How To Find The Perfect Arrow Length For Your Bow?

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Many beginner archers focus on the wrong things when choosing their arrows. Though different tips and fletchings can make a lot of difference, the first thing you should consider is the length of the arrow.

It’s really easy to find the perfect arrow length for you if you know what to look for. In this post, I’m going to help you determine what arrow length will be perfect for you.

The basic rule of thumb you should follow is having arrow that are 1″ – 2″ longer than your draw length. Beginners prefer longer arrows, while experienced archers prefer shorter ones. You can use your bow to make this measurement, or use the proposed arm measurements.

New archers will especially benefit from this post, because it will help to clear out a lot for the stress that comes with buying equipment for the first time. But even experienced archers should think about changing the equipment they’re using, so if even if you’re more advanced I’d suggest reading the post.

I’ll start by clearing out why arrow length is important, then explain how it’s typically measured and how to find the ideal arrow length for you.

Let’s go.

Does arrow length matter?

We put a lot of thought into our equipment, in order to maximize our ability to shoot with good precision. But when it comes to arrows,  many archers just pick whatever arrows without considering them. That’s a real shame because shooting the wrong type of arrow will significantly decrease your accuracy and even danger your safety.

It’s actually pretty easy to find what’s your ideal arrow length. Remember that you’re shooting a bow, so having the wrong type of arrow can be dangerous to you and your equipment. For example, if you shoot an arrow that is too short for you, it might fall off the rest when you’re a full draw, which puts you and people around you at risk of injury.

Arrows that are too short can actually cause dry fire. That’s when the archer accidentally releases the bowstring without an arrow nocked. It can cause a lot of damage to the bow, and it’s actually dangerous to everyone around you. Learn more about avoiding dry firing your bow in my post.

While having an arrow that is too long less risky than the alternative, it can greatly affect your accuracy and speed. Longer arrows are typically heavier, which means they will fly out of your bow slower. They also flex differently at full draw, which means the can wobble when leaving the bow, having less kinetic energy and less accuracy. 

I think traditional archers can get away with shooting longer arrows, but for compound archers, it’s really important to know exactly what length arrow they should shoot. Compound bows are more powerful than the alternative, so they require stiffer arrows. Since shorter arrows typically have stiffer spines, most compound archers choose to shoot arrows as short as they can.

Having proper equipment is important all around, and the length of your arrow is just one aspect. But we’ve established that it’s an important thing to consider. Let’s begin considering what length arrows you need to get, by first understanding how their sizes are measured.

How is arrow length measured?

The first thing we need to clarify is the difference between arrow length and arrow size. The length of the arrow is the length of the shaft itself. The size of the arrow is the thickness of the shaft. Though the size of the arrow determines how stiff it is and how much it can flex, we’re going to focus on the length of the arrow on this post.

Since the arrow is made out of multiple parts, there are a few ways to measure its length.  Though the standard measurement is usually what we’re interested in, archers often only consider the length of the shaft. 

The shaft is the central part of the arrow, that all the other parts are connected to. On the backside of the arrow, we have the nock and the fletching, while in the front we have the tip that’s connected through an insert to the shaft. These make a complete arrow.

The standard way to measure the length of the arrow (ATA method) is from the nock groove to the end of the shaft, not including the tip of the arrow. Some confused it with the physical tip-to-tip length that includes that tip of the arrow and the tip of the nock, and with the shaft length. When you’re purchasing arrows, make sure you’re looking at the right measurement. 

Now that you’re equipped with knowledge of how the measurement itself works, let’s consider the different methods for finding your ideal arrow length.

Methods for choosing arrow length

There are a few ways to determine what’s your ideal arrow length. Both methods I’m suggesting are simple, but require the assistance of a friend. The proper length of the arrow is mainly determined by the type of bow you’re using, and the draw length on it.   So you should make sure that it’s set right, and you can do that by following my post about finding your ideal archer draw length

The basic rule of thumb is having your arrow stick out at least 1” – 2” beyond the riser when the bow is at full draw. You can simply measure this length with your bow and some arrow, or utilize arm measurements if you don’t have access to a bow. 

Since you a draw length can be different when you shoot with proper vs improper archery technique, you should make sure that you take these measurements with proper form. I had some surprising form tips that can help you make accurate measurements in my archery posture guide. You should give it a look.

Let’s discuss the different measurement methods for arrow length.

Bow Draw method

If you have access to a bow, the simplest way to measure arrow length is to use your bow and a long arrow to take a measurement. Take the arrow, pull your bow to full draw, and with the assistance of a friend, mark where is the arrow meets the end of the riser. At least one inch to this measurement, and you have your ideal arrow length.

Most archery clubs and archery shops have a “draw arrow”, which has marked measurements along its entire body. Using a draw arrow will make things much easier because you have your measurements instantly when your bow is fully drawn.

Arm Measurements

Even if you don’t have access to a bow, you can still utilize the arm measurement methods. They’re pretty simple tend to be accurate, only up to 1” off.

The first method will be the arms forward method.  In this method, you take a long arrow or any straight stick and place it on your chest. You then take both of your hands and fully extended forward, while putting your palms together on the stick. Ask a friend to take a measurement at the edge of your fingertips, and add 1” to it – that’s your arrow length.

Another method you can utilize is the measurement tape method. Hold it between your drawing hand’s index and middle finger. Place it near your chin, at your anchor point, and extend your holding arm forward, parallel to the ground. Your ideal arrow length will then be the distance between your hand to the tip of your holding hand thumb, plus and additional 1”, of course.

These methods will give you a good indication of what your arrow length should be. Of course, you should try the arrows with the bow you’re actually going to be shooting, to make sure they’re appropriately long.


While finding your ideal arrow length is pretty straight forward, it’s important that you put some thought into it. Shooting the wrong arrows can limit your accuracy and actually risk your safety.

While there are other aspects you should consider when purchasing arrows, I think that length should come first.

The methods I detailed here to measure your arrow length are pretty simple and quick to do. No reason to skip them, unless you’re already familiar with your shooting specs.

I hope you found this post helpful and easy to implement. Have a nice shoot!