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How Fast Does an Arrow Travel?

how fast does an arrow travel
Written by Catherine Weeks
Last Update: August 11, 2023

If you are a bowhunter or archer, you have probably wondered how fast an arrow travels when you shoot. Knowing this can help you improve your shooting skills such as accuracy, distance, and penetration. It can also assist you in picking the ideal bow and the best arrow for your requirements. So, how fast does an arrow travel?

According to the Arrow Speed Calculator, a typical arrow speed given by the IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) specification is 300 ft/s (204 mph), assuming a draw length of 30 inches, a draw weight of 70 pounds, and an arrow weight of 350 grains. However, this speed will vary if you change any of these parameters.

There are several additional things that can influence the arrow speed.

Keep reading to learn how quickly an arrow flies and what variables influence its speed. We will also provide some pointers and suggestions for improving your arrow speed and accuracy.

How Fast Does an Arrow Travel?

Different bows deliver different arrow speeds. Besides that, there are other things that impact the speed of the arrow, including the bow configuration, and the shooting conditions.

However, we can give you some general ranges of arrow speed for different types of bows and arrows. They are as follows:

  • Recurve bow: 150-225 feet per second (fps) or 100-150 miles per hour (mph)
  • Compound bow: 200-300 fps or 135-200 mph
  • Longbow: 100-200 fps or 68-135 mph
  • Crossbow: 300-400 fps or 200-270 mph

These speeds are just the most possible estimation. They may differ based on your bow and arrow model setup.

A compound bow with a higher draw weight and a longer draw length, for example, will shoot faster than one with a lower draw weight and a shorter draw length.

Different situations can also cause the arrow speed to vary. For example, if you shoot an arrow indoors, it is likely to travel faster than the one shot outdoors. This happens because there is less air resistance and wind interference in indoors.

Also, an arrow shot at a higher angle will travel farther than an arrow shot at a lower angle because it has more time to fly before hitting the ground.

To give you some examples of how fast does an arrow travel in different situations, here are some numbers:

  • A recurve bow with a 40-pound draw weight and a 28-inch draw length at a 45-degree angle can shoot an arrow traveling about 180 feet in one second or about 120 mph.
  • If the arrow is shot from a compound bow at a 10-degree angle and has a 30-inch draw length, a 70-pound draw weight, it can travel about 300 feet in one second or about 200 mph.
  • An arrow shot from a crossbow with a 150-pound draw weight and a 20-inch draw length at a zero-degree angle can travel about 400 feet in one second or about 270 mph.

As you can see, the speed of an arrow differs significantly depending on the type of bow and arrow you use and the shooting conditions.

How does arrow speed compare to other projectiles? Well, here are some examples of other common projectiles and their speeds:

  • If you fire a bullet from a handgun, it can travel at about 1,000 fps or 680 mph.
  • A rifle’s bullet can travel at about 2,500 fps or 1,700 mph.
  • A baseball thrown by a professional pitcher can travel at about 100 fps or 68 mph.
  • A golf ball hit by a professional golfer can travel at about 180 fps or 120 mph.

As you can see, arrows are generally slower than bullets but faster than baseballs and golf balls.

How is Arrow Speed Measured?

After knowing the estimation of how fast does an arrow travel, you may be wondering how to measure the speed of your arrow. Well, there are a number of methods, but using a chronograph device is the most common one.

This device helps you find the time it takes for an object to go from one point and reach the other. If you know how far apart those points are and how long the arrow takes to get there, you can figure out how fast it’s going with this formula:

Speed = Distance / Time

If you use a chronograph to clock an arrow passing through two sensors 10 feet apart and the time is 0.02 seconds, you can calculate how quickly the arrow was moving like this:

Speed = 10 feet / 0.02 seconds

Speed = 500 fps

Figuring out your arrow’s speed will not only allow you to fine-tune your bow setup and optimize your performance, but it will also help you compare different bows and arrows.

You can use a chronograph to measure your arrow speed and compare it with different bows and arrows. You can also use it to fine-tune your bow setup and optimize your performance

What are the Factors that Influence Arrow Speed?

What are the Factors that Influence Arrow Speed

How fast does an arrow travel depends on various factors. But three major things that influence the arrow speed most are the arrow itself, the bow and the environment. Let’s dive deeper into these factors and how arrow speed is influenced by them.

Bow Draw Weight

A bow’s draw weight refers to the amount of required force that you need to pull the bowstring back to full draw. The higher the draw weight, the more energy the bow can store and transfer to the arrow. Therefore, a higher draw weight usually means a faster arrow speed.

Nonetheless, there is a limit to how much draw weight you can bear safely and comfortably. If you shoot a bow that is too heavy for you, your form, accuracy, and consistency will suffer. There is also the possibility of harming yourself or ruining your equipment.

Your ideal draw weight depends on your physical strength, shooting style as well as experience level. A good rule of thumb is to choose a draw weight that allows you to draw the bow smoothly and hold it steady for at least 10 seconds without shaking or straining.

But if you find that the draw weight is not matching with you, you can change the limbs or cams of your bow to adjust it. Or you can use a bow press to adjust the limb bolts. And don’t forget to consult an archery technician before you make any adjustment to your bow.

Draw Length

The distance from the nock point of the string to the pivot point of the grip is called the draw length (when the bow is at full draw). If your draw length is longer, your bow will attain more power stroke.

What’s power stroke? It is the distance that the arrow travels on the string before it leaves the bow. The longer the power stroke, the more acceleration and speed the arrow gains.

However, just like draw weight, there is an optimal draw length for each archer. If you shoot a bow that is too long or too short for you, you will lose accuracy and consistency. You may also experience discomfort or injury.

