Want to learn more about the science behind great arrow performance?
You've come to the right place! Be prepared to 'geek out' archery style as we explore ways to maximize your arrow performance!
Image from: www.s4gear.com
FIELD READY – S4 SIDEWINDER EVO REVIEW
Shinny new things! It always looks so good in the store right?! That new piece of bowhunting equipment that is going to be the game changer in the field! Sometimes it lives up to our expectations and other times it falls flat – leaving us with the only added bonus of extra exercise in the form of dead weight.
What is really worth its weight in gold is a piece of equipment that fits three basic criteria – it’s simple, reliable and helps your shot process.
I recently put a piece of equipment to use that has done all of those things very well and helped me connect on my first elk this year. It was the Sidewinder Evo by S4 Gear. It is a basic system that uses a retractable tether system for your range finder. I coupled this with the arm-band option to keep my range finder within easy reach at all times.
To appreciate why I love it so much you have to understand how things worked before, when it came to ranging an animal before the shot. Last year the range finder found its home in my front jacket chest pocket most of the time, to keep it handy for spot and stalk maneuvers. Depending on how smoothly the stalk went sometimes I’d have the time to take that extra step to retrieve it from my pocket. When I did, my range finder now had a nicely fogged up layer of moisture on the lens as a result of my stalking efforts – stealing yet more precious seconds from the critical ranging process! The cooler temps of winter exaggerated this even more!
Enter the EVO Sidewinder! With my range finder now conveniently located on my right arm I could access it without those issues. The best part being I could do so without even looking for it and the added bonus of returning it to is holder in the same fashion! So I as I crawled into range for my first shot opportunity on my elk, that range finder was ready to go fixed solidly to my arm and not bouncing around on a lanyard, or getting sweated on in my pocket!! This little beauty allowed me to keep my eyes on the elk, as well as range the animal quickly and silently, several times in a matter of seconds.
This rather small bit of equipment showcased brilliantly the huge benefits of having gear at the ready and established it as a true field worthy product that will be part of my set-up from now on!
Article written by:
Cam Jones - Darkhorse Archery
As seen in:
Big Game Illustrated
September 2013 Issue #2
WORSE CASE SCENARIO – PART #1
If you bow hunt long enough, it is pretty much a guarantee that you will have the stories you don’t care to share or would rather forget! The stories of poor shots, long track jobs or the gut churning feeling that comes with the failure to your animal. As with all such experiences, lessons can be learned and put in play to prevent repeats of such events. It may be the lesson of patience, like waiting for a high percentage broadside shot, or recognizing the limitations of your current shooting ability. Each season I think everyone takes away a new lesson that makes them a better bowhunter season after season. There are, of course, those scenarios that play out where despite doing everything right, the result is less than perfect, simple human error raises its ugly head! This is where choosing and building archery equipment for the ‘worse case scenario’ has huge benefits!
What do I mean when I say worse case scenario? In short, not putting your arrow where you want it to go! Finding shoulder, hitting too far back, quartering away shots you thought you had dialed in – these would be worse case scenarios. This is where the true effectiveness of your entire bowhunting gear package is put to the ultimate test and thankfully there are things you can do as a bowhunter to improve your success of recovery if and when these shots happen to you!
Alright you all saw it coming! Time to talk broadheads – the business end of your arrow! We all have assorted collections of broadheads we have purchased or used over the years and it is the single piece of bowhunting gear that gets more attention than anything else...and for good reason! A well designed broadhead best suited for your set-up will help ensure the longest, most damaging wound channel possible; to make sure you recover your game. Now given the crazy selection available, it’s easy to see how choosing the best possible design for your particular set-up can be tough. Here are a few tips to help you out.
First – do your homework! Take a real, in-depth, honest look at your set up and ask these questions - Do I have a shorter than average draw? Is my draw weight at the typical high end of the scale at 70-60lbs range or is it more towards the 50-40lb range? How far are my typical shots? Granted there are more factors to consider, such as the energy your bow is capable of delivering but this is a good place to start. A solid rule of thumb for broadhead selection is all based on efficiencies. The more energy a bow/arrow combination is able to generate (long draw lengths and higher weights) the more options you have for larger cutting diameters. Simply put larger cutting diameters require more energy to push through a game animal to get the job done. If you have less energy to burn then a broadhead that has less cutting diameter and a more traditional cut on contact, gradually sweeping blade profile will be your best bet for success. Both traditional style cut on contact broadheads and mechanicals from many manufacturers are designed with this principal in mind.
