Arrows do not fly straight because of certain factors like archer’s error, arrow’s weight, cam timing, and the weight of your bow. Even with just one of these factors present, it can affect the direction of your arrow, thus affecting your accuracy.
Another term for arrows that do not fly straight is “arrow not being in tune.” Arrows not in tune usually happen when you get an inconsistent shot placement with your broadheads or when your broadheads are grouping in different spots than the usual field points.
Multiple factors can cause an arrow not to fly straight. Any minor imperfection in your bow tune can cause a lot of disturbances on the front of the broadhead. It can further necessitate bowing tuning, or as some archers call it, “broadhead tuning.” Read on below to know why these factors affect the flight of your arrows.
Do arrows fly straight?
Arrows do not fly straight. They cannot react to the kinetic energy at once during their flight. Due to the pressure on the back of a stationary arrow, different parts gain momentum at different speeds causing the arrow to wobble and not fly straight.
When archers release the string, it exerts a lot of stress and pressure on the arrow that causes a snap back to its resting position. In essence, the back of the arrow that receives tremendous pressure from the string moves faster than the front part.
The arrow cannot leave the bow immediately once shot. It absorbs a small amount of energy through bending before it finally finds its way to the target. An arrow shot from the bow usually turns to the left and right because the string needs to get around the finger of the archer back to its resting position.
The bending of the arrow adds a horizontal element to the shot, which is why it never flies straight. However, the farther you pull an arrow from the bow, the more straightforward it will pass. It is because the energy spends on bending lessens during the shot.
Moreover, fletchings or vanes at the back of the arrow speed up the process of arrows flying straight. It is because vanes and fletchings slow down the back of the shaft, which is the part of the arrow that travels faster.
Every arrow in flight has two nodes: one near the back of the bow and one near the front.
Nodes are those points on the shaft that stays in the same place while other parts bend. A line between the two nodes is what archers refer to as the straight line. It points to where the arrow is heading in flight.
What are the common reasons why arrows do not fly straight?
There are five common reasons why arrows do not fly. These factors are cam timing, arrow spine and straightness, arrow rest, nock tuning, and operator error.
Here is a more detailed explanation of why these five factors affect the flight of an arrow.
- Cam timing
- Incorrectly spined arrows
- Archer’s error
- Arrow rest
- Tuning your nocks
Cams control the strings and cables, which work together to give the bow its complete draw cycle. The draw weight peaks and let-off come from the entire draw cycle. Moreover, once your string is released, your cams should rotate unison.
If your bow cams are not in sync, it can unexpectedly throw your arrow. Often, this is the reason were high or low hits come from once you screw the broadheads on. The high and low impacts are because either the cam’s top or bottom is faster than the other, which causes the arrow not to fly in a straight direction.
The stiffness of the arrow’s spine significantly affects how much bent is put on the arrow when shoot. An under-spined arrow or one that is not stiff enough will most likely hit right. In comparison, an over-spined arrow or one that is too stiff will tend to shoot left.
Paper tuning is a big help in diagnosing improper arrow spine. To do that, you need to check if you are not shooting a perfect bullet hole through a paper at a distance. If your form is on-point, but you are not shooting an ideal bullet hole, that means the arrow is not flying straight.
Sometimes, rather than the gear, it could be your posture, form, or shooting that causes the arrow not to fly straight. You need to evaluate yourself and take the time to get proper coaching from someone more experienced than you.
The arrow rest is the one that guides the arrow through the shot and off of the string. If the arrow rest is too far left, the direction of your arrow will shoot slightly to the left. Moreover, if your arrow rest is slightly too far right, then your arrow will shoot to the right.
Even a 1/32 or a 1/64 of an inch can significantly impact your arrow. It influences if your arrow flies in a straight line or not. Adjusting your arrow rest helps a lot, even only minor movement.
That is why micro adjustments are enormous help when making minor adjustments. You should also pay attention to the functionality because if the rest is not functioning well, it can also affect the flight of your arrow.
