picking the right arrow - written by Tim Gillingham

sk1

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This is a post I saw on another forum re-posted by someone, and originally was written by Tim Gillingham on ArcheryTalk....I found it very interesting

The recommendations that I make for 3-d and target arrows are as follows and for these specific reasons
ASA-297 FPS Speed limit--I recommend and use the largest diameter shaft I can get to speed(295-297) with at least the middle weight point offered for the shaft
1. Series 22 --80
2. X-cutter -90
3. 30X-100
4. TripleX --100
I really pay not attention to spine other than to make sure I am stiff enough. However, it is important to understand how a stiffer shaft(and a more dynamically consistant shaft) should be treated. It may make your bow show a different tune but what it is really showing you is what is wrong with the bow. How bad the nock travel is. I look at this as an opportunity to fix the problem. I never tune the arrow to the bow but rather tune the bow to the arrow. it is a much better way of doing things and allows you to drive the power stroke of the string right down the dead center of the arrow. If you want to tune the arrow to the bow, you will find one setup that works and it can be a pain in the butt and very expensive. On the other hand if you clean up the nock travel you can shoot virtually any shaft that you would like as long as it is stiff enough.

For Example: If I have a left tear, it simply tells me that the string has hit the shaft left of center. Small adjustments in the cable load, arrow rest, yokes and even wheel spacing can correct this problem yet ever paper chart says this is a weak arrow....Bull. If you decrease poundage, what are you doing? Decreasing the load on the cable guard and in effect repositioning the string in relationship to the centerline of the arrow shaft. If you run into any real problems you cant solve contact me at Gold Tip.

Back to the arrows. The thing that needs to be understood is what causes a shaft to be unforgiving? It is the planing of the bare shaft that causes an arrow to steer off line. Thus the importance of point weight, tune and fletching into the equation.
1. Point weight--point weight fights off the planing motion of a bare shaft by resisting the arrow steering right or left. If you get the point weight heavy enough, I have seen it almost override anything that is happening behind it. That doesn't mean that you should shoot 250 grain points in everything because that would murder your speed which is also important in the equation of a competive setup. There is a balance in everything. But, heavier point weights and FOC does calm down the planing effects of a bare shaft and broadhead tipped arrow, just make sure the arrow is stiff enough to handle it.
2. Vane Size--One of the worst things you can do for accuracy is to put too small of a vane on the arrow, especially a stiffer shaft with a lighter point. As you add point weight you can shoot a smaller vane as you are stabilizing the bare shaft more on the front end so less is needed on the rear end. This applies very well to field and FITA archery as you have the requirment of running smaller vanes to eliminate the drag effect that causes the arrow to slow down and increase the amount of wind drift you are getting. In 3-D, bigger vane size does not hurt because you are only shooting 50 yards and the vane will not drag the arrow down like it will as the arrow approaches 60-70 yards. Keep in mind this is a give and take scenario. If you are running a really light arrow, it will slow down sooner and faster than a heavier arrow. It is one of the reasons for field and FITA I recommend the shooter shoot as heavy of an arrow as possible and keep their speed around 270. Weight will help in terms of wind drift, much more than speed at longer distances as the arrow keeps its momentum better.
3. Tune--With a stiffer shaft you will need to make sure you tune the setup better as a stiffer shaft will want to plane faster than one with a little more flex in it. I prefer a bullet-hole/perfect bare shaft tune with four fletch vanes. I think this provides the optimal correction for any mistake. If you start the shaft out, not in perfect alignment with the power stroke of the string, the vanes are working instantly to correct anything. On the other hand if it starts out very straight then the vanes will be more efficient in their correction of any mistake you make. The only kicker with four fletch is you really need to shoot a dropaway for clearance. I personally like the Hamskea Versa Rest which allows me to shoot a blade on a limb driven dropaway. With a stiffer shaft it is much more optimal to have a flexible launcher like a spring steel because a stiffer shaft cycles much faster and you can have a lot of collision with a blade causing clearance and tuning issues.

IBO: Shoot the biggest diameter shaft you can get up to 5 grain per pound or the speed you want to run....with at least the middle weight point offered for that shaft. You can go less but I usually recommend this as a safe bet. Less point weight is just a little more sensitive to your mistakes but with the right fletching you can mediate some of this sensitivity by keep the back of the arrow in alignment with the front. If the back does not get out of alignment with the front, the front cant plane.

