No matter if you're a novice looking for the best beginner compound bow, or an experienced hunter wanting a refresh of their knowledge, every archer needs to know the parts of an arrow. 

Take a look at the handy information below that summarizes everything you need to know related to an arrow. This is the base knowledge needed to help you improve your accuracy for both practice, competition shooting, and hunting.

The Main Parts Of An Arrow

Listed below are the different parts of an arrow, and a brief description of each.

Parts Of An Arrow Illustration

1. Nock

An arrow nock (also known as "nock" or "nock point") is a small plastic or metal component located at the rear end of an arrow. It is designed to fit onto the bowstring, allowing the arrow to be securely held in place before and during the shot.

The arrow nock typically has a V-shaped or half-moon groove that accommodates the bowstring, ensuring proper alignment of the arrow with the string. This alignment is essential for consistent and accurate shooting. When an archer prepares to shoot, they place the arrow's nock onto the bowstring, between two nocking points, which are usually small brass, plastic, string loops placed on the bowstring to ensure consistent arrow placement.

The nock plays a critical role in archery, as it helps maintain the arrow's position and orientation during the draw and release, which directly impacts the flight path of the arrow. By having a consistent and secure nocking point, archers can improve their accuracy and precision in hitting their target. It's crucial to inspect and maintain the arrow nocks regularly to ensure they are in good condition and perform optimally during shooting.

2. Fletching

Arrow fletching refers to the feathers or vanes attached to the rear end of an arrow. These fletchings play a crucial role in stabilizing the arrow during flight, ensuring accuracy and consistency in its trajectory. By creating drag and controlling the arrow's spin, fletchings help keep the arrow on a straight path and counteract the effects of wind and other external factors.

Traditionally, arrows were fletched with natural feathers from birds, such as turkey or goose feathers. However, modern arrows often use synthetic materials for fletchings, such as plastic vanes, which offer durability and consistency.

The fletchings are typically attached near the nock end of the arrow, with most arrows having three fletchings positioned at equal angles around the shaft. Different configurations, like two fletchings or even four fletchings, are also used in specialized circumstances.

3. Shaft

An arrow shaft is the main body or central component of an arrow. It is the long, straight part of the arrow that connects the arrowhead at the front to the nock at the rear end. The shaft is responsible for transferring the energy from the bow to the arrowhead, propelling the arrow forward when the bow is released.

Arrow shafts are typically made of various materials, with the most common being:

1. Wood: Historically, arrows were primarily made from wood, such as cedar, pine, or birch. Wooden arrow shafts are still used today, especially in traditional archery, due to their natural and traditional appeal.

2. Aluminum: Modern arrow shafts made from aluminum are widely used in target archery and recreational shooting. They offer consistency, durability, and are available in various diameters and wall thicknesses.

3. Carbon: Carbon arrow shafts are prevalent in both target archery and hunting. They are lightweight, strong, and have excellent consistency, making them popular among archers who require high-performance arrows.

The choice of arrow shaft material depends on the archer's preference, shooting style, and purpose. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages, and selecting the right arrow shaft is crucial for achieving optimal performance and accuracy while shooting.

4. Insert

An arrow insert is a small component that is typically made of metal, plastic, or other durable materials. It is designed to be installed into the front end of an arrow shaft. The primary purpose of an arrow insert is to provide a threaded connection point for attaching the arrowhead or point to the arrow shaft.

When constructing an arrow, the arrowhead (broadhead or field point) is screwed into the arrow insert, which is pre-installed inside the arrow shaft. This threaded connection ensures a secure and reliable attachment of the arrowhead, preventing it from coming loose during shooting.

Arrow inserts come in different sizes and thread patterns to match the corresponding arrow shafts and arrowheads. They are often glued or pressed into the front end of the arrow shaft during the arrow assembly process. Additionally, some inserts are designed to have specific weights, allowing archers to customize the arrow's overall weight and balance according to their preferences and shooting needs.

5. Point

An arrow point, also known as an arrowhead, is the tip or front end of an arrow. It is the part of the arrow that makes direct contact with the target and is responsible for penetrating the target upon impact. Arrow points come in various shapes and designs, each suited for specific purposes such as hunting, target shooting, or traditional archery.

There are two primary types of arrow points:

1. Broadheads: Broadheads are used for hunting and are designed with sharp blades to create a wide cutting diameter upon impact. They are meant to cause significant tissue damage and ensure a lethal shot. Broadheads can be fixed-blade (with stationary blades) or mechanical (with deployable blades).

2. Field Points: Field points are used for target shooting and practice. They have a simple, rounded shape and are typically made of metal or plastic. Field points help maintain the arrow's flight characteristics similar to that of broadheads, making them ideal for honing accuracy.

Types Of Arrow Points

Other Arrow Features To Know...

When asked to name the parts of an arrow, you'll also have these too:

1. Wrap

An arrow wrap is a self-adhesive vinyl that is wrapped around the rear of the shaft.

While it's not the most important part of an arrow, many archers still utilize wraps for hunting to help determine the placement of their shot based on the color of the arrow after it exits the animal. They are also used as a more secure surface to attach the vane to.

Additionally, they do add a pretty cool traditional look to most arrows... if you're interested in that.

2. O-Ring

An o-ring is a small rubber, circular band that fits between the insert and the point of an arrow.

O-rings are not commonly used to today because of the small diameter of carbon arrows. Before this, they were used to ensure a more secure fit between the point and the insert.

However, some archers still utilize o-rings to help align their broadhead with the vanes.

Other Arrow Features

What About Arrow Length & Spine Measurements?

The spine rating of an arrow is basically the measurement of the arrow's flex or bend - or its stiffness.

The ideal arrow has the perfect balance of flex and forgiveness, and each archer must evaluate their arrow length, arrow weight, and point weight to determine what's best for them.

Hunting arrows usually range from a spine of 500 on the weaker side, to 300 or so on the stiffer side.

Arrow Length Spine Chart


Arrow Parts FAQs

1. What Are The 5 Main Parts Of An Arrow Called?

There are 5 main parts of an arrow: Nock, Fletching, Shaft, Insert, and Point.

2.What Is The Feather On An Arrow Called?

The feather or vane portion of an arrow is called the fletching.

3.What Is The Notch At The End Of An Arrow Called?

The notch at the end of the arrow is called a nock.

4. What Are Arrow Heads Called?

Arrow heads are usually referred to as field points or broadheads. Archers will use field points for practice and/or competition shooting, and will use broadheads specifically for hunting.

Broadheads and field points are the two main parts of an arrowhead.

5.What Is The Thing Called That Carries Arrows?

Archers will, at times, have or carry a quiver to hold their arrows. Hunters usually have what's known as a detachable quiver that can attach to the bow during travel but be removed while in a treestand or blind.

Competition archers will usually have a belt or hip quiver that hold their arrows by their waste and out of the way of the bow.

Parts Of An Arrow Video

Also, in case you're interested we have a blog summarizing the Best Crossbow Bolts too!