It’s easy to get caught up in going for the biggest cutting broadhead you can get your hands on but in truth you do lose a measure of efficiency when you do this – even if you believe that you have the energy to burn. If a bowhunter with a 31” draw and 70lb draw weight decided to utilize a broadhead that was designed to perform better for a lower energy set-up what results could you expect? The results, even in the worst case scenarios, would likely be ridiculous pass through’s and far more damage done, even when the shot is less than perfect!!
So if you feel your set-ups could perform better and result in greater success in the field – your right! Selection and tuning with worse case scenarios in mind will go a long way to ensuring far more of your bowhunting tales end with pictures to back them up!
Article written by:
Cam Jones - Darkhorse Archery
As seen in:
Big Game Illustrated
August 2013 Issue #1
PREP FOR BOWHUNTING SUCCESS
It goes without saying that every bowhunter out there right now is thinking about, heck dreaming about opening day! Most bowhunters tend to be an obsessive bunch when it comes to the kick- off of the season. Don’t believe me? The countdown app on my phone that reads 32 days 19hrs 31 mins 56secs as I write this would disagree with you!
Yes the mental preparation is the very first thing to kick in, quickly followed by a shift in attention to our equipment. Assuming your bow will be shooting bulls eyes because it was before you put it away is a big mistake, especially if it has been awhile since you last shot it. This is where good preparation should begin. Fact is things can happen to that bow while it’s not in use and under constant pressure, string stretch can occur. This can effect things like timing and peep rotation – both problems that will affect the bows efficiency and as a direct result could impact your success in the field. Even a d-loop that has served you faithfully all last season could be thinking about unexpected retirement if left un-noticed. The bottom line is all of these gremlins could really cost you opening day. So before you knock the rust off your shooting form (hopefully your well past this point!) save yourself some frustration and eliminate your equipment from the equation for poor shooting. Take your bow in to a pro shop if you need too and have them give it a basic tune, which will address all of these issues. Once you have the peace of mind that your equipment is in top shape, this may tell you that it’s you that have some work to do! This will save you valuable time and allow you to focus on making those shooting form corrections that may be needed to get your ‘A’ game back!
For shooting practice to take on real value you need to make it as real as possible, while paying attention to all the details. This can be accomplished by breaking out of the rut of ‘range style’ shooting – where you’re making standing shots in well lit areas. Let’s face it a real world bowhunting scenarios will rarely if ever find you in that position, so be sure to mix up your shooting practice with some good variety. Shooting from behind cover, on your knees, sitting in a blind or tree stand will all pay off huge when the time comes. Lighting as mentioned should be a real consideration as well, since key times for shot opportunities often play out at first or last light – be prepared for the difference that can make by taking in some dawn or dusk shooting sessions. If tree stands or rolling terrain are a factor in your hunt methods or areas be sure to understand the difference this will make on your point of impact and add that to the mix in your shooting.
While shooting in shorts and t-shirt is great, now would be the time to gear up! Go ahead and put on all the gear you will be wearing in the field, including most importantly how your bow will be set-up. Things like hats, bino holders, face masks and even the forearm fit of your hunting clothes may find a way to interfere with that perfect shot! If its new gear this year, this is a vital check for sure! Now is the time to work out the bugs and find this stuff out now, not when you are drawing back on the buck of a lifetime. If your bowhunting means you hunt with your quiver attached and loaded with all but one arrow be sure to practice this way. The simple changes in balance a quiver can make on your bow may surprise you how much it can impact your shot placement – especially at greater distances.
Remember regular shooting and practice shouldn’t stop once the season begins – keep yourself sharp throughout the entire season and you can expect to capitalize on your bowhunting efforts!
As bowhunters we accept the added challenge it presents, so let’s make sure our preparation helps us meet those challenges with success! As we count down to our respective opening days, I wish everyone an exciting and successful 2013 bow hunting season!!
THE NEED FOR SPEED – DOES YOUR BOW EVEN COME CLOSE?
Recently I took the time to help introduce a friend to the addictive pastime of archery and in short order this basic introduction turned from curiosity to a full commitment involving the lighting of his wallet! Along with the typical advice you would expect to pass along to someone considering taking up archery, I helped him narrow it down to a few bows that could meet his particular wants and needs. Of course with his list of bows in hand I advised him to shoot as many as he could and ultimately go with the one that felt best to him. It wasn’t long after that I found myself setting up his shiny new bow and it was the tag on this bow as I set it up that caught my attention. Along with the typical IBO designated rating was another set of three letters sharing this spot – the letters ATA.
