As a symbol, an arrow indicates direction or reference. The arrow symbol does not look terribly much like the weapon which Tsarren describes; it looks more or less like this: ->

Direction: Arrows are commonly used in traffic signs and other direction-giving signs to indicate the way in which one should travel in order to reach a given destination. The name of the destination commonly accompanies the arrow, as such:

<- Library
Sheep Shop ->
... thus indicating that one should turn left to reach the library, or right to reach the sheep shop.

Arrows can indicate not only the direction in which you should go, but also the direction in which something is already going -- for instance, the wind (in a weather report), water current, or the like. In chemical equations they indicate the way in which a reaction under consideration proceeds.

Reference: Arrows can also indicate that one intends to make reference to a term or an idea. For instance, when making annotations in the margin of an article or book, people often draw arrows to connect the annotation to the phrase upon which it comments.

Arrows are used to denote reference in C and related programming languages. The arrow operator, ->, also known as the member dereference operator, is used to refer to an element of a struct (or object) which is pointed to by a pointer.

An arrow, in its simplest form, is a pointed stick fired from a bow. This is neither particularly accurate or dangerous, so over the years, many improvements have been made to the basic design. For no particular reason other than because it makes sense to me, I will start at the back and work forward.

This is probably the first, and most important improvements in arrow design, and has stood the test of time. Little more than a groove on the butt of the arrow, the notch serves to hold the arrow on the string. I imagine this was probably figured out fairly soon after the idea of the bow and arrow, as it is nearly impossible to fire an unnotched arrow. Notching on modern arrows differs little from notching on older arrows, except where materials technology has allowed the notches to be made better (more durable, smoother, etc)

Fletching is the term for the fins at the end of the arrow, meant to stabilize the flight. The earliest fletches were slats of wood, but this was soon switched to feathers, as wood created too much wind resistance, and weighed down the end of the arrow. Arrows typically had three or four fletches, 120o or 90o apart respectively.

The fletching in modern arrows differs greatly from older fletching in many ways. Feathers are rarely used, but this is more to avoid killing birds, and to avoid the inconsistencies of organic material. Plastics are now the most common material, either in the form of fins, or imitation feathers.

Another modern development is the idea of spiral fletching. Much like rifling the barrel to spin the bullet increases accuracy, the spiral fletchings spin the arrow, stabilizing the flight even further. This lead to some changes in arrowhead design, to be discussed below.

Shaft (yer damn right)
The shaft is fairly simple, and has changed little except in the materials area over the years. A good shaft should be straight, light, and strong. It should also be somewhat flexible, otherwise it will shatter on impact, and that’s just wasteful. Wood was the favored material for centuries, eventually replaced by fiberglass. The length of the shaft, along with the draw of the bow, was a determining factor in power. A longer shaft could be drawn back further without falling off the bow than a shorter one.

Pardon the pun, but now we get to the point. In the beginning, the arrowhead was just the end of the shaft, sharpened. While this would be useful for hunting vampires, it has a couple major drawbacks. The first is that wood can only be sharpened so much, and that its too soft to hold a good point for any length of time. The second is that an arrow that is fletched, with nothing but a pointed shaft for a head, is weighted towards the butt, and much less likely to hit with the point.

Early arrowheads were pointy bits of stone, tied to the end of the shaft. In areas where metalworking wasn't developed (like the aboriginal people of North America) this was eventually perfected, with chipped flint arrowheads being made that were sharper than today’s surgical scalpels.

On the Eurasian continent metalworking led to many improvements in arrowhead design. The most common were the broadhead arrowheads, which were triangle shaped blades, with a narrow tang at the base to attach it to the shaft.
Common variations were barbs to make them more difficult to remove, narrower points to increase penetration, or wider points to make larger wounds.

Some exotic arrowhead designs emerged, including blunt, cone shaped heads meant to stun, or at least bludgeon, and "frog-cutters", blades whose striking area was the inside of a "V", meant mainly to cut ropes (if this seems unbelievably difficult, keep in mind that the frog-cutters are a Japanese invention, and they produced some of the most frightening archers in history. See also Zen Archery)

Back to the standard broadhead. These generic arrowheads came in two main types - vertical and horizontal, each with its own purpose. Vertical broadheads had the arrowhead running parallel with the notch, meaning that the arrow would be fired with the arrowhead vertical. While the fletching could not be counted on to keep the arrow from spinning all the time, odds are an arrow would hit with the arrowhead in the same alignment it was in when it was fired. The ribs of most, if not all, quadrupedal animals, particularly those hunted for food, run vertical as well. This means for an arrow to have the best chance of getting past the ribs to the vitals, its head must too be running vertical. Vertical broadheads were designed for hunting with this in mind.

