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Field Point Accuracy With Broadheads
With the growing popularity of mechanical broadheads, there has been a decreased emphasis on good, old-fashioned bow tuning skills. No longer is it absolutely essential that your bow and arrows be set up perfectly. You can always just screw in a few scissors-heads and you're back in business - and back in the kill zone. While there's nothing wrong with being more accurate in the field (that's the essence of ethical bowhunting) there are still many bowhunters who won't switch to mechanical broadheads for a variety of reasons. For them, the principles of broadhead tuning are far more than simply academic – they are critical to the outcome of the hunt.
One bowhunter that first graduated to a high performance bow in the late 1980’s shot aggressive cam bows at very high poundage. He also used big fixed-blade Thunderhead 160 broadheads. Though it took this bowhunter several days of trial and error, he finally figured out the recipe for making them fly perfectly at 290 fps. It was quite a project, but he learned a lot about broadhead accuracy. This bowhunter also learned that life is a whole lot easier if you use smaller broadheads and shoot slower arrows! This article will provide you with a step-by-step tutorial for the fixed-blade bowhunters. These tips will help you achieve field point accuracay with conventional broadheads after only a couple of hours on the range.
Step One: Chooing The Right Broadheads
All else being equal, the broadhead with the smallest cutting diameter in flight will be the least effected by wind planing. Think of it this way. It is easier to make a paper airplane with small wings fly straight than one with large wings. Fixed-blade replaceable heads in the 1 1/8 to 1 ¼ inch range are a good choice for most bowhunting situations.
It will be hard to find a modern machined replaceable-blade broadhead that isn’t straight. Any of these has the potential to shoot well from your bow. However, there are a few one-piece broadheads when tested were woefully crooked right from the manufacturer. In fact, the very first broadhead one bowhunter tried to use with his first high performance bow was such a broadhead. Not only did they not group with his field points they were so bad that the first one he shot actually hit the ground several feet short of the archery target! That was a wake-up call.
If you plan to shoot one-piece broadheads test each and every one before attempting to sight-in. You want only the straightest ones in your quiver. After you’ve gotten one arrow set up perfectly by following the guidelines in Step Three below (using a machined replaceable-blade broadhead as a test unit), screw in each one-piece broadhead and repeat the test. Only those broadheads that turn true with the point holding solidly to a fixed reference point should be used.
We are assuming that you’re shooting fixed-blade broadheads. But, if you’ve left the door open to mechanical broadheads then you should only consider them for deer sized game if your arrow carries at least 55 ft-lb of kinetic energy. Some broadhead experts don’t recommend them for elk hunting but those who do recommend a minimum of 65 ft-lb of kinetic energy.
Step Two: Bow Tuning
If the arrow leaves the bow tail-high, for example, the broadhead will catch the air causing the arrow to plane downward and impact low on the archery target. With a poorly tuned bow, you’ll get two groups, one with field points and one with broadheads. To bring the two groups together, your arrows have to leave the bow flying perfectly straight.
At worst, bow tuning can be a time-consuming and frustrating process of elimination, but it's highly unsual to have a bow that wasn't eventually tuned. The sometimes-cantankerous nature of bow tuning is why mechanical broadheads have become so popular in recent years.
A lot of bowhunters like paper tuning because the changes needed to get the arrow flying straight are more obvious. The tears are right there for you to read. When shooting an archery release aid you should be able to attain a perfect bullet-hole through the paper. With a finger archery release this can be accomplished, as well, but a very slight (half-inch) tear is definitely acceptable. A lot has been written about bow tuning, so instead of rehashing old words the key elements are summarized below:
- Make sure your wheels are timed (synchronized to roll over at the same time) if you shoot a two-cam bow. Take it to a pro shop if you're unsure.
- Adjust your arrow rest so the arrow is center-shot when using an archery release aid or slightly outside (away from bow) from center if releasing with fingers.
- Shoot through paper at a range of 10 feet.
- Eliminate fletching contact by rotating the arrow nock or going to a less aggressive helical. Carbon arrow shooters should consider four-inch fletching and experiment by rotating the arrow nock to a number of different orientations.
- Move the arrow rest left and right to compensate for tail-right and tail-left paper tears. Arrow nock point and wheel timing (set timing first) can be adjusted to straighten out tail-high or tail-low tears.
- Arrow spine is critical when releasing with fingers so make sure you have properly matched equipment.
- Resize your arrow nocks: If your arrows have nocks of a larger diameter than the arrow shafts, they may hit the arrow rest and kick the arrow when using an archery release aid. Use smaller arrow nocks.
- Your grip affects arrow flight. If you can't eliminate left and right tears, experiment with the way you hold the bow.
- Check for arrow rest contact: Some arrow rests don't provide enough fletching clearance for good arrow flight. If you can't eliminate fletching contact, experiment with different rest styles.
- Get more bow tuning help: Find a more complete guide to bw tuning techniques if this didn't help you.