How to build outdoor arrows – Like a Pro

My favourite season without a doubt, 50m is the place to be. But one of the most important things about the season is how your arrows are set up for that season. It’s unlikely that you’ll want to make any big changes mid season so how about we get it right from the get go.

The steps for building outdoor arrows are as follows:

  • Cutting
  • Prepping
  • Gluing
  • Fletching
  • Tuning

Now lets get you ready for the season ahead shall we.


All of the ahead steps are important but cutting your arrows is vital, because once they’re cut… they’re cut. But how do you know what length to cut them. This is all down to a lot of testing and tuning and it’s difficult because again once you’ve cut off a piece you can’t put it back on. Generally what I would do is cut my arrow back an inch longer than my draw length, and I’ll get away with that but you may be different. Working with the again vital info that you can only subtract from the arrow length and not add on what I would do if I were you is start at a long length and work your way down. I would only work with two arrows at a time because if you start to find something that works and you go a little bit shorter with your arrow length and then that ends up being worse than before at least you’ll have only wasted two arrows and not twelve.

A little trick that I’ve learned is to cut off a little from both ends. On standard arrows I’ll do most of the cutting from the point end of the arrow but what I will also do is cut about 2-3 mm off the other end of the arrow to get rid of any impurities that there may be on the end of the arrow. I believe that this is very important as the part of your arrow that’s going top get the most abuse is the pin end ( from other arrows ) so instead of cracking the carbon which is what happens when you don’t do this have your arrow 3mm shorter and save yourself.

Another thing that I do and I have yet to see anyone else do it is wrap my arrows in thin tape before I cut them. Now I know that sounds crazy but let me explain. When you’re cutting the arrows the blade is a circular saw that’s spinning very fast and if you think that it’s going to cut your arrows perfectly every time well boy have I got news for you. The main reason for arrows not being square is not how your actually cutting them it’s how the blade initially receives the arrow. Because of the speed of the blade when it first meets something it will move a tiny bit causing your arrow to not be square. So to remove that what I do is wrap the part of the arrow that I’m cutting with Sellotape. I wrap the Sellotape around the arrow twice and it’s just thick enough that it takes the impact out of the arrow making sure that all of your arrows are square.

How do I cut my arrows?

To actually cut your arrows is very simple. Once you have the length that you want and you’ve wrapped all your arrows in Sellotape, you’ll take one of the arrows and prop it up against the blade without it being on. There will be some sort of locking mechanism on the arrow saw usually a big adjustment and then a micro adjustment knob. Once you have it locked down in the correct position then take the arrow away there’s only one more thing to check. You’re going to check which way the blade is spinning. Once you have determined that to cut your arrow you’ll spin the arrow the opposite way to the blade. Most arrow saws have a plate on the end where you can move your arrow into the blade, so instead of you pushing the arrow into the blade by hand you can push it in, in a controlled way.

The actual cutting process is simple now that you know everything. The blade is going to cut into the arrow wall and then you’ll spin the arrow in the opposite way the blade is spinning, once one full rotation has been made the excess will fall off. It is important that you maintain pressure against the arrow at all times. Nothing too crazy you just don’t want the arrow to move while you’re cutting it.

And then it’s rinse and repeat eleven more times.


Prepping your arrows isn’t the hugest thing in the world. There are kits out there that you can get to finish off cleaning your arrows fresh after you cut them, and they will clean the inside of your arrows to get rid of any carbon dust that’s sitting inside the shaft. Anyone who tells you that you absolutely need to do this is full of nonsense trust me. If it’s confession time I’ll admit I’ve never done this, not even once. But some people are very very particular and to those people I say have at it. So then what do I mean by prepping? Well there’s plenty of other stiff to prep other than the inside of your shaft.

When you get a dozen arrows the arrow company will often say that the arrows will be 99% the same. The reason for that is they cant guarantee that all the shafts will be the same weight. So you gotta work with what you got. So here’s what you’re going to do. Your going to get out a bunch of sticky notes or tape if you have to and your going to weigh all of your arrows. As you weigh them your going to write the weight of the arrow on the sticky note. Once you have all of them weighed your going to sort them from lightest to heaviest.

Next what you’ll do is weigh your points ( not pins ) and while your weighing them again with sticky notes you’ll write the weight of them down. Once you have all of them weighed your going to sort them from heaviest to lightest.

