The Trick to Saving Arrows with an Arrow Puller
The Best Arrow Pullers for Everyday Use
The most useful “trick” for safely pulling arrows is to an arrow puller. An arrow puller is a tool we all wish we could do without. Either we should never miss, so we’d never need to pull an arrow out of a tree or wood target frame, or targets should all be easy, two finger pull targets. Meanwhile, in the real world, all of my pencils have erasers and I always carry an arrow puller to help me safely pull recalcitrant arrows from targets and, ahem, ever so occasionally, from wood target frames. You can try pulling stuck arrows with your bare hand, but doing so increases the likelihood you will bend or break your arrows.
Standard arrow pullers do several things at once. They give you a better grip on the arrow shaft, and they increase the effective diameter of the arrow shaft you are pulling for an easier hold and they protect the arrow from being bent by the grip of your fist by adding extra stiffening. Many different arrow pullers are available. The most popular a variation of a hinged cylinder, of which my favorites are the Third Hand Pro Puller and the Cartel, which is nice and grippy, more so than my Third Hand puller.
For some folks the large diameter arrow pullers are overkill and they prefer using various materials to get a better grip on their arrows, including simple rubber jar openers and pieces of grippy shelf liner. These are cheap, easily available and can get in between closely packed arrows.
Standard Arrow Puller Arrow Removal
Using an arrow puller follows the same safety rules for pulling arrows by hand. Be sure nobody is behind you or to the side where they could get impaled by the nock-end of the arrow if it suddenly comes free. Likewise, make sure you are pulling the arrow *past* your body and not towards it. Remove all the non-stuck arrows first. Grip the arrow shaft as close to the target as possible, to help avoid bending or breaking the shaft. Be sure to pull on the arrow straight out, preferably with one hand on the target and one on the arrow puller. If you attempt to use two hands to pull an arrow out be sure the bale is complete secured and that you are secure as well and won’t fall over if the arrow comes free un-unexpectedly.
Alternate Arrow Pullers
A product that attempts to provide more leverage is the Double D Archery Products arrow puller, which allows for a perpendicular grip for extra pulling power. The perpendicular grip gives extra leverage, but it reduces control when the arrow finally comes free and may encourage the bad practice of pulling the arrow straight towards the archer. So, archers using a puller of this type need to be extra careful to pull the arrow out in a safe direction, away from their face and body, and away from other people.
At $32.50 it certainly costs more than grippy shelf liner but it is an interesting addition to the the tools that make pulling arrows easier. For now I’ll stick to using the standard kind of hinged cylinder arrow pullers for their simplicity, effectiveness and for the tendency of the parallel grip to encourage pulling the arrow away from one’s body.
Extreme Arrow Pulling
At our JOAD program we use light draw weight bows, so we don’t run into this situation much. Our arrows don’t penetrate very deeply into wood frames. However, higher poundage bows often do. And some types of targets, especially “3D” foam targets, can be very hard to get arrows out of. If your arrow is stuck in a wood frame and you are using screw in field points on your arrows you may have the option of unscrewing the shaft and leaving the point in the wood. (Keep in mind that twisting carbon arrows to try to loosen them can damage the arrow. Always check your carbon arrows before shooting them.) To remove arrows in stuck wood frames another option is to drive in a screw next to the arrow in the same grain of wood using a driver drill. This can relieve pressure on the arrow enough to remove the arrow with an ordinary arrow puller. Don’t try this trick with a target bale, just the frame! And be sure to remove the expansion screw when you are done.
If you are deep into a 3D target or target bale, please try to safely remove the whole arrow. Points left in bales will be hit by other arrows, causing damage. Also, please try not to damage the targets and target frames in removing arrows. One person on an arrow rescuing rampage can ruin a target or target frame for everyone.
A great looking tool for safely removing hard to pull arrows is the Hamskea Arojac arrow puller, which is designed to securely grip a wide range of arrow diameters and pull them straight out using ratcheting mechanical leverage. It looks like it could be a great tool for large clubs to rescue arrows. It may a bit heavy and a bit pricy for the average archer at $130, but for folks who regularly shoot into targets that are hard to pull arrows from it may be a good long term investment.