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How to Select and Tune your Broadheads to Shoot Accurately


Mechanical Broadheads have many advantages

Too many bow hunters will skip this step in season preparation believing that it isn’t as important as it really is. This is especially true if shooting mechanical broadheads.  While it’s true that mechanical broadheads have come a long way in performance and in dependability over the past several years, they still need to be tuned to achieve proper flight. Confidence in your shot is paramount for bow hunters who have worked so hard to put themselves in the position of harvesting that buck of their dreams. Skipping this step can cause a lot of unnecessary heartache.

It begins with choosing the style of broadhead you want to shoot. This can be determined by several factors. In some states the use of mechanical broadheads is illegal, which makes it a far easier decision. However, even in the fixed broadhead world there are several things to consider before purchasing a particular style. These are the cut-on-contact styles and the chisel point tip styles. The chisel point usually have a tough removable tip that is designed to penetrate bone and thicker skinned animals than the traditional cut on contact styles.  While the cut-on-contact style has a razor or cutting edge all the way through the tip making it possible for the broadhead to begin cutting as soon as contact is made.  Yet even here we have several decisions to make; that of replaceable blades or blades that can be sharpened. Again, this is really a matter of preference. It is worth noting however, that the broadheads that can be sharpened are usually the cu-on-contact variety.

We will now look at these two styles of broadheads shot from a modern compound bow. (Broadheads for traditional archers is a different discussion for another time.)

Fixed blades with different cutting tips offer different advantages

Once you have decided which style you prefer, the first thing to consider is weight. You must make sure the weight of the broadhead is the same as the field tips you are shooting. This makes tuning and balance much more simple and easier to accomplish. For example, if your field tips are 100 grains then your broadhead needs to be 100 grains. After all of this is in place, attach your broadhead to your arrow. It’s imperative that you check the alignment of the broadhead to the insert. A spin test is best for this. Simply tighten the broadhead to the insert and while setting the tip of the broadhead against a hard surface, spin the broadhead and arrow to see if there is any wobble. If there is not any noticeable wobble you can stop here. Chances are that out of a pack of broadheads, two out of the three will have a noticeable wobble. This is usually caused because the broadhead isn’t properly aligned with the insert. Adjusting the alignment of the broadhead with the insert will help during the spin test. This can be done by noticing the wobble, and putting pressure on the opposite side to align the fit to the shaft. This can be simple or take a bit of time but it is time well spent.

If you are shooting a three blade fixed blade broadhead align the blades with the vanes or feathers. By sighting down the arrow you can align the blades to the vanes, if you are having trouble aligning it; there are several methods to make this adjustment. It all depends on how your inserts have been installed. If they were installed with hot glue, hear the insert and spin the insert until the blades are aligned. If more permanent glue was used, you can file the end of the insert to tighten the broadhead further into the insert, or you can add a nylon washer to adjust the alignment. If this still doesn’t get you where you want it, you can always remove the vanes and reattach the vanes to align.

Before we make further changes, now is the time to shoot the bow. First, using one of the broadheads at a nominal distance such as twenty yards, shoot for the target and note the impact point. Now using a field point, shoot at the same location. If the two arrows are very close or touching you are done. If not there is a bit more tuning to do.

We want to move the rest in the direction of the broadhead. Say the broadhead shot three inches low and five inches left. We will loosen the rest and move it according to the indicators on the adjustment to the right. Little is more here, make small adjustments it will have a greater impact that you first believe it will. Now shoot again. Continue doing this until your broadheads are hitting exactly where you want. Since field points have little to no wind resistance they too will hit where the broadhead is hitting.

If you still cannot get it exactly where you like it, there is one last element to try. Many bow hunters opt for speed over accuracy. In today’s marketing for faster and faster bow’s too often we are looking for speed to compensate over our ability to judge yardage. But when it comes to tuning broadheads, especially fixed blades, larger and longer vanes or feathers will help stabilize the arrow in flight. A minimum of four inch vanes should be used as a final step.

Mechanical broadheads are a bit different. While they fly more true than fixed blades they still need to be tuned. The same method can be used as noted above. It’s important to note here that you should use the practice blades that come with mechanical broadheads. These typically do not open on impact; there really is no need to have them open into the target. We are trying to control the flight. If all of the above steps have been followed, it is usually easier to tune mechanical broadheads, but the same steps need to be taken as before.

Tuning your broadheads is an important part of preparing for your hunt this fall. Skipping this step, or assuming your bow will shoot how you want it to, can cause a lot of sleepless nights. While it may take a bit of time, it can usually be done in about fifteen minutes. And after the hundreds of hours spent preparing for hunting season, fifteen minutes spent tuning your broadheads is time you will be thankful for when the buck of a lifetime steps into range and you know and have confidence that your shot will be true.