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Recent entries



The Arrow

Mon, September 28, 2015

With Illinois archery season opening this week I thought it a good time to discuss the preparation and details involved in selecting, setting up and tuning and arrow.  It starts with building or buying a pre rigged arrow.  I like to buy raw shafts, cut them, put a wrap on them (have had better luck with fletching’s bond over the years), fletch them, glue inserts and square them up.

This process starts with selecting a good quality arrow, you don’t have to shoot the most expensive shafts but the more you spend will likely get you a better flying arrow at longer ranges.  For most a good flying arrow at 30-40 yards is acceptable and many available brands will do this.  I like Gold Tips and Carbon Express Red’s although they weigh the same the Reds are far superior out past 50 yards, but that is mostly helpful in target shooting.

Once you select an arrow you should know the weight in grains per inch and how much deviation is has in spine.  If you switch brands or even types within a brand this changes and requires re-sighting your bow so stick with what you like. 

You can buy an arrow squaring device but a file works well too.  I like to run a file around the perimeter of the insert to make sure it’s a smooth transition to the shaft.  Next across the face of the insert in two directions perpendicular to each other to make sure it’s square.  Why all this you say? When you spin test your arrow and broadhead you’ll see how much smoother it is (less wobble) than when not doing it and it translates to better grouping broadheads, i.e. more game in the freezer.

Even if you buy pre-built arrows you can square up your inserts.

Next I like to fletch my own, no other reason than I’m picky and I like shooting feathers, which are hard to find fletched in stores.  I like Gorilla glue but many kinds work.  Even if you buy pre-fletched arrows make sure to put a small drop of glue on the front and back edge of your feather or vane.  This helps the durability of your fletching exponentially.  Think about all the things your fletchings drag up against during a season of climbing trees and in and out of blinds and hiking the woods, then you expect them to direct an arrow accurately at 300+ feet per second.  It’s a step that fractions of a penny can be worth the trophy of a lifetime.

Once you have the arrows ready make sure to tune your broad heads.  Three blades tend to do best with the blades lined up with the fletching, if this doesn’t happen upon first installation, add a small washer that comes with some broadheads, I like the brass ones, they allow more adjustment.  If that doesn’t work file a little more aluminum off the face of the insert and it will allow it to spin tight another third turn.  Tuning four blade broadheads is something I’ve never mastered but don’t worry about too much as I don’t use them.  When tuning two blade heads or mechanicals I just try to line up the blades with the cock feather, it’s about all you can do, can’t say it helps any more than any other way but sometimes the mental part of trusting your gear goes as far as the science behind it.  Finally now that you have the broadheads on and arrows ready smear some Vaseline lip balm on the blades, it prevents rust over a long wet season and adds as lubricant which never hurts when piercing hide and hair.  Now you just need a deer tag and a tree stand ………. And maybe a rangefinder, camo, bino’s, pack, boots……. Etc., etc. etc………

Good luck this season folks, be safe and make some great memories.

God bless,
Matt Cheever ~  Flatlander


I am usually scrambling this time of year but I went elk henting a few weeks ago which forced me to prepare early. It’s close!

Posted by jcurri on September 28

“sometimes the mental part of trusting your gear goes as far as the science behind it.”  How true that is.  Archery can be a pretty heady game.

Posted by Treehugger on September 28

Matt, I see that you have both fixed and mechanical broadheads in your quiver.  I do the same thing.  Curious as to what your reason is for carrying both.  I carry four mechanical and one fixed.  I carry the fixed (Thunderhead 100) in case I need a follow up shot while tracking.  If the deer is in a thicket, I’d rather shoot a fixed head that won’t open when it barely touches a twig or something.

