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Broadhead Basics

A bowhunters needs to be well versed in different types of equipment and techniques to be an effective hunter. They should also be aware of the limitations of their equipment. One of the most important pieces of equipment a bowhunter is a Broadhead. In fact everything a bowhunter has and does, all comes down to the front of their arrow.

The animal deserves respect and has to be hunted in a humane way and not be wounded. A quick humane kill hunt requires proper choice of broadheads and Kinetic energy.  A broadhead is the cutting and penetrating device attached to the front of the arrow shaft.

Choosing the right broadhead

Hunting factors like the velocity required, the penetration, the distance the arrow has to travel and most importantly the skill level of the bowhunter determine the type and make of the broadhead to be used. A good broadhead has to cut efficiently, reduce flight deviation, and should be stable on impact. Based on their physical properties, broadheads fall in two categories: fixed blade and mechanical blade.

Personal preferences based on past experience influences the choice of broadhead for most hunters.

A quiver full of my personal favourite, G5 Montecs.

Using a bow with a longer draw length, or heavier draw weight results in increased speed, velocity, and more kinetic energy, offering more options in choosing the right broadhead. High kinetic energy, momentum, and velocity result in deeper penetration as well as produce a large blood trail when using the proper broadhead. While hunting small game, where penetration is not the issue judo points, field tips, or small game heads work well.

Fixed blade and Mechanical blade are the two configurations that are available. There are two types of fixed blades: Replaceable and One Piece

Replaceable types of broadhead are most popular with beginners. When the blade looses its edge, the blade is just replaced to avoid the cumbersome process of sharpening. Two, three, and four blade configurations are available. However, for beginners fewer blade configurations are advisable. More number of blades increases the wind resistance causing a dive. Upward planning of the arrow calls for tuning the bow and broadheads. To avoid doing this use smaller broadheads. This does not eliminate tuning, but surely reduces it.

My personal favourite: One piece has a sharper tip that goes through the hide first. The blade then does the cutting. Loss of energy is reduced and penetration increased. Cut on contact broadheads are another name for this style.  They are also the strongest and toughest style of head.

Mechanical broadheads: Arrows with this type of broadhead fly straighter as there is no drag due to the blades. The razor sharp, extendable blades open up after entering the hide cutting the muscle and arteries. The thicker the material of the extendable blade, the more stress it can take on impact.  The bow also should have a draw weight in excess of 55 pounds.

Weight and Size

Weight of a broadhead is also an important factor. They range from 85 grain heads to 140+grain heads. For lighter shafts like fiberglass, carbon and lightweight aluminum, 100-grain heads are recommended, whereas for heavier aluminum shafts 125-grain are recommended. Traditional bow hunters use heavy 2 blade broadheads.

Depending on the weight, and the number of blades of the broadhead the bow has to be tuned. Cutting diameter size should be 1 1/16th +.

Inspecting your broadhead and arrows

Check the straightness of the arrow shaft.

Check the alignment of the broadhead by spin-testing the shaft and the head should not wobble. You must tune your broadheads before using them.

Check the quality of the make and the machining of each broadhead.

Weigh each broadhead on a calibrated scale and check for inconsistency in weight.

Check the length of each broadhead from the tip of the point to the tip of the threaded section.

If you want you could perform the penetration test by launching the arrows from a distance of 15 feet into a sheet of plywood about ¾” thick. Measure the distance from the backside of the plywood to the tip of the broadhead.

Check the tested arrow broadhead blades for any visible damage by comparing them to new broadheads of the same brand.

Muzzy, Montec, NAP are some amongst other manufacturers of different type of broadheads in North America.

Don’t be content with the broadheads you have been using all this while. Every year manufacturers introduce new models with increased cutting efficiency, reduced flight deviation, and greater stability. It is worth giving it a try. Check out this interesting story of a trophy archery white tail deer hunt in Alberta.




Posted November 30, -1 by Justin Ott






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