What's the best arrow for bowhunting?
Recently, just to satisfy my own curiosity, I asked bowhunting friends and industry acquaintances, via e-mail, what their favorite arrow for bowhunting was and to explain why. I received 66 responses.
*Who: These folks ranged from average weekend warriors to those who live, breathe and eat bowhunting; casual backyard whitetail hunters to absolute fanatics - relatively poor to truly rich. I felt is was a pretty decent cross-section of American bowhunting.
*Where: Of the 66 responses, 25 of these guys and gals bowhunt primarily in the "East" (whitetail, turkey, maybe hogs), 32 primarily in the "West" (mule deer, pronghorn, elk, bear; when they draw tags), nine traveling extensively while pursuing sexier game animals.
*Brands: Four arrow brands showed up more than any others: 17 shooting Easton, 13 each Gold Tip and Victory Archery and 11 Carbon Express. Beman received three thumbs up, PSE/Carbon Force, Carbon Tech and Acme Port Orford cedar two apiece; Bloodsport, Trophy Ridge (discontinued) and Arrow Dymanics one each. Brand loyalty leaned heavily to Gold Tip and Victory in the West; Easton in the East; Carbon Express fans evenly divided East and West. Carbon arrows dominated the favorites, only two wood-arrow fans responding, no one voting for aluminum (I didn't have Chuck Adams' e-mail address...)
*What: Answers to many of the questions I initially had in mind remained somewhat subjective after compiling this informal data, but one trend clearly burst through. "Heavy" (average 10 gpi) and/or low-diameter (Easton Injexion/Axis, Victory VAP, Gold Tip Kinetic, Carbon Express PileDriver PTX) arrows are currently bowhunting favorites with 31 of 66 respondents choosing a heavy or heavy-skinny arrow regardless of region or most commonly-targeted game.
Interestingly, only eight people chose lightweight shafts marketed primarily for speed (divided evenly between East, West and Traveling bowhunters; Gold Tip Velocity, Victory HV-V1, Easton Flatliner and Bloodsport HT1, as examples), 19 of 66 choosing standard-diameter, mid-weight shafts (evenly distributed by region, with examples including Carbon Force Radial X Weave, Beman ICS Hunter, Carbon Express Maxima Hunter, Easton A/C/C and Gold Tip XT Hunter). The balance - 10 - was made up of traditional and/or "specialized" shafts (such as tapered, super-heavy spine, or wood, for instance).
Twenty of 66 shooters specifically indicated they were willing to pay more for best-quality shafts with the tightest specs (Gold Tip Pro, Victory V1, Easton A/C/C, Carbon Express Maxima Hunter KV, for instance).
*Why: Here's where things got confusing. I had heavy-arrow shooters quoting speed as their reason for choosing a particular shaft. I had speed-arrow guys quoting superior penetration and/or toughness as their driving force for selecting certain models. So the "Why' in this survey is obviously a bit arbitrary, but does at least show what's on bowhunters' minds.
Bowhunters' No. 1 concern was arrow toughness, with 33 responses pointing to it specifically. Following close behind were 31 bowhunters who called penetration important to choosing arrows. Accuracy was third with 26 specific mentions. Interestingly, only four bowhunters made buying decisions based on affordable price, and 11 on the fastest arrow speeds. Other specific notes included straightness (5), heavy weight (7), quality components (4), reduced wind drift (6), good balance between speed and weight (5) - safety, versatility, easy tuning, trust and silence getting single mentions.
So how about you? Let us know what is your favorite arrow and why!