Blueprint to a Better Hunting Arrow
September 09, 2016
Back in the day, when I was a new bowhunter, I was shooting an 80-lb. Martin Cougar Magnum (sparkle green, since there were no camouflaged bows then), Easton XX75 Autumn Orange 2219 arrows, and 175-grain Zwickey two-bladed broadheads.
I have no idea what my arrow speed was in those days, because no one had a chronograph. But those arrows were heavy (no arrow scale either), and penetration was not a problem. A lot of animals ended up in my freezer because of that setup.
But, like everything else in life, things change. It became impossible to ignore the new technologies that were coming on the scene. Bow risers became centershot, which eliminated the need for a Berger Button, and cam design and limb materials created faster bows.
It wasn't long before arrow speed and spine conspired to make it difficult to get those giant Zwickey broadheads to fly properly. So, I evolved with the technologies. Some of the changes I made were due to necessity, while others were simply experimental. I have always been a "what if?" kind of guy, and that is still true today.
A Change in Arrows
My latest change involves arrows. I've been shooting Easton's Deep Six arrows, both the Injexions and the XDs, since they came out. They have performed very well, but one day, while struggling to remove an arrow from a 3-D target, I pondered the idea of switching back to an aluminum shaft.
I shot Easton's Full Metal Jackets (FMJ) for several years before the ultra-slim-diameter shafts came out, so I knew what I was getting into. I settled on the new Easton FMJ 6MM shafts.
These shafts are more economical than the original FMJs due to a less-expensive look, and the use of Easton's RPS inserts rather than the HIT system. Truth is, I prefer the RPS insert system partly because of the availability of the 75-grain brass inserts, which feature a 25-grain breakoff section. If you prefer Easton's HIT inserts, you can opt for the 5MM FMJ (original diameter, brass break-off inserts also available.) or the ultra-slim 4MM FMJ, which uses the Deep Six HIT insert.
Easy target removal, while a really nice benefit of an arrow shaft with an aluminum skin, was not my primary goal in changing arrows. I wanted to try an even heavier shaft with a higher front-of-center (FOC) balance point. Yes, the deeper trajectory would widen the space between my pins, but balanced flight and unparalleled penetration are far more worthy goals.
Fact is, I have been gradually increasing my total arrow weight. I shot a 463-grain arrow/broadhead combo for a long time, and then went to 483 grains a couple years ago. I was curious as to what the FMJ 6MM could offer.
After cutting my new shafts to length, I used Lumenok's F.A.S.T. tool to square both ends. Then I snapped the 25-grain section off the brass RPS inserts, and installed the 50-grain inserts using Easton's two-part epoxy. Next, I wrapped the shafts with Bohning wraps then fletched them with 2" Blazer Vanes. As a finishing touch I installed Lumenok's H nocks in the back end. Total arrow weight with a 100-grain Rage Hypodermic is a beefy 518 grains.
The brass insert boosted my FOC from 8% on my previous arrow to 10.2% — nowhere near what my old Zwickeys gave me, but it is a 25% increase. That's enough to accomplish the things that increased FOC gets credit for — deeper penetration because of reduced flexing on impact, better arrow flight at long distances and in windy conditions, and better flight with fixed-blade broadheads. With my 30.5" draw length, 68-lb. draw weight, and a 518-grain arrow, penetration will not be a concern of mine. Reminds me of old times...
Next I used my new arrows to "broadhead tune" my Hoyt Carbon Defiant 34 to which I had installed a new set of Vapor Trail VTX strings and cables. This tuning method brings your fieldpoints and fixed-blade broadheads to the same point of impact. Shoot a group of fieldpoints first then shoot a group fixed-blade broadheads.
Note: Mechanicals won't work. You need the blades, or "wings," in front to amplify flight anomalies. Even if you don't plan to shoot a fixed-blade head, you'll still need several to facilitate this process.
If your broadheads group to the left of your fieldpoints, move your arrow rest toward the fieldpoints, or move it to the right in very, very small increments. Or vice versa. If your broadhead group is low, raise the rest.
Do not worry about sight-pin adjustment until your broadheads are grouping exactly with your fieldpoints. Only then is your bow tuned and you can adjust the sight pins for windage and distance. This took me about an hour, and no paper tuning was necessary.
I did slide my Spot-Hogg Hunter Hogg-It sight back toward the riser one notch on the dovetail so I could accommodate six pins in the sight guard with the new trajectory. I can shoot out to 70 yards at the range with no problem.
My new arrows are flying beautifully, are wind resistant, and will undoubtedly be devastating penetrators. The carbon core, with the 7075 aluminum outer layer, makes the 6MMs far more resistant to bending than the aluminum arrows of yesteryear, and they pull easily from any target.
Next comes the fun part — the field-testing!