Posted by Treehugger on September 29

Good question, I do carry two G5 Strikers (fixed replaceable blade) two G5 Havoc’s(mechanical blades) and a G5 Montec.  Reason being, all are great broadheads as are many other brands and types.  I like to use the mechanical if I know i’m likely shooting out past 35 yards, lets say edge of cornfield at 45 yards, or maybe even 30 yards on a windy day.  The mechanical has smaller profile through the air and groups tighter at further yardage (like 50+ though I don’t shoot past 55 yards) the fixed blade Striker has a bit larger cutting diameter so i’ll use that often when I think i’ll have a good chance at a buck say inside 35 yards (not to say they don’t shoot well at 50, just a few inch tighter group with the Havoc)  if I’m on an early season doe hunt or think I’ll shoot a coyote I’ll use a Montec as they can easily be resharpened and used again and again and are built like and anvil but razor sharp.  I know once the rut is on I’m buck hunting and won’t often be doe hunting or other smaller game so I keep the Montec in the quiver, though I shot my Bull Elk with a Montec.  Each are good and probably could get by with just one of any but again the mental factor of know the Havoc shoots a 2” group at 50 and the striker a 3.5” group at 50 for me is enough to make the change. I also know i’m not shooting a $16 broad head that could bend a blade on a coyote. ........sorry for the drawn out explanation.

Posted by Flatlander on September 29

Treehugger, what Mechanical blade do you shoot and have shot, pro’s and con’s? I just like to have a good sounding board from experienced bowhutners? thoughts appreciated??

Posted by Flatlander on September 29

I originally tried an NAP mechanical when mechanicals first came on the market in the 90’s.  I believe it was their early Spit Fire.  I spined a deer with it and the head never opened up.  I put a second arrow into the deer’s vitals (after it dropped from the spine hit) and it didn’t open up either.  I immediately went back to my trusted Thunderhead 125’s. 

I used to be a fingers shooter and refused to get a release.  As the years passed and new bows got smaller and smaller in terms of axle-to-axle length, I was finally forced to buy a release.  That was in 2007 when I bought a Mathew’s Drenalin.  At that time I figured if I had to go to a release because of the shorter bow, I may as well get with the times and shoot mechanicals…and carbon arrows.  Yes, I shot aluminum arrows up until 2006.  I was suckered into the hype surrounding the new and very popular Rage heads.  I’ve shot several deer over the years with Rage 3 blades and never had a problem with them.  Two years ago I switched over to the 2-blades for experimental reasons.  The deer I’ve shot with the 2-blades seemed to drop quicker so that’s what I shoot now.  That tall-tined 8 that I shot very early season a couple seasons ago was my first 2-blade experiment. 

I also still keep at least one Thunderhead 100 in my quiver for several reasons.  First is for coyotes.  Coyotes do not deserve an expensive non-resuable head in my opinion.  Second is for brushy follow up shots if needed.  If I track a wounded deer into a thicket, I’d rather have a fixed blade nocked up.  It won’t open up as you maneuver through the brush and it’ll fly better if it touches a small twig in flight.  Just my opinion and what I use.  Very typical gear set-up I imagine.  I’m sort of a simpleton with gear.  Still shoot that Drenalin too.

Posted by Treehugger on September 29

I used to line up line up my cock feather with the blades on my brodheard blades.  I’d use bow wax on the threads on the broad heard until it lines up perfect.  Last year I decided to put on three slick trick mags without lining them up.  Shot the exact same as they did when I lined up the cock feather so I stopped that. 

I personally shoot fixed all the time.  I don’t like switching heads and have heard far too many penetration issues past 35 yards, even on bows with high KE.  Its good to hear other people have success with expandable, just not my cup of tea,.

Posted by Bigb on September 29

When tuning my broadheads I like to use a tiny rubber O ring between the ferrule and the insert.  It gives you about 1/4 turn flexibility when trying to line up those blades with the vanes.  It has worked well for me for a long time. Thunderheads used to come with them back in the 90’s and that’s where I got mine.  But I’ve been shooting Swhackers for a few years now.  I’d guess you can still find them at your local hardware store.

For what it’s worth. I’ve killed 3 deer with the Swhackers and they performed well on each one.  I know a few guys who had Rages open in flight on them.  Swhackers have a small band to hold them closed and it hasn’t affected the opening or penetration that I have been able to tell.

Posted by bw on September 30

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