April 28, 2016
In The Perfect Hunting Arrow - Part 1 and Part 2, we listed many attributes a hunting arrow must possess to be considered "perfect." The perfect arrow must be of small diameter, stealthy, relatively heavy and relatively fast.
It also needs to be aerodynamic (low profile), straight and have a relatively high Front of Center (FOC) balance point. There are a few more attributes this arrow must have, and we'll discuss them in this final column.
Momentum and kinetic energy are directly related to an arrow's speed and weight. The faster an arrow travels and the more it weighs, the greater its energy and momentum. Penetration is directly related to momentum and kinetic energy. There have been (and still are) plenty of disagreements as to which measurement (momentum or kinetic energy) is most important in regards to penetration.
I think the argument is moot — if you do as I said before and use a little common sense when choosing your arrow weight. Try to find the best balance between arrow speed and arrow weight for your setup. In your quest for better penetration, you may be tempted to increase your bow's draw weight. Just remember to keep in mind that in order to be successful, you have to be able pull your bow back comfortably, even when you are cold and excited!
The nock needs to be strong enough to withstand the force of a high-poundage hunting bow (almost all currently available nocks are strong enough). The nocks must be consistent from nock to nock (some aren't). The most important thing is that the nock fits the string properly and that it has a throat deep enough to keep the arrow on the string as you let down. A deep-throated nock is critical if you attach the release below the arrow. However, if you use a D-loop, the nock doesn't require a deep throat.
For hunting, I prefer arrows on the stiffer side of the manufacturer's spine selection table, for two reasons. First, I believe stiffer arrows penetrate better than weaker arrows (though I don't have any data to support my view). Second, when shooting broadhead-tipped arrows, my groups tighten up measurably if I use arrows that are slightly "stiff" for my draw weight and draw length.
"I prefer hunting arrows on the stiffer side of the manufacturer's spine selection table..."
A complete discussion of broadheads would require several columns, so I won't go into too much detail here. However, no discussion of the perfect hunting arrow would be complete without mentioning this most important of arrow components. Let's just touch on a few salient points.
You need to use the most streamlined, razor sharp, solidly built broadhead you can find. Don't overlook some of the recently released, rear-deploying mechanical heads. Though mechanicals were once an anathema in elk-hunting camps across the West, a select few of these heads have since more than proven themselves in the field on large-bodied, big-game animals. I've used this type of head exclusively (except where they are illegal) for the past 10 years.
Number Your Arrows
If it's in the budget, start with at least a dozen brand new arrows. Next, you need to make sure all your arrows hit the same spot. Here's how: Number each arrow. Start with a clean paper target and put fieldpoints on all the arrows. Shoot your arrows at the target at your maximum accurate range. Don't look at the numbers as you shoot the arrows. When you go to pull them, write the corresponding arrow number next to each hole.
Shoot every arrow at least six times and then look at the target. By keeping a log of where each arrow hits, you'll begin to notice a pattern. If an arrow hits outside the group consistently, rotate the nock to the next fletching and see if that brings it back into the group. Even after adjusting the nocks, you may have one or more arrows that consistently fly wide.
The higher the quality of your arrows, the fewer fliers you'll have. Cull the loose-grouping arrows out of your quiver before the season. I use a shooting machine to do this work for me because it is quicker and more efficient. It eliminates all human error.
The Take-Home Message
I probably told you more about arrows than you ever wanted to know, but just remember this:
€¢ Buy the best arrows you can afford — price is almost always commensurate with quality.
€¢ Use a small-diameter, very straight, slightly stiff, reasonably heavy arrow with just enough fletching to adequately steer the broadhead.
€¢ Make sure your arrows are not shiny and not too brightly colored.
€¢ Make sure your arrows are consistent and group your arrows to make sure they all shoot the same.