4 Requirements for Incredibly Accurate Broadhead Flight

Great broadhead flight is often attributed to the broadhead itself, but there’s a lot more to it than that. To learn what makes a broadhead fly incredibly accurate or frustratingly erratic, let’s examine the four main factors in broadhead flight.

If you have these four things – a good broadhead, the right arrows, a bow that’s been setup correctly, and good shooting practices – then your broadheads will be deadly accurate.

The Broadhead

There are dozens and dozens of broadheads on the market – some are bad, the majority are good, and there’s a few that are great. I’m not going to single out any particular model/style here; that’s not the point of this article. I’m also not going to dive into the basics, such as the fact that most mechanical broadheads tend to be more forgiving (not necessarily more accurate) than most fixed-blade broadheads.

I do, however, want to debunk the statement that a particular broadhead “flies like a field point”. This statement is sometimes inaccurate, and always incomplete. There are more factors to broadhead flight than the broadhead itself.

An Array of Fixed-Blade Broadheads

For example, consider three scenarios that will often yield different results. One, we could shoot the same broadhead out of the same bow, but use different arrows. Two, we could shoot the same broadhead and arrow combination out of different bows. And, three, we could take same broadhead, same arrow, and same bow, but have different people shoot it.

The downrange results most likely changed in these three scenarios, but did the broadhead itself change? Not one bit. In some cases the broadhead might have flown “like a field point”, but in other cases it wouldn’t have. In all cases, nothing about the broadhead changed.

On the flip side, I don’t want to completely rule out the idea that a broadhead does/doesn’t fly like a field point, because there are certain cases where broadheads won’t fly like a field point regardless of what arrow/bow/shooter is used. There are also broadheads which are inherently more accurate (it would be be better to say, more “consistent” and more “forgiving”) than others. This became very apparent in the numerous fixed-blade broadheads that I tested and reviewed.

So, yes, broadhead choice matters. If you’re checking or “tuning” your setup for broadheads, then your best bet is to shoot with several different models to see what results you get. Pick up some cheap (used even) broadheads that you keep just to test and compare with.

The Arrow

I can’t overstate how important arrow selection and arrow quality is for broadhead flight. Your arrows have to be spined correctly if you want great broadhead flight. Simple arrow selection charts are fine for field points, but when it comes to broadheads you need to consider all of the variables that affect arrow spine: the bow’s draw weight, the bow’s draw length, the arrow shaft length, the arrow component weights, the weight of the broadhead, and sometimes even the bow’s cam design/style. To learn more about all of that, check out this post…

Read: Understanding Arrow Spine

Once you know what arrow shaft you’ll be shooting, you need to make sure that it is built and assembled properly. Because broadheads are less forgiving than field points, little things like “squaring” the ends of the shaft becomes really important. You’ll also want to “spin test” your arrow assembled arrows to make sure there’s no sign of imbalance or wobble. To learn more about arrow shaft prep and assembly, check out this post…

Finally, in terms of arrows, let’s talk about fletching choice. In general, the greater the surface area of a broadhead, the more surface area you’ll need for fletching. So if you’re shooting mechanical broadheads with a really small profile, then you can get away with a smaller vane, too. But if you’re shooting a larger fixed-blade, then you might need a bigger vane in the rear to help with steering/correction.

Then there are the factors of installing the vane straight, with an offset, with a helical, or some sort of combination. (The greater the offset or helical, the greater the drag of the arrow, and the quicker the arrow will stabilize.)

Increased drag is a good thing for most “hunting distances”, but can have negative effects for shooting broadheads at longer ranges.  Drag slows an arrow which causes it to lose down-range momentum and makes it less resistance to outside forces, like wind.  That’s why, for example, if you’re interested in long-range accuracy, then you want to get away with as small of a vane as you possibly can.

You have to balance all of these variables, and I can’t address every combination of broadhead, vanes/fletching/feathers, and straight/offset/helical, (not to mention things like 3-fletch vs. 4-fletch), but I will say this: I have found Norway’s 3″ Fusion vanes with a slight offset and helical to be one of the most consistent and versatile setups that I’ve tested. It’s fun to play with other choices/configurations, but force me to choose one setup for anything and everything, and it’s going to be 3″ Fusions.

At Full-Draw With Broadhead

The Bow

We are finally to the section that most guys jump to first, and that’s bow setup. Before you ever attempt to broadhead tune, or check the accuracy of your broadhead flight, it’s important that you know the bow has been setup and tuned properly.

