Speed vs. Momentum. Finding the balance for open country elk.

SquidHC

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Mar 10, 2017
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Portland, Oregon
Hey All,

I hunt open country elk and am struggling to choose the perfect arrow build.

For this discussion, let's assume each of these arrows flies well out of my bow (which is generally true) and has the same straightness.

I'll start with sharing the range of options I'm playing with:

Arrow 1: 365g @ 306 fps. 75.9 KE and 0.496 Slugs
Arrow 2: 436g @ 286.5 fps. 79.5 KE and .554 Slugs
Arrow 3: 489g @ 269.9 fps. 79.2 KE and .586 Slugs
Arrow 4: 510g @ 265.2 fps. 79.7 KE and .600 Slugs
Arrow 5: 613g @ 245.5 fps. 82.1 KE and .668 Slugs
Arrow 6: 643g @ 239.7 fps. 82.1 KE and .684 Slugs

I understand that the heavier arrow you shoot, the more efficient the energy transfer is, the quieter your bow will be, and ultimately you will have better penetration down range. If I were hunting Oregon's coastal rainforest where a shot beyond 30 yards would be rare, I'd probably go with arrow 5 as speed wouldn't matter. But in the high desert where shots out to 60 yards are common, finding a balance seems to be the best approach. In my dream world I would be shooting about 280 fps as it makes for easy tuning and a more forgiving shot cycle.

So my questions to start off with are as follows:

Which arrow would you pick for medium to long range shots on elk in open country?

What is the minimum energy and momentum that you would like in an arrow?

At what point is energy and momentum so high that adding more just doesn't matter?

What is your ideal hunting arrow speed?

Thanks!
 

Hunter6

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Mar 23, 2014
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I hunt with about the same shot distances expected and I shoot a 452grn arrow at about 278 fps. I like that set up with fixed blade coc broadheads on elk. I vote is arrow 2 or 3



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Beendare

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The perfect answer is going to be different for everyone. What you will find is 25gr +/- is totally insignificant.

An arrow is an amazingly effective killer...so an efficient BH offsets the need for extra arrow weight.

I shoot a 500 gr arrow from my compound and at the distances I shoot, 30,40,50 yds....the difference in trajectory between it and one 60 gr less is so minor its not worth discussing. If I was regularly shooting 80-100 yd shots I might opt for the lighter arrow.

Trajectory is only one factor...my arrow priorities are 1) added performance and 2) lower noise from my bow...the heavier arrows give me that along with many other advantages.
 

desertcj

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What draw weight is your bow and how did you come up with the numbers that you posted? I would pick either arrow 2, 3 or 4 but don't forget to take FOC% into consideration. I would pick arrow 2 with a 20% FOC over arrow 4 with a 10% FOC.
 

jlhois

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Boise
My arrow is right in between #2 & #3. 457 Grn


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Blockcaver

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Arrow 2 or 3 will work great and are a decent balance of arrow mass and a fairly flat trajectory..........but the others will all work to kill elk too. Just get them flying perfectly from your bow and hunt elk.
 

Felix40

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Another vote for 2 or 3. One thing I havent seen mentioned is that heavier arrows tend to fly better in the wind.

Im curious how you got all those numbers too.
 

Backpack Hunter

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Some wilderness area, somewhere
If it were me more than likely #2 would be my choice. Wouldn't really argue with any of the higher numbers either. I can tell you my bow is plenty quiet with a 400-450gr arrow, and I can't say I have ever lacked penetration in that range either.
 

elkguide

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Vermont
Which arrow flies the best? With a good CC broadhead, accuracy is the most important factor to me.
I have found that putting an arrow in the boiler room makes an elk expire.

I'm shooting a 395 grain arrow @ 60#'s @ 28.5" draw with a German Kinetic broadhead and it works
 

2blade

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Jan 4, 2015
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I'd go with arrow 3 and use a coc 2 blade or 2 blade with small bleeders such as a magnus stinger. I've killed elk at 50 yds with a comparable set up with no problems.
 

Pramo

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Jan 13, 2015
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Charleston, SC
I've killed elk with 395, 425, and 480 grain arrows. I tend to prefer the 480 the best and I'm shooting it about 275. So arrow 2 or 3 and leaning towards 3. My 480 grain arrow has brass insert so decent FOC
 

Beendare

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My guess is you are generating these numbers from a software program...and I would caution you that these "Numbers" and "Charts" don't tell the whole story of an arrow....at least in my experience.

For example, looking at your Chart, the KE difference between the 489 gr and 365gr arrow doesn't look like much "on a chart"....but its a huge difference in the field. Shoot them both in your bow and it will become evident immediately....the heavier arrow will be so much quieter/smoother you will think you are shooting a whole new bow.

Then there is the trajectory differences...which on a chart appear to be a lot. I can tell you on the shots I take...its minimal....and you will be very surprised.

Try this test; determine your avg shot distance....so in my case I used 40 yds. Set your 40 yd pin to the heavier arrow. Now shoot the lighter arrow and see the differential. Hint; its tiny. Essentially the charts don't give you an idea of how trajectory affects the Slot distances most of us shoot [Hat tip to Lamrith on another forum for the correct term; Mean Battle Range]

The rifle guys do this in setting their scope Zero.....it only makes sense to use the same technique for your bow as your line of sight differs from arrow trajectory just as the scope on a rifle differs from bullet trajectory.

I went into excruciating detail on Wapiti talk in the gear forum but suffice to say;
Charts on a software program paint the wrong picture for us bowhunters.
 

bhylton

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how much different is your pin gap ACTUALLY with a 650gr arrow vs 400gr? No experience on my end, but it would make sense that the heavy arrow would maintain velocity much better at extended ranges. at the very least the gaps would be more equal rather than growing as yardage increases. maybe what Beendare is saying?
 

bhylton

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anyone ever shoot light vs heavy properly tuned arrows over a chronograph at 40+yds to see what impact momentum and energy would be?
 

cooperjd

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castle pines, co
I'd rock arrow #4. Assuming you're getting your velocity numbers from a program, you'll likely have higher speed than calculated.

If you like 280fps you'll never notice a difference at 270.

On my 70# bow my 520gr arrows were flying at 284fps.
My new arrows for that bow are 487gr. I have not chrono'd them yet but I'm guessing 295ish. I have not touched my pin gap at all out to 60y. The difference in trajectory is totally negligible
 

WYO 307

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Cody, Wyomig
Which arrow flies the best? With a good CC broadhead, accuracy is the most important factor to me.
I have found that putting an arrow in the boiler room makes an elk expire.

I'm shooting a 395 grain arrow @ 60#'s @ 28.5" draw with a German Kinetic broadhead and it works
Elk Guide what bow/speed are you shooting with this combo?
 

Bill V

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Jan 24, 2017
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Colorado
I would choose arrow 2 or 3. I got a 54 yard pass through on an elk with a 430 grain arrow at 275 fps with my old bow. With my new bow, I'll be using an arrow in the 450 to 500 grain range going about 280-290 fps which is ideal to me.
 
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