A bolt or quarrel is a dart-like
projectile A projectile is a missile propelled by the exertion of a which is allowed to move free under the influence of and . Although any objects in motion through space are projectiles, they are commonly found in and s (for example, a thrown , kicked ...

used by
crossbow 21st-century hunting compound crossbow A crossbow is a ranged weapon using an Elasticity (physics), elastic launching device consisting of a bow (archery), bow-like assembly called a ''prod'', mounted horizontally on a main frame called a ''till ...

s. The name "quarrel" is derived from the
word ''carré'', meaning square, referring to their typically square heads. Although their lengths vary, bolts are typically shorter and heavier than traditional
arrow An arrow is a -stabilized launched by a . A typical arrow usually consists of a long, stiff, straight ''shaft'' with a weighty (and usually sharp and pointed) ' attached to the front end, multiple fin-like s called ''s'' mounted near the rear ...

s used by

Parts of the bolt


The point, also called the ''head'' or the ''tip'', is the pointed and weighted front end of the bolt, which is sharp and hard so that it can penetrate the target.


shaft Shaft may refer to: Rotating machine elements * Shaft (mechanical engineering), a rotating machine element used to transmit power * Line shaft, a power transmission system * Drive shaft, a shaft for transferring torque * Axle, a shaft around whic ...

is the main body of the bolt to which other parts of the bolt are attached. It is normally made of
carbon fiber Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...
aluminium alloy Aluminium alloys (or aluminum alloys; see spelling differences Despite the various English dialects Dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in ...
(or sometimes both aluminum and carbon are used), and is very lightweight for its
strength Physical strength *Physical strength, as in people or animals *Hysterical strength, extreme strength occurring when people are in life-and-death situations *Superhuman strength, great physical strength far above human capability *A common attrib ...
. Shafts come with varying degrees of
stiffness Stiffness is the extent to which an object resists Deformation (mechanics), deformation in response to an applied force. The complementary concept is flexibility or pliability: the more flexible an object is, the less stiff it is. Calculations ...
— referred to as the "
" of the bolt. The more resistant to bending a bolt is, the more "spine" it is said to have, and a crossbow with higher
draw Draw, drawing, draws, or drawn may refer to: Common uses * Draw (terrain), a terrain feature formed by two parallel ridges or spurs with low ground in between them * Drawing (manufacturing), a process where metal, glass, or plastic or anything e ...
weight ideally needs to be paired with a heavier bolt point and higher spine specifications. The weight of a shaft is usually in
grain A grain is a small, hard, dry seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album ...
s, and product descriptions may provide the total weight in grains, or in grains per inch (GPI), for which the total weight of shaft can be calculated by multiplying the GPI value with length of shaft in inches.


Fletchings, also referred to as ''vanes'', are
fin A fin is a thin component or appendage attached to a larger body or structure. Fins typically function as foils that produce lift or thrust Thrust is a reaction (physics), reaction force (physics), force described quantitatively by Newton' ...

s located at the rear end of the shaft just before the nock. The fletching is typically made from soft light materials such as
feather Feathers are epidermis (zoology), epidermal growths that form a distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on dinosaurs, both Bird, avian (bird) and some non-avian (non-bird) and possibly other archosauromorpha, archosauromorphs. They are conside ...

plastic Plastics are a wide range of syntheticA synthetic is an artificial material produced by organic chemistry, organic chemical synthesis. Synthetic may also refer to: In the sense of both "combination" and "artificial" * Synthetic chemical or s ...

silicone rubber Silicone rubber is an elastomer An elastomer is a polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "part") is a Chemical substance, substance or material consisting of very large molecules, or macromolecules, c ...
. They stabilize the trajectory of the bolt via three different means: resisting
pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octaves ...
ing and yawing of the shaft by acting like a stabilizer fin (fin-stabilization); reducing deviation from the longitudinal axis by creating a back-pulling center of pressure behind the bolt's
center of mass In physics, the center of mass of a distribution of mass Mass is the physical quantity, quantity of ''matter'' in a physical body. It is also a measure (mathematics), measure of the body's ''inertia'', the resistance to acceleration (change ...
drag Drag or The Drag may refer to: Places * Drag, Norway, a village in Tysfjord municipality, Nordland, Norway * ''Drág'', the Hungarian name for Dragu Commune in Sălaj County, Romania * Drag (Austin, Texas), the portion of Guadalupe Street adja ...
-stabilization); and in some particular cases, creating a
rotation A rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center (or point) of rotation. The plane (geometry), geometric plane along which the rotation occurs is called the ''rotation plane'', and the imaginary line extending from the center an ...

around the longitudinal axis (spin-stabilization) by having the fletchings mounted at a slight
angle of attack In fluid dynamics, angle of attack (AOA, α, or \alpha) is the angle between a Airfoil#Airfoil terminology, reference line on a body (often the chord (aircraft), chord line of an airfoil) and the vector (geometry), vector representing the relative ...

angle of attack
. There is no rule or formula for determining the length of fletching needed — generally the longer the shaft is, the longer the fletching needs to be, and vice versa.


A nock is a small notched piece that is attached to the rear end of the shaft, for engaging and receiving the propulsive push from the
string String or strings may refer to: *String (structure), a long flexible structure made from threads twisted together, which is used to tie, bind, or hang other objects Arts, entertainment, and media Films * Strings (1991 film), ''Strings'' (1991 fil ...
during shooting. Nocks are made of either plastic or aluminum.

Size and weight

There is not any hard and fast rule of bolt sizing. Generally, the bolts are 15 to 22 inches long but the standard length is 20 inches. Experts recommend longer bolts but they have certain disadvantages as well. The weight of the bolt can have a serious effect on the range of the bolt. The bolt's total weight includes the bolt's weight, nock, insert, vanes, and broadhead or field point. Almost all bolt manufacturers will list how many grains each shaft weighs or how many grains are in each inch of the shaft. A more massive bolt, e.g. at least 400 grains, will have better downrange energy and offer better penetration but will travel more slowly and thus drop more due to gravity during its flight. A lighter bolt will fly quicker and give the shooter a longer range, but might not have the desired penetration.


{{Authority control Archery Arrow types Projectiles Crossbows