Accuracy is a top concern with broadhead arrows. Broadhead tuning and learning to check each arrow for accuracy is a tool that every bow hunter should understand. In this article, we go in-depth to discuss tuning, troubleshooting, and checking for accuracy. Let’s get started.
The considerations include the type of bow you are using, the type of game you are after, and the terrain in which you hunt. From there the choice is whether to go with a fixed blade or a mechanical broadhead tip.
Speed and power are other considerations. The bow draw limits the grain range from broadheads. Lower draw rates for the bow typically use fixed blade broadheads with a heavier grain. The goal is to match the point with the force. A high grain tip combines with a low power bow offers great penetration at closer range.
If you have a traditional bow pair it with a heavy broadhead. If you are using a compound bow with a max draw weight of 50-pounds, focus more on a broadhead tip that offers the best penetration. You are not going to have the force that the heavier draw bows have so you have to offset that with an arrow tip that penetrates easily and deeply without a ton of inertia.
Heavier draw compound bows are not limited by speed and penetration. The extra force makes up for distance and penetration. These bows pair with mechanical broadheads for deer and smaller game, or fixed point broadheads for bigger games such as elk, moose, and larger bears.
Still, the perfect arrow tip is not going to help much with shooter errors. You still need to practice, especially with broadheads. Practice gives you the opportunity to test each arrow for accuracy, mechanical flaws, and gives you the chance to get used to shooting broadheads over field points.
There is a lot of controversy out there about whether or not to align your broadhead blades with the fletching. While many people say it does not matter, it does matter for reasons other than accuracy.
What you gain by matching the blades of your broadhead arrows to their fletching or vanes is a set of arrows that are identical. If you listen to the naysayers what you hear are statements like ” that I can tell” or ” doesn’t seem to make a difference.”
Two things happen when you align your blades to your vanes. You gain a little bit more pull, and every arrow you shoot is identical in its setup. That last bit gives you the advantage because it will tell you if your issues with accuracy are in the environment or in your shooting style. You can correct shooting errors and improve your marksmanship.
Broadhead alignment is all about matching the blade angle with the fletching angle. Because most arrows these days come with a screw-on tip getting the blade to line up with the fletching can be difficult. You can sand down the end slightly to give help you align the blades to the fletching or you can try some of the odd tricks like placing a small o-ring on the end of the tips insert. Either way, you want to line up those blades to the fletching.
Tuning Your Arrows
Tuning your arrows helps to spot manufacture defects such as heavy spots in the shaft or broadhead. By taking the time to make sure that each arrow is as perfect as it can be you gain an advantage in accuracy, speed, and ultimately in the success of your hunt. There are three main things to test when tuning your arrows – spin testing, FOC, ABP, Fletching. Let’s explore.
Spin testing is used with a tool called a spinner which allows you to spin the arrow and visibly see if there is any wobbling. wobbling draws your arrow off target and can be caused by an unbalanced shaft, poor fletching, or a misaligned broadhead tip.
FOC, which stands for Front-of-Center is a measurement of the weight of the arrow from the front 50 percent of the shaft to the tip of the point. The goal is a range of 10-15 percent for FOC. Too much FOC and the arrow drops down too soon, too little and you have accuracy issues that are amplified by the wind.
ABP, which stands for Arrow Balance Point is the spot along the shaft where the arrow balances. The location is measured from the nock to the balance point. The ABP is used to even out the arrows flight trajectory. When the ABD is too low, you add a heavier broadhead to extend the balance point. The ABP is used to adjust the FOC.
Fletching uses the part of the arrow’s shaft from the nock to the ABP as a lever to balance the arrow during flight. With heavier broadheads, you need wider fletching and a longer ABP. If your arrows are dropping down too quickly, consider the relationship between the FOC, ABP, and the fletching. Try either changing to a lighter weight broadhead or to longer and wider fletching.
Arrow Rest Micro-Tuning
Micro tuning offers hunters the opportunity to improve arrow accuracy to the point every part of the mechanical process of shooting an arrow is perfect. The benefit to you is that your arrows behave as designed, enter the target properly, kill efficiently, and help you improve your bag rate. Micro tuning is all about dialing in the flight of an arrow by making sure that it leaves the bow where it is designed to leave the bow. What this means is that adjusting the nock point’s horizontal and vertical settings matters.
Arrow wobble is somewhat common. It is a natural part of the physics of flight, and sometimes a combination of poor arrow balancing or tuning or poor bow tuning. Let’s take a close look at how bow tuning works.
Tuning Your Bow
Tuning your bow is the first step in making sure that your arrows fly true. You can balance your arrows but if your bow is out of tune, even the best arrow will lose accuracy. There are ways to micro-tune your bow and through practice shooting, you can test the accuracy of any bow.
Follow up with Practice Shots
Bow accuracy is verifiable by using a paper target with a horizontal line in the middle. Shot and aim for the line at 10 yards. Take a couple of shots. If they are hitting high, raise the nock point. If the arrow hits low then you need to lower the nocking point lower. The nocking loop is adjustable by rotation. Dial this in until you hit the mark. Once you dial in the horizontal flip the target so you now have a vertical line. During this test, from the 20- or 30-yard mark you adjust your shot pin left or right until you hit the vertical line. What you have done is dialed in the bow for horizontal and vertical accuracy at the 20- or 30-yard mark. Now test the range out to 50- yards in 10-yard increments.
Troubleshooting Broadhead Performance
Here is our short guide to what to try when your broadhead and arrow setup isn’t performing the way they should.
- Arrow alignment — spin test the arrow balance issues. Make sure the blades of the broadhead match the fletching. Test the FOC and ABP to make sure the broadhead is not too heavy for the fletching on the shaft.
- Arrow stiffness — Double check that the arrows you use match the bow weight. Different bows have different draw weights. You also want to check that the shaft length is adequate for your bow.
- Arrow weight – Heavier arrows can help by adding penetration or evening out small errors in arrow or bow tuning. Slower arrows move at a more consistent rate and faster arrows slow quickly – physics.
- Adjust the rest — Arrows that height high, low, or left or right can be helped to hit accurately by adjusting the bow’s rest. A simple paper test will give you a lot of clues about how well your bow is tuned.
- Review your broadhead selection — Make sure you are using the right broadhead with the right bow. Distance, terrain, and accuracy are all part of good broadhead selection. Review your broadheads also for maintenance issues like dull blades, bent metal, or debris.
- Sharpen Your Broadheads — When you are not getting the arrow penetration that you want, check the blade sharpness. Broadheads that are used often need sharpening.
- Adjust FOC for longer distance — if your arrows drop down too soon, check the FOC to make sure it is in the 10-15 percent range. If you need a longer flight consider changing the broadhead to a lighter one, or changing the fletching to a longer and wider feather.
Remember the tuning your bow and tuning your arrows gives you the best platform to be successful in hunting.