Thursday, June 24, 2010

Splitting Arrows And Other Things

For the past 7 years, I have immersed myself in my archery. I shoot with a compound bow with accessories only hunters use. I'm not into target shooting using scoped or magnified sights and I don't have use a 3-foot-long stabilizer, even though I own one. When I was first starting out, I knew almost nothing about bows. I bought the "best" bow that I could afford, which was a Reflex Grizzly. Reflex is the lesser quality brand by Hoyt. Mind you, this bow shot great for me, but not knowing anything initially about hand-shock, bow movement, bow noise, etc., I thought I had a really good bow for the money. (The Grizzly is on the right. My friend's Reflex Highlander is on the left)

I used to compete with guys at the range, one of whom was a real target shooter with all the aforementioned high-tech accoutrements on his bow. He was a real good shooter and would consistently score 300x on his league shoots every week. However, these shoots were no more than 20 yards. So he approached one night and bet me a dollar that I couldn't hit an M&M from that distance.

On my first attempt, I came pretty close, but I was just a hair away from it. And yes, the make it "interesting," the M&M was inserted into the foam targets, sideways. Well, for whatever reason, he didn't hit it either.

So, for the next half hour, we kept shooting at more and more M&Ms stuck into the target wall, until I finally hit it. Is it coincidence that it happened to be an "orange" M&M that I hit?

So I won a few dollars that night, but I was completely hooked on improving my game, so the speak. In the weeks, months and years to follow, I would continue to improve my shooting and increase my knowledge of archery. I eventually moved on to a better bow - the Bowtech Guardian. This was a radical new bow with a center-pivot design that eliminated 99% of the noise and shock when it was shot. This bow didn't move in my hand when I shot it.

Compared to the Guardian, shooting the Grizzly was like hitting an aluminum bat against a steel column. I quickly sold my Grizzly and stayed with the Guardian. It is one of the quietest and most shock-free bows I have ever shot. With this bow, I was consistently getting groups as tight as, or better, than this:

This is a paint chip of a cartoon character whose name rhymes with "Hickey House" from a big-box home improvement store whose name rhymes with "Dome Repo." It is about 1.5" in diameter with 6 of my arrows stuck in it from 20 yards. It was a real tack-driver, and before long, I was doing this:

This was my first "robin-hood" from 30 yards. There came others at different yardages with the most recent one from 80 yards:

This was shot from my Bowtech 82nd Airborne bow that you see me shooting in a previous post. I had just gotten a new set of arrows and these happened to be the first 2 shots I took with them from 80 yards. I was in the process of sighting in the bow at that distance, with my aimpoint being the bullseye on both shots. The 82nd Airborne is a really nice bow also, but it has something the Guardian doesn't have: speed. It is rated at 342 fps with a 300 grain arrow at 60# with a 30" drawlength. At my drawlength of 26.5", I can send a 300 grain arrow downrange at 303 fps. My Guardian only rated around 318 fps with a 300 grain arrow at 60# and 30" drawlength. A 300 grain arrow from my Guardian only gets me about 260 fps.

However, being the innovative schmuck that I am, I "improved" my Guardian with an aftermarket roller cable guard that helped increase my Guardian's peak weight from 62#* to 67#.

My saving grace that I didn't blow up the bow's limbs is that I am a short draw, so the limbs aren't as stressed at 26.5" as they would be with someone with a 28" or greater drawlength. Of course, in doing this modification, I voided the warranty on my bow, but I'm not concerned about that. If the limbs crack, I'll just get new ones that are 70# and change the roller guard back to the stock cable guide rod and slide.

Both of my bows are tack-drivers, but they woudn't be if I didn't have a professional bow tuner take me under his wing as an apprentice. Having been unemployed for over 18 months, I spend a lot of my time at the shop learning to tune bows and arrows between looking for a job (yes, arrows have to be tuned when you put broadheads on, but that's a topic for another day).

I also shoot a recurve bow with arrows fletched with feathers. Though they are not as accurate as a compound bow, a recurve's accuracy is mostly up to the archer. And I do have one "robin-hood" with my recurve at 20 yards, though I didn't take a picture of it.

* Bowtech's bows never come in at or below their 60# ratings, and are always 2 or 3 pounds over. At 67# and 26.5" drawlength, my Guardian shoots 385 grain arrows at 260 fps. The peak weight of my 82nd Airborne was 62# as well, when I first bought it.


  1. Must. Resist.
    Too. Many. Expensive. Hobbies.

    Thanks for the write up - yet another thing to add to my list of stuff I want and want to learn more about!

  2. Take up a new expensive hobby, Scott. In the end, the one who dies with the most toys, wins.

  3. Interesting bow story:

    At the pawn shop I used to work at 'way back in the day, we'd accumulate compound bows after every deer season. They'd hang in a row in the window and when all the hooks got full, we'd just stop taking bows. A few would sell, but come end of summer there'd still be a stack.

    Once a year, a guy would come by from a local missionary church and we'd sell him all the remaining bows we had at a good price. He'd take them to the backwaters of the Amazon and give them to the folks there to hunt with. I thought it was kind of neat that some bow could bag a whitetail for Bubba and a capybara for Xjj'!a all in the same year. :)

  4. Tam, I wonder who they had down in the Amazon to service those bows.

  5. Y'know, that's a good question.

    I wonder if they did? Or if they just had enough new ones coming in to replace ones that eventually blew up... Huh. I had never thought about that.

  6. You are my bow-slinging hero. I was proud that I hit a penny at 10 yards. Must work on it more. I still have that Parker Legend XD...

  7. Bowtech Bows are some of the most cleverly and skilfully engineered bows you’ll ever find. Why? Because Bowtech bow consistently lead the pack in new and improved technology.


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