Compound bow shooters have three types of hunting arrows to choose from. Aluminum arrows are by far the most popular. Available in a wide range of spines or stiffness ratings, there’s an aluminum arrow suited for virtually every hunting situation.
In recent years aluminum hunting arrows have been vastly improved. Special aluminum alloys make it possible to build lighter and straighter arrow shafts than ever before. Increased arrow speed, deeper penetration, and better accuracy are the results of these advancements in aluminum arrow design.
The Easton XX78 Super Slam series is considered by knowledgeable hunters to be the best aluminum hunting shaft available. Easton’s Super Nock and Super UNI Bushing allows hunters to easily index arrows for vane or fletch clearance. High-quality aluminum arrows retail for around $60 per dozen.
Aluminum/graphite composite arrows such as the ACC (Aluminum, Carbon, Competition) combine an aluminum core with a graphite outer coating. Smaller in diameter and slightly stiffer than aluminum hunting arrows, ACC shafts provide additional arrow speed and penetration. These shafts also allow hunters to use glue-in inserts not available with graphite shafts. ACC shafts cost approximately $100 per dozen.
Graphite or carbon arrows are gaining in popularity. Clearly the most durable of all hunting arrows, graphite shafts deliver the ultimate in arrow speeds and penetration. Graphite shafts are small in diameter and up to five times stiffer than aluminum arrows. Because of the limited clearance between vanes or feather fletching and the overall stiffness of these shafts, bows must be tuned precisely.
Most carbon arrows require the use of special glue-on outserts and friction-fit nocks. These shafts achieve their best flight when equipped with small diameter broadheads or the new mechanical broadheads. Graphite arrows currently hold all the accuracy records at the Olympics and beyond, yet hunters are just beginning to recognize their potential. Graphite hunting arrows range in price from $40 to $100 per dozen.
The number of broadheads on the market is staggering. Two-blade, three-blade, four-blade, and open-on-impact are just a few of the broadhead styles available. When sorting out the broadhead types and brands hunters need to keep a few common sense guidelines in mind.
First, a modest diameter broadhead is likely to fly more accurately than those models featuring huge cutting diameters. The larger a broadhead becomes, the more it tends to steer the arrow, leading to broadhead planing problems and poor shooting accuracy.
Fixed two-blade broadheads are, as a rule, accurate, resharpenable, and a little less expensive than replaceable blade broadheads. This broadhead design also delivers excellent penetration.
Three- and four-blade broadheads provide a more lethal wound channel and a blood trail that’s easier to follow than two-blade designs. When matched with a correctly spined arrow and sighted in accordingly, these broadheads are lethal on any big-game species.
Open-on-impact style broadheads deliver the best accuracy, but they may suffer from reduced penetration depending on the size of the animal, angle of the hit, and poundage of bow used.
Overall most hunters are best served with a broadhead that weighs from 80-125 grains and features a cutting diameter from 1-1/8 to 1-1/4 inches.