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Mathews Heli M Bow Review

by Steve Flores 26. February 2012 11:01
Steve Flores

For someone living and chasing big-game in the rugged, mountainous backdrop of southern West Virginia, I can honestly say that “excess baggage” is a major liability when it comes to being a successful bowhunter. In order to enjoy any type of consistent success, I am constantly refining not only my hunting techniques, but my physical condition as well. You see, the mountains don’t care if I show up out of shape. They will show me little mercy. Therefore, it is imperative that I strive to stay as lean and agile as possible----if I want to enjoy myself in the timber and fill more tags in the process. These same principles also apply to my equipment. 

In my opinion, it seems counterproductive to focus my efforts on weight training and sheading excess body fat in the off-season, only to turn around and load myself down with heavy hunting gear once opening day arrives. This includes clothing that isn’t hefty and/or bulky, and a treestand system that doesn’t break my back. It also consists of the very weapon I hold in my hand when the moment of truth arrives. Recently, I had the pleasure of realizing that the latest offering from Mathews Inc. is the perfect weapon for that moment.


The new Mathews Helim is the culmination of 20 years of Mathews innovation including new technologies and features poised to make you a better bowhunter.

The New 2012 Mathews Helim is the ideal bow for those who choose not to be weighed down by their equipment….literally. It is the answer for bowhunters who push themselves to the limit and expect their bow to be a positive factor in the journey “getting there”; rather than a burden that diminishes their chances of success by slowing them down. As the name implies, this year’s flagship model out of Sparta WI, has to be held to be believed. But hold on! Before you start thinking that an overall reduction in weight is the only highlight of this bow, think again. The new Helim is packed with 20 years’ worth of Mathews innovation; just waiting to make you a better bowhunter and archer.

Light Done Right
Anyone who has followed my writing, either on this site or in magazine print, knows that I am an advocate for a heavy bow. To me, a heavy bow rig is harder to torque and stays on target much easier than a light-weight setup. Therefore, I’ve always made the necessary sacrifices in order to reap the benefits of a heavy bow. However, the new HeliM doesn’t force me to make sacrifices.


The accuracy of the Helim is superb, despite the fact that it is so lightweight. Traditionally, a heavier bow is harder to torque, thus making it more accurate. This bow goes against that logic proving it is as accurate as it is light.

Surprisingly, while it goes against my every thought regarding light-weight bows, the Helim still performs much like a heavier setup. In my opinion, that is true innovation; regardless of the name on the bow. Most noteworthy, is how stable this bow feels while at full draw. This inherent stability is indeed a major contributor to the tight arrow groups I consistently experienced while shooting the bow.

Reduction Measures
The moment I pulled the Helim out of the box I was in shock at how light this bow really is. This reduction in weight is due to several factors. However, while each factor may lend a hand in reducing the overall heft of the bow, they do not do it at the cost of functionality. In fact, the same Mathews excellence that has defined their bows for more than two decades can be found in this latest offering.

The new GeoGrid Riser
In 2010, the Z7 introduced us all to the Grid-Lock riser. That same concept takes a leap forward with the arrival of the new Helim. Although this new bow carries a similar Grid-Lock pattern throughout the riser, a closer look will reveal a more rhythmical flow; aptly called GeoGrid. The grids on the Helim riser actually turn in the same direction as the handle of the bow and also the curvature of the riser. This new change not only affects the overall appearance of the bow, it also makes it lighter, while still maintaining structural integrity.  Also, the traditional mounting hardware that allows attachment of the Mathews Spider Web quiver to the bow has been replaced with a lighter composite material; which reduces weight even further.


While the rhythmic flow of the new Geo-Grid riser decreases overall bow weight, it also allows the riser, and essentially the bow, to almost disappear when placed in a wilderness backdrop.

Lighter Vibration Innovation
Ever since the Harmonic Dampers were invented, Mathews’ shooters have reaped the benefits of placing a weight inside an elastomer wheel in order reduce recoil vibration within the riser. The result is a bow that is smoother and more pleasurable to shoot. This same technology eventually spawned the Harmonic Stabilizer. Working on the same concept, the weight inside the elastomer wheel is purposely tuned to be out of phase with the vibrations emitted from longer riser, parallel limb bows, such as the 2011 Z-Series line of bows, and can dampen more than 75% of residual vibration. The new Harmonic Stabilizer Lite, found on the 2012 Helim, offers the same performance as the original, yet is nearly 70% lighter!