Field/FITA Archery: Shoot the Ultralight, Pro Hunter or Kinetic shaft based on the following criteria. Shoot and arrow setup that reduces kissouts and you are shooting groups. The new unibushing will be a little better that the pin nock in that equation. Heavier points in the 120-170 range will allow you to shoot smaller vanes and reduce glanceouts. Keep in mind the point weight is one of the biggest stabilizing factors with the bare shaft but experiment with vane size for optimal control and forgiveness. In this equation you will want to stay a little closer to so called "optimal spine" as the smaller you go with the shaft the more spine sensitive they seem to be simply because you are presenting a smaller target to the power stroke of the string. It doesn't hurt to have a little flex if you make a mistake and the smaller shaft is hit off center. This seems to be less of an issue as you go up in diameter and you dont have the neccesity of running small vanes. Make sure you have enough spine to handle the point weight though so dont be afraid to keep the shafts a little shorter to stiffen them. Follow the tuning steps below to make sure you are stiff enough. You want to shoot as heavy of a shaft as possible with at least 100-120 but even more can help. Your optimal speed should be around 270 FPS +/-10. This will be the most efficient long range and wind setup. The heavier the shaft and skinnier the shaft, the better it maintains it's speed and momentum. There is a happy medium in everything and you will find the smaller you go with a shaft the harder they are to tune. Also, for the same reason we shoot large diameter arrows indoors and for 3-D to catch lines, the same holds true for Field and FITA shooting as long as you can minimize wind drift and kissouts.

Indoor: Indoor is simple. Shoot the biggest shaft you can get with a reasonable speed. Speed does matter a little bit indoors. Not as much as other types of archery but it definitely matters. The biggest question is what length and what point weight. Personally, I have seen so many different setups work extremely well. I think cut within an inch of the rest with a decent point weight and keeping the speed over 200-215 is desireable. A lot of women shoot really long and slow arrows and I think they handicap themselves dramatically bu shooting so slow. I also do not like the idea of the heavy point way out in front of the pivot point in the rest as it moves all around if the shooter are nervous and their stabilizer is moving back and forth. The keys are the same, The lighter the point, the more fletching is required. Indoors hover, there is no benefit to shooting a small vane or feather so overkill should be the rule. If you are running a low poundage or slow bow, speed it up by using feathers. I also like four fletch in this equation as I think it is more efficient. One of the big problems in indoor setups is people do not make sure they have clearance. Make sure you use spray powder to unsure you 100% clearance. Another reason I use the rest configuration that I do. My typical recommendation is to take three shafts, cut them to 1'-1.5" in front of the rest and shoot the 150 grain points for a week. Then using the weight wrench add 50 grains to the point and shoot them for a week. Add 50 more and shoot for another week. If you still feel like they are not forgiving or not exactly what you want then try three of them longer in the same process. Personally I dont think you will like them longer unless you have a flaw in your tuning or form(like face contact with the arrow or string that affects the nock travel).
Below are the 4 steps to tuning that i recommend to ensure you are not chasing your tail and misdiagnosing problems:
1. Powder Tune--Spray foot powder everything to ensure you have 100% clearance
2. Paper Tune-- Paper tells you exactly what is going on with the arrow as it comes out of the bow. I do this at 5-6 yards as that is the distance that arrow seems to be at the apex of the tear and starts to recover after that. I always start paper tuning with at least 4 arrows because I know every arrow is not created equal I do not want to be tuning the bow to a "problem child" but rather to the average. This is much more important as you are shooting arrows on the edge of being weak.
3. Dynamic Spine tuning: Paper tune each arrow to veryify they are all reacting the same way. I typically will shoot every arrow in a row on each vane position looking for the "sweet spot" where they all do exactly the same thing. This is the closest thing to "same hole in the Hooter Shooter" that I have come up with to match arrows. Spine testers, floating, lining rooster up on the seam all sound good but do not coorelate to same hole like the dynamic spine test done through paper. One thing I know for sure is broadheads will fly opposite of a paper tear so variation in your tears equal broadheads going in various directions. One of the reasons that mechanical broadheads are more accurate is they do not steer like the fixed blades do. The same can be said for a stiff spined shaft versus a weaker shaft or a shaft with light point versus heavy points. They just need to be treated differently. The light points, stiff shafts and broadhead tipped shafts all need a little more guidance than their counterpart. This is also the perfect test to tell if the shafts you are shooting are too weak. If you are getting an excessive amount of variation and you have a different tear for every rotation then you are most likely pushing those arrows to hard and a stiffer shaft will help your accuracy. It is always a good idea to rotate the nocks until they all react the same but if you get too much variation they will be better being rotated into the same reaction but not same hole accurate. They will also be much more sensitive to changes like differnt lengths of field points and broadheads if you are right on the edge of too weak.

