Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aluminum Or Carbon: Choose Your Arrow


There are several arrow companies in North America, and there once was a day when the only shafts a hunter could find in an archery shop were made of aluminum or wood, and many traditional archers made their own arrows. Aluminum shafts were all I used.

A friend suggested to me years ago that I try shooting carbon shafts. I’d heard all the old horror stories about shattered shafts and argued mightily against carbon. The friend told me there were excellent shafts on the market that flew as well as aluminum.

I tried shooting carbon shafts. They seemed to fly well on the target range, and the arrow speed was right up there. How would they work in the field? That, I thought, would be the big test.

I sharpened two Patriot broadheads, and took two Game Tracker carbon arrows out with a razor-sharp broadhead on the end. I wanted to shoot two deer, and learn for myself how they worked on a buck and doe.

It didn’t take too long before a doe walked past my tree stand, and stopped in a perfect broadside position. I had shot aluminum shafts for so long, it just seemed to be foreign to lay a carbon shaft across my BoDoodle rest.

The bow came back to full draw, and I made a smooth, well-aimed release. The arrow sliced through that doe like a hot knife through warm butter, and the doe ran 50 yards and collapsed. The broadhead had sliced through her heart.

Hmmm, I thought. That seemed almost too good to be true. I sat back in my stand and waited, knowing that a nice 8-point buck would be coming through 15 minutes before the end of shooting time.

That 8-point had been passed up many times, but he had scraggly antlers. I had a family in mind that needed fresh meat, and this would remove the buck from the gene pool while providing them with quality venison.

A hour passed, and the woods settled down from me shooting the doe. Soon I saw antlers coming through the brush. The other Game Tracker arrow was nocked and ready with a Game Tracker string tied behind the broadhead.

The buck stepped forward and stopped, facing directly away from me. He scanned the countryside as if sizing up the terrain and determining his next path of travel.

He moved around, and every shot he offered was a low-percentage shot that I wouldn’t take. I could wait for another day or two, but was keen to try this new carbon shaft. Eventually, the buck turned away again, and slowly turned to offer a perfect quartering-away shot at 20 yards without a twig or anything between us.

The bow came back again, and I aimed, and the shot was taken. The two-blade head exited behind the front shoulder on the opposite side, and the Game Tracker string spooled out with a double line. The buck ran 30 yards, fell, tried to get up and fell again.

Two perfect shots. The arrows performed extremely well, and I later checked both arrows. Both were perfectly straight, and I used them again later in the season to kill anaother doe on an antlerless deer permit.

Archery shops, based on numerous interviews over the past dozen years, estimate that 75 to 85 percent of their arrow sales now are carbon shafts. A few diehard hunters still buy aluminum, but most hunters now shoot carbon. They like the way these arrows shoot, right out of the box, and they like the down-range performance. Best of all, many people find themselves being able to shoot two or three deer with the same arrow. Clean pass-through shots do not hurt carbon arrows.

One of my hunting buddies performed a different kind of test with carbon shafts. He shot a 300-pound black bear, a dandy buck and a heavy beamed Quebec-Labrador caribou with the same carbon arrow. Three different animals with the same shaft, and he said the arrow was still straight and shot well but he thought it had earned retirement status.

Carbon arrows have taken over the bulk of the arrow sales. Should you shoot aluminum or carbon? It’s like choosing a blue or yellow toothbrush. If it works, use it, and many bow hunters have learned that carbon arrow shafts do work amazingly well.

But, some people are like me. They have to learn for themselves, and choosing aluminum or carbon is like choosing Democrat or Republican as a political choice. It’s a matter of personal taste, and I’ve made my choice with arrow shafts and politics.

Posted by Dave Richey on 04/17 at 01:46 PM
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