Make sure that your cams are “timed” or in sync with one another. To learn how you can check this at home, have a look at this…

Another critical aspect of bow setup for broadhead flight is your arrow rest. Your centershot and rest/nock height must be correct to begin with. Here’s how you can make sure that’s the case…

To confirm your arrow selection and arrow rest settings, its a good idea to do some “diagnostic shooting”. The two primary methods are paper tuning and walkback tuning. Here’s how you do each one…

We might need to make some adjustments from there, but we’ll cover that in our next post, which will be a step-by-step tutorial on the process broadhead testing and tuning.

The Shooter

Finally, let’s talk about you.

Because broadheads are inherently less-forgiving, flaws in your shooting form and technique are magnified. The most common shooter errors that cause problems with broadhead accuracy are grip, anchor point, and form/draw-length.

Yes, it’s true – maybe the problem with shooting broadheads is you.

There are some universal principles for “proper” grip (such as keeping loose pressure, letting the bow “cradle” in between your thumb/forefinger, etc.), and there are variables that vary from person-to-person, or bow-to-bow (such as using low/med/high grip, amounts of side pressure, etc).  Make sure your grip isn’t inducing any sort of torque into the bow at full-draw, and make sure you are not “grabbing” your bow’s grip upon release.

In terms of anchor points, you need to make sure that you have multiple anchor points that are identifiable, repeatable, and comfortable. Here’s how to make that happen…

Anchor Point Examples

Last in this article, but certainly not the last thing to be considered, is your shooting form. Things like feet placement and head position matter for all shooting, and weaknesses in form become even more apparent when shooting less-forgiving broadheads. The most common form flaws are derrived from incorrect draw lengths. Here are some resources to help you identify and correct form issues, and ensure that your draw length is set correctly…

Time to Broadhead Tune (Maybe)

Whew, that’s a lot of info – and we didn’t even talk about the actual process of tuning for broadheads yet! But here’s the thing, if you follow this advice, then you probably won’t need to “broadhead tune”. That’s what I was getting at when I said that Broadhead Tuning Is A Waste Of Time.  This information may not be a “quick cure” if you’re struggling to get good broadhead flight right before season, but if you consider these factors going forward you will dramatically lessen the time that you spend fiddling with things to get good broadhead flight.

If your broadheads are close to where they need to be, but not flying with your field points exactly, then we can make some adjustments and do some “tuning”. That’ll be what we cover next…

Broadhead Tuning Is A Waste Of Time

Broadhead tuning can be a frustrating process – especially if you shoot fixed-blade broadheads, as I do. I get a lot of questions about broadhead tuning and it’s time that I “come clean” and answer all of these questions publicly.

The fact is, I don’t broadhead tune…

…and the reason is simple: I don’t have to.

I have struggled, in the past, to get broadheads and field-points to fly together. But what I learned is that if you do things right before you shoot your broadheads, then chances are you won’t need to change much – if anything – to have great broadhead flight.

Case in point, last night I shot broadheads out this year’s hunting bow for the first time. (It’s awful late to start shooting broadheads, I know!) Here’s what happened…

First, I started by shooting a Solid Broadhead from 20 yards, just to see if things were close. Here’s the result…

First Shot with Solid Broadhead

Next, I decided to step back further and shoot one more Solid, followed by a field point…

First Shot with Solid Broadhead & Field Point

I figured I would try a mechanical, too, so I sent a Trophy Taker Ulmer Edge downrange…

First Shot with Ulmer Edge

This is why I don’t “broadhead tune”.

So what’s the secret? How do you get results like this without broadhead tuning?

I’ll cover what I believe are the most important aspects to good broadhead flight in a soon-coming post, in which I will also address what to do if your broadheads and field-points aren’t flying together when you start shooting them side-by-side.

If there’s anything specific that you want me to address in that article, please leave a comment below or shoot me a message.

Digging Deep

Three months ago the first brick fell. Three days later the entire building was nothing more than a pile of rubble. The seemingly impenetrable shell of brick and mortar was reinforced by inner skeleton of steel; it stood secure through many storms over nearly 30 years, but it was no match for a few men with machines.

As soon as the ground was clear, a new work began. The future for this chunk of dirt promises to bring bigger and better things, but the progress is hardly visible.

Construction Site

It took 3 days to destroy the old, but now – more than 3 months later – the signs of new life are remarkably unimpressive. A few beams protrude from the surface, but that’s it.

You can’t see the much of the work that’s been happening over recent months, but it doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been important developments. Although it doesn’t look like much, the work that’s been done up until this point is the most important work that will be done on the entire project.

Digging deep. Spreading footing. Securing holds. Stabilizing foundations. That’s important stuff.

In another year this lot of dirt will hold six-levels of concrete, glass, and steel. The grand opening ceremony will celebrate this building’s state-of-the-art technology and styled furnishings; every detail – inside and out – will be meticulously manicured. The three months that was spent digging in dirt to hold this all together will be forgotten.

Our lives are a lot like this building.

