The Daily, The Field, The Woods, Thoughts

Practice: Broadheads or target points?

I’m not an expert at anything. I just report what works for me. My way is not the only way, but it works and has been my system for more than 30 years.

Take, for instance, the controversy that promotes shooting target points first and then broadheads once it’s time to hunt. It seems to be a pretty simple transition, doesn’t it?

This question comes my way many times every year as bow hunters start putting in more time on the target ranges. Many hunters spend many hours shooting at hay bales, sand piles, 3-D or other targets with their target points when not actually hunting.

Thorough practice on a target is important  but is it necessary to do it twice?

Their bow and sights are dead-on for various ranges, and most feel they are set for bow hunting. The first day out, along comes a nice buck or a fat doe, and by now they’ve switched to broadhead. Back, ever so slowly, comes the bow string to a firm anchor point. The hunter nudges the sight into its proper aiming point, and makes a smooth release.

Perhaps he hits but maybe he doesn’t. It could be a complete miss. Is it target panic? Is it a case of jittery nerves or buck fever? Or, could it be something much different?

Good questions. Tough ones to answer. Two schools of thought exist, and who is to say which is right or wrong?

Each of us has a personal philosophy, and here is mine. I practice by shooting broadheads, and for what I consider to be very good reasons. I don’t want to sight in my bow with target points, and then have to do the job all over again with broadheads.

Yeah, sure, I know! Many makers of broadheads say their heads fly just like target points. Again, some do and some don’t. Are you willing to trust perhaps your only chance of the season to a manufacturer’s promise?

For many years I had a big deep sand-pile in the backyard. I’d shoot off my back deck at a target set up in front of the sand. One by one, the broadheads would cleave through the target paper outlined with the vitals of a deer, and the arrows would plunge into the sand.

Sure, shooting broadheads into sand will dull them. I don’t care because I’ve shot two-blade fixed-blade broadheads for many years. I have to sharpen them anyway so what difference does it make? None, to my way of thinking. In fact, I think it makes perfect sense.

I eliminate the target point phase and begin with broadheads.

Starting out with broadheads eliminates having to shoot target points and then sighting in again with hunting heads. I get the program done right, the first time, and don’t have to keep fiddling with my bow sights. The time I save can better be spent on pre-season scouting.

Granted, some open-on-impact broadheads shoot almost like a target point but they are very expensive and most hunters don’t want to shoot them into a target or sand-pile. Can’t blame ’em for that, but how else can they practice to determine if they shoot like target points?

So, let’s consider the alternative. We buy a dozen quality arrow shafts, cut them to the right length, and keep six for target practice and six for hunting. We shoot six arrows at the target, mess with the sights a little bit, shoot another six arrows, and sooner or later our target arrows will be smacking into into the heart-lung area of a 3-D deer target.

So we shoot and shoot during the summer with our target arrows, shoot vanes off other arrows, and occasionally by luck or skill, will Robin Hood (shoot one arrow down the shaft of another arrow), and we know we are shooting very well at that point.

The summer passes, as it has through July, August, and soon we’ll be into September, and we become as serious as a heart attack about preparing for what may be our bow season’s shot-of-the-season.

Will we be ready and on-target for the season opener on Oct. 1.

It’s time to test our broadheads. The season has opened, and already we’re looking forward to the rut. Our sight system may or may not be right for the broadheads. The two-, three-, four- or even five-blade broadheads suddenly start acting quirky. They no longer hit at the aMW point of aim as our field tips did.

They plane to the left or right, shoot high or low, and may impact the target nock-high, nock-low, nock-right or nock-left. We try to tune the sights to get the same results as with target points, and often find it difficult to do. We may finally have to make adjustments to the nock, move the arrow rest in or out, to the right or left, and we are soon back at Square 1 — sighting in the bow the second time.

I choose to bypass the target point phase, and stick with broadheads. I have Block targets in my 25-YARD basement archery range, and sure, they get chewed up by broadheads, but if necessary, I buy another Block target for indoor shooting.

The whole purpose of bow hunting for whitetail deer is to shoot a straight arrow, each and every time you shoot at a buck or doe, and you want to know exactly where that arrow is going.

I’m not saying it can’t be done by shooting first with target points, and then switching to broadheads, but one factor against shooting multiple-blade heads is it does two or three times the damage to a target as two-blade heads. So, I stick with the razor sharp two-blade, begin shooting with them, and when it comes time for a shot, I’m ready.

I don’t have to worry about arrows veering off in odd directions. I know precisely where my arrow is going, on each and every shot. Such is not always the case when we switch from one to the other, and then don’t shoot broadheads because we don’t want to rip up targets.

My way works for me, and that is plenty good enough for this bow hunter. How you do it also is a matter of personal choice. Don’t feel you must imitate my system, but be forewarned that sighting in a bow the second time can be a waste of that valuable commodity.


Leave a Reply