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How To Measure An Arrow The Correct Way.


Knowing how to measure an arrow is important, just like having the correct arrow length.

A short arrow might fall off the arrow rest and can be dangerous.

If you use an arrow that is too long, you are not getting all the possible performance benefits from the bow.

So before we cut the arrows, we should know how to measure an arrow the correct way.

Also if we get the archery shop to cut the arrows, we want to be on the same page, so to speak as the pro shop. The shop might use a different method to measuring the arrows. So it pays to know how to measure the arrow properly.


Information on different archery lengths.

Before we get into measuring the arrow we should note, there are three basic length measurements in archery. (Not including length of bow.) They are:

The archers draw length. That is the correct draw length for your body and shooting style.
Click here for, How To Figure Out Your Draw Length.

2. The bows draw length. This is the how the bow is set up for its draw length. Click on How To Measure A Bows draw Length for more information.

With a longbow and recurve bow, you can generally draw it within a wide range of draw lengths.

Over a set draw length, the recurve and longbow bow limbs will stack and be difficult to draw past a certain point. This is generally not a problem, unless you are very tall or have a long draw length. Or a very short or cheap quality bow may stack sooner.

For a compound bow, the bows draw length is crucial in matching your draw length.

  1. Arrow length. The arrow length should not be confused with the bow draw length.

The arrow length does not have to be the same as the archers draw length, or bows draw length.

It might be the same length or differ. Depending on bow and arrow set up and style of shooting.

As an example, for a gap shooter, who uses the arrow point as a guide / aiming sight, they might have a very long arrow to help their shooting style. His draw length might be 28 inches, but his arrows are 30 inches long.

Another example is an Olympic target archer.  Her draw length could be 27 inches. Her recurve bow is set up with a clicker and the arrows are cut at 26 ¼ inches.


How to measure an arrow.

How to measure an arrow

The arrow is measured from the end of the shaft to the throat of the nock.

(Where the string goes. Or very bottom of the inside of the nock.) Do not include the insert / insert flange or point as part of the measurement.

The correct way to measure the arrow is to use the ATA standard way.

The ATA (Archery Trade Association.) method is the correct way on how to measure an arrow.

This helps to be consistent across the archery manufactures and archery community.

ATA used to be called AMO or AMMO. (Archery Manufactures and Merchants Organization.) (To make things more confusing, ATA in archery, also might refer to the length of a compound bow. ATA = Axle to axle.)


Before cutting the arrows here are some tips to consider.

Archery beginners.

For beginners it is recommended that you keep the arrow length longer. Until you work out your correct draw length.

Making full use of the back muscles when drawing the bow and opening up the correct stance will probably lengthen you draw length. Therefore a longer arrow might be needed

If in doubt keep the arrow a bit longer.

Quite often, those starting out in archery may have the incorrect draw length setting on a compound bow.

For beginners using recurve and longbows, some may be over-bowed (Too much bow poundage.) and aren’t drawing the bow back far enough.

So when they get a correct lighter poundage draw weight for them, their draw length will increase.


Children’s Arrows

archey youth shooting bow

For children’s arrows it is a good idea to keep them longer, just like the beginner archer. As the child grows his or her draw length will increase, hence needing a longer arrow length.

A longer arrow, within reason, is generally safer for children. As they have a tendency to pull the bowstring past their ears. Too short of an arrow can be dangerous and fall of the rest.



Archery tips for arrows.

The old builders saying of measure twice, cut once is true. Double check your measurements before cutting.

A rule of thumb for long bow and recurve bowhunters is: For hunting arrows, it is recommended that you add about an inch (25mm) extra length past the back of the riser. This is so the back of the broadhead has enough clearance and doesn’t touch your hand.

For compound archers, the bow riser will probably be cut past center and arrow length can generally be shorter. But check your set up and arrow rest first.

Don’t use a hacksaw to cut carbon arrows, it can damage the arrow. Use a high speed saw or proper arrow saw. Or get the archery shop to cut them.

Cutting the arrow shorter will change the arrow spine. Leaving the arrow longer than necessary might mean the spine is weaker. So check the arrow manufactures spine charts to check the length / spine is suitable for the bow’s draw weight.

When buying arrows from archery supply shops and eBay sellers of archery gear, double check they use the ATA measurement.

If they don’t use the correct way, they might measure the very end of the arrow nock and include the point. Yet others might just measure end to end of the bare shaft. This might mean the arrow length is off by an inch (25mm.) or more.

When marking the arrow with a pen or sharpie and it is hard to see the mark, use some tape on the arrow shaft and mark the tape.



measuring an arrow

Remember to measure from inside or the throat of the nock to the end of the bare arrow shaft with no components in it.

Knowing how to measure an arrow is important. So the standard way is followed in the archery community, so there is no confusion when ordering the arrows or cutting them yourself.