Carbon vs. Aluminum Arrows: And Interview with Instructor Alex Kobe (Part 2)
By Laura Fisk
The following is the second of a two-part interview with Alex Kobe, an Instructor at the Rancho Park Archery Range. In this final part of the interview, Alex focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of carbon vs. aluminum arrows.
Laura: What is the difference between aluminum and carbon arrows?
Alex: Aluminum, per inch, is heavier than the carbon. There is a measure per arrow. It is usually measured in grains per inch. Aluminum, you are going to expect that it is around 10 grains per inch. Carbon tops out about 8 grains per inch. ACEs go lighter than that–about 5 or 6 grains per inch. Then that translates into the durability part.
The thing that makes the ACEs so light is that the wall of the shaft is so thin. So, when that arrow gets slapped by another arrow that wall just collapses. That is why my ACEs only lasted 5 months. Because, when you get an arrow in the wall, and if you get another one in there, they snap each other. Bye, bye arrow.
Laura: For someone who is a pretty consistent shooter, and is looking to buy, they could go either aluminum or carbon. But, aluminum might be a little more durable?
Alex: Actually, if you go all carbon, like the Nanos or even the Medallions–the Nanos younger cousin–they are a lot cheaper. The Nanos are about $260 a dozen and the Medallions cost about $99 per dozen. The Medallion is a lot more durable than the aluminum.
One thing is aluminum bends, carbons don’t.
The way you choose is this. There are still a lot of people who think aluminum is more forgiving. There are still a lot of indoor shooters that shoot aluminum with feathers. For an indoor shooter that is the way to go because the aluminum diameter is really thick. So, you get something called the line breaker. When you shoot all you have to do is hit the line and you get the higher score.
When you are shooting indoors you are not dealing with the wind. So you want to get the biggest shaft you can get, and make sure you break the line. That used to be the norm. You get big aluminum arrows for indoor and thin carbon arrows for outdoors. And now you have telephone poles. Now manufactures have begun producing carbon arrows that are really big, the biggest diameter shaft that is legal. So you can split the line. Now a days you get that choice.
There are many schools of thought. Some people still think aluminum is the way to go, big shaft. Other people think a fast arrow is the key.
Michele Frangilli, the current world record holder for indoor competition, he actually broke his own record. He used to hold the world record using aluminum arrows at 25 and 18 meters. And then he broke his own record at 18 meters using carbon arrows, ACEs. And then again he broke his own record at 25 meters with ACEs. So, now both world records are held by ACEs. These are both carbon arrows.
Laura: What do you think?
Alex: I shoot my carbon both indoors and out. To me I don’t notice the difference. It makes no sense to have two different kinds of arrows because then you have to worry about tuning two different pieces. Personally, I don’t have the time to do it. Keep it simple. One set of arrows, one bow – just use it for indoor and outdoor.
Laura: So, you prefer the carbons because they are faster and lighter?
Alex: Yes. If you are going to shoot outdoor you have to use carbon. You can’t be competitive. Well you can but you’re not going to be good. Once you go past 60 meters then the aluminum arrows are going to go all over the place.
Laura: So, you are shooting 18 to 25 meters?
Alex: If you are shooting short distances it doesn’t matter if you shoot carbon or aluminum arrows. The [Rancho Park] range has walls, which is sheltering you from the wind drift.
Carbon is much more superior in windy environments compared to aluminum.
If you are going to rate every single part of your archery system. Number one is the archer and number two is the arrow. Arrow is crucial. Bad arrows with the most expensive bow in the world, you are going to get bad results. Concentrate on your arrows first and then your bow.