By Jeff Stirland
The bowhunter must always strive to be as accurate and as deadly as possible when shooting his bow. Once an arrow is released from the string, the path is determined and the shooter can do nothing to change it. Realistically, the most important aspect to shooting a lethal arrow is the abilities of the shooter behind the bow. With adequate repetition and experience, anyone can shoot a bow accurately and consistently.
But, when it boils down to the moment of truth, everything changes. Being able to deliver arrows into the kill zone of an animal takes more than just discipline. When it comes down to successfully harvesting an animal, other factors must be taken into account.
Not only do you have to place the arrow in the right spot, but you also must build an arrow that will have enough momentum to quickly and ethically expire the animal. Having a finely tuned arrow that matches your bow will ensure that even in the most stressful situations, you will be able to seal the deal and finish the hunt with a lethal shot and a dead trophy. Paying attention the finer details of your arrow will not only make you a more deadly bowhunter, but will also make you a more confident and consistent archer. Here are 4 simple principles that you can use to build your own deadly hunting arrows.
1. Precision Matters
When you are deciding what arrows to buy, nothing is more important than an arrow shaft that is laser straight. Modern carbon arrows are now being created with much tighter tolerances than when they first came out, which is significant for ensuring true arrow flight. Older style aluminum arrows could be made with tight tolerances, but they were prone to bending and ruining the arrow. Carbon arrows simply do not bend. They just snap and shatter.
When choosing a carbon arrow shaft, look for an arrow shaft that has a straightness tolerance of at least + or – .003 inches. Preferably, the arrow shaft would have a straightness tolerance of + or – .001 inch or even possibly less. Then, look to see what the weight tolerance is. Ideally, your arrow shafts will have a weight tolerance of + or – 1 grain or less. These arrow shafts will be more expensive, but in the end will make sure that each arrow has the correct foundation to ensure maximal precision in the field.
2. Go Heavy or Go Home
In most cases, a heavier arrow is superior to a light arrow. With the efficiency of modern compound bows, you can get away with shooting a heavier arrow. A heavy arrow will decrease your speed, but not enough to have a true effect on the lethal impact of the arrow. The best indicator of arrow lethality is the momentum of the arrow, as this is directly related to the amount of penetration into an animal. If you are skeptical of using a heavier shaft, do this test.
First, to find the momentum of an arrow, you must multiply the arrow mass in grams by the velocity of the arrow as it leaves the bow in fps and divide it by a constant of 225,400.
Momentum = weight*velocity 225,400
This will give you a momentum in terms of slugs*ft/s, and will be somewhere in the range of 0.300 to 0.700 for a general hunting arrow. Start by calculating your current arrow setup, and then use an online calculator to determine how much slower your bow will launch an arrow based on its weight. Recalculate the momentum using a heavier arrow weight and the correct arrow speed, and you should see that in most instances, the momentum will have increased.
If your goal is to shoot at longer distances, you must balance the kinetic energy and momentum of the arrow to allow for a flatter trajectory. One way to accomplish this is to increase the FOC of the arrow by adding weight to the front end. Having a high arrow FOC will allow for superior penetration without sacrificing too much speed. An ideal range for FOC for maximum penetration and arrow trajectory is from 10% to around 15%. There are many ways to calculate arrow FOC, and I will go into this in further detail in a later post. For now, you can use one of the online FOC calculators.
3. Keep it Simple
When it comes to using arrow components or really anything in life, I usually favor simplicity over complexity. When I say simplicity, I mean that you need to use common sense when choosing your components and when building arrows. Use the vanes you know that work, choose a broadhead that is sharp and tough. The things that you already know, these could possibly be a deciding factor between a miss, a wound, or a quick kill.
The little details can make things really complicated quickly, but trust me. The basics are always going to be the same. Stick to what makes sense, and experiment to find what works best for you. In the end, less can go wrong with a simple setup. This will lead to more confidence and better hunting in the long run.
4. Consistency is Key
After you make sure that every arrow you buy is straight and true, now it is time to put them together. The best way to make sure your quiver is full of consistent arrows is to make sure that they all weigh relatively the same. The best way to do this is to weigh out your fletchings before hand, and to choose the fletchings for each arrow that will make the final products weigh as close as possible.
Also, the biggest factor to consistency is also making sure that you are building each arrow the same way. Using the same amount of glue for the fletchings and the insert/outsert on each arrow will ensure that the weight distribution for each arrow is as close as possible. Making sure that each vane is the same distance from the arrow nock will allow for better grouping among your arrows.
If you are using fixed blade broadheads, make sure that you align the blades as closely as possible with the fletchings. To do this, screw in your broadhead to the arrow insert/outsert before you glue it on. Then, line it up by eye or with a string line, and then mark on both components where they line up. Remove the broadhead, add glue to the insert or outsert, and push it on straight and in line with your marking.
Having arrows that are all built identically can definitely tighten your groups, and will build your confidence as an archer and a bowhunter.
Confidence is a Necessity
The point of all of these different tips is not only to make an arrow that will lead to ethical and quick kills, but also to give you confidence in your equipment. If you are confident in your equipment, you will be more likely to be confident in your abilities. If you are confident in your abilities, you will be lethal.
Confidence found in the strength that God has given you will not only allow you to be a better bowhunter, but will also guide you through every aspect of your life. If you pay attention to the small details and take your time, you can build hunting arrows that will hit like a truck and consistently fly true no matter what.