Carbon, Aluminum or Wood Arrows? An Interview with Archery Instructor Alex Kobe (Part 1)
By Laura Fisk
The following is the first of a two-part interview with Alex Kobe, one of the instructors at the Rancho Park Archery Range. In this interview, Alex talks about the equipment he uses and talks about the advantages and disadvantages of carbon, aluminum and wooden arrows.
Laura: What do you do here at the range?
Alex: I am one of the instructor’s here. I’ve been shooting here for about 11 years now.
Laura: What style of archery do you do?
Alex: I do primarily Olympic style archery (FITA).
Laura: There are many different divisions in target archery.
Alex: You have the FITA, bare bow and then traditional. Traditional is all wood. Traditional is wooden longbow with wooden arrows. That is the definition of traditional. If you are shooting in the traditional category you have no choice but to shoot wooden arrows. In any other category you have all the other choices, even bare bow you can shoot with aluminum bows. It just has to fit a certain ring diameter. You can shoot all the modern equipment even in the bare bow division.
Laura: What kind of bow and arrows do you shoot?
Alex: I shoot a 25” Hoyt Helix with long limbs. The limbs I am shooting right now are pretty light, they are 26 pounds limbs. I have another pair of limbs that are 42 pounds. My arrows are Nano-XRs. I’ve tried anything from Easton Aluminum arrows to Easton ACEs, ACCs, and XTens. I just find the Nano-XRs fit the bill for me. They’re approximately the same price as the ACE’s but they last longer than the ACE’s.
Laura: What is the Nano-XR made of?
Alex: They are full carbon arrows. The downside is if you lose one in the grass you can’t find it. Shoot on the target, which is the only thing you can do with these arrows. Any of the arrows today are pretty much all consistent. My only thing about picking an arrow is, pick an arrow that will last the longest.
Aluminum arrows last pretty long but a good set of arrows will last you a year. Easton ACE’s, when I was using those, they were great arrows in terms of performance. But, a whole set will last me about four or five months. XTens, last me almost two years. The Nano-XR has lasted me about the same, so far, as the XTens. When I say lasted, I mean they have broken. Like anything else, the arrow flexes in the air. If you have a lot of flexing then it is going to weaken the shaft. Certain shafts will just breakdown over time.
Laura: Why not shoot wooden arrows?
Alex: They are too heavy for starters. They’re not as consistent. If you were to compare wood with carbon and aluminum, you will see the consistency issue that I’ve been talking about. Carbon to carbon consistency, there is spine consistency and all that stuff. Wood has grains that are aligned differently from shaft to shaft. Even though they are the same size, they’re not going to have the same spine. They’re not going to bend the same way. Not only that, they don’t have the same weight—even though they look the same.
That is the thing with wood, it looks nice but for target archery you will not have that consistency. Wood arrows don’t last nearly as long as carbons. Wood shaft will break if you hit the wall or another arrow.
Laura: So in target archery how would you rate the best to the worse arrows?
Alex: I would say carbon, aluminum and then wood. You almost never see wood, unless you see them shooting the traditional.
In the second part of this interview, Alex further shares his thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of aluminum vs. carbon arrows, in regards to speed, durability and competition.