Despite a major reduction in weight, this proven sound and vibration eliminating technology performs just like its heavier predecessor.

Dead and Smooth
Most of us already understand the advantages of incorporating a string stop to squelch noise and vibration when the bowstring jumps forward. For 2012, Mathews took it’s highly effective Dead End String Stop and changed the shape in order to shave the weight. This latest version is noticeably less “blocky” than the original, which results in weight reduction, while still doing the job it was designed to do. Another noticeable difference is the location of the Dead End String Stop Lite. Unlike previous versions, this string stop sits closer to the single cam, rather that slightly below the bow grip. This change allows the bottom String Suppressor to essentially be eliminated; thus, further reducing overall mass.

When it comes to how smoothly a bow draws, one of the main contributing factors has always been cam design. However, Mathews added another factor to smoothness when they introduced the Roller Guard. The roller guard, another Mathews first, dramatically reduces system friction by guiding bow cables with low friction wheels. This technology was drastically improved with the unveiling of the Reverse Assist Roller Guard found on the Z series of Mathews bows. The roller guard on the Helim sports the same benefits as its predecessors (super smooth draw); only it does it on a slimmed down, highly refined support arm. And while this support arm may not carry the same curvature and appearance as previous offerings, the simplified aesthetics perfectly match the simplicity found throughout the string stop as well as the rest of the bow. 



 Although the Reverse Assist Roller Guard and Dead End String Stop may look different, they still do what there were meant to do….only better.

High Grade Handle
One of the most distinguishing trademarks of a Mathews bow, other than the single cam and the Harmonic Dampers, is the wood grip. And over the years, shooters have watched this handle go through its fair share of refinements. Most notable is a change in the overall shape of the grip in order to provide the most stable, torque-free, shooting experience.

In addition to the signature wood handle, Mathews also offers the Focus Grip which is a synthetic rubber grip made to keep pressure concentrated to the center of the grip, thus reducing hand torque.

For 2012, the Helim grip is the thinner throughout the throat and narrower in the palm-swell area, but it comes in a highly attractive, Gunstock Grade wood. In my opinion, it is the most attractive grip of any Mathews bow to date; and it is a pleasure to shoot. Also available is the “Focus” grip which helps minimize hand torque in the event of poor hand placement by keeping pressure concentrated in the center of the grip, unlike typical flat top grips that move pressure to the outside edge which increases hand torque.

Manageable Horsepower
Historically speaking, speed has always come with a price. Yet, bowhunters seem reluctant to accept this hard truth…myself included. However, thanks to the many technologies listed here, Mathews continues to chip away at the tradeoffs between blazing-fast arrow speeds and an accurate, vibration-free, smooth-drawing bow. 

The power plant for the 2012 Helim comes from the all new Helim Cam. Culminating 20 years of Mathews innovation, this new cam is surprisingly smooth to draw, despite the fact that is propels arrows at an IBO speed of 332 feet per second! I say surprisingly, but in reality this type of performance has become synonymous with Mathews. When it comes to producing bows that are fast, yet easy to shoot, they are at the forefront. The Helim is a testament to that belief.

While the new Helim Cam may be a derivative of the Z series cams, it draws much differently than its ancestors. To begin with, this cam doesn’t hold its peak draw weight all the way through the cycle. Instead, Mathews designed the cam with a subtle slope in the draw. The result is a bow that pulls smoothly from the start and doesn’t feel as though it is “staking” throughout the draw-cycle. 

Manageable horsepower has always been a trademark of Mathews bows and the new Helim cam stays true to that claim. With ultra-smooth characteristics, and a seamless transition throughout the draw cycle, the Helim is speed “done right”.

Even more pleasing, is the seamless transition through the valley and into the backwall; which doesn’t have the sudden “drop-off” or “hump” that most speed bows poses. Having shot those types of cams, I can say that the “hump” in the draw is very distracting (at least to me) and usually requires more effort to pull back. This cam displays none of those shortcomings.