Bare Shaft/Broadhead Tuning: This is the final step of my tuning and isnt 100% necessary but I believe it is optimal. Shooting a bare shaft and a fletch shaft to the same impact point at 20 yards just allows you to see if the power stroke of the string is indeed driving dead center of the shaft. It will be easier to accomplish with heavier points and softer shafts but you can bare shaft tune the stiffest, most sensitive setups with just a little more tuning knowledge. This will allow the vanes to be as efficient as possible in correcting your mistakes. You may find that the tune looks like a bullet hole through paper but in fact when you shoot the bare shaft down range it impacts to the right of your fletched arrow or in the case of broadheads they hit to the right of the field point. This just simply tells me I have a little left tear left in the bow and I need to make the corrections for a left tear. Maybe left yoke twists, lessen the load on the cable guard(Titl Tamer), move the rest in towards the riser or even adjust the wheel spacing slightly. The only thing you have to remember is the bare shaft/broadhead tipped shaft will react opposite of the paper tear, so all you have to do is remember the paper tuning guide lines. Simple things like wrapping electrical tape on the back of the bare shaft to mimic the weight of the vanes and using a target point as long as the broadhead will help make this process more precise because they all affect the reaction of the shaft and how the string loads the arrow. Dont try the electrical tape without a dropaway as it will contact the rest and cause the bare shaft to hit low every time. Remember the steps of tuning start with powder tuning.

This should help you understand some of the thought that goes into how I choose and tune my setups. It comes from 30 years of trying everything there is to try and works very well for me and most everyone I recommend it to. There is no such thing as the perfect arrow for everything. It is a give and take scenario. The reason I love Gold Tip shafts so much is that when I take the time to tune everything into the same arrow hole they dont change their tune. One of the things you will see with a lot of shafts on the market is that they will hold a set when bent, Gold Tip shafts will not do that. When a lot of people refer to "shooting the spine out of an arrow they are a lot of times in fact shooting the straightness out of the shaft which in effect does change the dynamic spine reaction as it presents the back of the arrow to the string in a slightly different place if it is crooked. You can retune them the same way you can tune a set of shafts to shoot better that are not perfectly straight but it is better scenario that you have a shaft that maintains the tune you spent all your time working on. That's the main reason why you see Gold Tip shafts so popular with todays top archers and bowhunter. They are "Dynamically" more consistant and more reliable than any other shaft on the market today.

This is a little overkill but I would rather take the time to give you all the answers instead of just part of them "teach a guy to fish". Pass this around to help everyone understand better
 

Aron Snyder

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When we were hunting together, and I couldn't sleep, I'd ask Tim about arrow tunning.....

I would fall asleep shortly after, but when I awoke the next morning, he was still talking:)

Tim knows a lot about archery!
 
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sk1

sk1

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hahah, after reading the article i could see how that's possible!
 

J-Daddy

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When we were hunting together, and I couldn't sleep, I'd ask Tim about arrow tunning.....

I would fall asleep shortly after, but when I awoke the next morning, he was still talking:)

Tim knows a lot about archery!

I believe that 110%....Tim's head is a big ass dictionary of archery knowledge, and he lets it all spill out at any given chance.
 

CtP

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can anyone put this in laymen terms...? Is there an easier formula to use to determine which arrow will be best? I am new to this sport and reading what Tim wrote is a whole lot to think about.

Anyone use buildyourarrow.com?

How do most of you determine which arrow, broadhead, fletching, nock ect your going to use? After reading Evan's great success with the injexions, it seems like the logical choice. Am I wrong?
 

evan williams

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I was afraid to talk with Tim at the ATA show about arrows because I knew what was coming!! He is so in tune with his equipment and how things all work its astonishing!!!
 
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