Choosing the right hunting arrow is one of the most crucial steps in having a successful hunt.  There are a lot of new arrows out there, all with their own special features and new colors and camo finishes, but how do you tell which is the best arrow?  Or more importantly, how do you tell which is the right arrow for you?  The following is the steps that I go through in determining which arrow to hunt with.  I hope this guide will help you in determining which arrow is best for you.


            Every year there are new arrows that come out.  In order for one of those arrows to replace the arrows I am currently shooting, they have to fare better than my current arrows in a technical evaluation, they have to be able to set up easily and consistently, and finally, they have to perform in actual shooting situations.  Let’s start with the technical evaluation.


            For the technical evaluation, I compare each arrow I am interested in, over 3 different fields.  First, I look to see if each arrow comes in a spine that I will be able to shoot.  Second, I compare the straightness and weight consistencies of each arrow.  And third, I compare the kinetic energy each arrow produces with my current set-up.


            The first evaluation is pretty simple.  I gather a group of arrows that I am interested in, from advertisements, web sites, catalogs, shows, and other places.  I then use an arrow chart supplied by the manufacturer, and use the draw weight of my bow, and my draw length to find the correct box.  If the arrow that I am interested in is in that box, then I let it move on to the second evaluation. 


            For the second evaluation, I then look at the advertised straightness of these arrows, and eliminate any that’s straightness tolerance is greater than .003.  After this first part of the elimination process, I then eliminate any of the arrows that are greater than 2 grains per arrow within the dozen.  Note:  Sometimes this is not advertised, and you will have to go to a pro-shop and weigh an individual dozen arrows. 


After the first and second evaluations, I am usually down to two or three kinds of arrows.  The third, and final technical evaluation, is to evaluate the kinetic energy of the arrows in my current set-up.  The formula for measuring kinetic energy is

(1/2)(mass)(velocity)²  If you have never used a formula like this before, it is important to remember to take the velocity times itself, then multiply that number by the mass of the arrow, and then divide it by 2.  In order to get the mass of the arrow, take the grains per inch of the arrows you are choosing between, and add in your point weight (including the insert), your vane weights, your nock weight, and about 10 grains for glue.  Getting the velocity is a little less exact science, unless you have a pro shop that will let you make up one of each arrows to shoot.  Usually what I do, is take an arrow that is similar to the weight of the arrows I am evaluating, and shoot it to get the velocity.  Most pro shops have a plethora of arrows of all different weights and sizes, and you can usually find one within 5 grains of the arrows you are evaluating.  Once you shoot these arrows over a chronograph, you have all of the pieces of the equation, and can start breaking them down.  Here is an example of how the equation works.  Let’s say my arrows weigh 350 grains, and shoot out of my bow at 300 fps.  The equation would look like this:

(1/2)(350)(300)² = 15,750,000  People always say the heavier the arrow the more kinetic energy, but this is not always true.  For example, let’s say my arrow weighs 450 grains, which drops my speed down to 250 fps.  The equation would look like this:

(1/2)(450)(250)² = 14,062,500.  That is why it is important to look at both mass and speed when evaluating kinetic energy. 


            After I have chosen the arrow that had the best results from my three technical evaluations, I buy a half dozen arrows, and go to work.  I set them up just like I would for hunting.  This is not an advertisement, so I will not list the equipment that I am using.  After they are set up, I make sure they tune quickly and consistently, and group very well; first with field points, and then with broadheads. 


            After I have determined that the arrows perform well in practice, I will set up my blind in my back yard, and shoot a target through the mesh netting.  If the arrows still perform well, I know that I have found my hunting arrows for the season.  However, many times I will end up shooting the same arrows I have been shooting, even after all of the work that I have put in determining which of the new ones is the best.  The bottom line is, if they can’t outperform the ones I am currently shooting, then why should I shoot them? 


            I hope this article has been helpful to you.  This is a pretty rigorous evaluation, but it has netted me nothing but good results, and I’m sure it will help you as well.  Good luck, and good shooting!