In a world of plentiful options, most folks tend to follow the trends. Total arrow weights, FOC percentages, and broadhead selection all seem to follow the hot trend of the day. While there's nothing wrong with trying new things, it's wrong to blindly jump in with two feet. It is always best to educate yourself and tinker before settling on the arrow setup you plan to hunt with.
While we're new to the archery world from a manufacturing point, we are anything but new to educating ourselves and tinkering. Here's some of the mistakes we have made over the last decade and some of the most common mistakes we see when interacting with customers when it comes to purchasing hunting arrows.
Believing Straighter Shafts Are Better
Reading this subtitle, some of you may be thinking I'm full of BS but before I lose you hear me out as we have spent many man hours testing this, out of a shooting machine.
Arrow straightness does matter, but only for those select shooters that can perfectly replicate their shot execution EXACTLY the same time and time again. For 95% of us, myself included, the difference between a .006 and .001 arrow shaft makes next to no difference. Even shooting out of a hooter shooter and long ranges of 100 yards the grouping difference is only a couple of inches.
When we think about arrows being straight...they are only straight at rest. Never during flight is your arrow shaft straight. Once released from your bow the shaft is in a constant state of flexing, bending, torquing, rotating, and oscillating.
Consistently building your hunting arrows around the dynamic spine is more important than straightness tolerances. Making sure each arrow is built the same, around the spine index aka dynamic spine aka first dynamic bend ensure your hunting arrows are reacting the same way every time they leave your bow. In the world of archery consistency is king.
Selecting The Wrong Spine
Selecting the wrong static spine for your hunting arrow is an Achilles heel right from the start. Being underspined or too far over spined can keep you from achieve your ultimate goal of perfect arrow flight.
When selecting your ideal hunting arrow spine it's important to factor in things outside of your draw weight, draw length, and point weight. Often times people overlook the actual length of the arrow vs their draw length. Also archery hunters tend to not think about any additional front weight coming in from front end components. All of this will affect the spine of your hunting arrow shaft. By adding arrow length and/or weight up front you increase the amount of deflection in the arrow shaft. Doing the opposite will give you less deflection.
Also keep in mind when looking at draw weight using the limb weight isn't always accurate. IE a compound bow with 70 lb limbs and buried limb bolts will often give a draw weight of 72-74lb. Strings and cables also come into play with draw weight. For the most accurate measurement of draw weight it's best to use a scale.
Not Understanding Your Hunting Arrows Pros and Cons
Every setup has pros and cons, and it goes much beyond the arrow shaft.
Go super heavy and you're arrow will be super slow leaving no room for yardage errors however you'll have momentum on your side. Go super light and your arrow will be fast but have less momentum.
Beyond on the weight of your arrow build you also need to consider your broadhead. If you're shooting a single bevel are you matching the rotation of your arrow? If you plan to shoot mechanicals do you have enough KE and are you willing to only take broadside shots? How much momentum do you need to pass through the animal you plan to hunt? These questions should all be thought about when choosing the best hunting arrow.
In the world of hunting arrows, there is NO absolute right and wrongs. It comes down to having confidence and understanding what type of hunting arrow you have.
Ignoring The Back End
Taking time to think about proper nock fit isn't sexy and for most bowhunters it's not even a thought until there's a problem. In reality your arrow's nock is the single component responsible for transferring the work from your bow into energy and momentum in your arrow. When you take that prospective it's much more obvious your arrow's nock can dramatic influence your arrow's flight, accuracy, and consistency.
If you experience your arrow rising or lifting off your rest when drawing your bow you know you have a problem. If you can see or feel slop between the nock's throat and bow string you know you also have a problem. I would argue being too loose is better than being too tight but neither is really acceptable.
Proper nock fit revolves around understanding the total diameter of your bowstring where the center serving size, nocking point, is located. If you're like the majority of people and have no idea the actual diameter you can easily take a measurement with a micrometer. If you're still shooting factory strings a simple inquiry to the bow manufacturer should reveal the needed info. If you're running after market strings, you're string maker should have the diameter on record also.
Proper nock fit should be snug but not overly tight. An easy test is to nock an arrow, hold your bow horizontal with the string up, proceed to smack the string. If the arrow comes off your nock fit is ok. If the arrow doesn't want to leave the string then you likely have a problem. On the flip slide if the arrow leaves the string without much force or has lots of wiggle then your nock is likely too loose.
Once you have an accurate diameter you can create a short list of compatible nocks with both your string diameter and shaft size. Also keep in mind nock quality and materials as like everything in this world nocks are not all created equal. Materials and quality will ultimately affect performance in inclimate weather, conditions that most of us experience throughout the hunting season.
Falling For The Cool Factor
Although this point is subjective, most archery hunters who truly care about maximizing performance from every aspect will agree. Arrow wraps and wild branding really have no place on arrow builds for archery hunters looking to maximize performance. If the individual component is not aiding in better performance than it doesn't belong on your hunting arrow.
A very practical and useful tip we talk about is maximizing the amount of white surface area on the arrow. This can be in the form of vanes or even branding from the arrow manufacturer. Maximizing the white surface area allows for better blood identification post shot, which can make all the difference in the world when it comes to a successful recovery after a questionable shot.
Also, we mentioned build consistency and shooting consistency. When we look at arrow wraps, we see it nearly impossible to consistently install vanes on them due to the materials and overlaps. You may not think this is a big deal but if someone built you a dozen fletched arrows with one vane being taller or on a different configuration you would not be happy. This is exactly what you get the majority of time when using arrow wraps. This does have an impact on the crosswind signature of the arrow which will ultimately impact it's flight characteristics.
In closing, we just want to remind everyone there is no right or wrong. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. The important thing to remember is that you must have confidence in your setup, you must understand what advantages and disadvantages your arrow build has, educate, and tinker.
Author: Chad Sylvester, Co-Founder/Co-Owner of Exodus Outdoor Gear