A Comprehensive Guide to the Parts of an Arrow

Archery is all about hitting your target with the arrow. To shoot the arrow in the right place you must know what the different parts of an arrow are and how they work. Knowing more about the arrows will allow you to choose the best arrows and understand their movement better. This especially helps new archers to clear their confusion about arrows. Whether you are a beginner or professional, we will take you on a tour of the world of arrows and you will learn everything about them. So without any delay tighten your bowstrings and get ready for this amazing adventure.

What are the Main Parts of an Arrow?

An arrow is made of different parts. All these parts play a valuable role in hitting the bullseye. If any of the parts are unable to do their job, it won’t give the best results and might even cause accidents.

Generally, an arrow has 5 main parts.

  1. Arrow shaft
  2. Fletching or vanes
  3. Arrows nock
  4. The insert
  5. Arrowhead

1.    Arrow Shaft

The arrow shaft is the main body of an arrow and it is crafted with care. Constructing an arrow shaft is not an easy task. Crafters have to select the finest material and check every single detail on the arrow shaft. The ancient crafters had to go through a lot of struggle to make a perfect arrow shaft. Modern crafters also follow the same principles when crafting arrow shafts. There are many materials used in making arrow shafts like wood, aluminum, carbon composite, and many more. These arrow shafts are made with aerodynamic precision to ensure accuracy. Modern archers like to go for materials like aluminum and carbon composite which are more durable and lightweight than wood. But traditional archers still choose wooden arrow shafts over anything.

Different Types of Arrow Shafts

Arrows are eventually upgraded and different arrow shafts are used for different purposes. Some of the arrows are used for target shooting; some are used for fishing or hunting. So every arrow is made with different goals and the shaft build material also varies. Here are the main arrow shaft buildings used all around the globe.

  • Wood Shaft: Wood shafts are the oldest kind of arrow shafts. This is mainly used by traditional archers. These wood shafts are the least expensive shafts. Wood shafts are generally used with longbows and recurve bows. These shafts carry the risk of shattering when used with a compound bow. As it is made of wood, it warps and splinters with time.
  • Fiberglass Shaft: Fiberglass shafts are the modern-day arrow shaft. These arrow shafts are durable compared to other shafts but heavy. Fiberglass arrow shafts are primarily used in bow fishing.
  • Aluminum Shaft: Aluminum shafts are mostly used by hunters. They are also appropriate for target shooting as well. People like them because of their durability and lightweight.
  • Carbon-graphite Shaft: Another wonder of science is carbon-graphite arrow shafts. They are very light and durable at the same time. This type of arrow is used for target shooting and 3d archery. But the only problem is they are expensive compared to other arrow shafts.

2.    Arrow Fletching or Vanes

Fletchings are the feathers on the back of an arrow shaft. Some modern arrows use plastic foils instead of feathers. Fletchings are also known as vanes. Their main task is to improve accuracy and stability by creating drag in the air. It helps the arrow to stay on track when fired. Generally, 3-4 fletchings are used in an arrow. But the number of vanes can increase for special purposes. The archers also have the freedom to customize the length and shape according to their needs.

Different Kinds of Fletching or Vanes

There are different kinds of fletchings used for different purposes. It does not matter which one you are using but you have to be careful while using this. Make sure your fletchings are not damaged; damaged vanes will significantly reduce the arrow’s capability.

There are 3 main kinds of vanes and they are parabolic, shield, and blazer.

  • Parabolic: These are the most common types of vane used by archers. They provide good stability in flight. The best thing about parabolic vane is you can cut it at different angles to gain different levels of drag.
  • Shield: Shield vanes are shorter compared to other vanes. They provide more accuracy from parabolic vanes. Shields have a higher drag coefficient in the air. They are better for use in windy conditions as they provide more control.
  • Blazer: Blazers are the new generation vanes. They have become famous for target shooting. The structure is more aerodynamic compared to other vanes. This is the reason they gain so much speed when fired.

3.    The Nock

Nock is the plastic tip at the end of an arrow. It is used to stick the bowstring and transfer the potential energy from the bowstring to the arrow. This is a very important part of an arrow because it helps to transfer the total energy. Arrow nocks are made of different designs according to arrows. A nock should be loose enough to not affect the flight of the arrow and tight enough to keep the bowstring in place.