In addition to a super smooth draw cycle, the Helim Cam comes with a draw stop located on the outer edge of the cam. When the cam rotates, this rubber coated draw stop quietly contacts the lower limb which provides a solid backwall. While the Helim does have a short valley, this, along with the draw stop, will actually make you a better shooter because it conditions you to pull “through” the shot; rather than relaxing and letting the string creep forward just before release. This can happen when shooting bows that have a larger valley and allow you to creep forward and then pull back before releasing the arrow.

Final Thoughts
To be honest, I was skeptical with regards to just how accurately this bow was going to shoot. Like I said, I prefer a “heavier” bow and my initial thoughts were that while the Helim might be light as a feather, the downside would be increased noise and vibration along with a reduction in shooting accuracy; especially at longer distances. That simply just wasn’t the case. Arrow groups remained tight, even out to 50 yards and the Helim is as quiet and vibration-free as it is astonishingly light…..Simply amazing. 


Like every Mathews I've ever owned, the fit, finish, and overall craftmanship on the 2012 Mathews Helim is superb!

Featured Specs

IBO Rating: Up to 332 fps 
Axle-to-Axle: 30" 
Brace Height: 7" 
Draw Weight: 40-70 & 65 lbs 
Bow Weight: 3.5 lbs 
Let-off: 80% 
Draw Lengths: 26" - 30" Half Sizes: 26.5" - 29.5" 
String/Cable: String: 88"/Cable: 32 3/4" 
Riser Length: 26 1/8" 
Cams: Helim Cam™ & QCA
* All specifications are approximate.

Mathews Technology

Monkey Tails
Limb Turret
Parallel Limb Design
SE5 Composite Limb System
SphereLock Pivoting Limb Cup System
String Grub
String Supressor
Mathews Genuine Bowstring
Ball Bearing Idler Wheel

Choosing a Quality Archery Pro Shop - Part 1

by Steve Flores 26. February 2012 08:48
Steve Flores

Whether you're looking to purchase the latest bow on the market, or simply want to upgrade your current rig, the road to finding a quality pro-shop, one that knows how to set you up right, can throw more twists and turns at you than the track at Laguna Seca; but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, consider the following advice, and the next time you walk into an establishment looking for excellent service, you’ll be walking out with a smile.

Why Pro Shop?
There are several reasons why the beginning to mid-level archery enthusiast should choose a Pro-Shop. Perhaps one of the chief reasons would be a familiarity with bow “set-up” procedures; or better yet, a lack there of. Given the wide array of compound bows available today and the mind staggering number of equipment options being offered, choosing the products that will work best with you, your bow, and your style of hunting or shooting can be a daunting task; especially if you, like the majority of bowhunters, are not schooled in the “technical aspects” of archery. In which case, “properly” setting-up your new rig will be a difficult goal to accomplish.

To combat this harsh reality you will need to find someone who knows what works, what doesn’t----and why. You need to find someone with the experience and mechanical proficiency to do things the right way. To put it simple, you need to enlist the help and guidance of a quality pro-shop.


In archery, confidence can go a long way toward success. And nothing will give you more confidence than knowing your bow-rig is set up correctly. A quality pro-shop can make you an accurate, self-assured shooter by setting you up with the right gear.

A Good Start
One of the most critical issues faced while attempting to correctly set up your bow revolves around the arrow rest. Today’s rest of choice is almost unanimously the “drop-away” version.  While this style of arrow rest most often represents the most accurate choice, it only works when installed correctly. Simply adding one to your bow doesn’t exactly mean that you will automatically achieve “laser-beam” type arrow flight. Unless you know how to set one up and what to look for when determining whether or not it is functioning properly, you’re most likely not going to get the added performance you paid extra money for; perfect arrow flight after the shot with no contact between the rest and you’re arrow’s fletching.

 Most Pro-Shop experts will say the a critical starting point when setting up your bow involves choosing a quality arrow rest. Pictured here is the new NAP Apache Carbon drop-away mounted to a 2012 Mathews Helim.

Properly tuning a drop-away style arrow rest sometimes requires a lot of tinkering and technical “know-how” in order to get things just right. Some models simply do not match well with certain bow brands, some do not match well no matter what brand of bow you shoot, and some even require the shooter to orient the fletching a particular way. For example, some rests simply will not tolerate a cock-vane “up” orientation, conversely, others do. Some may call for a rotation with the cock-vane to the side in order to achieve good results, some may not. Unless you know which fall-away rest your bow prefers and how to correctly set it up, you could spend hours and hours trying to tune it. This is where a quality pro-shop can make all the difference. They’ve been there, done that. They know which rests work and what type of bow and arrow system they work well with. Obviously their knowledge can save you valuable time and money, but more importantly, they will insure the job is done right”.

