Monday, June 30, 2008

Archery Part II - Arrows and Points

Now for the pointy bits, I use cedar arrows for my bow. This is because of the limitations in some organized shoots, where a traditional bow must shoot cedar arrows to qualify. There are three disadvantages of cedar arrows. They can disintegrate into a pile of toothpicks if you hit something hard with too powerful a bow. The weight difference between different shafts (of equal length) makes serious accuracy extremely difficult. They also do not have easily interchangeable points like the aluminum and carbon fiber arrows have. Aluminum arrows can bend, but with patience they can be bent back. Carbon fiber arrows are expensive, but are the best you can buy. You cannot use cedar arrows with a compound bow, as the arrows would most likely disintegrate upon release, and certainly on impact. I never liked using aluminum for my longbow, as the arrows seemed sluggish at release.

A dozen shafts cost $40+ for cedar, $40+ for aluminum, $60+ for carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is nearly indestructible, so long as you don’t lose it, so that’s the way to go. Different camo and even wood grain finishes are available on carbon fiber and aluminum shafts.

The choice between feathers and plastic vanes depends on a couple factors. For traditional shoots, you need to go with turkey feathers. Also, for any bow that uses a shelf, or your finger for a rest needs to use turkey feathers. I learned this the hard way. The feathers collapse, so it doesn’t kick the ass end out when released. The plastic vanes also mar the side of the bow. Turkey feathers are not as durable as plastic vanes.

The length of the fletching is determined by arrow speed. The faster the arrow, the shorter and smaller the fletching. For a modern high-powered bow, you can use the tiny 2” vanes. I use 4” turkey feathers on my cedar shafts. Smaller vanes are also affected by crosswinds, so I’d go with smaller ones if you could. I’d say unless you’re an Olympic shooter, then I’d go with a 3” minimum.

Now the fletching on arrows is not straight. They slightly curve around the shaft between 1° and 6° degrees. This induces the arrow to spin, increasing accuracy, but it shortens the range a little. The reality is in most hunting situations you're about 30 yards from the target. At a 3° fletching, the arrow would turn once, maybe 1 ½ times. Basically, this adds diddly-squat. It doesn’t cost extra, and I like the idea of my broadhead twisting inside a little, which cuts more tissue, and gets lodged in so the deer will bleed more, making the kill quicker and easier to find.

As for colors, I’d go with bright, the brighter the better so you can find the shafts that miss. If for tactical reasons you want to camo them up, that’s fine, but I’d just use a deeper quiver. Also, a can of black spray-paint makes anything tactical in a hurry.

The plastic clip that connects the arrow to the string is called a nock. I strongly suggest you use a nock that has a positive lock on the bowstring. Being able to scratch ones nose in a treestand without the arrow falling out is important. When stalking, you can use your primary hand for tasks while still being able to draw and release rapidly.

There are several types of points available for a multitude of purposes. First off is the field point which is used for practice. Then for hunting, there are broadheads, judo points, bird points and adder points. They have recently come out with a ton of specialized points for turkey and small game, but the types I have listed here have worked just fine for 30+ years.

The adder point is available for CF and aluminum shafts, as it’s basically a disk of blades that slips on the field point before it is screwed into the shaft. This adds cutting surfaces and allows the harvesting of turkey and similar sized prey.

Judo points are blunt, with little spring arms that grab the hide of the animal to transmit as much of the impact to the animal as possible. These are good for any small prey, rabbits, gophers, squirrels, up to about house-cat sized animals. Anything larger than that would just get pissed off. I see that judo points are available for cedar shafts on Cabelas website.

Bird points are wire contraptions that are for taking birds in flight. These are only available for aluminum and CF arrows.

Broadheads are for taking of large game. I would never use a two bladed broadhead because the wound can close, which is inhumane for the animal, and then is near impossible to track without the blood trail. Three-bladed (or more) broadheads are the way to go, a triangular cut will keep on bleeding, allowing you to track your prey via blood trail, and helping it bleed out.

There are two kinds of broadheads, fixed blade and mechanical. Cedar arrows can only use fixed bladed broadheads, so that is what I’m familiar with. Broadheads have more surface area than field points, so a cross wind is more of a factor. Mechanical broadheads have the blades collapsed into the head, and as the arrow impacts the target, the blades spring out to full size. Perhaps someone could mention in the comments what the advantages of each are. I’m not a hunter, so I’m curious as to which is better.

With all broadheads try to get ones with a carbide tip. This is an advantage because if you hit bone, the carbide tip will punch through it. I have not seen any available for cedar shafts, but I am still looking.

All arrowheads are rated by weight, measured in grains. In order to be as consistent as possible, try to make sure all your points are the same weight. Each arrowhead will shoot a little differently because of the change in center of mass, but with the same weight, at least you’re going to be at least in the same ball park.

I would recommend getting carbon fiber shafts with an appropriate fletching - 4” feathers for any traditional bow, and 3” vanes for any compound bow. All fletched helical with 3° or so offset. And the brighter the fletching the better for retrieving lost arrows.

I would buy 125 grain field points for all your shafts, and some of the adder points. I’d get six or so of the three bladed broadheads with carbide tips and replaceable blades. Be sure to stock up on the blades. Some use o-rings to hold the blades in place, so be sure to have extras of those as well. And I also would get six or so of the judo points. Being able to swap heads you can go into the field and harvest whatever comes your way. If you fletch arrows yourself, you can use different color schemes for each type of broadhead, then you’re not guessing what you’re drawing out of your quiver.

The next section will be on accessories: gloves, tabs, quivers, silencers, and all that fun stuff.

1 comment:

riverwalker said...

Concise and well written. This will help me get started in the right direction. Thanks. RW