Arrows are easy to lose, especially for beginners, and since archery requires a lot of practice, you’ll probably end up losing your fair share of arrows when shooting dozens of them in a day. In the guide below, we have gathered some tips that can aid you in finding lost arrows together with some preventative steps you can take to avoid losing them in the first place.
Find a good environment to practice
There are a few easy and simple steps that you can take before you shoot your bow that can prevent you from losing the arrows in the first place. Most of these tips are easy to follow and can save you a lot of precious time so that you can focus on shooting instead.
First, you’ll need to focus on the environment and try to shoot only in areas with short grass or ground since on terrains with bushes or long grass, it can be close to impossible to find a lost arrow. When shooting on your land, you can consider mowing the grass shorter in the areas where you intend to practice.
You can also choose an area that features a ledge or drop off that can act as a natural backstop to prevent arrows from traveling too far if you miss the target. If possible, go to an archery club as these have short grass and other preventative measures that will prevent or make it easier to find lost arrows.
Use illuminated or bright nocks
Another useful tip that you can try, especially when practicing in low-light conditions, is to purchase illuminated nocks. These are almost weightless, and they won’t affect the balance of the arrow. The mechanism on most illuminated nocks allows them to turn on automatically after the arrow is shot.
This accessory is perfect for nighttime use, but it can also be used in the middle of the day since if you lose the arrow, you can simply wait until it gets dark enough for you to notice the LED light. These nifty gadgets can easily stay on for the entire day, so battery life shouldn’t be an issue.
You can also go to any archery shop and purchase stock nocks and vanes in a wide range of colors. You can then choose the colors that stand out the most in the specific environment that you are practicing on. Bright nocks and vanes are the best ones since a dark color is easy to miss in the foliage. White and bright yellow will stand on the widest variety of terrain.
Retrace missed shots
If you’ve missed the target and you can’t see the arrow from where you’re standing, the next step isn’t to continue shooting but to put the bow down and try to retrace the missed shot. It is important not to wait since you need to have the shot fresh in your head since otherwise, it is easy to forget the trajectory of the arrow.
Make sure to pay close attention since often arrows can get under the ground with just the vanes visible in the grass. Sometimes not even the vanes will be visible, in which case you will need to inspect the area for grass or dirt that looks to have been recently disturbed.
In case you decide to wait, make sure that you keep track of the number of arrows you’ve brought with you since, after a long day of practice, it is very easy to forget how many arrows you’ve lost.
Don’t focus only on the ground
One of the most common mistakes that archers make when looking for lost arrows is to focus too much on the ground. While it is true that this is where you’ll find most of the missed arrows, you shouldn’t forget that arrows can also get tangled up in leaves and branches or get stuck in the side of a tree.
Even if you are certain of the trajectory of your arrow, it is not uncommon for some arrows to ricochet, bounce, or head in an upward diagonal direction. Thus, if you can’t find the arrow on the ground, don’t forget to look up as well.
Get a metal detector
A metal detector can be used to find not only aluminum arrows but also carbon or wood arrows since the field points are generally made of metal. Metal detectors are also getting cheaper with each year, and this device can prove itself a very good long-term investment.
To use it, you’ll simply need to walk at the line where you were shooting, and once the device detects metal on the ground, it will make a sound. When shooting in dense or thick wooded areas, a metal detector can be the only way to find lost arrows without wasting precious time.
Use a rake or your bare feet
When shooting in areas with thick vegetation, a rake is a very useful tool. You can use it to pull away the grass and sift through areas until you find the arrow. It can cover a great area fast since a rake is very efficient at pulling on arrows and exposing them.
Another tip that experts recommend is to shoot barefoot since not only will this help with your posture, but walking barefoot lets you feel the grass. This is similar to using a rake, though not as efficient. Needless to say that for your own safety, you shouldn’t go looking for broadheads barefoot since you can easily cut up your foot.
Use another arrow
If you don’t have a metal detector, rake, or other tools, you can use another arrow to assist you. This process is simple yet very efficient. After you’ve missed the shot, you’ll need to start by standing right behind the target.
Now try to figure out the lane of how far left or right of the target the lost arrow could have traveled. Once you have that figured out, you’ll need to start walking on the lane of the missed shot and use your other arrow to scrape the ground left and right.
As long as you’re meticulous, you’ll soon hear and feel the click of the lost arrow coming into contact with the arrow you have in your hand. It’s as simple as that.
Use an arrow catcher
If you have your own range, you may want to consider installing an arrow catcher. This is a kind of net or carpet that you can install behind the target. You can also consider using a normal piece of net or carpet since the purpose of this item is not to stop the arrow but to break its momentum so that it falls quickly after hitting the catcher.
Get some help
If possible, you should try to get other people to help you search for your lost arrows, preferably kids since what kid doesn’t love a treasure hunt? You can make a game out of it and offer rewards or prizes to whoever finds the arrow first or finds the most arrows if you happen to lose more than one.
Use your dog
If you have a dog, it is possible to have it trained to search for missed arrows. The easiest way to do it is to use scents and rub them on the arrows once every few months. The dog will then use the scent to find the arrow in record time. Dogs can also be trained to look for arrows without using scents, but this takes considerably more time.