Undeniably one of the hottest topics in archery today is the subject of high FOC. Some see this is just another trend, while others firmly state that this information is long overdue, and it will never go away. Trendy or not, there is no denying that FOC has its place and is important for an archer to have at least a basic understanding of how it effects arrow flight, accuracy, and penetration. I have been a long standing member of the high FOC Club, but just like anything else, you can have too much of a good thing.
Let's look at some of the pros and cons of a high FOC setup.
WHAT IS FOC?
Lets start with a quick review of what FOC is. It stands for “Front of Center”. It is a percentage equation of your hunting arrows total weight that is located at the front half of the arrow. It is important to note that this calculation is with your broadhead on the arrow. The more weight you have at the front of your arrow, the more forward your balance point will be. Below is a great video explaining some easy steps and instructions to calculate your FOC.
PROS OF HIGH FOC
There are many opinions on the actual percentage consideration for high FOC with above 15% generally being considered high. With Doctor Ashby’s conclusion that there is a substantial penetration gain with arrows having 18% FOC or higher, you don’t have to look far for hunters that are promoting over 20% and even into the 30+ percent FOC range!
Lets look at some of the pros of high FOC. The biggest benefit to me in shooting high FOC is PENETRATION. There is no denying that increasing your front of center gives you more weight, more momentum, and more “pulling power”. Literally, high FOC helps “pull” your arrow through your intended target. I really think that pulling power should be considered a factor in a new hunting arrow formula we could call pass through potential. Where FOC X Draw Weight was divided by Pulling Power (P2) to get a number we could associate with a high probability for a pass through…we will work on that. 😊 Anyway, you get the idea. Penetration favors high FOC.
Another benefit towards penetration is to consider that with most high FOC arrow setups, you will be using a stiffer spine arrow. This causes less flex in your arrow as it enters your target allowing for more penetration, considering that the more flex you have, the more drag you create and that will impede penetration. High FOC can also help QUIET your bow, and some will say it improves your ACCURACY. For me, I do not feel accuracy really gets a big boost from increasing your front of center, but you will certainly give your setup a boost in its performance, so inherently your accuracy could benefit.
One great side effect of spending time playing with your FOC is that you are spending more time with your bow, allowing for improvements to occur in several areas of tuning your entire setup.
CONS OF HIGH FOC
With every good thing, there is also a point of simply over doing it. Generally when I am on the over doing it subject, I am referring to ice cream, but FOC is definitely in the same category, as it is all good until you have too much. No mater what you do in archery you cannot escape the laws of physics, with the law of gravity being the big factor here. At some point, too much FOC is no longer an asset. Remember the lawn dart game? Think of continuously adding weight to the end of your lawn dart. Eventually you wont be able to toss it close to hoop, let alone in it. Even though the dart will make a bigger divot in the dirt with each weight increase, if you cant reach your target what good is it?
When you get your FOC too high you are going to be sacrificing something. That something is going to be TRAJECTORY and SPEED. To be clear, as you move up in FOC, you are going to loose a little of both of those things no matter what, but with the right balance the good exceeds the bad. Too high of an FOC and you could find that a weary whitetail at a long distance can easily jump the string because your arrow is slower, and dropping more rapidly.
Another common issue with high FOC is using the WRONG SPINE arrow. High FOC will naturally weaken the spine of your arrow, and thus it could take your arrow longer to recover off the riser causing potential accuracy problems. Since adding more weight to the front of your arrow weakens the spine, it is very important to make sure you have the right spined arrow out of the gate. Starting your FOC process with an under spined arrow could even be dangerous, so consult your bow and arrow manufacturer before you jump into high FOC.
The last con I would like to mention is COST. If you get serious about high FOC, you may also get serious about spending money. Stiff spine, specialty arrows, weighted inserts, and heavy weight broadheads all come with an increased price tag. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to shoot high FOC, but you can get caught up in it all very easily and quickly wind up with a single arrow that is over $50.00.
I am a big fan of high FOC, but as you have read it is important find a happy medium. You must factor in your average shot distance and your target species into the equation when you decide to go heavy up front. Also, be sure and be aware of your arrow spine when moving towards high FOC. You do not want to have an important factor like accuracy suffer because you are under or over spined. Thankfully, this process is not difficult and can be fun getting everything tuned just right to suit your needs.
Thank you for reading, and good luck in the field!
Chris Creed, Afflictor Broadheads