Your ideal draw length will depend on your shooting posture and arm span. There is a simple way you can estimate your draw length. Just measure your arm span from fingertip to fingertip and dive it by 2.5. For instance, if the span of your arm is 70 inches long, your estimated draw length will be 28 inches.

You can also adjust your draw length if you want. Just change the modules or cams of the bow or you can use a release aid or a different grip. And as mentioned before, do consult a professional before you make any changes.

Arrow Weight

GPI or grains per inch is how the weight of an arrow is measured. It is the weight of one inch of shaft material. However, the total weight of an arrow will include the weight of the shaft, point, nock, fletching, insert and any other accessories attached to it.

The speed of an arrow is affected by the weight in two ways: kinetic energy and drag. Kinetic energy is the energy that an object has due to its motion. Drag is the force that opposes an object’s motion through a fluid (such as air).

A heavier arrow has more kinetic energy than a lighter arrow when shot from the same bow at the same draw weight and length. This means that a heavier arrow will retain more speed and momentum downrange than a lighter arrow.

However, the drag is also more on a heavier arrow than a lighter one. So, when flying through the air, due to more air resistance, heavier arrows will lose more speed and momentum compared to lighter arrows.

As a result, while selecting an arrow weight, there is a trade-off between kinetic energy and drag. A lighter arrow will shoot faster but lose speed farther away. A heavier arrow will shoot slower but travel faster downrange.

So, your ideal arrow weight should depend on your distance, shooting purpose as well as preference. A good rule of thumb is to choose an arrow weight that is between 5 and 9 grains per pound of draw weight. For example, if you shoot a 70 lbs bow, your ideal arrow weight range is between 350-grain arrow and 630-grain arrow.

You can adjust the weight of your arrow by tweaking its components such as the shaft diameter, point weight and fletching size.

Bowstring Material

Different materials are used to make bowstrings and they also offer different attributes. They can influence how much energy the bowstring can store and transfer to the arrow.

Generally speaking, synthetic materials have less stretch and less friction compared to traditional materials. Modern synthetic materials, such as Dyneema, Fast Flight, or Spectra, are faster and more durable than traditional materials, such as B-50 or Dacron.

However, not all bows are compatible with synthetic materials. Some older or traditional bows may require more stretchy and forgiving materials to prevent limb damage.

How to Increase Your Arrow Speed and Accuracy

Now that you know how fast an arrow travels and the factors that influence the speed, you might be wondering how to increase your arrow speed and accuracy. Here are some tips and recommendations that you can try:

  • Choose a bow that fits your shooting purpose, style, as well as preference. It could be a recurve, compound, longbow, or crossbow, just make sure it matches your draw weight, draw length, and brace height requirements. You can also customize your bow with accessories such as sights, stabilizers, rests, etc. to enhance its performance.
  • Pick an arrow that is appropriate for your bow and shooting purpose. Make sure the arrow has the right spine (stiffness), weight, length, diameter, point weight, fletching size as well as shape for your bow and shooting distance. You can also use an arrow selection chart or calculator to find the best arrow for your setup.
  • Take regular care of your bow and arrow. Examine for cracks, split or signs of wear and tear. Replace any damaged parts such as strings, cables, limbs, cams, etc. Clean and lubricate your bow as needed. Check your arrows also for any bends, cracks, or loose components. change the worn-out parts of your arrow.
  • Practice good shooting form and technique. Hold your bow firmly but not too tightly. Align your body with the target. Draw the bow smoothly and steadily. Anchor the string at a consistent point on your face. Aim with your dominant eye. Release the string smoothly and follow through with your shot. Repeat these steps until they become second nature.
  • Practice regularly and consistently. Practicing more and more will help you improve your arrow speed and accuracy. Find a safe place that is suitable for practicing your archery skills. Set realistic and measurable goals. Track your progress and adjust your strategy as needed. Seek feedback and advice from other archers or coaches.


In this blog post, we have explored how fast an arrow travels and what factors affect its speed. We have also shared some tips and recommendations for increasing your arrow speed and accuracy.

We hope you have found this blog post informative and helpful. If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything related to archery in general, please feel free to leave them below.


Q: How is the speed of an arrow measured?

A: An archery bow is typically measured in feet per second, abbreviated FPS.

Q: How can I calculate the trajectory of my arrow based on my arrow speed and angle?

A: You can use an arrow trajectory calculator to find the flight path of your arrow based on your arrow speed, angle, and initial height. You can also use the formula given by the trajectory calculator to do the calculation by hand. The formula is: y = h + x * tan(?) – g * x² / (2 * V?² * cos²(?)), where y is the vertical position, h is the initial height, x is the horizontal position, ? is the angle, g is the gravitational acceleration, and V? is the initial speed.

Q: What is the IBO specification and why is it important?

A: The arrow speed is determined by the IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) specification, which is a standard that uses these parameters: 30 inches of draw length, 70 pounds of draw weight, and 350 grains of arrow weight. This standard is useful because it helps you compare the speed ratings of different bows and customize them to your liking.

About the author

Catherine Weeks

Cathy believes that hunting is not about downing an animal; rather, it’s about enjoying the purity of this challenge and making a connection with nature.

She loves country music, horses, shooting, and hunting; and spends her weekends in the great outdoors with her husband and two kids.

Though Cathy has hunted most of her life, it was not until her partner gave her a bow that she realized she had finally found her passion.

She is always determined to share her missed opportunities, dedication, emotions, and small details that people often forget to mention when they talk about their hunting experiences.

Cathy also works to promote wildlife preservation and protect natural resources. She thinks “patience” is the most important thing that can make a big difference.

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