Learn from the Best
Another significant reason for choosing a pro-shop is a shortening of the learning curve. Most aspects of archery are rarely cut and dry. Consequently, in order to avoid the many pitfalls facing a newcomer it pays to find someone who has been around the block a time or two. A quality pro-shop is the ideal place to find such an individual. In one afternoon, you can learn valuable insight with regards to shooting tips, equipment choices and bowhunting wisdom in general; things that otherwise may have taken you years of trial and error to figure out on your own. Talk about an advantage!  When you consider the valuable information available at top notch establishments and the immediate affects it can/will have on your success as an archer and bowhunter, it is clear why finding a quality pro-shop is so important. The “networking” potential in these venues is immense. 

 Anytime you can be around other bowhunters or archers is a great time to learn something new. No other venue offers as much opportunity for this than a quality pro-shop.

Added Benefits
In addition to insuring that your equipment functions as it should, along with the ability to speed up the learning process, pro-shops offer several added advantages over the DIY (do it yourself) route. For instance, good shops will often times offer their customers “free” shooting lessons and advice after purchasing a new bow-rig. Most often, at the really good shops, a certified IBO pro shooter will be on hand to assist with the lessons. Obviously, this type of professional attention is invaluable. Not only does it insure that proper shooting habits are instilled from the start, it also guarantees that the majority of bad habits that plague archers all over the country are immediately recognized and avoided.

Also, don’t overlook the fact that most quality shops will be happy to provide their loyal customers with “perks” so to speak.  These gestures of appreciation can come in many forms.  Most often minor adjustments are made to your rig at no charge. Sometimes hats and shirts are given away as well; providing advertisement for the shop owner and perhaps a means of showcasing favored equipment and/or facilities for (you) the shooter. 
Another nice benefit of the pro-shop is the option to go in and “test” drive new equipment before actually putting down your hard earned cash and then realizing you made the wrong choice. Without a doubt, pro-shops are a bee-hive of knowledge, experience and camaraderie just waiting to be discovered. 

Most good shops will have a place to “test drive” merchandise before actually buying it. This is an essential part of the process that ensures you leave with a smile on your face; the right set-up in the right hands will often cause such a reaction.

Making the Right Choice
When choosing a pro-shop one of the most important things to remember is that the devil is in the details. What I mean, is that there usually isn’t one or two defining characteristics that will reveal that you are in the wrong place. Rather, there will most likely be a number of little things that, while seeming trivial at first, could reveal clues too much larger issues.For example, be cautious of shops that try to push a certain piece of equipment into your hands.  Having said that, let’s make clear that in order to accurately judge the true intentions of the guy behind the counter you must first understand that there is a difference between pushing a product and eagerly suggesting one. If a certain piece of equipment really is better than the one you initially went in to purchase, the guy selling it to you should be able to explain exactly why it is better. If he can’t, then that might be the first clue that your best interest aren’t what he had in mind. 

Suggesting certain equipment options is fine as long as the reasoning behind such advice can be validated. If the transaction doesn’t ultimately benefit you the shooter, then it’s probably not a good investment. A reputable shop will do nothing without your best interest in mind.

In contrast, guys working at shops that are the “real deal” will often have their own personal bows on hand and can readily show you exactly what equipment they are using. More importantly, they can also tell you why they are using it. If that happens to be the case, pay close attention to what these individuals are telling you because odds are good that they have already sifted through the “low-grade” stuff and have found the best of what the market has to offer. Essentially, they can save you time, money and in the end make your set-up the best it can be.

Post-Sale Service
Another indication as to whether or not you have made a wise choice lies in what happens after the sale. Is that where the service ends? Are you no longer ministered to like customer #1? If things seem to drastically change after you’ve spent the last of your piggy bank funds, then you’ve probably made the wrong choice. Case in point, even though it has been a few years since my last bow purchase, if I were to walk into my pro-shop today, the owner (Frank) would treat me like I was the most important guy in the building. Frank Addington and his wife Kathy, own and operate Addington’s Bowhunter Shop in Winfield, WV, and have been providing customers top quality service for over 25 years. When it comes to knowing what the consumer wants and needs, they are masters. 

