When you purchase arrows, you need to know the right size to use. A longer arrow doesn’t necessarily equal a better shot; it is all dependent upon your draw. However, an arrow that is too short can also be problematic. When purchasing arrows, do you need to cut them to length yourself, or can you rely on the manufacturers?
You can cut your arrows if you must, though it isn’t advised. Most arrows are sold cut to the proper length already. If you have purchased arrows that are too long, then you can cut them down to be a little shorter, but you can’t add length to an arrow that is too short. When cutting an arrow, you need to be careful to prevent any structural damage from weakening the arrow as a whole.
Cutting your arrows is really not advisable for beginners. If you purchase arrows that are too large, then you should purchase smaller ones next time. However, if you absolutely must cut your arrows, you will want to know how.
Arrow Size and Cutting
Cutting arrows is a risky business because you can always cut off too much from your arrows or make a sloppy cut that reduces the arrow’s effectiveness. If you are going to learn how to cut your own arrows, then make sure to watch this video:
Deciding on the proper-sized arrow requires you to understand how to tell the best length. We talked about this topic in the article Do Longer Arrows Fly Faster, but if you haven’t had a chance to read that article yet, don’t worry. The easiest way to figure out the proper arrow length is to nock a draw length arrow in your bow like this, draw it back, and have a friend or family member measure the distance.
A draw length arrow is a measurement tool with different lengths recorded on it. It’s larger than a regular arrow, so your goal isn’t to set it at full length, but to find the length that works for you. When your friend measures this, make sure they stop about one inch in front of the bow’s arrow rest. This gives you the size your arrows should be at for your own, unique draw length, as determined by the size of your arms.
The next step is to grab yourself an arrow saw, like this highly rated one. If your arrow saw does not come with a measuring tape or measuring stick, then you will want to grab one to size everything properly. You can unscrew the bolt to slot your arrow in, then lock it back into place and slide the stopper to the length you plan to cut. This lets you size out the cut. Before making your cut, it is a good idea to first mark it with a pen or pencil to pinpoint exactly where it will be. This will allow you to check and double check prior to cutting.
Finally, it is time to cut. Grab a pair of protective glasses and turn on the saw. The nock end of the arrow is placed into the stopper and the front of the arrow is lifted up into the saw blade. The arrow must be carefully rotated while cutting to keep the cut even. After the cut, an arrow squaring tool is used to ensure that the end of the arrow is completely square. This allows for an easier time adding fletching and inserts onto the arrow. Most fletchings will be added from the opposite side of the one you cut, however.
Before you start cutting your own arrows, you should take some time to figure out if it is even worth it. There are many people who report that they have an easier time shooting an arrow that is a little too long compared to one that is a little too short. You may think that the length of your arrow is a problem until you cut it too short and find that it doesn’t fly at all like you thought it would.
There’s actually a clever little secret to mastering overly long arrows. Rather than cutting the arrows when you get them, take them out and start shooting them. Eventually, you’ll find your arrows break. This happens to every arrow eventually if they’re shot enough. If you’re shooting arrows you’ve cut down to size, then a broken arrow will mean that you need to replace it.
However, if you purchased arrows that are a little too long and kept shooting them anyway, then you’ll find that, often, a broken arrow can have the end cut off and be ready to shoot at a smaller size. This can make those long arrows you bought by accident last a heck of a lot longer than you originally expected. Waiting to cut a long arrow can prove to be the smart choice in the long run.
What Downsides Do Short Arrows Have?
Shorter arrows actually fly better than longer arrows. So, cutting your arrows too short doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be less accurate.
However, the biggest trade off that comes from overly small arrows is a matter of safety. A smaller arrow doesn’t protrude from the bow properly when it is fully drawn. As you let go, the arrow will wobble.
Since an arrow wobbling means it is oscillating left and right, there is a very real chance that a small arrow won’t leave the bow properly; instead, it will be tossed at high speed into the bow. This can break the arrow or even the bow.
But what is even worse than this is that the arrow could go flying into your hand that is holding the bow steady. An arrow through the hand is never a fun experience, so avoid shooting arrows that are small enough to open you up to this risk.
How Does Length Affect the Stiffness of an Arrow?
This is another issue we covered at length and you can find our previous discussion here. The stiffness of the arrow will determine if it flies straight ahead and hits your target, or if it arcs off to the left or right.
Each arrow is given a spine rating that is determined by its size. As you cut a longer arrow, you get a shorter arrow. This seems straightforward, but length isn’t the only thing that is changing here. How stiff an arrow is comes from a combination of thickness and length.
For a longer arrow to be stiff, it needs to have a much thicker spine. Likewise, a smaller arrow can be stiff with a much thinner spine due to its shorter length. So, as you cut your arrow shorter, you aren’t just making it smaller, but you’re also making it stiffer. Never forget that an arrow can be both too stiff or not stiff enough; it’s all about finding the right balance.
So, do arrows need to be cut? Not really. They should be at the right size when you buy them the first time. But, whether or not this is the case will depend on the size you’ve bought. Longer arrows can be cut, but they are best used while too long, especially if you are looking to use them for target practice.
If you are looking to hunt with your arrows, then an arrow that is too long won’t be as attractive. You will want to know exactly how your arrow will fly when you line it up. An arrow that is the wrong size will require more calculations in the moment when firing, which doesn’t lend itself to hunting archery as well as it does target practice.
If you absolutely must cut your arrows, then make sure you grab the tools listed above, as they’ll make your life a thousand times easier. But, if you can help it, try using your arrows before you cut them. You may find that you even like the extra length.