How to Choose the Best Arrows for Recurve Bows

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Now that you have purchased the perfect recurve bow, you might be interested in how to choose the arrows for your new bow.

While choosing the best arrows for your recurve bow, you need to consider several things, from your bow’s draw weight to your target and several factors in between.

This guide will help you choose the right arrows for you, whether you’re hunting deer or aiming for a target’s bullseye.

What Is a Recurve Bow?

A recurve bow is a type of bow with limbs that curve back then curve forward, which is why they are called “recurve” bows.

When the bow is unstrung, the tips point forward.

The curves function as a cantilever and allow you to get more energy from the limbs without having to use a stronger or longer bow1.

Many modern recurve bows have limbs that can separate from the middle section, which is called a riser.

This allows you to take down the bow for transportation or to upgrade in power when you get stronger.

Also, modern recurves almost always have an arrow shelf that’s cut into the riser. This puts the arrow closer to the bow’s centerline, which can improve accuracy.

Recurve bows are not longbows, though they both fall under the traditional archery umbrella. This puts them in contrast with compound bows with their fancy pulley system.

Features of a Recurve Bow

  • Limbs that curve one way then the other for a cantilever effect
  • More compact than a longbow
  • Can have detachable limbs
  • Dedicated arrow shelf cut into the riser

Uses of a Recurve Bow

  • Target shooting
  • Hunting
  • Olympic archery

How to Choose Arrows for Recurve Bows

While choosing arrows for your recurve bow, there are several things you need to consider.

You might be using a recurve bow for either hunting or target practice.

In both cases, you need to match your arrow’s weight and length to your bow’s draw weight and length.

Drawing and releasing your bow with a too-short or too-weak arrow can result in broken arrows, a damaged bow, and even injury!

Let’s look at those essential aspects in detail.

Draw Length

Draw length is one of the essential factors you need to look for while choosing arrows.

If your arrows are too short then you can pull the tip behind the riser right before you release, which can launch the arrow into the bow!

Finding the most suitable draw length involves two steps; one with your arm span and then another with the wall measurement.

If you already have a bow then you should know your draw length.

In case you don’t, however, you can check out our article on finding your perfect draw length.

Arrow Length

Finding the perfect arrow length is easy if you’ve figured out your draw length since you just have to add 2 inches to the draw length to calculate the most suitable arrow length.

For example, if you have a draw length of 26 inches, you want an arrow that’s 28 inches long.

This number can be fudged by an inch in either direction if you need to, though.

Draw Weight

Next you need to match your arrow’s weight to your bow’s draw weight.

A too-light arrow can shatter upon release whereas a too-heavy arrow won’t fly properly, ruining your accuracy.

This is a much wider range than arrow length and can involve some math to figure out properly.

To learn more, read our article on figuring out your bow’s best arrow weight.

Note that you can use the same weight arrows for both recurve and compound bows.

Keep in mind that most bow draw length specs are given at a 28″ draw.

How to choose the best arrows for your recurve bow
This Samick Sage Archery Takedown is a good example of a modern recurve bow

Don’t Forget the Point

Make sure to factor in what tip you’re using on your arrow!

Broadheads and target points often have different weights themselves.

Because of this, you may need to leave your target arrows behind when you head out into the field to take down that buck.

Grains Per Pound

An easy way to quickly determine how heavy your arrow should be is to calculate the proper grains per pound (GPP) for your bow.

This is a starting point, not an exact measurement, but it’ll get you to the range with safe arrows so you can fine tune later.

GPP is a relative measurement that’s determined by your bow’s draw weight.

An arrow needs to weigh at least 5 grains for each pound of your bow’s draw weight, or 5 GPP.

This means the absolutely lightest deer hunting arrow will weigh a minimum of 200 grains, which is 5 GPP relative to a 40-pound bow, the legal minimum in many states.

When hunting, it’s advised to go with arrows heavier than this. Heavier arrows carry more momentum, increasing penetration2.

Remember, the final arrow weight includes both the arrow shaft and anything that adds mass such as the tip and nock.

Tips to Choose the Best Arrows for Your Recurve Bow

Choosing the most suitable arrows for a recurve bow involves several factors as mentioned above.

However, while length and weight are the most important factors when picking out arrows, they’re not the only ones.

Arrows can be made from different materials, for example. Which are the best?

Wooden arrows for hunting with recurve bow

Choosing the Perfect Arrow Material

Generally, arrows are made of materials such as carbon, aluminum, wood, or fiberglass.

Each material has its own advantages, but it is all upon you on to choose which one you prefer.

Here are some of the major points surrounding every arrow materials.

Carbon Arrows

If you’re hunting, carbon arrows are the de facto standard right now.

Good carbon arrows can be expensive, though many hunters find the expense worthwhile.

That’s because carbon arrows tend to be the narrowest type, allowing them to slip through the air with ease.

Carbon arrows are quite stiff, which makes them great at those long-range shots but can make them less effective if your recurve bow’s arrow shelf isn’t centered in the riser.

Aluminum Arrows

The biggest advantage of aluminum arrows is durability.

This makes them great for beginner archers who want to have confidence as they’re starting to learn archery.

However, when you get into the higher-quality hunting arrows, aluminum arrows can get quite expensive.

Wood Arrows

Wood is the traditional material for making arrows.

People have been hunting and target shooting with wood arrows for over a thousand years and you can find them at all price points.

However, as wood is a natural material, wooden arrows can have a consistency problem.

Unless you’re paying for hand-selected arrow shafts your arrows may not group properly. Even if they have the same specs!

That said, wood arrows match recurve bows much better than space-age arrows do, so they are great for target practice.

And once you get to know your arrows and can pick out the ones that group the best, they still make for fine hunting arrows.

You can even make your own wood arrows, perfect for using with your DIY archery target!

Fiberglass Arrows

Beginner’s archer kits often come with fiberglass arrows.

That’s because fiberglass makes for a rather inexpensive material for arrows while being fairly durable and having good shaft-to-shaft consistency.

However, fiberglass arrows are difficult to shorten to the proper length at home as they tend to splinter when cut.

And a lightly broken fiberglass arrow can be more dangerous than a dinged up wooden or aluminum arrow!

Fiberglass arrows are therefore the budget choice, perfect for beginners or when you need to get a bunch of arrows to have a large archery event.

Once you have some string time under your belt, though, it’s recommended to upgrade to one of the other shaft materials.

Arrow Coloration

Finally, what does your arrow look like?

For target shooting, go with the arrows that match your tastes.

However, when hunting, you may want to go with camouflage arrows.

Many carbon arrows come in black. However, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that black is a color rarely found in nature.

Instead, even dark shadows are almost always a dark brown or dark green, not black.

So, for hunting, you want even your arrows to blend into nature as much as possible.

Wooden arrows can get a pass here, too, since nature is full of wood!


Now that you’ve read this guide on choosing arrows for a recurve bow you should know how to pick the perfect arrows for you.

Choosing arrows for a recurve bow really depends on how you will be using the bow (hunting or target practice) as well as the draw length and weight of your bow.

While you can go for fancy arrows made of the latest and greatest materials, they may not feel right when used with a recurve bow.

And archery is a very feel-intensive sport, especially traditional arrows.

A good set of properly-sized wood arrows will serve you well at the archery range and will help you feel good as you practice.

And once you’ve picked out the best performing ones you can take them with you for a hunting trip!



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