The Archer’s Paradox isn’t anymore2020-03-31T11:47:54-05:00


The archer’s paradox is important knowledge because of what it implies to you as an arrow maker.

Critical Concept #1 – You really have to understand not only the archer’s paradox, but what it implies for an arrow maker. Below are two videos which present the same concept two different ways. They are outstanding…take a look.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel! The archer’s paradox is a concept which goes back to the middle ages. (the paradox of how an arrow can hit something when it is actually being pushed in another direction) There are many great videos which shows arrows bending when launched. These two videos are particularly important for understanding what this actually implies for you when selecting the spine of the arrows you want. Listen closely. The two English Gents are a bit slow paced, but they really know what they are talking about.

I hope you can see that the so-called “archer’s paradox” is the phenomenon of an arrow actually flexing and bending in flight.  It may be more practical to learn the mechanics of what is actually happening.  The manipulation of the flight of an arrow to land to the starboard or port of another arrow is what I learned to call “DYNAMIC SPINE” after reading more on the subject from Roy Marlowe’s book.  The art of tuning an arrow to group with the others in a set is highly dependent on your form.  It is also highly dependent on having a set of arrows with matching dynamic spines.

A heavier arrow will fly with a stiffer dynamic spine than another arrow in the same set which is 100 grains lighter…even though BOTH ARROWS HAVE THE SAME STATIC SPINE.  If you are shooting a right handed bow with your fingers, the result is that the heavier arrow will land somewhere to the left of the lighter arrow, even though they may match in all other aspects.

A shorter arrow will do the same, even though the static spines are the same.  If you can imagine having an arrow which is 75 grains heavier, AND half an inch shorter than the previous arrow you shot, the likeliest outcome is fairly easy to predict.

Likewise, one could offset the heavier weight of an arrow compared to the rest of the set by not cutting off as much length and leaving it slightly longer…as long as the balance point is not out of the range of the others…It can be a real conundrum.

I have met archers who have solved this problem with several methods.  One method is “Bare Shaft Tuning”.  This method does work, but you really have to know what you are doing.  One problem is that you simply can’t bare shaft tune bamboo arrows at the same distances as you can carbon arrows without risking breaking them.  The materials are different.  I do not use this method for several reasons, but others use it with a high degree of success.


I have other customers who video the flight of their arrows to view what the flight of an unfletch and fletch arrow looks like based on the concept that an arrow which is too stiff or too flexible will behave a particular way in flight.  I find this to be very curious, and it does have a basis in theory.  However, my basis for success if different.  My criteria for a successful set of arrows is as follows:

  • Do they group at 20 yards?  (5 in a teacup, 12 in a salad plate?)
  • Are the lined up and hitting a target so that all the arrows are at the same angle beyond 15 yards?  (In the photos below you can see that these groups are all at the same angle in the target.  This tells me they are finished flexing and were lined up with the entire weight of the arrow directly behind the head.)
  • Can you use them to inform you about your shooting form and use them to help you improve?

“THE ARROW MAKER’S CONUNDRUM” is a term I use to work through a set of arrows to match them by WEIGHT, STATIC SPINE, LENGTH, and BALANCE.  While it certainly isn’t the only method to success, it works for me very well.  My method is based on the assumption that if you have good form, then arrows which match one another closely will group tightly and fly with a high degree of predictability.  I find this is just as true of bamboo arrows as it is carbon or aluminum arrows.

In addition to these photos, all of them at 20 yard distances, you will read numerous customer comments about how they are now forming tight groups and are gaining confidence in their archery and equipment.