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How Could RFID Help Archers Locate Lost Arrows?

Posted By RFID Journal, 10.04.2017

My colleagues and I are members of a field archery club. Unlike in target archery, we shoot at 3D targets of animals (not live ones, I hasten to add) in woodland settings. Given that distances are unknown and obstructions are frequent, we often spend time scratching around for lost arrows. I'm interested in exploring whether or not RFID chips embedded in arrows might solve the problem of lost arrows. The arrows are made of wood, or carbon and aluminum.




Passive UHF RFID might be a good solution to the problem of locating lost arrows. There are two potential problems that would need to be addressed, however. The first is the material of the arrow. Wood is not normally an issue (unless it contains a lot of moisture), but carbon absorbs RFID energy and aluminum detunes the tag, unless you use a special tag. It seems, from a quick search online, that most nocks are hollow and made of plastic, so the best place for the tag would likely be inside the nock. That would avoid any problems involving the carbon or aluminum.

The second issue is the size of the tag. You could purchase a small tag that would go inside the nock, but the read range would likely be around 1 or 2 meters (3.3 to 6.6 feet). With a good handheld reader, you could walk around and find the arrows (most handhelds beep more frequently as you move closer to the tag). I don't know exactly what read range you would achieve. It would depend on which tags and readers you used. But 1 meter might not be much help to people looking for lost arrows.

It might be possible to use larger tags, particularly on wood arrows, but you would need to be sure not to break the connection between the antenna and the reader when placing them on the arrow's shaft. For the aluminum arrows, you would need tags designed to work on metal. These could give you a read range of 3 to 5 meters (9.8 to 15 16.4 feet). That would be more helpful in covering an area in which lost arrows might be hiding.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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