Learning More About Carbon Arrows

By: Dale Karch and Todd Smith

Dale Karch with Moose
Carbon arrow shafts offer a straight and sturdy alternative to wood arrows, perfect for taking down nature’s toughest trophies!

Like a thief in the night, carbon arrows have been sneaking away with an ever-growing share of the traditional archery shaft and arrow market. And why shouldn’t they? The carbon arrows of today are among the finest projectiles ever shot from a stick and string. They hold exacting tolerances for weight, spine, and straightness. They’re more durable than any other shafting material ever produced, and with the ‘wood-look’ patterns now available, they are very appealing to the aesthetic demands of traditional archers everywhere. With so many new people entering the sport of traditional archery, the need for quality, low-maintenance shafting is huge. With carbon arrows, there’s no need for straightening, sanding, painting, or sealing like on wood shafting. You just fletch, install inserts & points, and shoot. We predict it won’t be long till carbon arrows own the lion’s share of the total shaft and arrow market, including the traditional archery market.

Which types of carbon arrow shafts are the most popular with traditional archers? What are the unique needs of the traditional archer/bowhunter? Which styles sell best to traditional archers/bowhunters? Read on for the answers.

Everyone loves wood. Come on, you know it. The warm, natural look of wood is hard to resist. After all, if you’re shooting a beautiful custom wood bow, it only makes sense that you’d like your arrows to compliment the beauty of the bow, doesn’t it? The wood-look carbon shafts outsell all other patterns by a margin of about ten to one.

Traditional Only Wood Grain Carbon Shafting
Carbon shafts with a traditional wood look are best sellers.

Speaking of good looks, we need to insert a bit of an aside here. For carbon arrows to look ‘traditional,’ you’ll have to have feathers. Vanes just aren’t going to cut it for most of these guys. Most of them are shooting off the shelf anyway, so vanes do not work even if they wanted to use them. We find that 5″ Shield Cut TrueFlight Feathers in left wing sell the best.

TrueFlight Shield cut Feathers
Feathers offer a traditional touch to your carbon arrows.

The heavier the better! Traditional bows shoot arrows that are on the heavy side. This has historically been the largest obstacle, (and still is a concern), with shooters in traditional circles who wanted to try carbons early on. Fortunately, the carbon arrow manufacturers now offer heavier shafts that can be shot safely from traditional bows. How heavy is heavy? Look for a minimum of 8-10 grains per pound of bow weight. Think about it. We all know we’re not supposed to dry fire our bows. Yet some archers make a conscious effort to shoot the lightest arrow they possibly can, banking on the “speed kills” theory. They’re right too. Speed achieved like that does kill. It kills your bow! The dynamic recovery of the limbs on longbows and recurve bows casts heavier arrows better than ultra-light arrows. In other words, if the arrow does not weigh enough, it can’t receive all of the potential energy the limbs are attempting to transfer. This leaves an excess of energy in the limbs and creates an unpleasant “thump” (Or “slam” depending on the situation) when the limbs come home. The lighter the arrow set-up, the more like a dry fire the shot becomes. With light arrows the shot experience becomes harsh, the stress on the bow and string is dangerous, and your arrow ends up with much less penetrating power. Sounds like a bit of a “Lose-Lose” situation doesn’t it? Tests have confirmed the fact that longbows and recurve bows shoot heavier arrows best. Keep that in mind when shopping for carbon arrows.

Byron Ferguson Penthalon Heavy Hunter Carbon Shafts
Gold Tip Byron Ferguson Heavy Hunters are for the serious hunter looking for max weight for deep penetration.

Another feature to look for in carbon arrows is a smaller diameter, like 5/16″ or 9/32″. Since most wood arrows have a diameter of 11/32″ or 23/64″. Getting the arrow closer to the center of a bow helps with arrow flight and accuracy.

You may be wondering if any one company answers all of these needs. The good news is that we’ve found one! The tip of the hat goes to Easton Archery.

Easton Archery and 3Rivers Archery teamed up to offer the ever popular, Traditional Only carbon arrow. A 3Rivers Archery exclusive carbon shaft made from high-strength ICS® C2™ carbon composite fiber with a no-glare PhotoFusion™ wood grain finish for a superb look, and dead quiet when drawing your bow. Comes with white Easton Super nocks installed and aluminum inserts loose. 3Rivers sells them as bare carbon shafting and fletched. The fletched arrows have a white cap wrap and 3-fletched with 5″ shield cut TrueFlight feathers, one traditional barred, two solid colors (in red, white, yellow, or lime).

Easton Traditional Only Carbon Arrow
The Easton / 3Rivers Traditional Only® series offers five different shaft spines to match any bow.

Do you have any weight sets? No, not the dusty bench press and weights abandoned in your basement or garage. There are now a multitude of aftermarket weight accessories available for controlling the overall mass weight and even balance of your carbon arrows. Weight tubes, steel broadhead adapters, brass inserts, and other similar weighting systems are now available for carbon arrows.

3Rivers Arrow Weight TubesSteel Screw-in Broadhead AdaptersBrass Arrow Inserts
You can bump up the weight of your carbon arrows with weight systems such as 3Rivers Weight Tubes, Steel Broadhead Adapters, and Brass Inserts.

Weight tubes are thin plastic tubes that slide inside the shafts and are commonly available in three, five, and eight grains per inch weights for 5/16″ and micro 9/32″ arrow diameters. Solid steel broadhead adapters allow the use of glue-on broadheads and are considerably stronger than the aluminum type, and can themselves weigh up to 125 grains. They are an excellent choice for adding weight to your carbon arrows. Brass inserts replace your arrows included aluminum inserts. They are heavier, up to 100 grains, and more durable than the inserts that come with your arrows.

There is another popular weight-adding products offered by Gold Tip Arrows. It is an entire adjustable weight system comprised or weighted components that screw directly into special threaded inserts allowing you complete control of the total arrow weight. The Nock Adapters fit most carbon arrows and add 20 grains of weight to your nock end. These components are available from 10 to 50 grain increments and can open a wide world of fine-tuning to the arrow shooting ‘crank’ that lives for perfection in arrow flight.

Gold Tip Weight System Screw-in WeightsGold Tip Weight System Nock Adapters
The Gold Tip Weight System offers you complete control of your arrows’ weight.

Don’t forget good old screw-in points. They are now available in weights up to 300 grains! What an easy way to increase your arrow weight and test your arrow flight. Just screw in a heavier point. Be sure to pick up a test kit of field points when you are tuning your arrows.

Screw-in Field Points Heavy WeightScrew-in Field Points Test Kit
Screw-In Points are a great way to increase arrow weight and test arrow flight.

From heavy field points, to steel adapters, from weight tubes to point & nock weight systems, there are many ways for the modern traditional archer/bowhunter to customize their carbon arrows to match their bow type and hunting style. Spend some time investigating them, add them to your tackle box, and reap the rewards of personalized and optimized carbon arrows.

There you have it! The secrets to choosing and using carbon arrows with a traditional set-up. Go for a wood look. Make sure the shafts are heavy enough in mass weight. Consider at least a few selections of feathers. And check out some of the different weight systems.

You’ll soon discover that carbon arrows can offer the traditional feel and look, while also giving you a sturdier and straighter shaft. It’s the best of both worlds!

Keep Hunting
Dale Karch & Todd Smith

For more information contact:

3Rivers Archery
PO Box 517
Ashley IN 46705


or check us out on-line at 3RiversArchery.com