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Arrow confidence: shoot straighter with these straight shooters.

AT THE MOMENT OF TRUTH, the only thing you should be concentrating on is executing the shot. All other variables must be resolved before you come to full draw on a game animal. One crucial aspect of this successful formula is having confidence in your arrows. If you haven't shot your arrows--with broadheads--how do you know they will fly accurately?

The arrow manufacturing process is incredibly complex, and you cannot realistically expect every arrow out of every box from all the manufacturers to be perfectly straight, perfectly matched in weight, and perfectly consistent in static and dynamic spine. Luckily for bowhunters, the competition among arrow makers has raised the quality control bar, and many companies now make arrows capable of out-of-the-box accuracy exceeding what most of us can achieve!

Regardless, I run a battery of tests on all my arrows before ever hunting with them. First, I number my arrows so I can keep track of each individually. Then, using an electronic grain scale and a spine tester, I measure and record the weight, straightness, and static spine of each. If a particular shaft falls outside my designated tolerance limits, I set it aside and work with the most consistent arrows. I hunt only with arrows within tolerance limits of .002" in straightness, 2 grains in weight, and less than .008" static spine variation. In reality, most of us can't shoot well enough to see a difference in .005" straightness, 10 grains in weight, and .020" variance in static spine, but, for me, knowing the tolerances of my arrows are much tighter than that boosts my confidence greatly.

Next, while cutting my arrow shafts to length, I cut from both ends and use an arrow-squaring device to make sure the arrows have perfectly square, 90-degree ends. This dramatically improves broad-head concentricity and nock alignment, which translates into the tightest-possible arrow groups.


Over the years, I've learned that arrows with helical fletching give me tighter groups than arrows with straight fletching, especially with fixed-blade broadheads. Most out-of-the-box arrows have straight fletching, so if you can't buy helically fletched arrows at your pro shop, I recommend you learn to fletch your own arrows.

After assembly, I shoot all arrows and broadheads I intend to use while hunting. One timesaver you might consider is shooting through paper at about five yards. If you have an arrow/broadhead combination that doesn't produce a clean paper tear from a well-tuned bow, try rotating the nock to align with the next fletching. Most arrows have a "sweet spot" at which they fly cleanly through paper. Sometimes just a slight nock rotation will improve the paper tear and, thus, downrange grouping.

With consistent shooting form and numbered arrows, I can see which arrows group well and eliminate any fliers. Even if you are not as demanding as I am and won't go through the entire process described here, you should at least test-shoot all your arrows.

Several years ago, with the aid of a shooting machine called the Hooter Shooter, I learned a valuable lesson about dynamic spine and accuracy. Each of four "tested" arrows hit in exactly the same hole in the target every single shot. However, all four arrows hit different spots on the target. As originally assembled, they shot about a 1 3/4" group at 20 yards, indicating a variation in dynamic spine, Just by rotating the nocks I was able to tighten the group to about 3/8".

Consistent weight, straightness, and static spine testing can help your accuracy, but dynamic spine--how an arrow flexes and recovers, shot after shot, and from one arrow to the next--is what really matters. Also, realize that most of us don't shoot well enough to tell whether the arrow or our shooting skills have caused a miss. If you don't have access to a shooting machine, do the best you can for your shooting ability.

With that groundwork laid, let's look at the new arrows for 2011. (Note: All prices are per dozen unless otherwise noted. Arrow weights are expressed as grains per inch or gpi.)


* 1. Alaska Bowhunting Supply

Best known for traditional arrows, Alaska Bowhunting Supply's new GrizzlyStik Momentum ($129.95 per half dozen) is designed for compound shooters. The Momentum is the only full-length tapered carbon arrow on the market, with the thicker, stiffer part of the arrow up front. With the front of the arrow weighing more and flexing less, the Momentum penetrates better, flies flatter, and proves stronger right behind the broadhead than standard parallel shafts.

