Bodkin Arrowhead in Archery

A bodkin is a type of arrowhead used in medieval archery. The term "bodkin" comes from the Old English word "bodkin", which means a small dagger. The bodkin arrowhead was designed specifically for the purpose of penetrating armor and other heavy materials.

Design and Characteristics Of The Archery Bodkin Arrowhead

Shape and Size

The head of a bodkin arrow is short, wide, and triangular, with a sharp point and sometimes a slight curve. The triangular shape and wide cross-section of the bodkin allowed for better penetration, as it provided a larger surface area for the arrow to push against the target material. Additionally, the sharp point allowed for easier entry into the target material, which reduced the amount of energy required to penetrate it.


Bodkin arrowheads were typically made of iron or steel, which was both durable and hard enough to penetrate armor. The material used to make bodkin arrowheads was an important factor in determining their effectiveness, as a softer material would not have been able to penetrate armor. Iron and steel were commonly used due to their abundance, as well as their ability to be hardened through heat treatment.

Use in Medieval Archery

Military Archery

In medieval times, the bodkin arrowhead was an important tool for military archers. The ability to penetrate armor was crucial in battle, and the bodkin was specifically designed for this purpose. Archers would carry a quiver of bodkin arrows along with regular arrows to be used when needed. In battle, bodkin arrows were used against heavily armored soldiers, allowing archers to effectively penetrate the armor and cause injury to the enemy.


Bodkin arrowheads were also used for hunting, as they were effective at penetrating the hides of large animals. This made them a popular choice for hunters who needed to take down large prey, such as deer or elk. The triangular shape and sharp point of the bodkin allowed for efficient penetration of thick hides, making it easier for hunters to bring down their quarry.

Use in Modern Archery

In modern archery, bodkin arrowheads are not commonly used due to advances in armor and the widespread use of firearms. However, they are still used by some traditional archers and are often sought after by collectors. Some archers also use bodkin arrowheads for hunting, as they can penetrate thick hides and other materials. Additionally, bodkin arrowheads are used in reenactments of medieval battles and archery competitions, providing an opportunity for archers to experience the feel of using historical equipment.


The bodkin arrowhead played a crucial role in medieval archery, serving as a means of penetrating armor and other heavy materials. While it is not as commonly used in modern archery, it is still appreciated by traditional archers and collectors, and is sometimes used for hunting. The bodkin arrowhead remains an important piece of archery history and is a testament to the ingenuity of medieval archers. Through its design and use, the bodkin arrowhead provides a fascinating look into the techniques and technologies used in medieval archery.