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Tuning a Bow Step 5: Selecting the Best Arrow Shaft

May 25, 2013

Tuning a compound bow can be complex, but it is important for achieving perfect broadhead flight. You can have the fastest bow on earth, but if it doesn’t send your broadhead to the target accurately, it does no good. The good news is, improperly tuned bows can be corrected with adjustments. Some adjustments you can make yourself, while others may require a trip to the local bow shop. Understanding what you need to adjust and how to get your bow tuned correctly is the first task. During the next few months, Wasp Archery will be publishing tips to get your bow ready for fall. Follow along, and by opening day, you will have a bow, arrow and broadhead working in perfect synergy.    

Up to this point in the bow tuning process, we have focused on the bow. But if you are not shooting the right arrow for your setup and what you are hunting, the work in the previous steps goes out the window. People spend a lot of time and money to pick the best bow, but hunting arrow selection is often an afterthought. Here is a guide to picking the right arrow so your bow can perform to its maximum capabilities. The proper arrow selection process takes arrow length, bow poundage and application into account.

Selecting the Right Arrow Spine

Spine is simply a measurement of an arrow’s stiffness – the lower the number the stiffer the arrow. Hunting retailers and even some arrow manufacturers will provide customers with a static spine chart – how much an arrow bends when unchanging pressure is applied. The problem is, when you release an arrow, the thrust of the string will cause an arrow to bend. How fast the arrow reacts is called dynamic spine. There are considerations other than bow poundage and arrow length that will determine your dynamic spine. To calculate, you need to determine your adjusted bow draw weight before consulting the spine selection charts at retailers (see step 1 below).

Selecting the Right Arrow Weight

Arrow weight is measured in grains per inch (gpi). A lighter arrow, which many choose because there is an unjustified desire for speed among today’s bowhunters, flies flatter and faster. They  are also unforgiving and unable to absorb the energy of a higher pound draw weight and require a perfectly tuned bow and proper shooting form for consistent results. On the end of the spectrum, heavier arrows deliver more kinetic energy and are more forgiving upon faulty releases. Here are some recommended arrow weights for common hunting situations:

Best Arrows for Elk, Moose and Other Big Game

No matter how fast your bow shoots, a lighter arrow is easier to stop than a heavy one. A heavier arrow retains energy better and provides better broadhead penetration. For big game animals use an arrow weighing at least 9 gpi. When hunting elk, moose and bison, you need to call on the heavy hitters in the Wasp catalog of broadheads, such as the SharpShooter or Hammer. We are confident our expandable broadheads, like the Jak-Hammer, will get the job done (and they have), but a cut-on-contact broadhead designed for all-out penetration and bone splitting dependability is nice to have in your quiver when you need it.

Best Arrows for Deer and Turkey

For the average adult male, an arrow weighing 7-8 gpi will provide enough kinetic energy to penetrate deer and turkey. The lighter arrow will also give you a flatter trajectory and more speed, but it is not too light or flexible to magnify tuning or form issues dramatically. The Z-Force, with its pinpoint accuracy at high speeds is perfect to pair with these arrow weights. If you want a fixed-blade broadhead, the compact design of the Wasp Boss is a great choice.

Best Arrows for Women and Youth Hunters

Generally, the higher the spine rating, the lighter the arrow. When hunters are using a bow with a 30-50 pound draw weight, a heavier arrow is required for optimal penetration. An arrow around 8-8.5 gpi will absorb and transfer all the available kinetic energy from lower poundage bows.

Wasp makes broadheads designed especially for woman and youth hunters. The Wasp Queen features make it the best broadhead for women shooting 55 pounds or less. The soon-to-be released Rack Pack attack is designed for kids who also use youth bows and crossbows with less poundage of draw weight.

Steps for Selecting the Right Hunting Arrow

  1. Determine your adjusted bow draw weight using this worksheet.
  2. Decide if you need a heavier arrow for better penetration and accuracy or a lighter arrow for speed. If you’re unsure or are a beginner, it is best to fall on the heavy side, as light arrows are less forgiving.
  3. Consult the arrow shafts charts at retailers or online and select a shaft that fits your ADJUSTED draw weight requirements, as well as your hunting situation.
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