Adrian Tippins discusses the importance of knowing your arrow length when looking to buy your first bow…
Q. I’ve just come off a beginner’s course and am looking to buy my first bow. I’ve been given to understand that arrow length is something that’s pretty vital to know before you go, but how can I find out the correct arrow length for me?
Correct arrow length is the keystone of successful arrow building. This has to be got right as other important elements such as spine selection rely on the arrow length measurement being correct. The industry has a standardised method of measuring arrow length, and you will often see this referred to as AMO Length. AMO stands for Archery Manufacturers Organisation. This is the method where a measurement is taken between the groove of the nock and the front end of the shaft. This measurement doesn’t include any points or inserts.
This is all good and fine, but we need to know what this means in real terms of an arrow being held at full draw in reference to the bow. The front of the arrow shaft should finish just inside the riser (about 1.25 inches in front of the pressure button) so that the front of the point is in the middle of the clicker plate when an archer anchors and holds an arrow at full draw using proper technique.
This is the front shaft position to take the measurement to the nock groove from. Using proper technique for measuring is vital, as poor technique and alignment tends to give falsely short measurements. It’s always a good idea to get a coach to measure you using a proper measuring arrow with a movable rubber O-ring or rubber band on the front which can be adjusted during the process. The coach can check for the usage of correct form and adjust the ring so that it’s in the right place in relation to the riser. The O-ring will then give the correct AMO arrow measurement on the marked scale of the measuring device.
Additionally, it’s not unusual for beginners and novice archers to end up with slightly longer arrows than they actually need. Part of this is for safety reasons, so they don’t accidentally pull it off the rest, and part is down to the fact that your required arrow length increases with good technique and coaching. Therefore some “growing” room is built into the arrow length.
Do remember to use the AMO arrow length method of measurement when communicating your requirements for new arrows so that everyone is on the same page. Failure to do so could end up with you having arrows that are dangerously short and a very costly mistake. Arrows can always be shorted if the need arises, but can never be lengthened.