With Illinois archery season opening this week I thought it a good time to discuss the preparation and details involved in selecting, setting up and tuning and arrow. It starts with building or buying a pre rigged arrow. I like to buy raw shafts, cut them, put a wrap on them (have had better luck with fletching’s bond over the years), fletch them, glue inserts and square them up.
This process starts with selecting a good quality arrow, you don’t have to shoot the most expensive shafts but the more you spend will likely get you a better flying arrow at longer ranges. For most a good flying arrow at 30-40 yards is acceptable and many available brands will do this. I like Gold Tips and Carbon Express Red’s although they weigh the same the Reds are far superior out past 50 yards, but that is mostly helpful in target shooting.
Once you select an arrow you should know the weight in grains per inch and how much deviation is has in spine. If you switch brands or even types within a brand this changes and requires re-sighting your bow so stick with what you like.
You can buy an arrow squaring device but a file works well too. I like to run a file around the perimeter of the insert to make sure it’s a smooth transition to the shaft. Next across the face of the insert in two directions perpendicular to each other to make sure it’s square. Why all this you say? When you spin test your arrow and broadhead you’ll see how much smoother it is (less wobble) than when not doing it and it translates to better grouping broadheads, i.e. more game in the freezer.
Even if you buy pre-built arrows you can square up your inserts.
Next I like to fletch my own, no other reason than I’m picky and I like shooting feathers, which are hard to find fletched in stores. I like Gorilla glue but many kinds work. Even if you buy pre-fletched arrows make sure to put a small drop of glue on the front and back edge of your feather or vane. This helps the durability of your fletching exponentially. Think about all the things your fletchings drag up against during a season of climbing trees and in and out of blinds and hiking the woods, then you expect them to direct an arrow accurately at 300+ feet per second. It’s a step that fractions of a penny can be worth the trophy of a lifetime.
Once you have the arrows ready make sure to tune your broad heads. Three blades tend to do best with the blades lined up with the fletching, if this doesn’t happen upon first installation, add a small washer that comes with some broadheads, I like the brass ones, they allow more adjustment. If that doesn’t work file a little more aluminum off the face of the insert and it will allow it to spin tight another third turn. Tuning four blade broadheads is something I’ve never mastered but don’t worry about too much as I don’t use them. When tuning two blade heads or mechanicals I just try to line up the blades with the cock feather, it’s about all you can do, can’t say it helps any more than any other way but sometimes the mental part of trusting your gear goes as far as the science behind it. Finally now that you have the broadheads on and arrows ready smear some Vaseline lip balm on the blades, it prevents rust over a long wet season and adds as lubricant which never hurts when piercing hide and hair. Now you just need a deer tag and a tree stand ………. And maybe a rangefinder, camo, bino’s, pack, boots……. Etc., etc. etc………
Good luck this season folks, be safe and make some great memories.
Matt Cheever ~ Flatlander