With its 72-grain brass insert and tapered design, the Momentum creates significant front-of-center (FOC) balance--15%-25% or more depending on broadhead weight. This arrow is ideal for bowhunters who are more concerned with downrange punch than velocity, making this shaft an attractive option for hunting large game like elk, moose, kudu, eland, and brown bears. The Momentum is available in 45-60, 65-80, and 65-80 magnum spines.

* 2. Beman


Check out the new ICS Speed ($114.99) carbon arrow. The microsmooth finish, very light weight, and new Hot Tail ViBrake insert and optional ViBrake nock combine to give you an arrow that's fast, accurate, and quiet shooting. The Hot Tail insert and ViBrake nock have synthetic nibs built in to reduce vibration during the shot cycle. The ICS Speed comes in spines 300 (8.7 gpi), 340 (8.1 gpi), 400 (7.2 gpi), and 500 (6.6 gpi). Straightness is +/- .003" and weight tolerance is +/- 2 grains.

* 3. Carbon Express

Carbon Express has several new offerings for 2011, but the one that really got my attention is the Maxima Hunter KV ($179.95). It has everything I look for in a hunting arrow, meaning it is perfectly straight and very consistent in weight and static spine. I've hunted with Carbon Express arrows for the last several years, with stellar results. The Maxima Hunter KV features a layer of Kevlar, a synthetic fiber that is pound for pound five times stronger than steel. It also has Dual Spine Weight Forward technology for rapid recovery and guidance control. The specifications are: +/- .0025" straightness, +/- 1 grain in weight, and +/- .0025" static spine tolerance. Available spines are 250 (8.9 gpi) and 350 (9.8 gpi).

* 4. Easton

To make the new N-FUSED Carbon Axis Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ($156.99), Easton uses an exclusive process to fuse a 7075-T6 aluminum jacket over a small-diameter, thick-walled, carbon-fiber core--an excellent combination that provides extremely consistent spine, straightness, weight, and durability. With the inherent extra weight from combining two materials--9-12 gpi depending on spine for the FMJ and 16-17.7 gpi with FMJ Dangerous Game--this might be the most ideal arrow for anyone wanting precise accuracy and excellent downrange penetration for magnum big game. If I ever get the chance to hunt Cape buffalo, this might be my arrow of choice. Straightness and weight tolerances respectively are +/-.002" and +/- 2 grains. Finish options are gunmetal and camo.

* 5. Gold Tip

New for 2011, the Kinetic combines all the quality and toughness expected of Gold Tip arrows but a smaller diameter for increased penetration and reduced wind resistance. Weighing about 25 grains, a new insert/outsert called the Accu-Tough adds a bit of FOC weight for improved accuracy. This shaft would be a good choice for anyone wanting just one arrow style for both 3-D and big game hunting. Depending on spine value, mass weights range 7.6-11.6 gpi, and outside diameter ranges .258"-.288". Kinetics come in three versions: Pro (+/-.001", +/- .5 grains, $174.99), XT (+/- .003", +/- .5 grains, $129.99), and Hunter (+/-.006", +/-2 grains, $99.99).

* 6. PSE


Designed with input from the Drury Outdoors Team, the Carbon Force Bow Madness ($99.99) employs Radial X Weave technology, a patented computer process that wraps individual carbon fibers together to create a strong, straight shaft and dull, weave-pattern finish that makes the Bow Madness a very hunter-smart arrow. Three-inch Fusion Vanes provide a radical blend of shape and material for maximum aerodynamic steering. Spine weights are 200 (.424" diameter, 7.5 gpi) and 300 (.359" diameter, 8.6 gpi). Straightness and weight tolerances respectively are +/- .003" and +/- 5 grains. Arrows are full length with inserts loose, and they come in a nifty, reusable plastic arrow tube.

