it's kind of true: no two wooden arrows are the same. If you're having trouble making groupings, hey—it's not your fault! All these arrows are different!
- Because no two arrows are the same, they're not a great fit for competitive archery. You will, of course, be able to find traditional competitions or competitions that use wooden arrows, but most competitions will require you to use more modern arrows made from carbon, aluminum, or a carbon/aluminum hybrid.
- The feather vanes get wet. That can be a bummer, because it adds some weight to the arrow, and will result is slightly different flight results. Not a game-ender, though.
- They damage easily. They can be delicate, and chip / splinter / warp / get dinged up in a way that affects arrow flight. Plus, despite the protective coverings and chemical coatings some of them have, they're very susceptible to weather and material decay.
So, some good, some bad. Just like everything else. On the whole, though, I feel like the advantages outweigh the negatives. But, maybe I'm biased! It's up to you to decide.
The Next Step: Making Your Own Arrows
If you're looking for wooden arrows, that's awesome, and I wish you all the best. But you should absolutely think about making them yourself. It's a ton of fun, and it reveals an aspect of archery that's totally hidden until you experience it: the craftmanship of the sport. The *creative* side of the sport.
There's something about actually creating your own equipment—taking the wood, making measurements, assembling parts—that is absolutely entrancing. It's like archery plus the joy of creative art.
Don't get me wrong—there is something beautiful about the sleekness and perfect-ness of a factory-made recurve bow. Even the starter options, like the Samick Sage or Polaris are stunning and streamlined. BUT...
Craftmanship will always be valuable. The art of taking natural materials, fashioning them specifically, and changing their purpose to something useful—that's a time-honored traditional that has brought joy to men and women all over the world and throughout all of time. And, honestly, as we move closer and closer to having robots do absolutely everything for us, craftmanship is only going to become more valuable.
So, enjoy your arrows—I'm not saying you need to drop everything and start fashioning arrows—but give it a thought. If you love archery, manufacturing your own equipment can be deeply rewarding, and the wooden arrows that you, yourself, fashion, can be among the best wooden arrows you'll find, because YOU'VE made them. I've written a post about fletching jigs that can get you started.
Wooden Arrows and Longbow Weight
This may be something of a tangent, but it's something I learned the hard way and it's related to wooden bows and wooden arrows, so I'll mention it:
If you're looking for a longbow, you want to get a bow with the right bow weight.
If you'll notice, most of the wooden arrows available are for bows between 40 and 60 pounds, and it's difficult to find arrows for draw weights below or above that. One of the reasons for that is because most longbows are sold at five-pound increments between 30 and 60 pounds (so, 30 pounds, 35 pounds, 40 pounds, 45 pounds, etc.).
Here's my point: if you're going to purchase a longbow, don't overdo it on the poundage. Longbows are not like compounds, where there's a drop in weight at full draw. A 60-pound longbow is going to feel like 60 pounds at all points during the draw, AND at full draw. So if you currently use a compound bow, it can be wise to get a longbow is lesser poundage.
OK, that's it! Public service announcement over!
Now on to those reviews...
Huntingdoor White Feather Broadheads
The Huntingdoor White Feather Broadheads are a great option if you want a set of "no assembly required" arrows. They come pre-fletched with white feathers, pre-tipped with an old-school broadhead that looks like the tip of a spear, and hollowed wooden nocks. Set, straight, and ready to go!
The specs are pretty straight-forward: these are good for bows with a draw weight of 40 to 60 pounds (but they can be shot from bows as low as 30 pounds), they're 31 inches long (which is juuuuust about right; maybe a little bit long for the average archer, but that's fine), and they look pretty standard from arrow to arrow, which isn't always the case with wooden twigs.
Plus, these arrows are gorgeous. My favorite detail is between the fletching and the nock. If you look closely, you can see that there's a spiral thread that runs from feather to nock—sturdy and delicate at the same time. These are arrows AND art!
One quick note about these that you should realize: there's no index vane. All three feathers are white, so you'll maybe want to make a little marking on the index feather, just so you know how to nock it before you draw.
