Can Compound Bows Shoot Wood Arrows

Can Compound Bows Shoot Wood Arrows?

Yes, you can shoot wooden arrows with a compound bow but, it is not recommended and is actually a safety hazard. There is a risk of shattering or exploding of wooden arrows in certain conditions like inappropriate spine or damaged arrow. 

Although this is a low risk, if the arrow shatters, it can cause harm to you and your precious compound bow.

These wood arrows are designed for traditional bows. Compound bows are mechanical machines with a pulley system that exerts a lot more force than these old archery bows. This excess energy has the potential to damage the arrow.

We will discuss more about the wooden arrows, why not to use them, and if you do then how to shoot wood arrows with compound bows.

History Of Wooden Arrows

Wooden arrows have a fascinating history. They were first made from special cedar wood and crafted by the Coquille tribe in Oregon, my childhood home, a long time ago. These arrows were strong, light, and super straight. Today, many people who love the traditional way of hunting are drawn to wooden arrows. Here’s the cool part: you can actually use these old-school arrows with modern compound bows, making it like a mix of history and today’s high-tech archery.

Should You Shoot Wooden Arrows?

Having said that you can use wooden arrows with compound bows if you have correctly followed the precautions but, should you really shoot them? The answer is it depends on your personal preference.

In my opinion, they shouldn’t be used as your primary arrows for competitions, hunting, etc.  You can use them just to have some idea about their shooting or for some practice. But it is also not recommended to use them for competition practice as their flight is different and they are a bit difficult to get grouped accurately. 

Reasons To Not Use Wood Arrow With Compound Bow

The wooden arrows are not the best type for compound shooting. Let’s discuss the reasons why you should not use wood arrows with compound bows.

1. Arrow Shattering

Wooden arrows, unlike modern materials such as carbon or aluminum, can be more susceptible to damage. This vulnerability is especially concerning when using a high-powered compound bow that stores a significant amount of energy. 

I am not saying that shooting a fine wooden arrow will totally shatter anyway. Minor imperfections or hairline cracks in the wood can lead to catastrophic arrow failure upon release. 

These hairline cracks or weaknesses in the shaft can be pretty hard to find. The result can include splintering, breakage, or even the arrow veering off course unexpectedly, posing a safety hazard to you and those nearby.

2. Inadequate Flexing Ability

This is the main reason why shooting wooden arrows with a compound bow is not recommended. I’ve done some research on this, and I’d clear things up for you.

The main reason for compound bow and wood arrow incompatibility lies in the fundamental differences between the two types of bows in terms of how they handle arrow flexing.

In a traditional bow like a recurve or longbow, when you release an arrow, it has room to flex both left and right. This allows wooden arrows, which naturally flex quite a bit, to perform adequately without causing problems.

wooden arrow flexing compound(up and down) vs traditional(left and right)

However, a compound bow operates differently. It exerts a substantial amount of force and holds the arrow tightly in place, allowing minimal room for arrow flex. Compound bows primarily facilitate up-and-down flexing, not the side-to-side motion that wooden arrows require. 

When you attempt to use wooden arrows with a compound bow, the excessive flexing can lead to the arrow hitting either the top or bottom of the riser. This is not only ineffective but also dangerous, as it can result in injury, particularly in the form of a painful shot to the arm.

3. Inconsistent Arrow Groupings

Every wooden arrow is different due to the natural inconsistencies found in the material. Here are some factors that can contribute to the differences between wooden arrows:

Wood type: Different types of wood have different structures, densities, and strengths, which can affect the weight, stiffness, and durability of the arrow

Grain orientation: The orientation of the wood grain can affect the strength and stiffness of the arrow. Ideally, the grain should run parallel to the length of the arrow for maximum strength

These differences in wooden arrows can cause your shots to go off. These variations might not be visible but would play a role in ruining a shot.