Now for those readers that are perhaps lost on one or both of these acronyms IBO stands for International Bowhunters Organization and ATA stands for the Archery Trade Association.
So have you ever wondered how some bow manufacturers arrive at the arrow speed numbers we all like to brag about? Well let’s just say things get interesting when you do some digging! What we have to appreciate here is that basing a bows speed on IBO regulations tends to fall well short of reflecting accurate numbers because these regulations were simply establish to dictate what competitive archers could shoot in IBO sanctioned events. They were never design to establish a consistent benchmark for the industry to gauge bow speed. Actual IBO regulations from a speed measuring point of view leave a great deal of room for the speed numbers to be exaggerated, which perhaps is why some manufacturers have long enjoyed publishing speed numbers under IBO ratings. For example IBO regulations have no draw length requirement and bow weight is restricted to a light 82lb max!
Now you can start to see the variables in bow speed that such regulations could produce! Now I am not saying that every manufacturer out there is going to be slapping rated speeds on their bows that are generated by a 32” draw at a full 82lbs but if they did they would still technically speaking be within IBO regulations for bow speed! Most simply working within the IBO parameters massage the numbers to satisfy the consumer demand for faster bows – yes in this case speed sells! This massaging is clearly evident when you consider the number one bow specification that is typically out of whack is draw length and nine times out of ten the draw is – you guessed it long!
So how does the ATA find its way into rating bow speeds? The ATA has recognized the short comings of the current IBO system and the fact it doesn’t allow a true side by side comparison for the consumer considering a new bow. In an effort to level the playing field and provide consistent, accurate numbers they developed the following bow-speed guidelines for velocity tests of bows –
1. 30” draw, 70lb bow and 350grain arrow
2. 30” draw, 60lb bow and 300grain arrow
3. 30” draw, 50lb bow and 250grain arrow
The arrow weights in this guideline reflect arrows with a 5 grain per pound of draw weight and more importantly the draw length is held to a precise measurement found in ATA guidelines.
So next time you get hung up on the speed factor when considering a new bow, go with the things that you can be sure of – how it feels and how it shoots, or look for the extra assurance the letters ATA can add to your need for speed! Hopefully in time we will see more ATA speed ratings to help us make buying decisions based on the best possible information!
THE SCIENCE BEHIND ARCHERY – ARROW F.O.C. PART 2
As highlighted by our last article the benefits of knowing your F.O.C. will increase your accuracy in a number of ways but when it comes to hunting, getting to the target truly is half the battle. It really is a tall order for an arrow – not only do we want efficient flight through the air but also efficient flight through tissue and lets face it…sometimes bone! Once again however FOC is our best friend here as well, helping our arrow do its job when it reaches that animal!
To have an arrow efficiently pass through an animal requires the forces imparted by your bow to your arrow to be applied in a straight line. Any deflection off the arrows intended course is wasted energy, as it takes away from its forward momentum, one of the keys to ensuring a better chance for pass through. Text book broad side shots at ground level provide the most favorable circumstances for a well placed shot to stay on its intended path and punch through the animal, many more shots however are often angled. Shots from treestands, uphill shots, quartering away or quartering to, present the biggest challenge for an arrow to do its job. Here is where good FOC really helps out! An arrow when it strikes a target spends a portion of its energy overcoming that initial impact in order to penetrate. The forward motion of the arrow at this impact point causes whatever weight the arrow has behind the point to ‘catch up’ as it were with the rest of the arrow. To illustrate, imagine your arrow is a long train with the engine representing your broadhead and a number of cars helping to make up its overall weight. This train striking an object will see its forward momentum cause the cars, or rearward weight to try and ‘catch up’ with the engine, essentially jumping the track!
This ‘jumping of the track’ is the rearward weight of your arrow coming out of line with the ‘engine’ or broadhead, essentially wasting forward momentum by flexing side to side. Now take this same ‘train’ and drastically shorten its length by removing as many ‘cars’ or weight from the back of the line. This will drastically reduce the chances of this train ‘jumping the track’ as it were. By increasing FOC on your arrow you essentially shorten the ‘train’ by putting more weight up front, helping to diminish energy robbing side to side flexing of the arrow on impact. An arrow with poor FOC that allows for this wasted flexing also loses more energy to friction created by this side-to-side motion on the wound channel it is opening.
