This series of articles has
been written by AfterShock Archery?s R&D Engineering quality team
to reduce the BS factor when it comes to Bowhunting and broadheads in
particular. We?ll separate the marketing buzzwords and deceptive
advertising from reality and proven physics you can test yourself.
Speed, speed, speed! It seems everyone is selling speed. I can?t
believe how many bowhunters think it?s crucial to get higher speed from
their arrow/broadhead combination by reducing the weight of the arrow
and broadhead. I was talking to a hunter that looked like he could pull
back a hundred pound bow without issue. That hunter wanted to know if
we made a 75 or 85-grain HyperShock. I said it?s in the works but who
is it for? He answered that it was for him and he pulls a 90-pound bow
with a 75% let-off. Jokingly I asked if the reason was that he wanted
reduced blade area to give him pass-through capability on elephants.
Nope! He wanted more speed!
I had to ask him the next question, ?what are you trying to accomplish by doing that??
He looked at me like I couldn?t understand the obvious and said, ?I
want to increase my energy so when it hits the game I have more speed
and power to drive the broadhead through?.
Like many others who fall into the marketing hype, this man does not
understand what?s really happening and what ?Energy at Target? really
means for him. He only seems concerned with speed out of the bow.
Kinetic energy is really quite simple; it is the energy of motion.
Any object, which has motion, has kinetic energy. There are many forms
of kinetic energy – vibrational (the energy due to vibrational motion
like your bow at release), rotational (the energy due to rotational
motion like the cams and pulleys on your bow), and translational (the
energy due to motion from point A to point B). To keep matters simple,
we will focus upon
translational kinetic energy for the arrow/broadhead combination and just call it kinetic energy for this discussion.
The amount of kinetic energy, which an arrow has, depends upon two
things: the mass (m) of the arrow and the speed (v) of the arrow. For
people who like to see formulas, the following equation is used to
represent the kinetic energy (KE) of an object.
Where m = mass of object and v = speed of object. Or more simply, ½ the weight of your arrow times the speed squared.
For the sake of our discussion, some simple facts come about. First
off, if you reduce the mass of your arrow assembly, your bow is going
to have an easier time accelerating it to faster speeds. So far so good
Did the kinetic energy also go up? Maybe, maybe not.
Most would think that it might stay the same since the reduction in
arrow mass is made up by the increase in speed. Too bad the bow?s
limbs, string and pulleys have to deal with the starting and stopping
of motion themselves and have limits.
The problem is simple; Diminishing returns.
The bow can?t keep upping the speed of lighter and lighter arrows
forever. The bow has a max string speed even if you dry-fire it!
This tells us that every bow setup must have its own perfect arrow
assembly weight that delivers the most kinetic energy to the arrow at
release. Many would say, ?Hey stupid, just keep testing different
weight arrows, log the speeds and use the formula?. As you?ll see in a
minute, (unless you?re using nothing but field points) this means very
little when you really care about ?Energy at Target? and not just at
So now you say the faster arrow has a flatter flight and is more
accurate. It may have a flatter flight and be more accurate if no
outside issues (like wind, broadhead planning, fletching drag, etc.)
come into play. On the other hand, the heavier arrow will be less prone
to having its course changed than the lighter one and may in many cases
be more accurate in the real world. Now you?re saying the lighter arrow
is going faster and could match the kinetic energy of the slower heavy
arrow. So what?s the problem? The problem is the aerodynamic drag on
the broadhead, arrow shaft, fletching and nock is going to chew up more
kinetic energy from the light arrow than the heavier one.
Said another way, if you had two identical arrows, but one was 50
grains heavier than other, that heavier arrow (even though it left the
bow slower) will lose less of its total kinetic energy on its way to
the target than the lighter one. Why? They both are dealing with the
same amount of drag from the air, but the heavier arrow has a better
mass to surface area ratio than the lighter one and will keep more of
its initial kinetic energy.
In other words, even though it was slower than the light arrow, it won?t slow down as quickly as the lighter one.
Now we get to the broadhead issue and energy at target.
All that matters is how much speed and kinetic energy is left over when
that broadhead contacts the game. Plain and simple, if you have a
vertical drop when you take off the field points and screw on your same
grain broadhead, your energy at target just dropped too.
We have done tests between field points, fixed blade broadheads,
mechanicals and the HyperShock. We took one arrow and fitted 125-grain
versions of each and saw the speed out of the bow was the same.
No surprise there.
At the target 30 yards away was a big difference.
The HyperShock and the field point were so close in speed (energy at
target) that the resolution of the measuring device couldn?t separate
them (not to mention they were flying into the same hole). The other
popular mechanical was slower and did drop at target relative to the
HyperShock and field point, but nothing like the vertical drop and loss
in speed (kinetic energy) the fixed blade had.
Want an even worse scenario we found?
How about fixed blade broadheads attached to arrows with fletchings
that spin the arrow. The exposed broadheads blades try to fan the air
instead of cutting through it and lose even more kinetic energy!
On top of that, there are fixed blade broadheads that have part of
their blades kicked, lifted or bent to impart spin. Since most of the
blade area is straight, one part of the blade is trying to spin while
the straight parts drag themselves through the air and reduce energy at
target worse than a standard fixed blade with equal exposed blade area!
Not only is it fighting itself to get spin, it is also fighting the
fletchings trying to make them into worthless fans also.
I personally would take a straight arrow and a well-tuned bow, but if
you must have fletchings that spin the arrow, the HyperShock will work
well since it does not have much exposed blade area to act as a fan and
chew up precious speed and energy.
In the future, when our lawyers allow us to name the other
broadheads and testing equipment, we?ll reveal it all. But for now,
don?t take our word for it, you can test and judge for yourselves. If
your broadhead drops below your field point at target, you lost speed
and energy at target.
So when your spending big bucks to get another few feet per second out
of the bow, start thinking about the bigger picture; speed (or energy)
We hope this article gives you some things to think about and
please don?t forget to join us next month for another very penetrating
For more: Aftershock Archery