 The benefits of any good pro-shop shouldn't stop once a purchase has been made. In fact, service typically gets better and better if you’ve selected the right shop for your needs.

In addition, if I was having a problem with my bow-rig he wouldn’t hesitate to fix it for me. Now you might be thinking that I receive special treatment for being a “writer” or something along those lines ….wrong! Frank treats everyone the same---like a close personal friend.

To Be Continued

Of course, there are other important aspects that go into selecting a quality pro-shop. In Part 2, I will delve a little deeper into the process and offer some final tips that will get you pointed in the right direction.

Post Season Training: Next Season Starts Now

by Steve Flores 25. January 2012 13:01
Steve Flores

Now that most hunting seasons have closed, it is important to discuss a common “post-season” trap. And, while it may seem innocent in nature, make no mistake it is one that prevents a lot of bowhunters from reaching their maximum potential; with regard to bow shooting skills, number of tags filled and even overall physical fitness. I understand that after many long months chasing your favorite game animal the urge to “take it easy” for a while can be overwhelming. However, if you want next season to be better than last season, now is the absolute best time to work toward that goal. Later, in subsequent blogs, we will discuss Hunting Prowess (tags filled), and Physical Fitness in more detail. But for now, let’s take a closer look at the first of these three areas: Shooting Skill. 

Your favorite treestand may be sitting dormant, but that doesn't mean that the time for perparation is over. 

Shooting Skills
You don’t have to be a competitive shooter to be a successful bowhunter. In reality, perhaps the most deciding factor in closing the deal on your next bowhunting opportunity comes down to 2 things: muscle memory and your ability to handle pressure. Thankfully, if you put enough time into actually shooting your bow, muscle memory will take care of itself. This is important because you might believe that you can talk yourself through such details as picking a spot, bending at the waste, relaxing your shooting hand or squeezing the release trigger----all in the heat of the moment! But, the truth is, you will most likely forget, simply because your heart will be in your throat. I know because I have tried. It should come as no surprise that my odds of success were very low during those seasons when I tried to will my way through tough shooting situations. 

The off-season is a great time to introduce advanced shooting techniques such as "Blind-Bale Shooting" into your practice regimen.

During those seasons when I failed to pick up my bow until late summer, I was essentially “relearning” all of the skills I had worked so hard on during the previous year. As a result, even though I was practicing, I wasn’t really making any strides in my ability to shoot well. Thankfully, I wasn’t loosing much either. But honestly, I definitely wasn’t getting any better. I quickly learned that maintaining some form of consistency during the off-season was the only way to really improve my proficiency to hit what I was aiming at in actual hunting situations. Some of this included just slinging arrows in the back yard. A good deal of it however, entailed actually shooting from a treestand, long-range shooting, and even up close, blank-bale shooting. 

Shooting from the ground, in a kneeling position, while wearing a face-mask, can affect your odds of filling a tag; especially if you wait until the moment of truth to find out if doing so alters such things as anchor point and arrow flight.

I should also mention how important it is to make a good deal of your practice time “situational”. For example, if you primarily hunt above “terra-firma”, then you should conduct the majority of your practice sessions from a treestand. This will only add “realism” to the situation and better prepare you for the real thing; and, what better time to do this than during the boring winter months. In addition, shooting outside when it is cold allows you to evaluate your cold-weather gear for any potential interference problems with the bowstring. This can be hard to do in the heat of summer or just before opening day when temps are still high. 


While everyone else is spending time doing something non-archery related, why not try out a new grip or arrow and broadhead combination. The new Mathews Focus grip is great for reducing hand-torque and the new NAP Big Nasty broadhead, along with the new Easton INJEXION arrows should prove to be leathal. It's never too late to start dialing things in and testing new gear.

Your ability to handle a pressure situation in the treestand can be increased by spending time behind the bowstring. There is no question that when your shooting skills improve----your confidence goes up. When your confidence goes up, so does your ability to manage pressure; simply because you expect to perform well. The old cliché that archery is 90% mental carries a lot of merit. Even if you only shoot a few arrows a week, that is better than laying the bow down for the entire off-season (until just a few weeks before opening day).


When the moment I have worked so hard for finally arrives......I want nothing more than to deliver. For me, this starts in the off-season.

