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Archery: Spin to Win

Tune Each Arrow and Broadhead That You Intend to Use

by Brad Fenson

You’ve spent months practicing your shooting skills and ranging targets. Shooting hundreds of arrows at targets in tight clusters make you smile with confidence. You’ve honed your skills in preparation of the hunting season and have your equipment working great. You head out hunting and are presented with a shot opportunity on a big bull, draw your bow, release the arrow and it flies erratically and misses the target. Something went wrong.
It’s fine to practice with field points to get prepared but when it comes time to hunt you need to tune each arrow and broadhead you intend to use. If you don’t pay attention to each and every arrow that you intend to hunt with, you are rolling the dice, gambling with how it will fly.

There are lots of things that can impact the balance and flight of an arrow. Most inserts fit tight and straight into the shaft but there is always the chance that you have one or more seated improperly and slightly off balance. An arrow that isn’t balanced on the axis simply won’t fly true and will create flight problems that can pull your arrow clear off your target.

Fixed-blade heads are the hardest to tune because the blades want to steer the arrow in flight. Of course, every style of broadhead is different. Some are easier to prepare for hunting than others. The best way to check each arrow is to spin them to see if the shaft circulates with balance and stable results. It is easy to spot an arrow with balance issues as it rotates on the arrow spinner with a noticeable wobble.

Tuning can be as easy as putting pressure on the point of the broadhead to try and center it in the shaft correctly. Occasionally, you have to remove the insert with the broadhead and glue it back in the shaft, which allows you to make adjustments before the adhesive sets. It can be a frustrating procedure but patience and perseverance are the keys. If one broadhead doesn’t work simply try another. Balance issues can be related to a specific broadhead, how the blades were installed or how tight it is mounted into the insert. Broadheads out of the same package may not balance the same and sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right arrow and broadhead to combine together.

When you do get a balanced arrow it is always a good idea to check the flight with a broadhead target. Even balanced arrows may not fly correctly, as blades and vanes both try to steer the arrow with disastrous results. Broadheads often have a different point of impact compared to field points and adjustments to your sights may be required. Note any differences so that you can continue to practice with field points during the hunting season knowing where your arrow will fly compared to one set up with a broadhead. It may be high or off to one side but simply pay attention to your arrow groupings when aiming at the center or the target.

Aligning broadhead blades and vanes might solve the problem or they may prefer to be offset, which can be adjusted using your broadhead wrench with slight turns on the head. Remember to spin your arrow again before shooting.

I recently prepared my arrows and broadheads for hunting and had two shafts that I’ve designated for target practice only. I just couldn’t get them to tune to my satisfaction and will never risk using them for hunting purposes.

Many bow hunters have switched over to mechanical broadheads because they are so easy to use. Mechanical broadheads are an option that’s easier to tune and a good choice if you can’t get consistent flight from fixed-blade heads. The blades are folded into the head, meaning they aren’t exposed to try and steer your arrow. I’ve shot Rage broadheads for many hunts and getting them ready is as simple as screwing in the practice heads that come in every package to test arrow flight. Point of impact often doesn’t change with the mechanical heads and they will fly the way they did during your months of practice.

When you do insert the mechanical heads intended for hunting it is still recommended that you put them on the arrow spinner to see if there are any wobbles. Balancing arrows and heads of any type is always a good habit to get into and will pay off with consistent results when you need them the most. Make sure to check your nocks when the arrows are spinning, as any defects or problems will be easily spotted.

If you spin your arrows you’ll eliminate the chances of having a flyer in the field. Spin to win and you’ll have the confidence out hunting that you developed and earned while practicing.

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