* 7. Victory

Victory's new VAP (Victory Armour Piercing) arrows ($195) remind me of the skinny Game Tracker carbon arrows from about 20 years ago. However, VAPs are made with the most modern materials and technology. These thick-walled (.040"), narrow-diameter (.225" for 400 spine) shafts combine the strength, durability, penetration, and accuracy bowhunters want. The skinny shafts reduce wind drift and air drag for longer shots, while the new tapered Penetrator insert/outsells make a much bigger hole than the shaft diameter to help with penetration. The extra weight of the Penetrator insert (33-44 grains) increases FOC weight for better downrange accuracy. I was impressed with the manufacturing tolerances of the 24 shafts I evaluated. VAPs are available in three tolerances--the VI Series has straightness/weight tolerances of+/- .001" and +/- .5 grains--and spine weights of 300, 350, 400, 500, 600, 700, and 800.

Lighted Nocks

In low light, and especially if you're shooting a very fast bow, you often cannot see where your arrow hits an animal. Lighted nocks dramatically improve your potential for seeing the exact point of impact, and they help you find your arrow after the shot.

In some states, electronic devices attached to the bow or arrow are illegal, so make sure you check your state's regulations before heading afield. If lighted nocks are legal where you hunt, you won't go wrong with any of the following models. (Note: the Pope and Young Club does not accept record-book entries for animals taken with bows or arrows equipped with electronic devices.)

* Burt Coyote


New for 2011, Burt Coyote's Lumenok is even brighter than before, and the Signature and GT ($31.95/3 pack) models now have replaceable batteries. Lumenoks are available in four sizes (24-28 grains depending on size) that serve the bulk of all arrow sizes and come in red, green, and pink. The battery lasts up to 40 hours. Lumenok is working on a new version to fit G-nocks. For best results with the Lumenok, the manufacturer recommends using its Fletched Arrow Squaring Tool (F.A.S.T.) for precision squaring of the nock ends of fletched arrows, which improves both accuracy and conductivity of the Lumenok.

* Carbon Express

Carbon Express's new Lazer Eye ($25.27/3 pack) weighs 18.5 grains--10 grains heavier than the standard Carbon Express nock--equating to minimal differences in arrow trajectory out to about 40 yards. The Lazer Eye is activated from a friction switch upon arrow release when the bowstring thrusts forward. After arrow recovery, you can turn off the lighted nock by pulling it from the arrow shaft about 1/16". Batteries last about seven hours. Nock colors are yellow, green, and red.



* DoubleTake Archery

The 20-grain Nockturnal ($24.99/3 pack) requires no glue, magnets, or assembly. With a nifty linear switch, the Nockturnal is activated by the string's thrust upon launch. To turn off a nock, you can insert any small, pointed object into the reset hole to slide the switch away from the arrow. The internal switch eliminates the need to turn off the nock by twisting or turning. Battery life is 20 hours. Nock colors are red, green, yellow and pink, and the nocks are waterproof.

* Easton

The Tracer RLi ($23.99/2 pack) is activated upon arrow launch when the nock passes a small magnet mounted on the bow. Features include a replaceable lithium battery lasting up to 90 hours, LED illumination, consistent nock position (no moving or turning of the nock required), magnetic on/off switch, and automatic flash mode for easier recovery. Tracers weigh 22 grains. Colors are red or orange depending on style, with models to fit almost all arrows. Each package includes practice nocks.


* Firenock


Firenock's diverse line of eight nock styles fits most arrow sizes (prices vary). Six LED colors and nine nock colors combine for a total of 54 different hues. A practice nock weighs the same as the lighted nock (20-30 grains depending on arrow size). Arrow launch activates the Firenock, and dropping the arrow, nock end first, on a hard surface turns it off. Firenock has replaceable batteries of standard and long shelf life. The battery stays lit for 30 hours and then goes into a dim mode up to six weeks. The Firenock I Series ($35/3 pack) has an intermittent circuit that will stay lit for six seconds and blink up to 10 days.
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Title Annotation:ARROWS
Author:Lauber, Lon E.
Date:May 21, 2011
Previous Article:Hot new hunting rigs for 2011: if you're in the market for a new bow, don't expect an easy selection process from this year's crop.
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