We want progress. We want results. We want the latest and greatest. We want to be attractive. We want to be appreciated. We want our grand opening ceremony, our ribbon cutting, our celebration of how great we are.

What we don’t want to do is go beneath the surface of our lives. We don’t want to do the painful work of excavating what needs to be removed. We don’t want to dig in the mess until it hurts. We don’t want to be patient and lay a solid foundation.

But all of this must be done before anything great can be built. If you skip the pain, you’re not building anything other than a facade that’s soon to fall.

Bow Basics: Peep Sights – Use, Sizing, and Selection

The peep sight is a simple part of a bow setup, but its importance is often overlooked.  The purpose of a peep sight is to properly align the bow’s front sight, in the same way that a rear sight is used to align the front sight-post on a rifle.  Without peep alignment, the front sight on a bow isn’t guaranteed to be accurate.

For example, a shooter may place the bow’s sight pin on the bullseye of a target, but the rear of the bow may be low, causing the alignment to be off and the arrow to miss high.  When the peep sight is used to align the front sight on a bow, the shooter is ensuring that their alignment is correct, and that consistency can be achieved – shot after shot.

Interchangeable Aperture Peep Sight Kit from ClearShot Archery

Types of Peep Sights

Peep sights come in various sizes, and are measured by the peep’s internal diameter.  From 1/32” on the small end, to 5/16″ on the large end – various sizes are offered to meet user preferences, and to match different diameter front sight housings.  The most common peep sights have a fixed internal diameter, but there are some new designs on that market that allow the user to adjust the peep’s inner diameter with interchangeable inserts.  Smaller peeps are more precise and are often used by target archers, whereas larger peep sights are typically used by hunters that are looking for more field of view and better visibility in low-light conditions.

Other variations in peep sight designs include tubed and tubeless varieties.  Peep sights with tubes have been used to ensure that the peep sight rotated to the correct position every time when the bow was drawn back.  This consistency in rotation is achieved at full draw because tension on the peep’s tube would “pull” the peep into position.  However, as bow string materials have become stronger and more stable, peep sights have become less susceptible to variances in rotation and the need for added tension has diminished – so tubeless peep sights have become increasingly popular.

How to Use a Peep Sight

There are two primary techniques that are used to align a peep sight with a bow’s front sight.  The first method is to center the bow’s sight pin in the center of the peep sight (below, right).  In this case, a shooter with a multiple-pin sight would center their 20, 30, or 40-yard pin in the center of the peep sight, depending on which sight pin they were using.

Peep Alignment with Sight Housing

The second method (above, left) is to align the bow’s entire sight housing (the outer “ring” of the sight) within the peep sight’s field of view, regardless of which sight pin the shooter may be using.  This technique works especially well when the peep sight is selected to match the size of the sight housing.  Keep in mind that there is no exact formula for determining a peep size for a given sight housing size because the geometry of the shooter’s anchor point, draw length, and other factors will determine the distance between the peep sight and the bow sight’s housing.

How to Select a Peep Sight

The main consideration to make when choosing a peep sight is which size you need.  You could take a guess, or go through the painful process of installing and trying different sizes, but my preferred method has become to use an adjustable peep sight.  Because I like my bow sight’s ring to line-up perfectly within the peep’s field of view, an adjustable peep is incredibly helpful.

The other advantage of an adjustable peep is that I can use it with different bow sights.  For example, sometimes I shoot my with one bow sight for target/3D, and then switch to another sight for hunting season.  An adjustable peep allows me to switch back-and-forth between these different-sized sights simply adjust the aperture of the peep to match the sight, instead of removing and installing a new peep altogether.

Recently I have been using the IA (Interchangeable Aperture) model peep sight from ClearShot Archery.  This kit (pictured above) includes a 5/6” housing, and different inserts that can be installed into the housing to make your peep aperture become 7/32″, 3/16″, or 1/8″.  They’re built right here in the US, precision CNC-machined, and come in different colors to help with quick visual recognition.

Elk & Bowhunting: Like Jeans & Boots (RMEF Guest Post)

I have stacks of hunting magazines.  It seems like Mr. Postman drops a new one off at least once a week.  But there’s only one magazine that I read cover-to-cover each and every time, and that’s Bugle from The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Every issue of Bugle opens with a message from RMEF President & CEO, David Allen.  When I read the President’s Message in the July-August 2014 issue, I immediately knew that I wanted to share it with you, and thankfully The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation gave me the permission to do so.

Whether you hunt elk or not, if you’re a bowhunter you should consider joining the RMEF.

I was an RMEF member years before I started hunting elk.

Learn about the good that RMEF does for elk (of course!), hunting at large, and archery in particular in the article below.

Be sure to see the end of this article for a special offer from the RMEF and onXmaps!


