LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
I was in my preteen years of life when I first sat in on a Bowhunter Education class in west Tennessee. Amidst all the words of wisdom and expertise shared by the instructor was the challenge to not skimp on the purchase of top quality arrows. He said, “If you’re gonna skimp on your gear, buy a cheaper bow, but never skimp on your arrows. Go to the woods with the best quality arrows you can find.” And how true that is! Every year hunters are quick to spend a thousand bucks on their bow and then turn around and buy the cheapest arrows they can find. So what should we look for in the arrows we put in our quiver? This month we’ll look at the 5 keys to having the deadliest arrows in the woods.
Arrow weight is often compromised by many hunters as they tend to be lured by the speed of light shafts. Heavy, small diameter shafts make deadly arrows due to their ability to penetrate deep. Think about it in terms of throwing a ping pong ball as compared to a baseball. Light arrows stop with little resistance. Heavy arrows drive through muscle, rib-cage, and bone. Not only do heavier arrows offer deeper penetration, but a heavier arrow is quieter out of the bow than a lighter arrow and is much more forgiving.
Finding the right arrow for your setup is crucial if precision accuracy is important; and it should be.
Straightness Equals Success
There’s a reason the straightest of shafts wear the highest price tag in the archery shop. Tight tolerances bring tight groups. You want confidence when on the range or in the stand? Shoot the straightest arrow shafts you can afford to buy. Matt Alwine, host of Trophy State of Mind TV show and champion archer, says that arrow straightness goes beyond the shaft itself. “You need straight and tight components to complete the package in the ultimate straight-flying arrow.”
Correctly spined arrows are often overlooked by many hunters. After all, it’s really easy to throw all concern for proper arrows out the window and simply buy a handful of the cheapest arrows you can find at your local sporting goods store. But there is indeed much more to it. Arrow spine refers to the arrow’s degree of stiffness – how much the arrow resists being bent. Some arrows are very stiff, others are very limber. If you ever intend to achieve serious accuracy with your compound bow, you’ll need to choose an arrow that’s just stiff enough – but not too stiff for your particular bow setup. Don’t make the mistake of thinking an arrow flies just like it looks when sitting on the rest, perfectly straight. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once fired from a bow, an arrowimmediately begins flexing and oscillating.
While arrow weight is often the first thing archers look at when shopping for a new arrow, SPINE is more important and will directly influence how your bow rig performs.
Archer’s Paradox refers to the bending and flexing of an arrow as in a particular cycle as it leaves the bow. If the timing of the cycle is correct, the end of the arrow clears the bow without making contact with the arrow rest, riser, or cables. If the timing of the cycle is not correct due to improper arrow spine, the over- or under-oscillation of the arrow results in serious fletching contact and/or paper-tune tears which cannot be corrected. It’s of the utmost importance to make sure you have properly spined arrows for your particular bow setup.
You can pound the foam all summer long with your field points but the time must come when you slap on the broadheads in preparation for opening day. And regardless of how well your field points are flying, things can change quickly when a broadhead is on the shaft. Suitable steering (vanes or feathers) will have a huge impact on how well, or poorly, your arrow flies. This is actually where a lot of new bowhunters go wrong. They assume their broadheads will fly exactly like their field points. After all, that’s what it said on the package, right? However, regardless of the style and no matter the brand, we owe it to the critters we chase to ensure that we take the time to practice with the heads that we’ll be in the woods with.
Arrow fletching plays a major role in correcting arrow flight. Choose top brands in order to stabilize your arrow as quickly as possible.
There are a number of variables that can affect broadhead flight, but the one we’ll touch on here is having adequate vanes or feathers on your shaft. Paul Roush, archery guru of Sportsman’s Warehouse, says, “Use helical fletching to quickly get that arrow stabilized in flight and spot-on down range.” Fixed-blade broadheads will typically call for more steering than a mechanical head with no wings to steer the arrow off course. While feathers have long been considered the ultimate in forgiveness and arrow guidance, today’s shorter vanes have proven themselves as more than enough to guide arrows to their mark. The QuikSpin from New Archery Products is a revolutionary vane that optimizes spin, maximizes accuracy, and produces tighter arrow groups than you ever thought were possible. QuikSpin rotates arrows up to 300% faster than conventional plastic vanes and over 100% faster than feathers. Stability in arrow flight is no doubt one of the biggest keys to a deadly arrow.
Broadheads for the Business End
Broadheads always seem to get the most attention when we evaluate the deadliness of our arrows – and rightfully so. All the practice and preparation will be in vane if your arrow fails to get into the goods of the animal you’re after. There are countless quality broadheads on the market today that’ll do a fine job on big game. The key is to find the one that allows you to: maintain razor-sharp blades (through ease of resharpening or blade replacement), achieve maximum penetration by design, cut huge holes for maximum blood loss, achieve dart-like arrow flight. Regardless of what the commercials and ads may say, you find the broadhead that features these elements, and you’ll have a broadhead that will perform like a champ year after year.
The last piece of the overall arrow puzzle is the broadhead. The best options will fly like a laser and kill quickly.
Don’t overlook the importance of a quiver-full of deadly arrows this season. Take the time to ensure that you have arrows that are dialed in for both your time on the range, as well as in the woods, when the moment of truth arrives. Arrows tuned specifically to your setup will help you punch more tags as you hunt with confidence each time you step into the woods.
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, and seminar speaker. Check out his website www.thrutheseason.com.