Black Feather Broadheads
The Huntingdoor Black Feather Broadheads are the same as above—for use with bows 40 to 60 pounds, 31 inches long, and a nasty-looking broadhead at the tip, but they have one sinister difference: BLACK FLETCHINGS AT THE NOCK! It gives them a more villainous look, and I love that.
There are few things you should keep in mind about this arrow (and the previous arrow, actually):
- Broadheads are super, super sharp, and a lot of ranges don't allow them. A broadhead arrow tip is literally meant to penetrate resistant surfaces, and for that reason, they tear the heck out of a target. Archery ranges don't like that, and will usually disallow broadheads. You're allowed to use bullet tips and field points, but no broadheads. So even though the broadheads on these are only 1/2-inch-thick, these arrows are not a good choice for the range. If you are going to use these for target archery, they're more for use with a target bag (and even then, they'll do some damage!).
- They are, however, a good (and elegant) choice for hunting small-to-medium sized game—IF you know what you're doing. If you're a new hunter, you're probably better off going with a new broadhead, because broadhead technology has come a long way, and they're basically razor blades on the end of an arrow. The broadheads on these are sharp, but not that *that* sharp. If you're a sharp-shooter and can place an arrow wherever you want, these are a good option for hunting. (By the way, if you're looking for hunting arrows with fantastic broadheads, check out Carbon Express arrows. I like them a lot.)
Green Turkey Feather Cedar Arrows
The Green Turkey Feather Cedar Arrows are AWESOME. I'm in love with these arrows. They seriously look like holdovers from Robin Hood and his crew. They're gorgeous.
But despite being as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day, they also have some truly fantastic features:
- They're nocked with field tips instead of broadheads, so you can bring them to the range, because they're not going to chew through your target.
- The come in a variety of lengths. Usually, wooden arrows come in one length, and that's that. You can either use the length, or you can't, and you need to look at other options. These are usually available in three lengths—28 inches, 30 inches, and 33 inches—and that should cover the draw lengths of most archers. Remember: you always want an arrow that's a few inches longer than your draw length, so if you had a 25-inch draw length, the 28-inch arrows would be a great fit.
- They're spined for bows between 45 pounds and 70 pounds. Most wooden arrows cap out around 60 pounds, so these are a great option if you've using a bow with a heavier draw weight.
- They come pre-lacquered. Most wooden arrow enthusiasts lacquer their arrows themselves, so it's a nice little feature that these come pre-treated to stand up to weather, wear, and tear.
Cedar is a fantastic wood for an arrow, and it's actually used in a lot of wood products. It's decay-resistant, insect-repellant, and it's light-weight. It's not perfect, but it's fantastic for arrows.
Turkey Feather Arrows
Unlike the other Huntingdoor arrows, the Turkey Feather Arrows are nocked with bullet-style field points, so they're great for target practice. They're a lot like the other two arrows—they're good for bows with a draw weight of 40 to 60 pounds (as are most Huntingdoor arrows), they're 31 inches long, and they have a pre-cut wooden nock—but the arrow head is what sets them apart from other Huntingdoor arrows. If you're part of a league or a club and you want to use wooden arrows, these are a great option.
Last but not least...
Huntingdoor Bamboo Shaft Hunting Arrows
The Huntingdoor Bamboo Shaft Hunting Arrows have a TRULY aggressive broadhead at the tip. Let's take a look at the specs:
- These arrows are good for bows 40 pounds to 60 pounds—in other words, the normal range of draw weight for longbows and other wooden bows;
- 31 inches long, and 5/16s of an inch shaft diameter;
- Pre-fletched with turkey feathers, wooden nocks with fabric reinforcement between the fletching and the nock, and—this is cool—
- They have bamboo shafts, so they're a little more rugged and durable than other wooden arrows, which tend to break and break often.
Outside of the bamboo shafts, this is all pretty standard—the real feature, in my opinion, is the arrowhead. These puppies have points that are steep and sharp. They're meant for hunting, so if you're looking for a wooden arrow to take out into the woods, these may be a great option.
That Wraps Up Wooden Arrows
...and, there you go! Wooden arrows for your own personal use. If there are any wooden arrows you've been using that you want people to know about, jump on over to the "Contact" page. I'd love to hear about it.