Elk & Bowhunting: Like Jeans & Boots

David Allen with a September Bull

Even the most diehard rifle hunter has to admit there is no more magical time in elk country than September. Trust me, I’ve been hunting with a rifle for more than 40 years. I love a good fresh tracking snow and the challenge of a long spot-and-stalk sneak as much as anyone. But I’m not blind to the basics of biology.

Come November, bulls will be silent as monks and have a home range roughly the size of your living room. They’ll be in full survival mode, wound tight as the E-string on a pawn shop guitar and gone at the first hint of hunters. Aspens and cottonwoods will be bare skeletons. Your water bottle will freeze solid inside your sleeping bag. Your knuckles will be white from frostbite. Or maybe just from your death-grip on the wheel as you fishtail up toward your secret bull hole at 15 mph, chained up on all four.

In September, the bulls are bugling, wrecking trees, wallowing in their own special muck, traveling far and wide, and engaging in the most epic wildlife battles in North America. They’re basically doing everything possible to advertise their presence, and the megaloads of testosterone in their veins have compromised their judgment. Meanwhile, the trees glow golden amid crisp mornings and afternoons when you can shade up and nap in shirtsleeves. If you hit a patch of stormy weather, it might rain or, heaven forbid, get down to freezing and spit a few flakes.

Then there’s the weapon in your hand. Depending on whether it’s a compound, recurve or longbow, you’ll have to get close, darn close or ridiculously close to an elk to make a clean, killing shot. Whatever your personal maximum yardage is for a responsible bow shot, it’s probably less than the shortest shot most rifle hunters will ever take on an elk. That right there is simultaneously the great curse and blessing of bowhunting. A bull that would be a chip shot with a .30-06 will parade back and forth for 20 minutes just five steps out of bow range. But there’s nothing like the thrill of getting near enough to hear him shake off after a mudbathor feel the ground shake when he bugles.

Is it any wonder so many of you dream of September all year round?

Back in 1996, we took a look at how many RMEF members are passionate bowhunters and decided to put together our first Bowhunting Special Section in Bugle.  For 18 years now, we’ve devoted a good chunk of every July-August issue to celebrating bowhunting. This year is no different. Check out the great crop of stories starting on page 37. For the past 9 years, Chuck Adams has been hitting the bull’s-eye with his “Bows & Arrows” column in every issue of Bugle. Every year in the March-April issue, we dedicate our entire “Gear” section to reviewing the best of the new year’s crop of bows, arrows and other archery innovations. And you’ll find great feature hunting stories that happen to involve bows and arrows all year long.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been helping to introduce more people to the joys of the bow for decades. So far, RMEF has invested almost $1.2 million to help fund 966 projects in 47 states, including National Archery in the Schools Program, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops and scores of other programs aimed at young people, women and other first-time shooters. Through almost a thousand projects, RMEF has helped spread the good word on safe and responsible archery and bowhunting to more than 650,000 people.

RMEF spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on high-quality archery gear to be auctioned and raffled at Big Game Banquets across the country, and we’ve been a presence at the annual Archery Trade Association national convention for almost 20 years. I’m proud to say it’s a two-way street. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a groundswell of support from the bowhunting community and the archery industry. That’s a natural partnership we want to continue to grow. Everyone should have the chance to experience just how fun and exciting shooting a bow is, let alone getting really close to an elk and then doing it, can be.

Elk and bowhunting really do go together like Wranglers and boots. But whether you’re a hunt-with-a-bow-or-not-at-all purist, a gun nut who wouldn’t dream of swapping arrows for bullets, or like me, someone who enjoys the charms of both, I want to thank you for supporting the RMEF. Because without healthy habitat for elk and robust access for public hunting, it doesn’t matter what you shoot: we all lose. And when we all pull together for elk and wild country and our hunting heritage, we can’t help but win.

By M David Allen, President and CEO, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation


How RMEF Funds are Allocated

When you join The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation you put money on the ground to help protect, preserve, improve, and secure hunting access to wildlife habitat.  Here’s a summary of what the RMEF has done from their beginning in 1984 through the middle of this year, 2014.

  • 6,473,344 acres of habitat enhanced or protected
  • 713,176 acres opened or secured for public access
  • 8,795 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects
  • 203,703 members (as of December 31, 2013)
  • 504 RMEF chapters
  • 10,000+ RMEF volunteers
  • $918,611,443 = total value of RMEF efforts

This isn’t a sponsored request, this is just me encouraging all of you – whether you hunt elk or not – to become an RMEF member today.

I also wanted to let you know about a brand new RMEF membership benefit from onXmaps (Hunting GPS Maps).

So join us, get a free year of the premium HUNT App from onXmaps, and protect the future of bowhunting.