All things being equal a lighter arrow will travel faster when shot from a bow. A faster arrow tends to drop less over a given distance. Both will have similar kinetic energy over a short distance.

A longbow or a compound bow requires an arrow long enough to span the draw length. A crossbow arrow (quarrel or bolt) is supported by the barrel of the crossbow so can made lighter just by making it shorter. Different materials and options (i.e. arrow tips) can also result in lighter weights.

What is the lightest arrow/bolt practical for target practice?

If I am not worried about penetration (killing power) is there any arrow weight that is to low? i.e. is overly susceptible to cross winds or travels so fast that it creates safety issue?

  • Unfortunately, and you'll see this from the only answer here: it's very opinion-based – Rory Alsop Dec 13 '17 at 8:56
  • To be fair. I don't think it's option based at all. It's all about physics and maths. See my second edit – Desorder Dec 16 '17 at 20:18

The weight of the arrow depends on the material used to make it.

First let’s understand that you pick an arrow based on the weight of the bow (poundage) and the archer’s draw length. That will give the spine (group) of the arrow you should be using.

There are ways to play with spine... longer arrows, heavier points, etc but let’s forget this for now and just follow the recipe.

You will find some aluminium arrows have a similar GPI (grains per inch). As soon as you move to the more specialised top of the line arrows they move from aluminium to carbon and then from carbon to some crazy alloy and the GPI changes significantly.

If you pick the right arrow with the right spine for the right length arrows will vary in weight based on the material they’re made.

Then weight play another part of the game.

Lighter arrows has less drop as you said but are more susceptible to wind and also more fragile. You shoot a few light arrows on a tree and they start to split.

Hunting ones are heavier as they need to hold more energy for penetration. Also it’s unlikely hunters will be shooting further than 30-40 meters/yards so distance is not the point of those kind of arrows.

Olympic archers will be looking for mid ground where arrows are not too light to be influenced by wind in those 70 meter shoots but also not too heavy to avoid the extra drop.

EDIT 1 I have a feeling that as much as I added info RE arrow weights and materials I didn’t actually answer your question. The lightest arrow practical for target shooting will be as light as the material that the arrow is made of allows but strong enough to be shot by a bow of certain poundage.

EDIT 2 Given a certain bow with X pounds and an archer with Y draw length what's the lightest arrows we can use? Taken that James are not going to hide in this garage and make his Jame's special super light alloy to make his arrows we only have wooden, aluminium and carbon arrows available. We know that carbon is lighter (in general) so it needs to be carbon. So the lightest arrow you can shoot from your bow (safely) will be the weakest spine you can find for your bow and archer.

  • 1
    I'd argue that the takeaway message here really is: it depends. On your bows poundage, on the chosen arrow materials (read: how expensive the arrows will be, ranging from maybe 4€ to easily ten times that), on your draw length, on whether you're planning to do indoor or outdoor target practice, etc. – fgysin Dec 7 '17 at 8:06
  • Yes. It will depend on the material considering all other variables the same. (Bow poundage, draw length, etc...) Even if you pick an Easton arrow model for example, in that same model the arrows get heavier as the arrow gets stiffer. – Desorder Dec 9 '17 at 21:20
  • This sounds like a knowledgable answer, but it is entirely qualitative. A few numbers would be helpful. I know nothing about archery, and am left wondering if we are talking in the range of grams, ounces, or pounds. My guess is ounces, but one or ten? Voted to reopen. – ab2 Jan 3 '18 at 19:51

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