First you need to figure out your draw length, and there are two ways to do this at home without access to a bow.
Draw Length: arm-span
All you have to do is spread your arms while making sure they both remain parallel to the floor, and without pulling your shoulder blades together. Have someone use a measure tape to figure out the exact distance between both of your middle fingers, and then divide the value by 2.5. This will give you a very solid estimation of your draw length. The image below illustrates this:
So if your arm-span is 70 inches, divide that by 2.5 with the result being 28″ – that’s your most accurate draw length
Draw Length: wall measurement
Face a wall sideways, extend your bow arm in front of you with your hand forming a fist, and place your fist flush against the wall while keeping your arm parallel to the floor. While keeping your body facing the wall sideways, turn your head to face the wall directly – basically what you’re doing is simulating the stance you would be in when holding a drawn bow and preparing to shoot. Now just have someone measure the distance between the highest point on your fist, and the corner of your mouth. This will be your draw length. See the picture below:
Ideally you should use both this method, as well as the arm-span method mentioned earlier, just for confirmation. If both methods give you slightly different results (for example 28 and 29 inches), simply add the two together and divide the result by 2 (two) to get the average, and use that as your draw length.
What Arrow Length To Get?
Once you’ve determined your draw length, simply add 1 to 2 inches to that, and this will be your ideal arrow length. So if your draw length is 28″, you should be using arrows that are between 29 and 30 inches long.
The vast majority of people will have a draw length of roughly 28″, and for those people here are our arrow recommendations:
For Target Practice:
- Bows with 50# draw weight or less: 12 Pack Fiberglass Arrows
- Bows with 50# – 70#: Allen Company 30-Inch Carbon Arrows with these field points
Please note: while the arrows above are listed as being ranked for bows with 50# to 70# draw weight, they will work just fine with a 40# and 45# draw weight recurve as well.
Explanation (Please Read This)
The goal of this guide isn’t to be a comprehensive tutorial on choosing arrows for a recurve bow. Rather, I want to give beginners an idea on what they should be buying. You could spend weeks upon weeks researching the most appropriate arrows for your recurve, and you would end up being more confused than you were at the beginning. I want to spare you all of that and simply give you some basic guidelines to follow as a novice archer – as you advance, you’ll be able to fine-tune your arrows (spine, diameter, etc.) to your particular needs.
The Difference Between Hunting And Target Arrow Shafts
Suffice it to say that the most important difference is in total arrow weight. The heavier the arrow shaft, the deeper it will penetrate on impact (although it will also lose velocity faster) due to higher kinetic energy. When you are target practicing, you usually don’t need much penetration as you only want the arrow to pierce some compressed foam or cardboard. When hunting however, you might some times need to go through thick layers of fat and even bone.
The good news is that none of this matters that much if you are a beginner, because you are likely not going to be shooting accurately at a distance of more than 20 or 30 yards. And within that distance range, a target arrow will do fairly well both for target practice as well as hunting, simply because this distance traveled is short enough that even a light arrow will still penetrate deeply both a foam target as well as flesh. Just make sure to get appropriate hunting broad heads as described above.
There is of course much more to choosing the best arrows for your recurve bow than this. You could analyze fletching length and materials, different nock points, arrow weight, materials, diameter, etc.. My goal though, as stated in the intro, was to give you a really simple guide which can be used to dive right into archery, without having to spend countless hours researching the subject, only to later realize that the arrows you purchased were not ideal for your bow anyway. By following the guidelines on this page you can get your feet wet real quick with some good, quality, and universal arrows.
Now that you know which arrows to go for as a beginner, consider browsing through one of the following recurve bow comparison charts on my website to figure out which model to buy:
- Best recurve bows (top 10 chart overall)
- Beginner recurve bows list.
- Best Recurve bows for hunting list.
- Cheap Recurve Bows list
Good luck, and if you have any questions feel free to contact me directly or post here in the comments below.