Archery Dude

Video how to find lost arrows

How to Find Lost Arrows Archery Dude

It’s a sunny day, no wind, just the right amount of clouds in the sky. A great day for archery, but nothing can ruin that day faster than spending hours searching for the expensive arrow you just lost.

All archers will undoubtedly lose an arrow at some point, and depending on where they ended up – you may or may not ever find them. That can be a real pain, especially when you’re shooting higher end arrows or arrows that you had custom made.

Well fear not, I’m going to show you several different ways you can go about finding those lost arrows as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Preventative Maintenance

Possibly the easiest way to stop losing arrows is to avoid losing them in the first place. I know, it’s obvious, but by just taking a few simple steps before you shoot you can avoid wasting your precious shooting time searching for your lost arrows.

If you’re shooting on your own land, there are a few quick and easy preventative measures you can take. Mow the grass shorter than normal in the areas that you shoot. If you have access to an area like the bottom of a cliff or steep drop off, consider cleaning up that area to shoot.

The edge of a drop off or ledge will act like a natural backstop, preventing your arrows from traveling too far when you miss the target. If you’re shooting on your own land, it also makes shooting much more safe as well.

While we’re at it, you should buy or build a backstop either way if at all possible. Check out this article I wrote all about how to set up a backyard archery range.

Retrace the Shot

An old tried and true method of finding your lost arrow is to retrace the missed shot to find out where the arrow landed. When you miss a shot, before doing anything else, immediately stop and lay your bow at your feet.

Walk until you are just behind the target. Looking in the direction of the miss, decide how far the farther angle of the miss could have been. Then walk in a line along the edge of that line and place another marker item on the ground where you’re standing.

Ideally, the arrow should be some where within the area marked on three sides by your bow, the target and the other marker item that you put on the ground.

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Sometimes arrows get stuck up and under the ground with only the vanes slightly visible in the grass. Pay close attention, keep an eye out for dirt or grass that’s been disturbed.

If you don’t immediately find the arrow, follow up by using a rake to rake the entire area.

Another option is to walk the area barefoot, if your arrows there, you’ll eventually find it.

Look Up!

All too often, when someone looses an arrow they’ll look at the ground, under twigs and leaves – anywhere but up. When you loose an arrow, keep in mind that the arrow could easily be stuck in the side of a tree or tangled up in branches and leaves. It’s not to uncommon for an arrow to bounce or ricochet and head either sideways or in an upward diagonal direction.

Light Them Up

Especially if you’re shooting expensive, home made or custom built arrows – throw some of these on them. The lights are practically weightless and well balanced – they won’t throw off your shots in any way. Plus, they stay lit for hours.

I know a few archers who turn the lights on even when they shoot in the middle of the day. That way, if they do lose an arrow, they just head out a little after dusk and they can easily see their arrows lighting up – it makes finding lost arrows a breeze.

Enlist Some Helpers

A guy I know has a little trick he uses whenever he looses an arrow or two. This may sound simple, but it’s an effective trick that’ll get you one or more motivated arrow hunters in no time:

He offers his little nieces and nephews a couple of bucks (or some other prize or reward) to whoever can find his lost arrow – or the most arrows if he loses more than one.

They jump to it and leave nothing unturned when searching out his arrows. He heads inside, sits aback and relaxes while they do all the hard work. He says it hasn’t failed him once.

Use a Metal Detector

Obviously this will work the best if you shoot aluminum arrows, but it can still work if you shoot carbon or wood as well. Broadheads will also be fairly easy to track this way.

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If your field points or target points are the only metal on your arrows, it can still work but it can be more difficult. Some people say it works for them, while others argue that it doesn’t.

The problem is that a metal detector can only pick up your arrow’s metal points and inserts. That’s why it’s not a bad idea for newer archers to start by shooting either aluminum or carbon wrapped aluminum arrows, especially if shooting near a thick or densely wooded area.

You can even pick up a super cheap metal detector like this one and be able to locate most arrows if you use it properly. This video shows exactly how to do this at about the 3:00 mark:

Train Your Dog

This may sound crazy to some people, but it actually works. I know an archer who has a bird dog that he’s trained for duck hunting. As a bonus, his dog started finding his lost arrows for him.

When he’s out shooting his dog just sticks by his side. If he looses an arrow, he’ll just give the dog the command and he’s off and running. He hasn’t not been able to find an arrow since.

Some people simply rub scents on their arrows about once every few months. A trained dog then knows exactly what to look for, and it’s much easier for the dog to find the arrows this way as well.

Here’s a video that shows exactly this. Also, I know of several people who have trained their dogs without the need for scents as well.

Use Bright Fluorescent Colors

An easy way to keep track of your arrows even when they go way off course is by using bright, fluorescent colors. Not only should the vanes be brightly colored, but the shaft of the arrows as well.

By arrows that feature colors not found in nature, think flashy, loud, neon type colors. Bright yellows, neon green, bright pink, etc. You get the idea.

There’s also another benefit to this as well:

If you do lose an arrow even though it’s brightly colored, UV light will show you exactly where they are.

Pick up one of these small UV flashlights. They’re cheap, compact and decent quality as well. When you do lose an arrow or two, just wait until it’s dusk, then go out and shine it around the area where your arrows could be. If you have fluorescent colors anywhere on your arrows, they’ll light up so much you won’t be able to miss them.

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If you don’t want to buy a small UV flashlight, it is possible to make one by removing the white light bulb in a regular flashlight and replacing it with a UV bulb instead. Honestly though, this is much more of a pain then just picking up a cheap one with free shipping. Besides, they’re small and can easy go along with you wherever you shoot.

If you want to make sure that you won’t lose another arrow, take this to the next level by getting some of this fluorescent paint. Applying it to your arrows will cause them to light up like a Christmas tree!

I personally use both a the metal detector and the UV flashlight methods combined and I rarely lose an arrow.

Use Another Arrow

Finally, there’s one other method that can come in handy, especially if you lose an arrow and you don’t have a metal detector, UV flashlight, or any other special gear on hand.

Let’s say you’re out shooting with nothing but your bow and you lose an arrow. There is one little trick you can use in a pinch…

After you miss a shot, start by standing right at the target that you missed. Try to figure out the lane of how far right or left of the target (the direction of the missed shot) that your arrow could have traveled.

Simply walk within the lane of the missed shot scraping the ground left and right until you hear and feel the ‘click’ of your lost arrow sticking in the ground. Here’s a quick video that shows exactly how to do this:

So by now you should have enough tips and tricks under your belt that you’ll never lose an arrow ever again. As I said before, I personally use the fluorescent paint / UV flashlight combo as well as always having a metal detector with me whenever I shoot. But use whichever method works best for you. Now get out there and get shooting!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>