What are the parts of an arrow?

Have you seen lord of the ring or Hercules? Whenever two armies in these movies attack on each other, there will be a team of archers on both side who will initiate the attack first.

Arrows are long shafted projectiles that are launched using elastic launching device called bow. In ancient times, bow and arrows were mainly used for hunting and combats. Different kinds of arrows were used for different purposes.

Have you ever wondered, what are the different parts of arrow and their functions?

Arrow is consists of mainly four parts.

  1. Arrowhead
  2. Shaft
  3. Fletching
  4. Nock


It is the tip of the arrow at one end of the shaft which penetrates the target first. Arrowhead is an important part of the arrow which defines the purpose of that arrow. Different arrowheads are used for different purposes. Let’s look at some of the different arrowheads and their purposes:

Bodkin point is a type of arrowhead which have a squared metal spike used to penetrate the armor of the enemy and cause more serious wounds.

Bodkin arrowhead

Blunt is also a type of arrowhead which is not sharpened and mainly used to target shoot without penetrating the target.

Blunt arrowhead

Judo points are the arrowheads which have spring wires extending sideways from the tip. They are mainly used for practice and small games.

Judo point arrowheads (credit: aliexpress)

Broadhead arrowheads were mainly used in middle ages for war. Broadhead arrows used to cause more serious damage than bodkin arrowhead. They generally have two or four sharp blades that can cause massive bleeding. There are two types of broadhead arrowhead: fixed and mechanical types. Fixed broadhead has fixed rigid blades while mechanical broadhead deploys its blades upon contact with the target.

Broadhead arrowheads (credit: wikimedia commons)

Target point are bullet arrow heads designed to penetrate targets and cause massive damage.

Field tips are arrowhead similar to target point but are not designed not to get lodged into target materials.

Different types of arrowheads (Credit: giant boom)

These arrowheads are attached to shaft using a cap, tang, or inserted into a split in the shaft.


It is the primary structure of the arrow on which various components such as arrowhead, fletching, nock are attached. In ancient times, arrow shafts were made from lightweight wood or bamboo while nowadays they are made from lightweight material such as aluminum or carbon fibre or reinforced plastic.

Things that need to be considered while choosing shaft are

Spine: The stiffness of the shaft is known as spine. The correct spine for a shaft varies from bow to bow.

Weight: Major part of an arrow is shaft, therefore it is very important to choose the appropriate weight of the shaft. The weight of the shaft is generally expressed in GPI rating. The weight of the shaft can be calculated as the product of the length of the shaft (in inches) and GPI rating.


Fletchings are traditionally made from feathers and found at the back of the arrow. They act as airfoils by damping the pitch or yaw motion of the arrow to stabilize the flight.

Fletching of an arrow


Nock is a notch at the back end of the arrow which helps to control the rotation of the arrow. It is generally made of plastic or aluminium and varies in size according to different strings of the bow.

Here is an interesting video on archer’s paradox. I hope you will enjoy this video.

Professor Atom

View posts by Professor Atom
Professor Atom is a science enthusiast and alumni of IIT Bombay. According to him, every question can be solved with curiosity and mind mapping. ( Curiosity = Asking Questions = Learning )

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