Did you know that you can shoot fish in the water with an arrow? If you’re on this page, you most likely already know, but with that said, you might be wondering about how far an arrow can travel in water. The distance of your arrow in water depends on a number of factors like the draw weight and whether you want to kill a fish or just see how far the arrow can go.
How far will an arrow travel in water? If you had to say how deep an arrow could shoot, you might say a total distance of 12 feet in water. Bowfishing arrows will travel between 10 to 15 feet above water, and you want to shoot in water between 3 to 5 feet deep for a maximized kill effect.
Arrows Superior to Bullets in Water
Arrows maintain their velocity in water much better than bullets, but if you want the maximum effectiveness, you need special bowfishing arrows. If you’re looking for a good bowfishing arrow, I’d recommend the Muzzy Classic Fiberglass Bowfishing Fish Arrow.
Again, you can shoot an arrow into the water at between 3 to 5 feet, but this is with special bowfishing arrows for the best results. They don’t have feathers, and they were made heavier so that they could penetrate the water better.
What Happens if You Shoot a Regular Arrow into the Water?
You could, in theory, shoot a regular arrow into the water, and you might see it as 90 percent effective when you shoot it up to 10 feet, but the damage is far less effective at only 60 percent. Arrows can travel reasonably far in water, especially when they’re bowfishing arrows, but their effectiveness to kill a fish lowers the deeper the water gets.
How Far Can an Arrow Travel Underwater?
A shot lethal to fish will be anywhere from 3 to 5 feet deep, which is why bowfishing tends to be done in shallow water. The deeper the water, the less effective your arrows become, but that doesn’t mean they can’t travel some distance. You could probably shoot in water to a distance of 12 feet, but with that said, your shots lose most of their effectiveness at 8 feet deep as it slows down because of the water.
That said, most people only shoot arrows into water with the purpose of going bowfishing. If you plan to do that, you will want to have special arrows for it because they will prove more effective in killing the fish.
Why Do Arrows Fare Better Than Bullets on Water?
In general, arrows tend to do much better than bullets on water. This has to do with the arrows mass and its shape. When you shoot a bullet, it tends to mushroom on impact. It might go a foot before it flounders and loses effectiveness. With everything said, both bullets and arrows will shoot better and farther when not in water.
A regular arrow in the air can shoot at a distance of between 100 to 650 yards. That should tell you how bowfishing arrows differ from regular arrows because of how a bowfishing arrow will cover 6 yards at the maximum because of its greater weight. Not only that, but your sight of the fish on the water becomes less the farther you go.
Why Do Arrows Travel Less Distance in Water?
A large part of this comes from the fact that the arrow deals with far greater resistance once it hits the water. As soon as the arrow hits the water, the resistance between the arrow and the water slows it down.
You will still see maximum deadliness at between 3 to 5 feet deep, but anything over that could kill the fish, and in some cases, it might not even pierce the fish well enough to keep it on your arrow.
How Much Draw Weight Do You Have?
A large factor in how deeply your arrow can shoot will depend on the draw weight. Check your local regulations because in some cases, you can’t shoot above or below a certain draw weight with bowfishing. With that said, if you were to have a 70-pound draw weight on your bow, you will usually shoot much farther than a 35-pound draw weight.
Personally, for bowfishing, I wouldn’t shoot anything below 40-pound draw weight, and I wouldn’t shoot anything above 50-pound draw weight to have the maximum effectiveness for the fish you shoot. You don’t want to go through the fish, and at the same time, you want to make sure that your arrow pierces.
Light Refraction in Water
When you go to shoot an arrow in the water, you should also account for light refraction if aiming at a fish. What is light refraction? It’s responsible for distortion of lighting in the water to make objects appear higher than what they are.
For that reason, when I advise a beginner, I will often tell them to pretend like they want to miss and aim low. The deeper in the water that the fish is, the lower that you will need to aim to account for light refraction.
When you first go bowfishing, you should understand how you will most likely miss your first 50 shots, and that’s okay. Have fun. Bowfishing isn’t serious. You might practice on an underwater target to practice for light refraction. While you could pay for an underwater bowfishing target, it’s pretty expensive (between $80 to $115).
I don’t want to see you waste your money on something you can easily fashion up yourself. Why not just make a bowfishing target yourself?
Don’t Use a Regular Arrow
If you plan to shoot in the water for bowfishing carp, gar or drum, don’t use a regular arrow. It won’t travel the same distance underwater because of a lack of weight and the fletching. It will get misdirected on impact for less effectiveness. Someone completely new to bowfishing might think that they can simply string up an arrow and head to the waters, but you need the right type of arrows.
You don’t need any kind of special bow, but you do need the right kind of arrow.
While arrows can’t necessarily go to the deepest part of the water and do well, they do better than bullets shot into water, which usually pierce less than 12 inches in water. With that said, most bowfishermen stick to shooting their arrows in shallower parts of rivers and lakes for good reason. The arrow loses its effectiveness the deeper you go. It can travel farther than a bullet in water, but it does eventually lose steam.
Let’s say that you want to start bowfishing, but you don’t have a bowfishing bow. Check out the article that I wrote here on the best bowfishing bows. It’s also fun to just look at the different bowfishing bows available.