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Physics/Arrow penetration


For my 8th grade science project, I am researching the topic of how arrow mass will affect it's penetration depth .  I need an expert source, and we are allowed to use this website for a source.  My question is if an arrow with more mass will penetrate a target deeper than an arrow with less mass if the velocity and flight distance are the same for both arrows.  The target will be consistent as well.

Hello Konner,

Yes, with the conditions you describe, I would expect the more massive arrow to go deeper. A flying arrow has energy (called kinetic energy) due to its velocity and mass. Energy is the ability to do work. With velocity equal in all tests, that energy will give the arrow with more mass greater ability to go deeper into the target.

I should point out that you should have a way to guarantee control of the velocity. Do not expect that pulling the string back equal amounts will give equal velocity. A more massive arrow will require more force than less massive arrows to reach the desired velocity.

I don't know much about an arrow's flight characteristics. If air drag can cause the velocity to decrease a significant amount, I should also caution you that the lighter arrows will be more affected than the more massive arrow. That would be a source of error in your tests. So I recommend as short a flight as possible. If my answer generates more questions, don't hesitate to send a followup. Enjoy.

I hope this helps,


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Steve Johnson


I would be delighted to help with questions up through the first year of college Physics. Particularly Electricity, Electronics and Newtonian Mechanics (motion, acceleration etc.). I decline questions on relativity and Atomic Physics. I also could discuss the Space Shuttle and space flight in general.


I have a BS in Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering. I am retired now. My professional career was in Electrical Engineering with considerable time spent working with accelerometers, gyroscopes and flight dynamics (Physics related topics) while working on the Space Shuttle. I gave formal classroom lessons to technical co-workers periodically over a several year period.

BS Physics, North Dakota State University
MS Electrical Engineering, North Dakota State University

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