4. Less durable

Wooden arrows are generally considered to be less durable than aluminum and carbon arrows due to their natural inconsistencies and susceptibility to damage. Here are some reasons why wooden arrows are less durable:

Natural variations: Wooden arrows can have natural variations in weight, stiffness, and spine due to the inconsistencies found in the wood, which can affect their flight and accuracy

Susceptibility to damage: Wooden arrows can split, ding, or become damaged more easily than aluminum and carbon arrows, which can affect their performance and lifespan

Maintenance: Wooden arrows require more maintenance compared to other materials, such as sanding, sealing, and re-fletching, to maintain their straightness and consistency

wooden arrows with compound bows

How to Shoot Compound Bow With Wood Arrows

Shooting wooden arrows with a compound bow might seem a bit scary. But fear not, it’s definitely possible, and I’ll walk you through the process step by step

Step 1: Choose the Right Wooden Arrows

Before you even start shooting wooden arrows with your compound bow, it’s crucial to select the right arrows. You want shafts that are correctly spined, meaning they flex just the right amount for your bow’s draw weight. The straightness of the grain is essential. 

Here’s the thing: when you’re shooting wooden arrows, you should always pay attention to these factors, regardless of the bow you’re using. It’s all about arrow quality and safety.

Step 2: Check for Damage

Inspect your wooden arrows thoroughly before each use. Look for any signs of damage, like cracks or splinters. 

You should be okay if your arrows are in good condition and spined correctly. Don’t underestimate the durability of properly maintained wooden arrows.

Step 3: Understand the Differences

It’s essential to recognize that shooting wooden arrows with a compound bow isn’t fundamentally different from shooting other arrows. The key difference lies in the forces involved. When you release an arrow with a compound bow, you’re using a release aid that imparts a straight, consistent release. The arrow can flex up and down.

This is unlike a recurve bow where your fingers can introduce a side load to the arrow. So, if your arrows are correctly spined for your compound bow and are not excessively flexing up and down, you’re on the right track.

Step 4: Avoid Mismatched Arrows

One common mistake to avoid is using wooden arrows spined for a lighter draw-weight recurve bow on a heavier compound bow. This is where some people have run into issues. 

For instance, if you have cedar arrows designed for a 50 lb recurve and then put them into a 50 lb compound, it might not end well. Remember, when you release that arrow with a compound bow, you’re applying a greater amount of force to it as with a recurve bow of the same draw weight. 

I had wooden arrows designed for an 80 lb long bow and used them successfully with a 65 lb compound bow. The key is to ensure that your arrows match the draw weight and specifications of your compound bow to prevent any problems.

Step 5: Safety Precautions

Do wear an armguard and finger protection while shooting bows and arrows. Wooden arrows can split, ding, or become damaged, which can cause them to break upon release and potentially cause injury. Handle arrows carefully and protect yourself and the arrow points with a covered arrow quiver

What Type Of Arrows Should I Use On A Compound Bow?

When deciding on arrows for your compound bow, you’ll typically come across two main options: carbon and aluminum. 

Carbon arrows are often the preferred choice due to their lightweight build, which allows for faster arrow speeds and less drop over long distances. They’re also incredibly sturdy, flexing without breaking, making them great for hunters and versatile in different conditions. Carbon arrows’ flexibility helps absorb shock, which can be easier on your bow and provide consistent performance.

On the other hand, aluminum arrows are heavier but tend to be more affordable than their carbon counterparts. They offer excellent straightness and durability, making them ideal for target shooting and beginner archers.

While aluminum arrows are more budget-friendly and still perform well, carbon arrows are often considered the better choice for compound bows. Their combination of speed, durability, and flexibility makes them a popular pick among archers who value top-notch performance.

What Type of Bow To Use Wood Arrows With?

If you’re contemplating what type of bow to pair with wooden arrows, let me share some insights. When it comes to shooting wooden arrows, the classic choice is to go with a traditional bow, such as a recurve or a longbow. These bows are purpose-built to complement the unique characteristics of wooden arrows, making them an ideal match.

Here’s why: Traditional bows like recurves and longbows are designed to work harmoniously with the side-to-side flexing that wooden arrows naturally exhibit. This design allows for a smoother release and more forgiving arrow flight. When you draw and release an arrow with a traditional bow, the arrow’s flexing is accommodated within the bow’s natural design, resulting in a more consistent and satisfying shooting experience.


I recommend not using wooden arrows with compound bows, but if you do make sure that the spine is correctly matching your compound bow. Use a long metal guard to protect your arm in case something goes wrong. Use carbon arrows for an amazing compound experience. You should definitely check out this forum question about compound bow and wooden arrows to see other’s experiences. This is one of the most exciting tasks for me.

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