We all know a bowhunter or two that simply refuses to shoot fixed blades due to poor flight. A good portion of these folks blame the broadhead and use the excuse of..."I can't get them to fly like field points". The reality of the situation has less to do with the fixed blade broadhead and much more to do with the bowhunters setup and shooting form.
If you're a seasoned fixed blade broadhead shooter, you more than likely know the routine. If you are a new bowhunter or even new to fixed blade broadheads, you have found a resource to help you achieve great broadhead flight out of your fixed blades.
ARROW BUILD STRAIGHTNESS
Do not get this confused with arrow straightness tolerances! We're not talking about the +/- .006" metric listed on your carbon arrow shafts. We are talking the actual build of the arrow and assembly of its components. The marrying of the two if you will.
Is your insert installed squarely on the shaft?
Does your arrow nock fit squarely?
Does your broadhead meet your insert square?
Is your broadhead bent or of poor quality?
Any of the previously mentioned will easily throw off consistent arrow flight. During the build process its always a good idea to label or number your arrows. If you consistently get erratic flight from the same arrow, then you know something with that build is off. Go back and evaluate that specific arrow build. You can do this with a quick spin test, broadhead inspection, and visual inspection of each end. If the problem is found, rebuild.
In addition to build straightness, broadhead orientation throughout the arrow builds needs to be consistent. This concept relates to how the fixed blade broadhead first catches air when shot. To have consistent groupings from multiple arrows, each broadhead and arrow needs to be delivered out of the bow the same exact way. Another way to think about that is each fixed blade broadhead needs to catch the same amount of air when exiting the bow.
The best blade orientation for your exact setup may differ. We recommend the trial and error method. With our fixed blade broadheads of choice, Afflictor K2 and Fixed EXT, we've found best results with the main blades being in a vertical orientation with your vanes. Again, all the variables come into play but vertical orientation is a great place to start testing your groupings.
DELIVERY FROM THE BOW
Assuming you have your arrow build's perfected and orientation is consistent, arguably the biggest factor in poor broadhead flight comes from your bow and how precisely it is tuned. When comparing broadhead flight to field points, any tuning issues with your bow is magnified on top of the execution of the shot. This is why you can shoot the same arrow and broadhead setup out of different bows and have drastically different grouping results. Cam timing, nock travel, and rest alignment are the biggest culprits. Keep in mind, regardless of your bow and how precisely it's tuned, you'll never achieve a "perfectly straight" delivery. The human element added into the consistency of a well tuned bow will always throw a wrench into the equation. There are only a handful of archers in the world who can honestly execute a perfect shot sequence with 100% consistency.
In the hands of a good bow technician make certain your cam timing is correct and the bow's center shot, per the manufacturer, is exact. If this is beyond your capabilities we do not recommend "tinkering" with this yourself. You'll likely make things worse....I unfortunately know this from experience.
With you cams in time and a correct center shot, if you find you have consistent groupings with your fixed blade broadheads but they don't quite match your field points, micro adjusting your rest is a great place to start. Shoot groupings at 30 yards with both field points and your broadheads. If your fixed blade broadhead groupings are to the right of your field point groupings, you can move your rest to the left. Start with very small adjustments of approximately 1/32". If your broadheads are grouping to the left, adjust your rest to the right. If the broadheads are higher, lower your rest. If broadheads are low, raise your rest. Remember...micro adjustments.Reshoot and evaluate. You can continue to make rest adjustments until your fixed blade broadheads match the groups of your field points. You can also continue this at further distances to really dial your setup in.
Overall broadhead design will also come into play. While all broadhead designs are somewhat unique there are some over arching characteristics that seem to hold true and they mainly revolve around surface area.
- The larger the blade profile and/or cutting diameter the more air the broadhead will catch. This leads to a higher tendency of planing at distance, which will create erratic groupings.
- Solid fixed blade broadheads or non vented blade designs also tend to catch more air and seem to plane at distance. Vented fixed blades do seem to have more audile noise to them, but if you plan to shoot at any distance, 30 yards or more vented fixed blade broadheads are probably the better choice.
- 2 and 3 blade designs seem to be most consistent in flight. With 3 blade designs it's easy to orient them at 120 degrees, which match a 3 fletch arrow. Vertical orientation on 2 blade designs also tends to be very consistent.
At the end of the day, each bowhunter's choice boils down to what they have confidence in. Having confidence in your broadhead, arrow, and bow leaves the last buck stopping somewhere within the bowhunter's ability to execute. Add in a solid fixed blade broadhead and you've just taken out additional variables around shot angles. Remember the less we have to think about "in the moment" the better off we are.