I like to think that my bow is an extension of my arm. I maintain that feeling by making sure I don’t let too much time go by without launching some arrows downrange. When faced with an actual shot on a living, breathing animal, I want my mind and body to go into sort of an “auto-pilot” mode. That way, all I have to do is find the single hair I want to split….nothing more. Of course, I am only human and completely capable of screwing things up. However, I can decrease the chances of that happening by constantly sharpening my shooting skills----year round. 

Next time we will discuss ways to improve our ability to fill tags. Again, post season is the optimum time-frame to accomplish this. However, there is more to it than aimlessly stumbling through the woods. You need to have a plan.

High Mountain Success

by Steve Flores 27. December 2011 06:08
Steve Flores

With so many rolling hills, food plots, and big buck sightings, it’s easy for an eastern guy to be a little jealous of his “mid-western” bowhunting brothers. After all, such particulars are seldom enjoyed in my neck of the woods. Still, the goal remains the same…..arrow a whitetail buck; plain and simple. So, in an effort to see that this goal is reached it is important that I keep my edge throughout the season. This includes not only my shooting form, but my body as well. Hunting whitetails in the rugged hills of southern WV is no walk in the park, and typically, one shot is all I get…if I’m lucky. Therefore, when the opportunity does arrive, I want to do everything in my power to close the deal. This begins and ends with “in-season” shooting, along with a steady dose of cardio and weight training.

So often, once the season begins, we find little time for shooting practice. However, it only takes a few arrows to keep shooting form and muscle memory intact. For me, this means sneaking outside the house to sling a few arrows whenever time allows; even if it is only one shot. This, by nature, more closely resembles real-life hunting scenarios; as opposed to haphazardly launching dozens of arrows into my 3-D target.


 It only takes a few arrows a day to keep muscle memory intact and shooting form polished. 

The season started out slow, which is typical of big-timber bowhunting, with little deer sightings. With so much territory to roam, it can be extremely difficult to nail down a good buck before the rut begins in November. Therefore, I usually keep a low profile and work the “fringes” of my hunting areas in an effort not to disturb the does before the bucks are actually on their feet cruising.

Early season can be a frustrating time for the big timber bowhunter. Patience is the best medicine for success. 

As November rolled around, I found myself perched in my favorite rut stand; located adjacent to a small doe bedding area, within a natural funnel. As the early morning sun broke through the dark grey clouds, I caught movement down the steep hillside below. Realizing that I was watching a buck cruise for does, I grabbed my grunt tube and let out a few soft “uurrppss” in an effort to get his attention. Watching him walk in the opposite direction I assumed my efforts had failed.

 Big Woods whitetails are like ghosts. If you encounter a good one consider yourself blessed.

Little to my knowledge, the savvy buck was simply using the terrain to his advantage in order to close the distance between us. Within minutes, the love-crazed whitetail was coming straight at me; grunting every step of the way. When he got within range I slowly brought my Mathews ez7 to full draw and waited for him to turn broadside. Just as he turned I settled the pin on my Trijicon sight high on his shoulder and stopped him with a mouth grunt; focusing on the single hair I wanted to split until the bow simply fired. The NAP Thunderhead Razor broadhead zipped through him like a hot knife through butter. In an instant he bolted straight away. However, his journey didn’t last long. Within seconds he was doing the “death sway” as he staggered and fell to the ground. Settling into my Lone Wolf stand I sat down and thanked God for the blessing I had just been given. 

The combination of an NAP Thunderhead Razor broadhead and NAP Quick fletch proved lethal.

The blood trail was nothing short of amazing!

 Nothing sweeter than High Mountain Success!

The following week, I filled my second archery tag on another mountain whitetail. This particular buck was caught cruising through one of my favorite hunting spots. What makes it so special is that it is located in a ridge top saddle, next to a bedding thicket, and is loaded with oak trees that drop acorns like rain. When the rut is on, or any time of year for that matter, it is dynamite spot to arrow a deer. Also, it should be noted that this buck was shot with the same NAP Thunderhead Razor that I took my first buck with. After simply re-sharpening the blades, the broadhead was just as deadly as it was the day it came out of the package. But don’t take my word for it. See the blood trail below and decide for yourself.

 Same NAP Broadhead....Same result!

  The combination of quality gear, a lot of patience, and Blessings from above, made this a great year. Happy Holidays! 


