Bow Hunting | Is Your Bow Hunting Equipment Optimized for This Season?
Ensuring that a bow is performing at its best is key to accuracy in the field. When building the perfect bow hunting rig, start with the basics of optimizing the bow itself. Only after the bow is set up properly can an archer begin to dabble with the bow hunting accessories.
It is important that an archer is shooting a bow that has the correct draw length for that shooter. This is the number one reason most archers struggle with shot consistency. Too long of a draw or too short of a draw will cause a myriad of problems for the archer. The standard method of measurement for draw length is to stand with arm’s spread wide, measuring left fingertip to right fingertip, then taking that measurement and dividing it by 2.5. The resulting sum can vary based on a string shooter, D-loop, and a shooter’s natural anchor point.Drawing the correct draw weight is important to accuracy and optimum shooting. As a bow hunter, it is important to draw the highest weight that can be comfortably drawn without straining. The draw weight of a bow factors into the kinetic energy of an arrow at the end of the shot cycle. Shooting a weight that makes the archer strain will not only cause shooting form flaws resulting in the inconsistent shooting, it can also injure the archer! Other factors to keep in mind are the intense moment of drawing on a buck and the outdoor temperature. Freezing or below freezing temperatures, compounded with the fact the archer will be wearing bulky cold weather clothing, can make smoothly drawing a bow difficult.
Bow Hunting Accessories
Arrow rests are an integral part of a compound bow setup and have improved a lot in the past decade. For a bow to reach its full potential, the rest should be designed to keep the arrow in the same place on every shot to ensure consistency. It is important that the rest be quiet in loading an arrow, drawing, and has minimal contact with the arrow shaft and fletching during the release. There are several styles of arrow rests available, however, the most important factor is to find one that holds an arrow in the exact same place at any angle.Drop-away arrow rests have become popular among hunters because they offer the important factors in optimizing a bow’s performance. Drop-away arrow rests are designed to drop out of the path of an arrow that is set into motion by the release of the string. This set-up requires a guide string to be attached to the bow string that is tuned for perfect timing. The popular CMAX Rest is a full containment drop-arrow rest that allows the archer to shoot at any angle, making it easy to take the perfect shot every time. For the archer who prefers a simple rest, the HALO Rest offers full containment with an adjustable launcher arm that can be customized to any size arrow shaft.
There are a variety of bow sight styles, each offering advantages and disadvantages in the opinions of archers. Sight choice often comes down to the amount of money you want to spend. Two of the most popular styles of bow sights are the fixed multiple pin sight and the single, or hybrid pin sight that is yardage adjustable. Where a fixed pin sight needs no infield adjustment, an archer is limited to setting the pins at a predetermined yardage for the number of pins available. Fixed pin sights are available in two to five pins. Often the first pin is set at 20 or 25 yards, and the remaining pins are set at 5 or 10-yard increments.
Adjustable sights, like the G5 Optix XR2, offer the convenience of dialing in the exact yardage in the field. The Optix XR2 has one fixed pin and one floating hybrid pin with a precision dial. There are several bow sights that offer one fixed pin and a floating adjustable pin, or a bow sight with one floating adjustable pin.
Keep in mind that a fixed pin sight will not require extra movement in the field but will cause the archer to cut the distance between pins on yardages outside of the set pin range. Whereas, an adjustable pin sight will require a little movement but can be dialed to the exact yardage. Regardless of which sight an archer chooses, a quality made sight that offers the following features will add to optimizing a bow’s performance:Housing: Machined aluminum housings are lightweight and durable but they can be expensive. Plastic models are economical but they can add weight and vibration.
Gang Adjustments: Windage, elevation adjustments, and micro-adjustments are a plus and can make a huge difference in precise shot placement. Some adjustments require an Allen wrench; others have adjustable knobs that tighten down securely.
Micro-Adjustment Pins: Micro-adjustments will allow an archer to move pins independently versus all at the same time (gang adjustments). This allows for fine-tuning each pin to pinpoint accuracy.
Bubble Level: A bubble level can be a great advantage for an archer that will use it. The bubble level will allow the archer to know at a glance if the bow is being canted at full draw.
