Archery is a very appealing sport and activity to many people, as it looks cool, and it almost makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time, to when archery was used not only to hunt for food, but also to defend from attacks, and to fight in wars. But here’s the thing, archery is not easy.
There is a lot of skill involved in archery, and in order to have good aim and hit the target consistently, you need to know about all the different factors that affect arrow flight. Because making sure that the arrow hits the target is a lot harder than simply taking aim and shooting, so many things can affect how the arrow flies through the air, and if the course is altered even by a little bit, then your aim will be off.
But what exactly can affect the flight path of an arrow?
Well, if you’re a beginner, we don’t want to overwhelm you with going into hardcore deep archery science, as all the arrow flight details can be a bit much. But instead, we will give you a summarized list of the main factors that can affect arrow flight, and that need to be taken into consideration by the archers before taking a shot. Sounds good? Right, then let’s get into it.
We can divide the different factors that affect arrow flight into two different categories: those that we can control and adjust, and those that are completely out of our control. So the first category are things that you can practice or change so that you perfect the flight of your arrows to have better consistency when hitting the target. And in the second category, there are things you can account for, but that you can’t control, such as wind and weather conditions.
But let’s go through all the main ones in a little more detail:
Factors you can control:
- The bow:
The bow is a big factor in every aspect of archery, including arrow flight. Things such as the shape of the bow, the design, and the weight, will affect the way in which the arrow is launched out into the air, and therefore will affect its flight path. There are many different types of bows, and different types of using them, so learning about this is usually the first step!
- The string size:
Depending on the size of the string, there will be more held tension or less, and this in turn can affect the power with which the arrow is released when you take aim and shoot. The string should work with the specific type of bow that you are using, and you can then adjust further depending on your shooting technique.
- The arrow length:
The length of the arrow is one of the biggest factors when it comes to the final arrow flight, so it is important to know about it and to choose the right arrows for you.
Shorter arrows are lighter, which means they can be designed to be stiffer than longer arrows. This allows them to fly a further distance, at a higher speed. Also, a shorter and stiffer arrow will flex less as it flies through the air, helping add distance and speed to its flight.
Meanwhile, longer arrows are heavier and tend to flex more, so they will not go as fast or as far.
- The arrow vanes or feathers:
When you shoot an arrow, one of the main aims is for it to spin during its flight. This spinning motion reduces imperfections in the technique and form, and it helps the arrow fly straighter, for a better aim.
In order to achieve this spin, your arrows need to have the right vanes or feathers. Different types of vanes and feathers, with different lengths, materials, and designs, can affect the way in which the arrow will spin, and therefore the flight.
- The arrow point weight:
The point of an arrow can be made with different materials, different designs, and it can therefore have different weights. The weight of the point can hugely affect the flight. For example, a heavy point will cause the arrow to bend more. Meanwhile, a lighter point will make the arrow stiffer, helping it fly faster and straighter.
- Form and technique:
The type of bow, arrow, and gear that you use can all affect the flight of an arrow, and therefore your aim. However, there is something that can affect the arrow flight just as much: the way you shoot the arrow. Your form and technique have a huge impact on how the arrow is released and how it flies, so it is very important to get the right training, use the right technique and form, and spend a lot of time practicing to perfect it.
Factors you can’t control:
- Air density
- Unexpected obstacles
Does wind affect arrow flight?
When an arrow is released, it flies through the air, until it hits the target. Or at least, the aim is for it to hopefully hit the target. But does wind affect the flight?
The answer is yes. The wind has a huge effect on the flight of the arrow, as the arrow is flying through the air and can therefore be swayed one way or another by the wind. This is why archers have to be able to take wind strength and direction into account and adjust their aim in order to compensate for this factor.
Does temperature affect arrow flight?
The flight of an arrow is affected by a factor we call aerodynamic drag. This includes factors such as temperature and humidity, as they can slightly change the behavior of the arrow while in the air, causing its speed and direction to shift.
As a general rule, the higher the temperature the lower the drag effect is, so the less speed loss meaning the arrow will reach further, and the flight will remain straighter.