The Benefits of Micro-Diameter Arrows

The Benefits of Micro-Diameter Arrows

Because I only get a few shots a year at big-game animals - and I've usually got a month or more invested in scouting the particular animal I'm shooting at  I am extremely particular about my arrows. I've chosen my current hunting arrow based on a lot of years of tournament competition and many more years of bowhunting experience.

There are several qualities essential in good hunting arrows: straightness; uniform spine (along the length as well as around the shaft); a well-aligned broadhead; consistent weight; a strong, well-fitting nock; and perfect fletching. However, in my opinion, one of the most important characteristics of a hunting arrow, especially here in the West where I do the vast majority of my hunting, is a micro-diameter shaft.

In this column, I'm going to do my best to talk you into shooting skinny arrows no matter where you hunt. I'll list all the reasons why I think you should be shooting micro-diameter arrows and discuss my thoughts on each aspect.

Better Penetration

In all the testing I'm aware of, micro-diameter arrows have penetrated better than larger-diameter arrows of the same weight. Micro-diameter shafts tend to be all carbon or aluminum/carbon composite. Though the stiffness of the carbon does play a small role, shaft diameter appears to be the most important factor when it comes to penetration. A micro-diameter carbon shaft has a surface area approximately half that of larger-diameter shafts. The smaller surface area of the thin shaft vastly reduces the resistance (friction) as the arrow slips into the target.


Reduced Wind Drift

Today's narrowest carbon hunting arrows are very skinny compared to aluminum arrows or standard-diameter carbon shafts. Again, a micro-diameter carbon shaft has roughly half the surface area of standard shafts. Just as in penetration, wind drift is proportional to the total surface area of the arrow. When you shoot micro-diameter arrows in a crosswind, they exhibit much less sideways drift than larger-diameter arrows of the same weight.


Wind drift is usually of more concern to Western hunters than it is to Eastern hunters. However, I've spent many windy days in treestands while hunting Midwestern states. A micro-diameter arrow is more likely to hit the vitals than a fat shaft if you forget to compensate for the wind. By switching to small-diameter arrows with smaller fletching, you can cut your wind drift by more than half on longer shots.

Smaller Fletching

Because many facets of hunting arrow performance are directly related to the surface area of the arrow, the surface area of the fletching must also be taken into account when determining how much total surface area the arrow has. Ideally, the less surface area the better as long as you can control the broadhead!

It takes much less fletching to start a micro-diameter shaft spinning than it does to start a large-diameter shaft spinning. This is because the mass of a large-diameter shaft is further away from its axis. Look at a figure skater to see what I mean. When their arms are straight out at the beginning of their spin, they rotate slowly. As they move their arms up and towards the center of their axis they spin much faster. So, you can use small fletching on small-diameter shafts. This further decreases the arrow's total surface area.

You can also use much smaller fletching if you choose a mechanical broadhead rather than a fixed-blade head. This is based on simple physics. The more turbulence you create on the front of the arrow, the more steering you will need on the back end of the arrow to get the same stabilization and accuracy. Using a very streamlined broadhead with little turbulence-producing structure will allow you to use much smaller fletching. I've found that if I use short fletching with maximum offset, I can reduce the surface area of the fletching (and arrow) while still maintaining the same control I would get using a larger fletching applied with less offset. Applying the vanes with a helical clamp seems to help as well. You can get significantly more offset (in degrees) with a short vane than with a long vane.


An added benefit of short, low-profile fletching is it decreases the noise the arrow makes as it flies through the air.

Better Downrange Velocity

Micro-diameter arrows also maintain their speed better downrange. Arrows slow down as they move forward because of the friction of the air they are passing through. The greater the surface area of an arrow, the quicker it slows down. Because skinny arrows maintain more of their speed, they also have more kinetic energy and better penetration at longer distances.

At 60 yards, small-diameter arrows lose a lower percentage of their initial velocity than a larger-diameter arrow. I know from my own experience that the difference between large-diameter and small-diameter arrows grows even greater at longer ranges. It may not be a huge difference, but bowhunting is a tough game and I'll take every advantage I can get!


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint Archery evolves in design and performance with the introduction of the new CP400 Crossbow.

Center Shots: How to Improve Your Bow Tuning

Center Shots: How to Improve Your Bow Tuning

Field editor Bill Winke goes over steps you can take to improve the tuning on your bow.

Ravin R29X Crossbow – New for 2020

Ravin R29X Crossbow – New for 2020

The new Ravin R29X Crossbow includes everything you need for blistering speed (450 FPS!) and deadly downrange accuracy (3-inch group at 100 yards).

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We Rank 16 Top Models on Sharpness, Accuracy, Penetration & More


It's that time of year when Arrows & Broadheads

2017 Fixed-Blade Broadhead Test

Jon E. Silks - December 12, 2017

We Rank 16 Top Models on Sharpness, Accuracy, Penetration & More It's that time of year...

We got our hands on the brand new 2019 bows from Bowtech. See how the Realm SR6 and the Realm SS performed in our technical tests! Bows

2019 Bowtech Launch: Realm SR6 & SS Review

Jon E. Silks - November 07, 2018

We got our hands on the brand new 2019 bows from Bowtech. See how the Realm SR6 and the Realm...

Bill Winke explains the benefits of both shooting techniques. How-To

Shooting Your Bow With One Eye Versus Two

Bill Winke

Bill Winke explains the benefits of both shooting techniques.

Going from field tips to broadheads requires arrow tuning on a higher plane.

 Good broadhead flight How-To

4 Steps to Perfect Broadhead Flight

Bowhunting Online Staff

Going from field tips to broadheads requires arrow tuning on a higher plane. Good...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

Switch up your release to prevent shot anticipation. How-To

2 Tips for Perfect Shot Timing

Levi Morgan

Switch up your release to prevent shot anticipation.

Here's how Eddie Claypool identifies the best areas for an ambush. How-To

Expert's Guide to Treestand Placement

Eddie Claypool

Here's how Eddie Claypool identifies the best areas for an ambush.

A misaligned peep can lead to missed opportunities in the field. How-To

How to Fix & Prevent Peep Sight Rotation

Randy Ulmer

A misaligned peep can lead to missed opportunities in the field.

You're going to perform better if you can complete the entire shot sequence in fewer than 8 seconds. How-To

How Long Should a Shot Take?

Christian Berg

You're going to perform better if you can complete the entire shot sequence in fewer than 8...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now