Nock tuning is the last thing you need to check if everything else is functioning correctly in your bow and arrow. When doing nock tuning, you should have broadheads and arrows with field points that group together. Doing this nock tuning will help you tweak individual arrows that are not flying like the rest of your arrows with broadheads.
Nock tuning can change how your arrow flexes as it leaves the string of your bow. Theoretically, it can also improve how your arrow recovers and flies after leaving your bowstring. You can do nock tuning by turning your nock 90 or 120 degrees to position your arrow differently as it passes off your string.
So, your shots are not the problem when you are confident that you have tuned your bow correctly and that your form is correct. Do a nock tuning to help get each arrow to fly more consistently.
You can take control when things like arrows not flying straight happens. So, take note of the reasons above and do the tuning processes if you notice that your arrows are not flying directly or in the direction you wanted.
How do I fix lousy arrow flight?
To fix a lousy arrow flight, you need to adjust the arrow rest to ensure that the left-right flight issues get resolved. You can also change the nocking point to fix the up-down flight problems.
After you release an arrow, its flight usually looks clean from your perspective, the end of its nock following directly behind the point of your target. However, if your arrow flies at an angle, something is wrong that you need to fix quickly, or your accuracy will suffer.
Before adjusting the arrow rest and the nocking point, check first if you are shooting the correct spine for your arrow for your bow. It is essential to check the arrow spine because that is the stiffness of your arrow.
The higher the draw weight off your bow, the stiffer the arrow spine should be. Arrow manufacturers usually provide charts with recommendations for the correct spine for draw weights and arrow lengths.
After checking and getting the correct arrow spine, you need to adjust the arrow rest and the nocking point if there is still a problem with your arrow’s flight. However, if you are unsure if you are doing it right, a professional in any archery shop can help you make the adjustments.
You have to tell them that you need to adjust the arrow rest or the nocking point to correct the flight of your arrow.
How do I know if my arrow spine is too stiff?
The best way to know if your arrow spine is too stiff is to shoot a video of the flight of your arrow. Watching the flight of your arrow will let you see if your arrow is swerving to the right or the left.
If your arrow is veering towards the right, it is too weak, and shifting towards the left means it is too stiff. Based on what you see in your video, you can take steps to correct the direction of your arrow during flight. Archers call the process of restoring a bad arrow flight “arrow tuning.”
An over-spined arrow usually veers off-target as it loses energy and velocity. Meanwhile, an under-spined arrow is a weaker or less tense that causes it to wobble and stray off-course. Moreover, an arrow with a soft spine flexes more manageable than an arrow with a stiff spine.
If the arrow flexes too much or if it does not flex enough, it will indeed not fly straight. Another thing to know about an arrow spine is that if the arrow’s spine is too stiff or weak, the arrow will not correct itself while in flight.
Once the arrow is super stiff, it will not follow the path that the archer intends causing a missed target or less accuracy. Thus, optimizing your arrow’s flight is the key to accuracy.
When your arrow wobbles less, it will straighten out and fly in a straight direction towards your target. However, when your arrow flies straight, it does not lose its energy to the wobbles and will get its maximum force into the target you want to aim for.
To assess a spine rating, manufacturers use the two widely known and recognized standards of measurement in archery: the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Archery Trade Association (ATA). Each organization has similar testing methods for determining a spine rating.
For the ATA test, they will attach an arrow to two supports 26 inches apart. They will then press the middle of the arrow with something that weighs at least two pounds or 970 grams. Depending on the result, the deflection in the arrow will show its spine rating.
The ASTM does the same process. But the only difference between these two processes is that the ATA rating is primarily for wooden woods, while the ASTM test is for slightly used carbon fiber arrows or aluminum construction.
If you want to do the spine test yourself, you can buy your measuring equipment, test the arrow’s spine, or make the spine tester yourself. To make a spine tester, you must set up your measuring tool at home.
However, if you are not keen on using the DIY spine tester, you can take your arrow spine to an archery shop and let the professionals do it. Archery shops have a spine tester on-hand, and they will be able to determine quickly the condition of your arrow spine by just looking up the name of the manufacturer and the arrow’s name.