How to Choose the Best Crossbow Arrows

Purchasing a crossbow is the first step in building an archery hobby. Once you buy the crossbow, you need to purchase arrows, too. If researching and buying the crossbow wasn’t challenging enough, getting the right arrows for your needs can also be a challenge. It can be helpful to have some tips to make it easy to find the right arrows so you can get busy shooting instead of shopping.

What to Know Before Buying Arrows for Your Crossbows

There are a few important considerations to have before you spend any money on arrows. First, check out the recommendations from your crossbow manufacturer to see what arrows will perform the best with your bow. It is never a good idea to use arrows that weigh less than the recommended amount. Your broadheads and points should be equal in weight, too. If you decide to purchase arrows that are heavier, you should be aware that the velocity of your crossbow could decrease slightly.

Learn the Terminology: Arrow vs. Bolt

When you begin your shopping, you should know the terminology. Arrows are often known as bolts. When it comes to shooting a bolt, this can only be done out of a crossbow. The only difference between the two is that an arrow will have a stabilizer at the back, but a bolt will not. Since a crossbow does not require the stabilizer like a recurve bow. Let’s refer to them as arrows.

Arrow Construction

It is also helpful to understand how an arrow is constructed. First, arrows are usually somewhere between 16 and 22 inches long. Most are 20 inches in length. Read about the manufacturer’s recommendation for arrow length, because they will need to fit in the rail. Arrows that are too short will not fit properly.

Each arrow is made of relatively the same parts. The shaft is the long part of the arrows. Today’s arrows are usually made of carbon fibers or aluminum which makes them strong and lightweight. The stiffness of the arrows is measured, just like the length. This measurement is known as “spine.” The shaft of the arrow is also measured in weight. This measurement is called “grains.” Sometimes the measurement is known as “Grains Per Inch” or GPI. The measurements are usually combined, so if the shaft is given a measurement of 12 GPI and the shaft length is 20 inches, then the grain is 240.

Crossbow Arrows

Crossbow Arrows

Arrows have a part called “the nock.” This is usually a plastic or aluminum part that connects to the back end of the arrow shaft. The nock is used to keep the arrow from sliding around the bow. Nocks can come in a half-moon shape or a flat shape. They often have grooves that line up on the bow string. Like the weight of the arrow, the crossbow manufacturers will also recommend the type of nock that best fits with the crossbow design.

The next part of the arrow to know is the fletching. These are the little feathery wing-like parts that help keep the arrow traveling where you aim it. The trajectory stays because the fletchings make the arrow spin. These are usually made of plastic for crossbow arrows. Recurve bows often use arrows with actual feathers as fletchings. The fletchings are usually glued into place and they can be long; in fact, longer arrows will have longer fletchings to keep the arrows accuracy. Since the manufacturer will recommend the length and weight of the perfect arrow for your bow, the fletchings will coordinate with the size arrow you buy.

Types of Arrowheads

Another part of the arrow to know is the head. These are referred to as bolt heads or arrowheads. There are different kinds of arrowheads that you can use with your crossbow and they have slightly different functions. It is in your best interest to use the arrowhead that meets the needs of your archery practice.

Target Points

Target points or field points are designed for use on a range. They are designed to shoot target practice. The only sharp part is at the point, so they can penetrate the target, but not an animal hide. In fact, they are not recommended to be used during hunting because they would be determined to be too cruel, since they would not kill an animal quickly enough. No one wants their targets destroyed by a dangerous field point.

Field points are usually lightweight, around 140 grain – give or take a few grains. The points are either glued onto the arrow or screwed into it. The glued ones tend to more affordable. It is important to stick with the manufacturer’s recommendations by using field points that are the same weight; lighter ones can create a misfire or dry fire, which can damage the bow.


The broadhead is the other type of arrowhead to know. These are the points that you want to use when hunting. These are usually not glued on, simply because they need to be better made to be able to take down animals in the wilderness. They are available in three different styles. The fixed-blade broadhead is one unit with a dangerously sharp blade and point. There are removable broad-heads that have blades that can be taken off of the arrow point. The expandable broadheads have blades that pop out when the target is hit; these are the most potent arrows due to the blades doing internal damage to the animal. Expandable broadheads have less resistance, so they release from the crossbow quickly and the velocity remains. Because they are more efficient and effective, they are more expensive than the other types of broadheads. You can usually find them in three-packs with a weight around 140 grains, too.


Shopping for a crossbow arrow does not have to be difficult. It is best to buy an arrow that will fly straight and penetrate a target. It should also fulfill the manufacturer’s recommendations (or exceed them). The arrow needs to fit the type of target to expect to hit. If you just shoot targets on a range, you will not need to spend as much as you will if you prefer to shoot targets with four legs.

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