An arrow with higher FOC is quite simply a more efficient hunting arrow! You owe it to yourself and the animals you hunt to put good FOC to work for you! Need more of a visual to understand this crazy archery science?! Stay tune for a video demonstration of these FOC principles at work!
THE SCIENCE BEHIND ARCHERY – ARROW F.O.C. PART 1
When it comes to arrow performance there a certainly a great number of factors to take into consideration, however for many it really doesn’t go much further than the tried and true ‘shoot it to see’ test. While this certainly is a method that will get the job done, paying closer attention to the details of arrow tuning such as ones FOC %(Front of Center) will let you put solid archery science to work for you for even better performance!
So what is FOC and how does it improve arrow performance? Simply put it is the percentage of difference between the physical center of your arrow and the balance point of the arrow compared to overall length measurement. Ensuring a healthy percentage of the arrows weight is located at the front of your arrow essentially changes the amount of leverage your vanes have to do the important work of steering your arrow! This of course becomes a real factor when shooting fixed broadheads that have tendency to compete with the steering duties of your vanes! By shifting weight forward you are giving the vanes the best leverage possible making it far easier for them to do their job, giving them the long leverage arm to now steer the relatively short heavier business end of your arrow.
This creates a distinct advantage when it comes to vane selection. Instead of relying on increased surface area provided by a large 4” vane to accurately steer your arrows a smaller more streamlined vane can now be used to accomplish the same level of accuracy. The added bonus to using a vane with less surface area is a huge bonus in the field where windy conditions will not cause near the same amount of accuracy robbing wind drift the larger vanes fall victim to!
Recent studies have shown that higher FOC numbers than previously recommended (i.e. – hunting arrows –12%) do not contribute to an arrow that wants to ‘nose dive’ during flight as once suspected. So the benefit of a better working arrow during its flight is more than enough reason to know your FOC numbers! Here is a great FOC calculator the boys at Archery Report have put together to help you calculate your arrows FOC.
FOC is no doubt very beneficial for getting your arrow to its target but the benefits don’t end there! You bowhunters listen up! Getting your arrow to work efficiently through the air is the relatively easy part, now you need to know how efficient it will be when it hits the animal you’ve been waiting for all season! FOC is one of your best friends in this department as well! Stay tuned for – The Science Behind Archery – Arrow FOC Part 2
Arrow Processing Basics
Looking for a simple way to ensure your arrows can get it done? Try these basic arrow-building tips!
Cutting from both ends is one of the most basic ways to essentially up grade your arrow and incorporating this practice into your arrow building will also bump up arrow performance. The reason behind this being a way to accomplish those two things lies in the manufacturing process. Granted arrow manufacturing today typically assures that most arrows will be pretty close to bang on when it comes to advertised arrow straightness specs but that being said the straightest portion of the arrow will always be found in the center. Cutting from both ends is the easiest way to take advantage of this fact. You have the potential of taking perhaps an economy .006" straight arrow and improving on that by a perhaps .001"-.002" creating a .005" or .004" arrow!
Squaring the arrow after cutting also takes care of a potentially accuracy robbing factor. Even the very best arrow-cutting machine could stand to have the cut trued by other means. To the eye it might appear to be square but can quite easily be out of true. An uneven cut on the nock end will create an uneven exertion of force on the arrow by your bow. The insert end of the arrow will also suffer without squaring by allowing the weight of your tip or broadhead to sit cocked to one side or the other. Not only does this creates wobble from not spinning true but also plays slightly with the way it slips through the air.
Very basic homemade jigs could be made to square your arrows before installing your nocks and inserts. Quality squaring devices such as Lumenocks F.A.S.T. system or G5's A.S.D. also do a great job of squaring your arrows. The G5 ASD is equipped to square the insert as well for a true surface connection between your broadheads and field points.
Now some of you probably recognize that following such procedures will ultimately amount to a few hundredths of an inch improvement to your arrow, which perhaps to the average shooter may not add up to much. Its likely that a Hooter Shooter or machine shooting your bow is the only way these improvements would show up but this is not what it all comes down to. Archery is as much a mental game just as much as it is related to performance capabilities of your equipment, so it stands to reason that if you have 100% confidence in your equipment this will help your shooting! Besides on the days when everything comes together and you are shooting like a machine you'll be happy to know you spent the time sweating the details on your builds!