I would like to talk on the subject of arrow safety, those of us who have been shooting for a while are well aware of the dangers of damaged arrows but newcomers may not be as well informed on the subject as they could be. Also it doesn’t hurt to be reminded no matter how experienced you are.

We should never forget that the bow and it’s ammunition is a weapon, it was designed to kill and can do so quite efficiently, as a responsible member of an organised club we are very much aware of possible danger to others, and take all precautions to prevent accidents. However it cannot be ignored that without care and diligence our bows can harm ourselves and one of the dangers is in using the wrong arrows.

Our arrows must be properly chosen for the bow we intend to shoot them from, they must be the correct length, and the correct spine, (see my article on arrow spine).

There are arrow spine charts available online or for download on this site, each archer should be measured for arrow length using the bow they intend to shoot, there are plenty of experienced archers in every club who will be willing to help here.

Once the correct length has been established, the draw weight must be measured, once again using the bow you intend to shoot, the arrow length and draw weight, combined with one of the arrow charts will give a safe guide to arrow selection.

It does not end here. Arrows are constantly subject to damage from misuse, impact with something other than the intended target, (metal frame), side impact from other arrows clustered in a target and rear impact from other arrows. Therefore they must be checked constantly.

Before each shot, inspect the nock for damage. If the nock is damaged, replace the nock. If it is unusually loose on the string, Please, do not bite it to make it fit better. Never shoot an arrow with a damaged nock.

Before each shot, check that the nock is fully seated, and fits tightly in the shaft.  Apply twisting pressure to see if the nock turns easily.  If the nock has backed out of the arrow or the fit is loose (rotates easily), inspect further for cracks in the nock end of the arrow shaft.  If applicable, you may need to remove the cresting to make a thorough inspection.  If there are cracks in the shaft, Discard the arrow, never shoot a damaged arrow.


When checking carbon arrows, perform the following additional tests:

Grasp the shaft just above the point and below the nock, then flex the arrow in an arc (bending it away from you and others) with a deflection of 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm), and feel and listen for cracking.  Perform this test four to six times, rotating the arrow slightly between each flex until you have gone around the entire arrow.  If you hear or feel cracking, the carbon has been damaged.  Discard the arrow, never shoot a damaged arrow.

While still holding the point and fletching ends, twist the shaft in opposite directions. If the arrow “relaxes” or twists easily, the carbon has been damaged. Discard the arrow, never shoot a damaged arrow.

An arrow that is too short can drop off the rest unnoticed, and upon loose can and will go through your hand. Carbon arrows in particular can cause unpleasant injuries. It is wise to make it a habit when at full draw, to flick your eyes down to check that the arrow is still upon the rest, it only takes a second, soon becomes automatic and could save you an injury.

A damaged nock if it breaks on the loose, can cause a dry fire of your bow, a very loud, and unnerving experience for the archer and those close by. For compound shooters in particular, a dry fire can have disastrous results up to and including severe injury and destruction of the bow. A one dollar nock could destroy a fifteen hundred dollar bow and put you out of archery for a long time. For recurve archers its a little less dramatic but can still destroy your bow and cause serious injury. Check your nocks frequently.