Now, if one type of arrow is for hunting, what was the other main use for arrows? If that isn't obvious enough, consider this: vertical arrows penetrate vertical ribs, so horizontal arrows penetrate horizontal ribs, which are most commonly found in humans. That’s right folks, horizontal broadheads were meant for war, designed specifically to kill other humans.

This is why you sometimes see characters in movies holding the bow horizontally to fire. Its not some kind of medieval gangsta-chic, but a case of trying to do the right thing with the wrong arrow. The character has most likely found himself stuck with nothing but hunting arrows when human-killing is the order of the day. Firing the bow in this position lessens the power of the shot, as you can't draw as far with your body in the way, but it beats having your arrow stopped by a rib.

As I said before, the invention of spiral fletching brought about a change in arrowhead design. With the arrow spinning, the orientation of the head was no longer an issue. Modern arrowheads are typically razor pointed shafts, with three or four triangular razor blades jutting out from there. Giving up on trying to slip between the ribs, these bad boys just go for the nastiest wounds they can. Barbs are very common.
Competion Arrows

The modern day arrow that you see used in the Olympic Games has changed somewhat from the ancient design, and employs some of the latest modern technology.

Arrows can now be made from a thin hollow tube of aluminium, carbon fibre, or even a hybrid of the two where the aluminium is wrapped in carbon fibre. The thin, stiff shafts; perhaps only 6 mm thick are very light, giving great speed and a flat trajectory. Their small cross-section and short time-of-flight also gives good perfomance in the wind. The manufacturing process ensures each batch has almost exactly the same stiffness and weight. The feathers have been replaced with plastic, often shaped to catch the air and spin the arrow to give increased stability of flight. The point, or "piles"; to give them their proper name are small and fit flush, with no part projecting out past the circumference of the arrow. Usually they are made from steel for the part that penetrates the target, with a brass potion that inserts into the hollow shaft where glue can hold it in place. Piles come in various weights to help you "tune" your arrows to the bow.


Getting exactly the same flex is important; as the arrow is accelerated by the string, the inertia from the weight of the pile causes the arrow to bend along it's length. As the arrow leaps forward from the bow, this bending does die away, but the process *will* affect the flight of the arrow in different ways for different stiffnesses. Modern bows have spring loaded "buttons" in the handle of the bow, perpendicular to the arrow rest. By adjusting the tension of the spring in this button, varying amounts of energy can be taken out of the arrow flexion as it moves past. This coupled with left-right and up-down adjustment of the arrow, ensures the mode of the arrows vibration is in perfect alignment with the shot; and the same from shot to shot. (This has been described as 'giving the arrow a good clean kick up the arse.')

Fired from a modern recurve or compound bow great accuracy can be achieved with the modern equipment, hitting a head-sized area consistently at 90 metres.

ARROW is an acronym that can be used to recall which documents are required to be kept in an aircraft for it to be legal to operate in the United States. Just like your car requires registration to be available when it's operated, aircraft have their own set of documentation requirements.

  • A- Airworthiness Certificate. 14 CFR (Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations - Aeronautics and Space) part 91.203(b) states "No person may operate a civil aircraft unless the airworthiness certificate required by para. (a) of this section…is displayed at the cabin or cockpit entrance so that it is legible to passengers or crew."
  • R - Radio Station License. This is actually no longer required unless the aircraft is taken outside of the United States. This requirement is from 47 CFR (Title 47, Code of Federal Regulations - Telecommunications) which contains FCC rules, 47 CFR Part 87.18.
  • R - Registration Certificate. 14 CFR 91.203(a)(2) further requires "an effective U.S. registration certificate issued to the aircraft's owner or, for operation within the United States, the second duplicate copy (pink) of the Aircraft Registration Application as provided for in § 47.31(b), or a registration certificate issued under the laws of a foreign country."
  • O - Operating Limitations. This means an aircraft flight manual or FAA-approved publication from the aircraft manufacturer listing the operating limits of the aircraft in terms of altitude, speed, weight and balance and flight attitudes as well as any other restriction on operation.
  • W - Weight and Balance. This is sometimes found in an FAA-approved flight manual or POH (pilot operating handbook), in which case the above Operating Limitations requirement will cover this. In some cases, however, aircraft have separate type certificates listing this information, in which case that must be carried whenever the aircraft is operated.

ARROW. Remember before you take off.

Ar"row (#), n. [OE. arewe, AS. arewe, earh; akin to Icel. or, orvar, Goth. arhwazna, and perh. L. arcus bow. Cf. Arc.]

A missile weapon of offense, slender, pointed, and usually feathered and barbed, to be shot from a bow.

Broad arrow. (a) An arrow with a broad head. (b) A mark placed upon British ordnance and government stores, which bears a rude resemblance to a broad arrowhead.


© Webster 1913.

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