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How To/Pro-Tips

It's What's At The Sharp End

Bowhunting is a critical, unforgiving sport and the broadhead is a most critical component. Whatever style you choose, it must have three features. It must be razor sharp, strong and able to fly well from your bow. Excellent modern broadhead design make the first two easy but our high-speed, technically advanced bows, advanced arrow shafts and broadhead designs make simply "flying well" more complex. The bow, arrow shaft and broadhead should be an integrated system. The shaft's spine stiffness should match the power of the bow. The hunting point's weight should mesh with both arrow shaft spine and bow power. And finally, the bow should be well tuned to best handle that shaft and head design. Compared to field points, hunting broadheads require more precise tuning. They must be uniform in weight and installed perfectly straight. Thus, for best hunting accuracy, you should tune-up with and finally practice with the real thing. No matter how good a broadhead is, it isn't any good unless it gets there.

Your Arrow's Backbone

The selection of proper and/or optimum arrow shafts is just as important as the selection of a bow. From the very start, shafts of proper length for the shooter's draw length and of the proper stiffness (spine) for the bow's draw weight are absolutely necessary. Once upon a time, shaft consideration stopped there. The overwhelming popularity of high-speed compound bows has made these two traditional arrow shaft concerns much more critical and have raised other considerations. Weight of the hunting head should be considered regarding arrow shaft stiffness. Length of shaft (regular draw or overdraw) also affects stiffness of the shaft. The arrow shaft must not flex excessively while receiving the compound's high-energy impetus and overcoming its own inertia. Plastic fletching, once considered poor, is now a top vane material. Aluminum is still the most popular hunting shaft material; however, carbon is coming on strong. The performance bottom line for modern bowhunting is the arrow shaft's balance to all other factors, including head weight, draw length and draw weight. -- Suzy Smith

Practical Bow Practice

The coach's old adage is true: "You play like you practice." Practicing with your bow should duplicate field conditions as closely as possible. Standing in the backyard, sinking arrows into Styrofoam until you get your "eye" back is fine for starters but it's not the end game. Assuming your rig is in tune and sighted in, and you are reasonably back in form, start challenging yourself. Shoot at silhouette targets from an elevated position. Don't be surprised if you have to move some sight pins to account for the angle. Better yet, climb or hang your actual hunting stand in a tree and practice from it. That way you will get practice using your stand as well. If you shoot from a sitting position while hunting, shoot sitting while practicing. How about those deer that come in from the side? Practice drawing and shooting while twisted around. Now you are on your way to real field shooting skill and a higher percentage of scoring success.

Work Now, Play Later

Job Offer: Really tough job, involving manual labor. Outside work in very hot temperatures, high humidity with biting bugs, ticks and spiders. Long commute. Doesn't sound much like a job you want does it? Well, if you are serious about your deer hunting success, you had better take it. Payday will come in deer season. Now is the time to not only check out your deer stands but also clean up around them. Just as you don't want the sights, sounds and smells of stand construction in your hunting area close to opening day, you don't want to change the scenery substantially just before hunting. Now is the time to get in there and clean out your shooting lanes. If you are a bowhunter pay particular attention. It doesn't take much brush to deflect an arrow. Cut only the brush that is in the actual shooting area but leave the area immediately around your stand alone. Drag all brush well away from the area. -- Joe Drake

Staying In Tune

Everyone knows how important it is to properly tune your archery outfit and probably most of us do a pretty good job of it -- once. However, keeping your compound in tune and your whole outfit in balance is an ongoing process. Once you've got it right, record the critical measurements of your original painstaking tune-up and check your outfit on a regular basis. Use a bow square to properly set your nocking point and brace height. Measure the position of your peep sight and arrow rest. Use a bow scale to check your draw weight regularly. Keep limb bolts and sight pins tight. (Selecting a bow sight with a strong mount and a sturdy pin guard is a great idea in the first place!) A slight slippage of only a fraction of an inch in any of your outfit's critical dimensions can throw your arrow group way off. There are plenty of challenges in bowhunting without adding the difficulty of an out-of-tune rig. -- Brad Harris

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