At the moment of truth, the only thing you should be concentrating on is executing the shot. All other variables must be resolved before you come to full draw on a game animal. One crucial aspect of this successful formula is having confidence in your bowhunting arrows.
Let's look at the new bowhunting arrows for 2011 that'll get the job done.
(Note: All prices are per dozen unless otherwise noted. Arrow weights are expressed as grains per inch or gpi.)
1. Alaska Bowhunting Supply
Best known for traditional bowhunting arrows, Alaska Bowhunting Supply's new GrizzlyStik Momentum ($129.95 per half dozen) is designed for compound shooters. The Momentum is the only full-length tapered carbon arrow on the market, with the thicker, stiffer part of the arrow up front. With the front of the arrow weighing more and flexing less, the Momentum penetrates better, flies flatter, and proves stronger right behind the broadhead than standard parallel shafts.
With its 72-grain brass insert and tapered design, the Momentum creates significant front-of-center (FOC) balance -- 15%-25% or more depending on broadhead weight. This arrow is ideal for bowhunters who are more concerned with downrange punch than velocity, making this shaft an attractive option for hunting large game like elk, moose, kudu, eland, and brown bears. The Momentum is available in 45-60, 65-80, and 65-80 magnum spines.
Check out the new ICS Speed ($114.99) carbon bowhunting arrow from Beman. The microsmooth finish, very light weight, and new Hot Tail ViBrake insert and optional ViBrake nock combine to give you an arrow that's fast, accurate, and quiet shooting.
The Hot Tail insert and ViBrake nock have synthetic nibs built in to reduce vibration during the shot cycle. The ICS Speed comes in spines 300 (8.7 gpi), 340 (8.1 gpi), 400 (7.2 gpi), and 500 (6.6 gpi). Straightness is +/- .003" and weight tolerance is +/- 2 grains.
3. Carbon Express
Carbon Express has several new offerings for 2011, but the one that really got my attention is the Maxima Hunter KV ($179.95). It has everything I look for in a hunting arrow, meaning it is perfectly straight and very consistent in weight and static spine. I've hunted with Carbon Express arrows for the last several years, with stellar results.
The Maxima Hunter KV features a layer of Kevlar, a synthetic fiber that is pound for pound five times stronger than steel. It also has Dual Spine Weight Forward technology for rapid recovery and guidance control. The specifications are: +/- .0025" straightness, +/- 1 grain in weight, and +/- .0025" static spine tolerance. Available spines are 250 (8.9 gpi) and 350 (9.8 gpi).
To make the new N-FUSED Carbon Axis Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ($156.99), Easton uses an exclusive process to fuse a 7075-T6 aluminum jacket over a small-diameter, thick-walled, carbon-fiber core -- an excellent combination that provides extremely consistent spine, straightness, weight, and durability.
With the inherent extra weight from combining two materials -- 9-12 gpi depending on spine for the FMJ and 16-17.7 gpi with FMJ Dangerous Game -- this might be the most ideal arrow for anyone wanting precise accuracy and excellent downrange penetration for magnum big game. If I ever get the chance to hunt Cape buffalo, this might be my arrow of choice. Straightness and weight tolerances respectively are +/- .002" and +/- 2 grains. Finish options are gunmetal and camo.
5. Gold Tip
New for 2011, the Kinetic combines all the quality and toughness expected of Gold Tip arrows but a smaller diameter for increased penetration and reduced wind resistance. Weighing about 25 grains, a new insert/outsert called the Accu-Tough adds a bit of FOC weight for improved accuracy.
This shaft would be a good choice for anyone wanting just one arrow style for both 3-D and big game hunting. Depending on spine value, mass weights range 7.6-11.6 gpi, and outside diameter ranges .258"-.288". Kinetics come in three versions: Pro (+/- .001", +/- .5 grains, $174.99), XT (+/- .003", +/- .5 grains, $129.99), and Hunter (+/- .006", +/- 2 grains, $99.99).
Designed with input from the Drury Outdoors Team, the PSE Carbon Force Bow Madness ($99.99) employs Radial X Weave technology, a patented computer process that wraps individual carbon fibers together to create a strong, straight shaft and dull, weave-pattern finish that makes the Bow Madness a very hunter-smart arrow.
Three-inch Fusion Vanes provide a radical blend of shape and material for maximum aerodynamic steering. Spine weights are 200 (.424" diameter, 7.5 gpi) and 300 (.359" diameter, 8.6 gpi). Straightness and weight tolerances respectively are +/- .003" and +/- 5 grains. Arrows are full length with inserts loose, and they come in a nifty, reusable plastic arrow tube.
Victory's new VAP (Victory Armour Piercing) arrows ($195) remind me of the skinny Game Tracker carbon arrows from about 20 years ago. However, VAPs are made with the most modern materials and technology. These thick-walled (.040"), narrow-diameter (.225" for 400 spine) shafts combine the strength, durability, penetration, and accuracy bowhunters want.
The skinny shafts reduce wind drift and air drag for longer shots, while the new tapered Penetrator insert/outserts make a much bigger hole than the shaft diameter to help with penetration. The extra weight of the Penetrator insert (33-44 grains) increases FOC weight for better downrange accuracy. I was impressed with the manufacturing tolerances of the 24 shafts I evaluated. VAPs are available in three tolerances -- the V1 Series has straightness/weight tolerances of +/- .001" and +/- .5 grains -- and spine weights of 300, 350, 400, 500, 600, 700, and 800.