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Do It Yourself

Top 3 Survival Arrow Spines



Arrows, Arrowheads, Arrow Materials

The world of archery is ever changing, and the arrows we use have evolved just as fast. Leaving many wondering, what is best arrow spine material for me? Well, there are a number of factors that need be considered – from what you plan to hit with the arrows, to the bow style being used, to the draw weight of the bow.

Now, this is all considered “ideal conditions” info in my book. Meaning, it is good if you can go to a store and prep for the need of arrows ahead of time. These are the Top 3 arrow spines in my opinion to use when in a survival situation.

Truthfully though, no matter what con is listed below, any arrow in a real world survival situation is a GOOD arrow.

1. Wooden Arrows

Wood is the most favored and used arrow material throughout history. Cedar tree wood was the most popular of choices by Fletchers, the craftsmen who make arrows. However, to find wooden arrows pre-made nowadays, you may be limited to craftsmen sites online such as Esty, or local overpriced big box stores selling at $60 an arrow. It is very likely that if the “SHTF,” the Fletcher trade would make a big come back, and the high demand would drop those wood arrow prices.


Materials are readily available in the wild, and good branches can be carved or sanded down into dowels easily. You can make them anywhere and out of nearly any type of wood you may find in a survival situation. Even if it is a tree in the middle of the mountains, the solid oak desk in the city office, or the park behind your home with some nice big trees growing that wont miss a few limbs.


Wooden arrows are time consuming to create the straight dowels necessary, and the material presents many issues with warping an non-uniformity, preventing consistent down range target groupings. Use on re-curves, both traditional and take down models, and many types of long bows is only suggested to be used with these arrows. More modern bows will make high chances of the spine being split in half from the strings release of energy, which is a common issue I find for crossbow bolts made from wood.

2.  Aluminum Arrows

Aluminum makes an amazing spine material because of the metal alloy characteristics. It does not have the warping downfall associated with wood arrows in humidity. Metal rods will not be easy to source in the woods, but maybe if you’re in an urban survival situation, these will be your best bet. That’s because there are many items in a city made with aluminum rod parts similar to those used for arrow spines.

They are also less expensive and readily available in local stores.


These are light weight, and can easily be custom made online by archery retailers to fit unique arrow weight & lengths if desired. They can also be customized with wraps or paints to cover metal light refraction that could give away your position. These can be used on re-curve, long bow, crossbow and compound bows.


Being a soft alloy metal, the arrow spine can easily be damaged or bent during its use against hard targets, although it still miles stronger than wood. However, if it is bent to much, unlike warped wood arrows,  it is pretty much impossible to fully straighten the arrow back to its full glory.

3. Composite Arrows


Composite arrows are the best. However, their high price tag makes them not so favorable when compared our first two picks. They have been used widely at Olympic games across the world for many years. The spine material has a habit of consistent pin point accuracy at a long distance. They are without a doubt the straightest and uniform arrows you will be able to find – if you can find them.


They are very strong and rarely break or splinter, unlike fiberglass or carbon-only spines.  They have a high quality build, made for long range distance shooting, which means there is less of a chance of Bambi hearing you trying to sneak into bow shot range. They can be used safely on any bow, even as cross bow bolts with over 150 lb draws. The major pro is that composite arrows let you take advantage of materials like carbon, without the high risk of injury. They also very rarely splinter-explode when releasing the bow string.


They are extremely hard to source homemade, or even from stores. Many archery ranges require custom orders, while some arrows must be custom made to the bow you plan to use. They are also very hard to make from home, requiring specialty tools and perfect measurements.

What about those other materials?

As the title of this article suggests, these are only three spine materials. There is also fiberglass and carbon arrows, which are very cheap and can be sourced from the store ahead of time. They have many pros, including overall strength, not bending when fired, and not warping.

However, they have a famous habit of exploding when fired after long term use. They tend to snap in the middle explosively, sending carbon shrapnel flying toward the eyes, and then the bow string will plunge the upper half straight into your hand.

This happens in the fraction of a second it takes for the bow strings energy to be release into the arrow. The injures from this event will leave your hands with open wounds, which may get infected, preventing your hand from functioning properly.

Do not let the photo above fool you. It is not as simple as pulling the splinters out and then field bandaging the hand. Often people with these injuries require multiple surgeries, repairing tendons, and removing hundreds of tiny shrapnel fragments inside their hand muscles. Stick with my top three arrow spines, and remember, two working opposable thumbs are what gives us the powerful and life-saving ability to use tools.

Don’t risk that tool wielding ability in any part of your survival life.

Check out these related articles:

Our Favorite Crossbow Reviews

How To Make Use Of Improvised Weapons

Making The Cut: How To Make An Improvised Wire Saw From Scraps

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  1. Eric

    December 11, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    At Cabelas, wooden arrows are around 75$ a half dozen

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