Arrows and accuracy-
Why would a person pay so much for a high quality bow but skimp on the quality of the arrows? This question has been plaguing me for quite some time. Partly because I see it every day, and partly because I have fallen into the same trap.
It has been my experience that there are four items a person can purchase that will have a large impact on their accuracy (Good or bad). One is to replace their bow string with a high quality string such as a Winner’s Choice Bow string (Good). Two is to change the release they use or use a release over fingers (Good or bad). Three is to purchase a new or different bow (Usually Good). Four is to purchase and shoot a higher quality arrow (Good).
In my completely subjective testing, the arrow propelled by the bow is as important as what bow propelled it. Many years ago I was shooting a Mathew’s MQ32. This bow was very forgiving and for the most part accurate enough for me. I shot this bow for several years with a low cost bulk arrow. One day I decided to give the Easton XX78 arrow a try. My shooting improved dramatically enough that I just had to test them against the Gamegetters I had been shooting. I shot four of each at the same spot at 35 yards. After about 6 groups of the 8 arrows it was plain to see the XX78 arrows held a smaller group. It held a smaller group each and every time. I did not put too much thought into this, instead I just saved my pennies and kept shooting the XX78’s at big game and used the gamegetters for grouse.
Fast forward a few more years and I had made the switch to carbon arrows. I was late in the switch compared to most people I knew but eventually made the switch because of the argument that a carbon arrow is either straight or broken. I was tired of bent arrows and it was time to change.
Of course changing all my arrows to the new carbon arrows required more cash than I had available. I once again, going against what I had previously learned, purchased inexpensive bulk arrows. Those arrows were most definitely tougher than the aluminum, but they were noticeably less accurate. I noticed less accuracy with target tips, but I was astonished at their problems with broadheads. Knowing that most accuracy problems are the shooter and not the equipment I fought with the arrows for quite a while. Over the next couple years I changed broadheads several times and tried to fix my non-existent form problems. With broadheads, my groups just opened up noticeably.
Eventually I had the money and decided to switch arrows again. I was fed up with my current arrows and made the move to a premium arrow. I don’t want to bash any manufacturer and know they all make inexpensive models and premium models so I won’t name the company. Oh well, live and learn. And learn I did.
I switched to Carbon Tech Whitetail arrows. The yellow label straighter model. Straighter than the white label models anyways. The results were immediately noticed and my accuracy improved greatly. I was finally breaking more arrows from grouping than from missing my target. I was happy with these arrows for a few years and shot many animals with them. In the end it became difficult to find the ones I was using and I switched bows to a higher poundage. I needed a stiffer spine arrow.
The stars aligned and everything came together at that moment. I had sufficient funds and a need for a new arrow. I purchased Carbon Express Maxima Hunter arrows. Talk about a difference. In the first evening of using those arrows, while trying to sight in, I robin hooded my arrows twice. I performed the two-for-one destruction at 20 yards and at 30 yards.
Although purely subjective, I believe the straighter and more consistently spine arrows made all the difference in the world. I shot those arrows for a few years and then began testing as many different brands of arrows as possible.
Very consistently, the higher quality more expensive arrows shot better groups. The differences become very evident when shooting fixed blade broadheads. Whichever brand a person chooses, all things being the same, the straighter more consistent arrows will produce the better groups. This should be obvious, but the extent at which they produce better groups can be astounding.
When choosing arrows, examine what you want from them. How far are you planning on shooting them? How long is your draw length? Is the spine right for you? How straight is the arrow? How much do the arrows cost?
Arrow manufacturers advertise the straightness of their arrows for a reason, and this is one of the more important aspects of the arrow when it comes to accuracy. Also keep in mind the longer the arrow you are going to shoot, the more important the straightness is. The straightness listed for arrows is measured on a full-length shaft.
Another factor to take into consideration is the spine consistency from arrow to arrow. This can be measured by a spine tester, but most people do not have one. It is sad to say, but the easiest way judge the consistency of the arrow’s spine is by price. It takes more time and therefore is more expensive to produce extremely consistently spine arrows and they end up costing more.
Another aspect to consider is how far you plan on shooting the arrows and what level of accuracy is acceptable to you. If a four inch group at 30 yards is what you are after, then almost any name brand carbon arrow out there will perform to that level. But, if you are looking for a four inch group at 60 yards you will need to consider a higher quality arrow.
One other measurable aspect of arrow accuracy is weight consistency. Most high quality arrows will have weight consistency around 0.1 grains for each shaft. This is very acceptable. If my arrows vary in total weight (with tip) more than about one grain, I have experienced a noticeable loss of accuracy. This was usually with arrows hitting low and high at longer distances.
Arrow technology is constantly improving. From dual spine Carbon Express Reds to Easton FMJ’s the arrow companies are constantly improving their arrow lineup. If you try some of their top-of-the-line arrows you will be impressed with the accuracy improvements you see.
Since this article is about shooting better arrows, I will give a few specific suggestions. Lately I have been using Victory Archery VAP (Victory Armor Piercing) arrows in the V3 and V1 models for my hunting and outdoor 3 D shooting. The V3 have a straightness of .003 inches and the V1 have a straightness of .001 inches. The Victory VAP arrows are a very small diameter arrow so they buck the wind better and carry their velocity further down range than a standard diameter arrow. They are a little on the light side, but use a 50 grain insert / outsert. The Victory Penetrator II inserts have proven to be a much stronger insert than the original models and I have not had any of them bend from an impact less than what would damage any arrow I have used. All put together the VAP V1 350’s I shoot weigh in at 403 grains at 27 inches with a Penetrator II insert / outsert and a 100 grain tip.
The Victory VAP arrows have given me exceptional accuracy out to and including 100 yards with target tips, and out to 80 yards with fixed blade broadheads. (Which is as far as I’ve shot them with the respective tips) The Victory VAP V1 Arrows rival the best arrows I had ever shot.
Another arrow line I have been using the last couple years is the Carbon Express Maxima series. More specifically the Carbon Express Maxima Red Arrows. Prior to using the Maxima Red Arrows I was using the Carbon Express Maxima Hunter Arrows. I thought the Hunter Models were about as good as it got until trying the Reds. The Carbon Express Maxima Red Arrows are straight to .0025 and have a dual spine to them. The ends are a stiffer spine than the center section. This is supposed to allow the arrows to recover from their initial bend, at the shot, more quickly. Any gain we get from this is likely to be more evident when shooting fixed blade broadheads, and this is when I noticed an increase in accuracy over the Carbon Express Maxima Hunter Arrows. They have been the best grouping arrows I’ve ever screwed a fixed blade broahead to. I have shot them out to 80 yards with broadheads and noticed they group just as tight as when shot with target tips. (Note: some would say this is because the bow was tuned, but I have found that a consistent dynamic spine of an arrow does have a lot to do with accuracy when shooting broadheads.)
I hope you take a good hard look at what level arrow your pocket book allows you to purchase. Skimping on arrows is a mistake many archers make and it can cause untold frustrations.
In a future article we will explore arrow weight vs. speed and its effect on accuracy, kinetic energy, and momentum.
Spirit Quest Archery, Kevin