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How To/Pro-Tips

Getting the Range

Basically a bow is a short-range weapon. Compared to bullets and slugs, arrows from even the most modern, high-speed bows fall fast and fall short.

The steeply gaining curve of arrow drop limits the archer's maximum effective range. It also requires precise range estimation and aiming calculation at various points within the bow's effective range. For instance, the aiming points on a 20-yard buck and on a 35-yard buck are very different sight pictures.

With steep, angling shots from treestands, another geometric factor comes into play. With a steep-angle shot, the straight-line diagonal distance to the target doesn't matter. The projectile (bullet or arrow) is affected only by the actual horizontal distance. Thus a buck that is 20 yards away from and 45 degrees below your stand is only 14 actual horizontal yards away and that's how you should hold.

Understanding angles and a good rangefinder, coupled with a bow having multiple range pins and pre-sighted from an elevated position, will increase your stand-shooting percentage.

Broadheads and Cone Heads

What's on the sharp end of your arrow is what really counts in bowhunting.
Traditional broadheads offer much penetration potential. These come in two-, three- and four-blade models. Fewer blades enhance accuracy but lessen tissue damage. More blades cut more but require stronger bows for penetration. Broadheads must be strong, well vented and absolutely dead straight. Look for multiple blades .020-inch (or more) thick and a total width of 1 1/8 inches or more for quick kills.
The "nose-cone" heads with smooth pencil-like points are accurate but "push" rather than cut their way in. The chisel-points are better but neither penetrate as well as point-cutting broadheads. "Cone heads" require strong bows. "Trick" heads with forward angles, fly-open blades or spiral designs require very strong bows for good penetration.
All point types must be razor sharp to do their job well. Even the "pre-sharpened" types should be checked and hand-honed if necessary. Remember to balance head weight with arrow spine for the best accuracy.

Move Stands for Trophies

Many hunters build permanent treestands, sometimes quite comfortable and luxurious ones, and hunt from them day after day, season after season. Others will erect a portable stand in a likely spot and stick with it all season long. Eventually, any stand site becomes "contaminated" by your presence -- both odor and activity.
Wary trophy bucks get wise to permanent or heavily used stand locations and also seem to have an uncanny ability to determine occupancy. Research with bucks "bugged" with radio collars showed them taking twisty paths to avoid known stand locations. If you suspect a big buck has been "blindsiding" you behind a thicket, you may be right!

The easily portable hang-on or climbing-type stands make stand relocation easy. However, don't just dash about hanging stands willy nilly. Base your stand sites on solid deer-sign evidence or at least a strong hunch. The bulkier ladder stands are also well served by an occasional thoughtful move to a "fresh" location. Several stand sites avoid overuse of one location.

Tune Up Your Tackle

Getting and keeping your compound bow in tune is critical to accurate archery performance. A major tune-up prior to season is great, but remember, keeping your bow in tune is an ongoing process throughout the hunting season.
Wood-core laminated limbs can stretch and relax, resulting in diminishing draw weight. (Solid fiberglass and combination fiberglass/synthetic synthetic laminates don't do this.) This minor and gradual draw-weight drop-off will probably not be noticed by you but it will eventually show up in your shooting. Use a bow scale to check your bow's draw weight every year and tune accordingly.
Use a bow square to properly set your nocking point and brace height. Measure the position of your peep sight and arrow rest. Once you've got everything squared away, record the measurements of the positions and critical relationships. Use this record to compare to later checkups.
Only a slight slippage of any of these critical dimensions can throw your accuracy or point of impact way off the mark.

Shafted for Bowhunting

Selecting an arrow that matches your bow is just as important as selection of the bow itself. The best bow in the world won't shoot well with an improperly matched arrow.
Today, with different shaft materials, a great variety of head weights, over-draw bows and increasingly sophisticated compound wheel setups, proper arrow selection is critical.
Look at six basic factors when matching arrows to your bow. Your bow's maximum draw weight, your own personal draw length, weight (in grains) of your hunting points, what synthetic material the bow string is made of, what kind of wheel setup your bow has and what type of release you will use. The first three determine overall shaft stiffness or spine. The last three relate to rate of initial acceleration, which has become important with modern high-speed bows.
Plug these six factors into a shaft-selection chart at a good archery dealer or pro shop to get a good start at selecting the appropriate arrows that will perform best for you.

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