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Fast, Light Arrow or Slow, Heavy Arrow?

As we continue our collaboration with our Instagram page, let's address three responses regarding arrow weight.

Fast, Light Arrow or Slow, Heavy Arrow?

Faced with a shot like this one, it’s a good idea to shoot an arrow that is a compromise between fast and heavy. (Author photo)

Question: Do you hunt with a fast, light arrow or a slow, heavy arrow?

Answer 1: Heavy wins in most hunting situations! I build my setup for elk and shoot everything else with the same setup. — (bowhunting_nut)

Our response: This is a good philosophy in my opinion. Elk are big, tough animals that typically require that you collapse both lungs, and that takes significant penetration. If you’re confident enough in your arrow weight and speed to take on elk, most any other North American game animal, including the big bears, will be a piece of cake. The one exception could be moose. It’s often wise to step up your game a bit when hunting moose because of their size, the thickness of their skin, and their heavy fur.

Answer 2: Since I am only shooting a 60-lb. bow, I prefer a lighter arrow, around 425 grains, which gets me about 280 fps. — (mi.bowhunter)

Our response: I know this may seem counterintuitive, but as draw weight goes down, (due to an archer’s age, for instance), arrow weight should go up, not down. The best logic to defend this position is the traditional bowhunting community. They often shoot bows that are 100 fps slower than yours and shoot arrows that weigh 200 to 300 grains more than yours. The heavier arrow brings the momentum up despite the slower arrow speed. That’s not to say your setup isn’t fine, especially if you mostly hunt deer-sized game. In fact, if you’re getting 280 fps with a 425-grain arrow out of a 60-lb. bow, you’re doing very well. However, if you end up shooting a lower draw weight in the future, it would be a good idea to go up in arrow weight. The same goes if you take on larger, elk-sized game.

Answer 3: Compare this topic to football. Every arrow has a place and a time. Same with football. Each player serves a purpose, but when legendary running back Barry Sanders was asked who he hated getting hit by, it wasn’t a lineman or a safety. It was the linebackers. Same with archery. A mix of size, strength, power, and speed is my arrow preference — (Aaron Morstad)

Our response: That’s a good analogy and an argument for a middle-of-the-road arrow — a range I would consider to be between 450 and 480 grains. That gives you a blend of speed and momentum, without sacrificing too much trajectory. This is a major consideration when choosing an arrow weight. If you go to the extreme in either direction, there’s a price to be paid. An ultra-fast, light arrow under 400 grains may give you a flat trajectory, but someday you’ll wish your arrow was heavier. I always hear the argument that if you make a good shot, it doesn’t matter. But that can be a false assumption. You may place your arrow precisely in the chest area of an elk, but if you center a rib with a really light arrow there could be trouble. Conversely, if you’re shooting a beast of an arrow in the 600-grain range, your trajectory will require that you aim correctly within two to three yards of the exact distance to your target. If you’re off just a little, there could be trouble. If you opt for a midrange arrow weight, you’ll have the most efficient combination of all the necessary qualities a good arrow must possess. There is no price to be paid, and it effectively will eliminate any reason you might have to blame a failure on your arrow.




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