Parts of an Arrow: The Nock
The Nock

Different Kinds of Nock

There are several types of arrow nocks. Here you will learn the most common types of arrow nocks used worldwide.

  • Press Fit Nocks: This is the most common type of arrow nock. It is designed to fit perfectly in the arrow shaft. This comes with a Groove where the bowstring can rest. It also has small side edges to keep it safe.
  • Overnocks: Overknocks are similar to press-for nocks but it comes with a slightly large bowstring. The best thing about overnocks is they are low maintenance and more durable.
  • Pin Nocks: Pin nocks are different from other nocks. They are inserted into pre-drilled holes and have a small pin to hold the bowstring. These nocks are lighter than other nocks. They are suitable for target shooting and hunting as well. But pinnocks sometimes come off when fired
  • Conventional Nocks: These nocks have a small cone-shaped tip with a very narrow gap for the bowstring. The tip stops the bowstring from sliding and provides a more significant gap between the shaft and the bowstring.

4.    The Insert

This is a very important part of an arrow. It helps the tip to tightly attach to the shaft. The insert also helps to reduce friction when fired. This serves as a bearing surface as well. Most of the inserts are made of aluminium or brass. They also can be made with carbon fiber and titanium. Different materials have different characteristics and the type of insert you will need depends on your arrow shaft. 

5.    The Arrowhead

The arrowhead is the front of an arrow. It determines the accuracy and helps the arrow to get through the target. An arrow without an arrowhead is pointless. Arrowheads are available in different shapes and sizes. Each arrowhead is made for a different purpose and material. So it is important to choose an arrowhead according to your needs. The mostly used arrowheads are field points, blunt points, broadheads, judo points, and fish points.

Different kinds of Arrowhead

Field Points: Field point arrowheads are the most commonly used arrowheads. They are designed for practice targets. Field point arrowheads are thin and their tip is designed to penetrate the target smoothly without causing too much damage. These arrowheads do not have any cutting edges. They are capable of hunting but not ideal. So it is better to use other arrowheads for hunting.
  • Broadheads: These are specially designed for hunting and like the name says it is wide. They have two or more cutting edges that can cause better penetration and damage compared to other arrowheads. Broadheads have various shapes, sizes, and weights. You can choose them according to your needs. They are expensive but best for hunting. The main 2 types of broadheads are fixed blade broadheads and mechanical broadheads.

Fixed-Blade Broadheads: Fixed-blade broadheads are perfect for hunting large animals like deer, moose, buffalo, and elks. The blades stay in place and widely cut through the target. These are so powerful that they can go through tissues and break the rib cages without any damage. The cutting diameter of this arrowhead is 1 1/4 inch – 1 1/2 inch. Due to bigger size and increased strength, these are stronger than mechanical heads. But the thing is you need to practice a lot to use it properly.

Mechanical Broadheads: Mechanical broadheads are easier to use compared to fixed blades. They have increased cutting diameter. The blades are folded and open up when fired, so there is no need to tune them. They are very effective for bear hunting. The average cutting diameter of a mechanical broadhead is 1 3/4 inch – 2 inches.

  •  Blunt Points: Blunt points are also known as target tips and they are designed to stick to the target. They are conical tips surrounded by rubber. Blunt points are designed to kill with shock instead of cuts. They are mainly used for target practice and bow fishing. Blunt points can be also used for hunting small animals like rabbits.
  • Judo Points: Judo points are more like a hook. They have a little wire spring attached to the arrow point and it makes them act like a hook when hitting the surface. The hook-like design increases accuracy and keeps the arrow in one place. They weigh around 100-grain or 125-grain. Judo points are ideal for rabbit hunting and it allows you to kill them in a humane way.
  • Fish Points: You can guess by the name that they are made for fishing. This arrowhead contains a sharp tip with barbs that prevent the prey from escaping. Using a fish point is very easy. There are different ways to remove the barbs, in some points you have to unscrew the barbs. In other models, you just have to twist the barbs and they will come out.


As you have reached here it means you already know the different parts of an arrow. Every part of an arrow is important for perfect archery. All the information about arrows will allow you to master archery faster. As there are a lot of kinds of parts and they have their own roles you have to choose carefully. If you can choose the right parts and make a suitable combination, you will have the best archery experience.

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