Wind is something that all archers have to contend with from time to time. It does two things to an arrow. Headwinds or tailwinds cause it to shoot high or low, and side winds cause it to drift away from your aiming line.
A frequently asked question is whether heavy or light arrows are better in the wind. Light arrows fly downrange more quickly and give the wind less time to affect them. But they also have less mass to resist the wind forces that they do encounter.
The answer is that heavier arrows almost always perform better. If two different weight arrows are shot at the same speed, the heavy arrow is the clear winner.
ARCHERY IN SMALL EFFECT WINDS
Headwinds or tailwinds affect trajectory by altering an arrow’s speed. This causes it to have higher or lower speed than normal.
An arrow shot in a head wind will hit low on the target.
With the following wind the drag is decreased and that arrow will hit high.
However, the actual effect on your arrow is minimal for the most can be ignored in all but the most extreme winds.
This was tested in the field with a 540-grain arrow shot 60 yards traveling at 225 fps, the result was only one inch lower in moderate headwinds.
ARCHERY IN LARGE EFFECT WINDS
Direct headwinds or tailwinds only hit the arrow’s front or rear which are tiny areas.
But 90 degree side winds hit the full length of the shaft and fletching, a sail in comparison. Even small breezes have the ability to make your arrow to drift dramatically.
The graphic gives typical values for medium-drag arrows. Different arrows would give different results and even these results might vary since it’s never possible to tell if the wind is constant over time or shooting distance. The values are useful, however, in demonstrating just how important allowing for wind effects are in a field situation.
PARTIAL VALUE WIND EFFECT ON ARCHERY
Angling winds combine these two effects and are particularly troublesome to deal with.
There are two reasons for this. First, we rarely encounter perfect headwinds, tailwinds, or ninety-degree crosswinds. Second, even a slightly angled breeze can have a dramatic effect on trajectory.
Direct headwinds are easy to handle. But if the same wind angled towards you from the one o’clock position the arrow would have half the drift of a full crosswind.
The simple lesson from all of this is to keep your shots short on windy days. Even if you can’t feel it, there is almost always some side-wind component to a “headwind” or “tailwind” that can cause large misses.
In addition, it’s hard to hold a bow steady enough on windy days to make an accurate shot, even if you have figured out the wind effects.
HEAVY OR LIGHT ARROW?
In one test 400-grain and 700-grain arrows were shot in a 30 mph crosswind. The 400-grain arrow drifted 16 inches more at 60 yards than the 700-grain arrow.
SHOOT HEAVY AND YOUR ARROW WILL STAY TRUE