Broadhead tuning was and still is a major factor in bowhunters wanting to shoot mechanical broadheads. Broadhead tuning does take time and the reality is that most bowhunters just don't want to mess with it. However, over the last few years there has been a movement back to fixed blade broadheads as they simply have undeniable benefits over most mechanical designs.
Being an efficient archery hunter is all about being consistent through our shot execution. Achieving consistency as an archer is obtainable only through repetition unless you have Olympic god given talent, which most of us do not have. Even with that god given talent, the true killers of bowhunting world allow their subconscious habits and instincts to take over during the moment of truth.
Thus lies the issue around being efficient with fixed blade broadheads. The repetition required to train your subconscious to execute in the moment of truth takes time and a lot of shooting. The more you shoot groups with broadheads the more expensive it becomes, not only by replacing damaged vanes and arrow shafts but also chewed up targets. So it is imperative you have the same point of impact with your fixed blade broadheads and field points. Let's take a look at how you can ensure you have perfect fixed blade broadhead flight!
The reality around poor broadhead flight is that it's typically not the broadhead and more likely a tuning issue with your bow. With that said, poor broadhead flight is not the same as your broadheads having a different point of impact when comparing them to your field points. Obviously, the physical shape of your fixed blade broadheads compared to field points will be different. That alone will cause different flight characteristics but your broadheads should group out of a properly tuned bow. If you are not getting solid groupings then turn to your bow and look at the following.
- Ensure Proper Cam Timing and Position
- Draw Length
- Center Shot
When you have your bow in spec you can shoot through paper to verify. Your goal should be perfect bullet holes. I personally do this with fletched arrows but if you really want to get picky use bare shafts.
After you achieve straight flight patterns through paper you can begin to shoot at distance to micro tune your rest to establish point of impact results. At 25-30 yards shoot 3 field points and 3 broadheads to compare the POI results. With each shot you'll need to be honest with yourself and void any shots you pull....remember archery success is dependant on consistency. Begin making very small micro adjustments on your rest to bring the two groups together. Below is your cheat sheet.
- Broadhead POI to the RIGHT - 1/64 Rest Adjustment to the LEFT
- Broadhead POI to the LEFT - 1/64 Rest Adjustment to the RIGHT
- Broadhead POI HIGH - 1/64 Rest Adjustment DOWN
- Broadhead POI LOW - 1/64 Rest Adjustment UP
You can repeat this process at 40 or 50 yards to really dial things in.
If POI results don't change with your micro rest adjustments you may need to turn back to cam positioning and timing.
Regardless of what broadhead you shoot or how well your bow is tuned, if you have the wrong arrow setup your broadhead flight is going to suffer.
The most important thing to note here is ensuring you are spined correctly. An under spined arrow shaft will yield POIs to the right and being over spined will yield POIs to the left. This will also be very apparent through paper tuning. Draw weight, arrow shaft length, point weight, insert weight, and the power stroke of your bow will dictate the static spine of your arrow. Before purchasing any arrows be sure you are looking at the manufacturer's spine charts and if you have any questions reach out to them to clarify. From experience I know, once you have a spine issue there's not much you can do to correct it other than purchase new arrows and/or manipulate the shaft length and point weight.
After being properly spined you next need to consider the quality of the arrow build. Forgo sweating shaft straightness tolerances, as it's over rated in most cases, but focus on the components and build craftsmanship. Be sure each end of the arrow shaft is cut square, spine indexed, and components are properly installed with perfect fitment. Indexing each shafts spine eliminates the time of nock tuning and ensures each arrow is built the exact same providing consistent performance of the arrow shaft leaving the bow. With broadheads installed you can give each shaft a quick spin test to confirm. If you find a "wobbler" change out the broadhead to verify the problem.
Fixed Blade Broadhead Design
Not all things are created equal. This hold inherently true when comparing fixed blade broadhead designs and their associated flight characteristics. Unfortunately, with so many variables, different combinations of bows and arrows will shoot broadheads differently so the only real way to dial your broadheads in is to tinker. However, there are some general concepts that seem to hold true outside of the pros and cons of fixed blade broadheads.
- Vented fixed blades have better flight characteristics over solid fixed blades
- Larger cutting diameter fixed blades/blade profiles catch more air and have to be counterbalanced with the correct fletching configuration
- Shorter compact ferrule designs tend to have better flight characteristics over longer designs
As a reminder, moving your sight to shoot broadheads will work but that's not tuning! You are simply changing the point of aim, which will work in a pinch but will not provide long term success. A lot of bowhunting comes down to being confident in ability and your gear so get out and shoot!
Author: Chad Sylvester, Team Afflictor