Building Perfection - Make your broadhead tipped arrows fly more accurately.

by Steve Flores 25. July 2011 15:50
Steve Flores

When it comes to launching an arrow downrange there is no such thing as being too precise, or too picky. After all, when you’re dealing with the mystical flight of the arrow, the Devil is often in the details. So, it only makes sense that we examine our bow-rig with a meticulous eye; looking for any areas that could use some improvement in order to squeeze out one more ounce of tag-filling accuracy. One such area is that of the arrow.
Now, a great deal of bowhunters make sure they select properly spined shafts for their setup. But beyond that, not much thought is given to the arrow. That is, until it is time to replace field points with broadheads. Typically, it is then that problems arise, nerves are tested, and profanities spew forth from normally humble tongues. I know because I have been there. 

 Mass produced arrows may be appealing to the time conscious bowhunter, but for those wanting the utmost in accuracy a little something extra is required.

And, while much can be done to get broadheads to fly more closely to that of your field point, much of it focuses on the bow and the equipment attached to it. In my opinion, you would be doing yourself a great favor if you concentrated more on the heart of the matter…..the arrow. Let’s start with raw shafts. You can order your arrows already made and fletched if that is what you desire. However, for me, I like to purchase raw shafts and then, with a few simple steps, build my very own, precisely made, deadly accurate arrows….one at a time. When I am done, I guarantee the 12 arrows in my hand will be more accurate than any dozen you can buy in a store or online. 

 What could prettier than a dozen arrow shafts awaiting perfection?

When I receive my raw shafts the first thing I do is cut them to the proper length. After that, the shafts are immediately prepared to be “squared-up”. This is easily achieved with a paint marker and a steady hand. Placing the paint marker against the cut surface of the shaft, I paint the entire area where the insert will eventually be placed. In addition, I remove the nock from the other end of the shaft and repeat the process. Once both ends of the shaft have been painted, I place it in a special piece of equipment designed specifically for squaring arrow shafts. 

 It may not be noticeable to the naked eye, but arrow shafts are not as perfectly “square” as you might think. The G5 ASD will prove it.

The Arrow Squaring Device (ASD) made by G5, is the perfect tool for the job. Placing the arrow in the ASD until the shaft end is pressed firmly against the cutting head, I simply rotate the arrow shaft while the cutting surface shaves away imperfections. When I am done, what I have will be a perfectly squared arrow shaft. The purpose of the paint is to let me know when my arrow is square. 

  The unique cutting surface of the G5 ASD will square up your arrow in no time at all.

 Just be sure to clean the inside of the shaft before gluing the insert in. This will ensure maximum adhesion. I like to use denatured alcohol.

After turning the arrow for a few moments, I stop and look at the paint. I will immediately notice that some of it is gone and some is not. This is due to the end of the arrow not being cut perfectly square. Therefore, I keep rotating and shaving off the imperfections until all of the paint is gone. It is then that I know for certain that the shaft end is square and ready for the insert to be glued in. 


Don’t just stop with the arrow shaft. Take things a step further and focus on the one part of the arrow the broadhead makes contact with….the insert.


And don't forget about the one part of the arrow that the bow touches....the nock.

Not only is it important to square up the shaft, but the insert must be squared as well. This can be accomplished in the same manner as the shaft. The only differences are that I must use a black permanent marker (instead of paint) on the insert surface to check for “imperfections”, and I must also rotate the ASD head to the aluminum cutting side (one side is for carbon, the other for aluminum). Once I have squared both the insert and the nock end of the shaft, and then installed and squared the insert…..I am done! 

Inserts that are perfectly square should have no trace of the permanent marker on them.

The Big Question
Why is this procedure so important? Well, when it comes time to replace your field points with broadheads, you must understand that the more closely your nock, arrow and broadhead all follow the same straight-line path, the truer your arrow will fly once a broadhead is attached. 

 By design, broadheads are going to affect the flight of your arrow in a different manner than field points. This is why it is imperative that all of your arrow pieces be perfect. Pictured here is the Mathews Z7 about to launch the Bloodrunner by NAP.

