Arrow Nodes Explained: Why Proper Node Placement Leads To Better Consistency
The archery side of bowhunting can be as simple or complex as you make it. Simple is nice, however it is hard to maximize your level as an archery without at least understanding archery's complexity. Outside of competitive archery, arrow nodes are not commonly talked about. While the term may be foreign to bowhunters, understanding what an arrow node is and the benefits proper arrow node placement provides can help you become a more consistent archer.
In this article, we'll take a look at what an arrow node is, how to find it, benefits of node placement, and how to adjust it.
What Is An Arrow Node
Regardless of the material make up of your hunting arrow, each shaft will have 2 nodes. One node near the front of the arrow shaft and one node near the rear of the arrow shaft. A simple explanation of a node is this: A node is simply a location or spot on the arrow shaft where all forces travel through. These two locations or spots do not move in space while the arrow is in flight flexing, bending, oscillating, etc.
Now that we know that there is minimal movement at the location of the arrow node, we can think about the importance of it's positioning while we are at full draw. When a human is going through their shot process of drawing, anchoring, pin floating, and releasing there are numerous variables of input. Things like grip pressure or torque, anchoring point, facial pressure on the string, etc all affect how your arrow leaves the bow and ultimately where it impacts. Having the correct node placement helps helps minimize all those human mistakes that we tend to make and is one key to having the best hunting arrow possible.
How To Find The Node
There are two ways, that require no special tools, that bowhunters can find each node of their arrows.
The first method is the vibration test, documented by Olympic archer, Jake Kaminski. Using your pointer finger and thumb, simply grab a fully built shaft with point installed roughly 2"-3" from the front. Next, sharply smack the arrow off your leg. You'll want to let the shaft freely swing while holding it perpendicular to the floor with your finger and thumb. The goal here is to find the spot or area that all vibrations are traveling through. The more vibration you feel between your thumb and finger the closer you are to the precise node location. You can repeat this step moving your pointer finger and thumb up and down the shaft to pinpoint the front or rear nodes.
The second method is the bounce test. In this test, you'll want to hold the arrow shaft in a similar manner but this time near the rear of the arrow, as far back as possible or even by the nock. Next, you need a hard object with a sharp corner, something like a desk, counter top, or block of wood. Holding the arrow by the end sharply bounce the arrow shaft on the corner of the hard object working down the shaft towards the front. You'll need to let the arrow bounce and behave with little influence for this to be accurate. The goal here is to find the spot or area of the arrow shaft where there is little to no bounce. This spot will be your front node.
Benefits Of Node Placement
Proper front node placement should be directly on your rest or centered on the contact points. If you think about the front node location as a spot with no movement it's very easy to understand minimizing flex, torsion, and other forces at the only contact point of your bow (outside of your nock) will lead to more consistent arrow flight. This especially holds true for non drop away shooters.
Part of being more consistent also comes from the arrow being more forgiving. Let's be honest, most of us are not Olympic level shooters and struggle to replicate shot to shot consistency 100% of the time. Any change in grip torque, facial pressure, release process will change the way your arrow leaves your bow. Due to the fact the node does not move, remember it is static, these inconsistencies are minimized when the arrow accepts the work applied from your bow.
Consistent node placement from arrow to arrow also impacts arrow to arrow flight characteristics due to the dynamic spine of the arrow shaft, your shooting process, and how the arrow reacts when your bow is applying work. Having identically node placement on or near your rest will help lead to better groupings and arrow to arrow consistency.
The challenge of correct node placement is that a typical node is a very small location, maybe 1/8" in length for the precise spot. Getting that 1/8" spot to fall directly on your rest generally is an afterthought to the total arrow length in relation to your spine and final location of your broadhead. That problem is solved with the patented concept of AeroConcept I.
AeroConcept elongates the node location from a spot to an area, often times over 1" long. AeroConcept gives shooters the ability to have more leeway on node placement. This becomes a big deal for guys who are very particular around the ending location of their broadhead or those bowhunters using riser mounted rests that have limited front/back adjustment. Taking the node from a spot to an area also offers arrow recovery benefits down range. When thinking of the node as a location where all forces are traveling through as the location grows in size, the distance each force travels becomes shorter. Thus, in theory, forcing the arrow into equilibrium or recovery faster!
An arrow that recovers faster will always have better flight characteristic...less speed deprivation, less KE deprivation, less momentum deprivation, a smaller crosswind signature, etc. For this reason alone, all Exodus tailor built hunting arrows utilize this patented concept.
How To Adjust
There are several items that affect the final location of your arrow's front node. Again, with Exodus tailor built hunting arrows proper node placement for your specific hunting setup is calculate for you. Below are some general rules of thumb
Heavier point weight will move the front node forward.
Lighter point weight will move the front node back.
The overall length of your point or broadhead will also affect the node location.
Beyond changing your point weight also consider the total arrow length, rest position, along with insert length and weight. You many get to a point where you do need to alter your total arrow length or rest position.
You're probably wondering at this point if this thing called a "node" really does make any difference. Saying node placement is low on the priority list isn't completely wrong; proper tuning, shot execution, and few other things are definitely more important to becoming a better archer in the bowhunting arena. We have a saying within our company office that often relates to life in any avenue, "Eliminate the variables". If there is something within your control has a bowhunter you should take the necessary steps to control it and that will ultimately lead you to more success.
Author: Chad Sylvester, Exodus Co-Founder/Owner