Updated: Oct 4, 2022
The first ever archery competition I attended was a World Archery 3D round hosted by River Oak Archers. A great course for a baptism by fire, technically challenging, off-the-beaten path and some great 3Ds, all laid out next to a young offender's and women's prison. It was a brilliant introduction for what archery can be.
Since then, I have devoted countless turns of the hourglass to enhancing my arrows for the upmost efficiency in specific competitions. The art of refinement is a passion of mine and the most joyous of puzzles and interesting form of problem solving I can think of - no doubt, in part it has to be due to my neuro-atypical brain.
In World Archery field and World Archery 3D my scores began to go up and up once I began paying greater attention to my arrows. Prior to Covid I shot four consecutive personal bests on unmarked rounds, and my last marked round was a pb also.
Now, as a disclaimer, I would like to emphasise that the most integral component to shooting well: the archer themselves. The best kit in the hands of someone untrained is useless. Here I am looking at maximising the kit, specifically the arrows, for someone who knows how to preform archery.
For this mini-series, I shall be looking at what could make an efficient 3D round arrow. But before I begin rambling, I would like to point out that I am looking at World Archery 3D rounds, shooting from the blue peg as a longbow archer, bit English longbow or American flatbow. Thus, my minimum shooting distance is 5m and my maximum is 30m and I'm using a wooden bow with wooden arrows. This wood combo is my preference, and I won't touch any arrows that aren't wood - I wonder what Freud would have to say about that?
Currently I am shooting spruce shafts. This is a type of wood I really like due to its lighter weight working relative to the durability of the wood. 125gr field points are fixed to the front of the arrow; field points the best option for protecting as much of the wooden arrow shaft as possible from the impact of hardened foam, or the truck of a tree, or compacted dirt ground, etc, etc. And instead of the standard three flights, I have used only two. Currently I can't explain quiet why, but with two flights my arrows are shooting much straighter with greater stability. The flights are high-profile and at least five inches in length.
For anyone interested in trying two-flights, the fletches are positioned on the top and bottom of the arrow shaft, that is aligned with the string of the bow, however with the decrease in drag by a third, it may be prudent to reduce the point weight as well. The first time I tried this, I dropped from 125gr points to 100gr for example.
I did not take the colours of the arrow into consideration (I seldom do) for spotting on the target or for looking for the arrow in bushes or ivy growth, etc, etc. I'll be looking at practical colours in a later post.
Thus far I've got great stability. The arrows fly straight, though slow. Obvious problems from that would come from wet or windy days, but I've been fortunate thus far. As we enter the autumn and winter, I need to address a good balance in flight length and profile. Ideally, I need to increase the speed and lower the flight profile somewhat to mitigate the harm rain would do by soaking into the fletches. Naturally this all goes against the stability I am so happy with, but a reasonable balance must be found, and will likely be found by going back to three-flight arrows.
Furthermore, the front of centre on these arrows is solid too. I've read from numerous places that an arrow should hold a front of centre of between 7%-15%, with 12%+ for distance shots. For those reading who are unfamiliar with the concept of front of centre, here is a quick explanation: the balance point of the arrow is determined by the length of the arrow and the weight in the point. It's easy to find by balancing the arrow on a finger. Now, the higher this is, the more accurate the arrow is - and I find the better the penetration, which in 3D can be an extra 5 points as opposed to a glancer or even a bouncer.
To sum things up and bring a sense of order to this post, I need more speed, whilst retaining a high front of centre, ideally with implementing a lower flight arc as well. Hopefully a change to a heavier wood, pine perhaps, will reinforce the stability of the arrow. Either way I've got stuff to work on and soon results to publish here - and I'm not going to pretend it feels like work either.