Friday, May 15, 2009

Choosing Arrows For Fall Bow Hunting


Very little discussion exists these days about arrow shaft construction. Hunters and target archers only have three basic choices, and from there, several secondary decisions to make.

Aluminum, carbon or wood? Wood serves only some long bow and recurve bow shooters although many traditional archers have switched to either one of the other two choices. The secondary decisions that need to be made are manufacturer, length, shaft diameter and which arrow best matches the draw length and poundage of your bow.

Compound bow hunters are locked into a choice between aluminum and carbon, and there is little to discuss here. Very few compound shooters still choose aluminum shafts these days.

I still like aluminum shafts for bow hunting but most often carbon arrows are in my bow quiver. There was a time 15 years ago when aluminum arrows had a stranglehold on the arrow market but times have changed.

At least 90 percent of the arrow sales nowadays is for carbon shafts. Some other shops report 95 percent carbon over aluminum shafts. It’s time to recognize the fact that carbon arrows have revolutionized the arrow industry.

Years ago there were plenty of arguments against carbon shafts, and many of the tales about carbon arrows were unfounded. Some of the early carbon arrows were too skinny, some had ugly out-serts that attached to the shaft, and the broadhead screwed into the out-sert. Another argument that has gone by the boards was that carbon arrows would shatter inside a deer, and a hunter could injure himself eating meat if they encountered a sliver of carbon. That assertion if unfounded.

Believe me, I resisted using carbon arrows for a few years. Some archery shops lost arrow sales by not stocking carbon,but once people started going elsewhere to buy carbon arrows, most shop owners saw the ligh. That was like throwing away money.

Most dealers eventually began stocking carbon, and hunters began shooting these new shafts in a big way. They flew extremely well, and that settled the argument for many hunters. Most archery shops now stock and sell far more carbon arrows than aluminum.

Why shoot carbon? An excellent reason is the arrows are extremely straight, and the tolerance level is much tighter (less than half of one percent) than with aluminum, in most cases. Several years ago Archery Business magazine found carbon arrows were more perfectly formed, more precise, and in most cases, stronger than aluminum. Those three reasons alone are the major reasons why carbon arrow sales are so high.

The magazine said that Eastman Outdoors’ shafts, and especially their Maxima shafts, have the tightest tolerances in the arrow industry. It means, that with practice, a hunter or target archer can become a better shot with these arrows.

Carbon arrow companies have relegated the skinny carbon shafts of yesteryear to the back room where they can’t be sold, and are now producing shafts with much the same diameters as aluminum.

The bigger shafts help increase down-range kinetic energy, and this allows the arrow to hit with greater force. The down-range force produces better penetration, and with increased accuracy, this means a chance for more killing shots.

Carbon arrows do require a properly maintained and tuned bow. A bow that is out of whack won’t shoot any arrow well.

This means the hunter needs a well-tuned bow, a quality bow rest, and a good mechanical release. They will help produce far more accurate shots than most people ever dreamed possible. Most quality archery shops can do a fine job of tuning your bow.

A properly tuned compound bow and carbon arrow should be paper tuned. A properly tuned arrow will cut a perfect hole when shot through paper. Out-of-tune bows will cut or tear ragged holes with feathers or vanes, and will cut holes high, low, right or left when the arrow passes through the paper. This requires further tuning, and when the rest, nocking point and other factors jell, there is a perfectly round hole.

Some people continue to fight the trend toward carbon arrows. I know I did, but I’ve seen the light. It’s easy to resist change, but when I began hunting with carbon sharts, I saw my accuracy increase and my kill ratio go up/

A well-tuned bow, quality carbon shafts, a good rest, and a sharp broadhead suited for that shaft, will make any bow hunter a much better shot at deer and paper targets.

Tough? A buddy of mine shot a black bear, caribou and whitetail deer with one carbon arrow. That’s right—one carbon arrow. He sharpened the broadhead after each kill, and the arrow was still straight after killing three big-game animals.

That puts a capital T and A on the words Tough Arrows. If you have done so already, get in the groove right now, buy some carbon arrows and practice hard. By bow season you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the switch years ago.

Posted by Dave Richey on 05/15 at 01:04 PM
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