It may seem insignificant, this notion of keeping all components of the arrow in a straight-line, but when you place “wings” on the front of your shaft, any deviance from this established nock, arrow, broadhead “centerline” will essentially cause wind to hit the arrowhead from the side. This will result in erratic arrow flight; similar to the first time you test shoot your broadheads and get less than desirable results.
The problem could be bow tune, fletching orientation, arrow rest performance, or any number of things. However, you should strive to eliminate the most likely culprit….a poorly made arrow whose insert, arrow and nock are not precisely in-line with one another. 

A Bowhunting Offseason Begins- Food Plots and Shed Hunting!

by Todd Graf 22. February 2011 04:43
Todd Graf

  The offseason has officially begun for this Illinois bowhunter, but that doesn’t mean that I am kicking back and taking it easy.  In fact, I am as busy now as I am during the fall chasing mature bucks!  But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  A lot of exciting times are ahead for and our entire Hunting Network, and I can wait to see how 2011 unfolds!

My little man, Craig, and our dog, Drake doing a little February shed hunting.  They each found sheds and I wasn't able to find a single one!  Hopefully my luck will change sooner rather than later.

In the midst of preparing for the Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics, I am particularly anxious waiting for the arrival of my new Mathews bow.  I am counting down the days until my Mathews Monster shows up at the office, and I can’t wait to get it setup and start shooting.  I haven’t gotten a new bow for several years, so I am like a little kid on Christmas Eve waiting for my new Monster.  The Monster is one of Mathew’s fastest bows, and if you are a speed guy like I am, I encourage you to look up the Monster on Mathew’s website.  While you are at it, be sure to look at their new Z Series family of bows as well!

Not a single kernel of corn left!

Now is the perfect time to start planning for your 2011 hunting season, and I am in the process of looking for new acreage to hunt.  I am a firm believer in having multiple properties to hunt throughout the course of the season.  This allows you to keep your properties fresh for an entire season and prevents you from educating the deer too badly thus making the deer “easier” to hunt.  My search for new land is in its infant stages and there are several resources available to the hunter who is willing to dig deep enough for the right information, however, I have had TREMENDOUS success already with  If you are looking for new hunting ground for the 2011 hunting season, check them out on their website!

A shot of one my turnip plots that backs right up against one of my corn plots.  The deer are really hitting these plots hard!

Despite the craziness of trying to find a new hunting lease, patiently (or more like Impatiently) waiting for my new bow, and preparing for the upcoming Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics, I managed to sneak out to my property with my son, Craig, to do a little scouting and shed hunting.  The hard work I put in during the late summer on my turnip plots is definitely paying off because the deer are really hitting these particular plots hard!  Spring is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to start planning for this year’s food plots and giving your deer some added nutrition!  I also learned something about food plots; you can’t plant too much corn!  I made an assertive effort to establish and maintain quality corn plots to give the deer a food source rich in carbohydrates for the rough Northern Illinois winters, but I couldn’t find a single kernel left.  They really cleaned up my corn this year!

The deer are pawing through the snow to get to my turnip plots.  It feels good to know that I have a sustainable food source on my property this late in the winter.

I was, however, pleased with how well my native grasses were doing even after heavy snowfall and bitter cold temperatures.  Even in late February they are still providing excellent cover, and I even found several beds on the South facing slopes just like I thought I would!  It feels good when all the hard work and planning in land management comes together and it feels even better when you can see the deer are benefitting from your work.

My Native Grasses are doing especially well despite the heavy snow fall.  In this particular stand, I found several fresh beds that tell me the deer are still bedding in the grasses, which is a great sign.  I can't wait to see how these grasses take off this Spring and Summer!

After investigating my food plots and admiring the work of my Native Grasses, my little man Craig and I tried our luck at a little shed hunting.  When it was all said and done Craig had found two sheds, my dog Drake had found one, and yours truly had found zero.  That’s right; this dedicated bowhunter got skunked by a dog and a first grader when looking for antlers.  Hopefully, I’ll have a little better luck at finding antlers this fall than I’ve had this winter!  Nevertheless, it was fun to get and enjoy the outdoors with my son and no matter how busy I am, I will always make time for that.

I hope you guys are as excited about this year as I am, I can hardly sit still I am so anxious about the opportunities and changes that are going to be happening in the coming months!  With the snow melting, it’s time to continue looking for sheds and start thinking food plots.  Turkey hunters, it is almost time for you to get out there and starting chasing those Toms!  Bring on the warmer weather!


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