To get the most out of our set up you’re now going to match the heaviest point with the lightest arrow and keeping working your way through like that (2nd heaviest point with 2nd lightest arrow) to then hopefully create an average weight of arrow across all 12 of your arrows. Doing this I’ve never had an outlier arrow. You may have an unlucky arrow that seemingly just has a mind of it’s own or goes wherever it wants, well I’m willing to bet it’s a different overall weight than your other arrows.


Gluing is also a nice handy part of building your arrows the only bad part about it is that it can take a while. You’ve got 24 items to glue in so you’ll have plenty of time to practice gluing. Now the trick that I showed you before with matching the lightest arrow with the heaviest point is a good trick and a lot a people know about it. But what drives me crazy is people who will go through that effort labelling all the shafts and points and matching them up and then when it comes to gluing they’ll use a mountain of glue on one arrow and then a sliver of glue for the next. It does my head in. As I said you’ve 12 pins and 12 points to glue in so you’ll get good enough over time but try commit to yourself to use the same amount of glue every time, even if they’re off by a little bit an extra gram isn’t going to hurt your groups.

How do I glue in my pins and points?

To do this your first wanna get set up. You’ll need a container of cold water and a blow torch and some pliers and hot melt glue. Here’s the process, Your going to have the container of water ready to go because when you glue in the first pin your going to put the side of the arrow you just glued into the cold water.

Carbon is not supposed to be heated so as you can imagine putting a heated piece of metal into it won’t be good for it. So what this does is it cools the hot melt pretty much instantly and makes sure the carbon doesn’t get too hot.

So using your blow torch your going to heat up the pin and your hot melt. Your going to hold the pin with the pliers so you don’t burn your hand. When they’re both hot you’re going to apply the glue to the pin and then push the pin into the correct end of the arrow. While the glue is hot you’re going to wipe away the excess glue that didn’t go into the shaft. You can do this with tissue but for me I just my thumb, if I burn my thumb then I know I heated up the pin too much that it would be bad for the carbon. Once the excess is cleared away and the pin is seated all the way down in the arrow shaft then place it in the water to cool the pin down. Now you just gotta do that for all of them.


Fletching should be it’s own article in itself so I’ll give it to you here in a nutshell but ill send you onto another article where I go into a little more detail. To fletch your arrow your first going to wipe down the part of the arrow that your going to fletch with an alcoholic wipe to sterilise where your going to glue. Next your going to place the arrow into the jig and then you’ll grab a fletch and the clamp and place the fletch into the clamp at an appropriate height, then you’ll place a thin layer of super glue across the fletch (less is more) and you’ll then press the clamp down in the jig against the shaft of your arrow. Leave it there for about a minute and then take up the clamp and rotate your arrow going to the position for the next fletch.

Now that is it as condensed as it can possibly be I have a couple other pages on here showing how to fletch and they go into a hell of a lot more detail than I did just there. If you’ve never fletched before you’ll definitely want to read up on it before you set up your arrows.


And then there’s tuning the last part to any set up. I have posts about different ways you can tune your bow but I’ll talk briefly about how I start to tune and then how I go about fixing up my set up. Generally I will always start by setting my centre shot up on my bow. Your centre shot will be different to your fat arrows as well as the height of your blade rest. So get your centre shot and arrow height bang on and then just start shooting and get a feeling for the set up. I’ll give it a couple days of just shooting just to see how the bow if I’m liking what I’m feeling I’ll then start putting the bow through paper. Putting the bow through paper tells us what direction the arrow is leaving the bow in. Once we’ve determined that we can fix it using a few different methods to have the arrow flying out straight from the bow which I’ll link to at the bottom of this article.

But if I don’t like what I’m feeling what do I do? Well the main cause for you not liking how your bow is aiming and reacting is usually got to do with the position of your nocking point. It is vital that it’s in the right spot because it will determine if your set up holds good or bad. So my suggestion to you if you don’t like what your feeling is to move your nocking point, usually downwards because no one will start too low. I know a lotta work goes into redoing your nocking point because then you’ve got to do another d-loop and fix your peep but trust me it’ll be worth it when you find that sweet spot.

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Rogan Cunningham

Rogan Cunningham is an archer and writer for He's a proud member of the National Archery Squad. He writes about his archery training, shooting, and traveling with the national archery team, and he also reviews all kinds of archery kit. He only writes about archery, what can I tell you?..... He's an Archer!

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