One October long ago, I was stalking the Pennsylvania mountains with a recurve made in 1959 by Fred Bear. The bow is called an Alaskan. It sports a leather grip and draws 52#. My arrows were cedar and the broadheads were a self-sharpened razor head design. In that I only owned three broadhead tipped arrows, I didn’t want to risk breaking or losing them during practice. I only shot them at deer.
I missed a lot. On more than one occasion, I dug broadheads out of trees with my Case folding knife. I wasn’t a very good shot and they flew poorly. Accuracy was attacking me from two angles. Today things are different. That old bow hangs above my office desk and the broadhead I shoot is crazy accurate. This accuracy issue was the driving force behind a research project I ran last spring.
Because I’m not ever satisfied with someone else’s story I decided to go in a new direction. That direction was one never approached by a broadhead company. I may have been the first one to even think of this edgy angle. It involved making scale models and flying a broadhead in an aerospace wind tunnel. I chose Penn State’s Aerospace Lab.
Some eager and talented graduate students pitched in and before long, they had built a X-8 scale model. I learned from the professor that the rockets they test in the tunnel are all scaled down so they fit in the chamber. We were just following testing protocol. This scaling also allows the scientists to compute speeds that approach Mach 1 and reveal aerodynamic flight characteristics. The tunnel is really windy and can move air at an amazing 100mph.
We tested some balanced crossbow arrows on a thin piano wire. With the wind blowing at 100 mph we discovered that the one I was focusing on flew like a field-point at that speed. We also tested a famous fixed three blade and learned that it vibrated at high speeds.
Eventually we scaled down an arrow shaft and mounted the X8 mechanical broadhead. After suspending it in the wind tunnel, we cranked the wind up to 100 mph. The noise level is wild. The room sounds like a jet is taking off. Incredibly, the broadhead we were testing was a stable at .7 Mach as it was in still air!
I wasn’t really surprised as the designer of this broadhead builds rockets for the military. Subtle design attributes stabilized the broadhead in conditions that were over two times as fast as any bow today could shoot it. Stability means accuracy and accuracy in the whitetail woods means success. My testing made me wonder if any other broadheads would survive the extreme wind tunnel test. Your broadhead should if accuracy is on the top of your list.
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For more please go to: Whitetail University.
Bowhunting Biologist Wade Nolan has been researching and teaching about whitetails since 1981. He conducts seminars across America. www.wadenolan.com
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