Over and over again, we see discussions on social media around broadhead flight compared to field points. By nature humans like easy and most bowhunters are the same. We want to grab our bow off the shelf, shoot field points all summer, fling a few broadheads in late summer, and be ready for the season. This is one of the reasons mechanicals and hybrid broadheads designs are so popular.
The reality is broadhead flight can be tricky and it's not the broadhead giving you issues. So if you are not getting great broadhead flight you need to dig a little deeper into your bow, arrow builds, and possibly your form. Let's dive in..
Fixed or Mechanical
With mechanical broadheads flight characteristics are much more simple compared to fixed blades due to there slim profile, nearly imitating field points. When they work properly, in flight, there's nothing on the front of your arrow shaft steering your arrow or fighting your arrow's vane configuration. The bottom line is if you have bow tuning flaws, arrow build flaws, shooting form flaws, or other issues they are not as apparent down range with mechanical or hybrid broadheads. That's one and maybe the biggest advantage of expandables, mechanicals, and hybrid blade broadheads.
Fixed blades on the other hand, will be more apt to show any flaws in your setup. Overall fixed blade broadhead design will also impact flight characteristics. Solid, wide blades tend to have more issues in flight down range. Well designed vented blades solve some of those issues. Also, cutting diameter and blade length will alter flight characteristics. A good general rule of thumb is a smaller vented fixed blade broadhead will have better flight characteristics over bigger broadheads with solid blade designs.
This is where most people run into issues when they begin to have troubles with broadhead flight. There are a multitude of factors when it comes to bow tuning and if you're not confident, willing, and able to do the work yourself you should always seek a quality archery technician. Start with the basic checklist
- Cam timing
- Center shot (rest)
What you're after here is CONSISTENT GROUPINGS not field point accuracy. If you find your broadheads flying a tad to the right, left, up, down consistently you can simply micro tune your rest. I'll also note you are much better off walking back tuning vs shooting groups with broadheads. Shooting groups with broadheads get expensives quick!
Walk back tuning consists of shooting at a vertical line from various distances. This gives you left/right flight patterns for any micro tuning needed. Do the same with a horizontal line for vertical micro adjustments.
With your bow properly tuned next up is your arrow build. Below is a simple checklist and be sure all are checked. If you're missing something here you will not be able to get accurate shooting results leaving you stumped.
- Make sure you're properly spined
- Make sure you have proper nock fit
- Make sure both front inserts and nocks are installed square
- Install a broadhead and spin test.
Arrow builds can get complicated when it comes to broadhead flight. Speed, revolution rates, pitching and yawing, all play into down range broadhead flight. However, you don't have to be a physics major to solve broadhead flight issues. If you've checked all the boxes up to this point and still have broadhead flight issues it could be a result of the broadhead and vane combination. There can only be one master of your arrow. You may have to tinker with this. Shoot different vane configurations with different broadheads to see what works.
Bowhunters also talk about blade orientation with your vanes. Ideally, what we are after is consistency at launch. We want every arrow to react the same, meaning our broadheads need to have the same alignment on every arrow. That does not mean they need to match the arrow's vane configuration.
People get crazy about archery form, but the reality is 99% of us are not Levi Morgan. Our form isn't perfect but it doesn't have to be. We just need to be consistent. Getting shooting reps and focusing on doing the same exact thing every time gives us consistency. With consistency we can become accurate with any broadhead and as bowhunters that is a big step towards our harvest goals.
Author: Chad Sylvester, Team Afflictor