Fiber Optics: glass or plastic, for an advantage shooting in low light. Fiber optic comes in different diameters: .029”, .019”, and .010”. The larger the fiber optic the more visible in low-light conditions, but a caveat is that the larger the fiber optic, the more it will cover the intended target at extended ranges making it hard for precise shots. A fixed pin sight can often be customized with variable size fiber optics to match set pin yardage.
Sight Lights: Most bow sight housings are designed with a sight light screw-in option where a sight light easily screws in and out. The rheostat light has variable light settings. Sight lights can be the saving grace for a low-light shot especially for tree stand hunters who are under thick cover. Electronic attachments on archery equipment are not legal in many states, so it is important that the archer knows the regulations in the state they are hunting.
The peep sight serves at the aperture allowing an archer to align the string, foresight, and target allowing the shot to be more consistent. Peep sights come in different diameters. The most important thing to know about peeps is the smaller the diameter, the finer the adjustment, resulting in a more accurate shot. However, the smaller the diameter, the harder it is to get a clear view in low-light situations such as heavy cover over a tree stand.G5 Outdoors’ solid aluminum Meta Pro Peep Sight has a convex interior allowing the sight image to be perfectly round, maximizing the archer’s field of view. The peep is designed with radial string grooves, coated with a non-abrasive coating, and is available in three sizes; 5/16”, 1/4″, and 3/16” to customize to the archer for flawless performance. Plastic, lower quality peeps tend to be a little heavier and often result in twisting on the bow string.
Bow stabilizers are one of the most misunderstood bow accessories. Nearly every archer has one screwed into their riser, but most archers have no idea as to the importance of a stabilizer. The weight and style of a stabilizer can be a critical component in correcting bad form issues. Not only does a stabilizer dampen noise and vibration, but a stabilizer can also slow target oscillation, correct hand torque, riser canting, and can balance a bow.
The effect of stabilizing a bow is only effective when the weight is out in front of the bow’s center. An archer will be able to feel the difference with an 8-10″ stabilizer on their hunting rig. Typically, a 4-6” stabilizer is considered a noise and vibration dampener and has no effect in stabilizing a bow. The added weight can allow an archer a steadier bow arm and a better forward roll-over at the end of the draw cycle.
For a tree stand or blind hunter who will usually remove their quiver, a 4-6” stabilizer will often suffice in balancing a bow for optimum shooting. However, a stalk hunter who will leave a loaded quiver on the side of the bow will want to look into a longer stabilizer and even a sidebar, V-Bar, or rear weighted stabilizer to counterbalance the weight and balance the bow for optimum shooting.
A lightweight bow quiver designed to fit close to the riser will reduce canting of the bow if the quiver is left on during shooting. Stalk hunters are more apt to leave quivers attached to bows whereas tree stand hunting will allow a hunter to remove the quiver and hang it within reach. Nearly all quivers are adaptable to any bow riser, however, some may need a little customization of the bracket to fit on the riser of the bow. It is important that the permanent receiving bracket screwed onto the riser and the bracket on the quiver be made with noise dampening materials. Plastic materials tend to resonate noise from the vibration of the shot.
A low-profile hood will keep the quiver compact. Hoods are usually crescent shaped or staggered and are foam filled to reduce vibration of the broadheads. However, dulling of the blades is possible where the blades are slid in and pulled out often. There are hoods that are hollow which incorporate strong gripping material to hold the arrow shafts, allowing clearance for the broadheads. The ultimate quiver is going to be lightweight, low-profile, connected closely to the bow riser with a noise dampening removable attachment and designed to securely hold arrows without the broadheads touching any area.The Head-LOC Quiver by G5 is a low-profile six-arrow quiver that offers double arrow shaft grips.
The mounting bracket can be adjusted to allow perfect height mounting on any bow. The hood of the Head-LOC does not have foam in it so that broadheads float, reducing vibration and noise. The mounting bracket for the riser and the receiver on the quiver are coated in a vibration absorbing material with a lever that locks it in place. A tree attachment is included for stand hunters who prefer to remove the quiver from the bow. The most important factor in deciding on a quiver to equip a bow with, is finding one that is designed for performance that offers noise and vibration dampening.
Mechanical Release Aids
The decision to use a mechanical release aid is going to be one of personal choice. A good quality mechanical release aid that releases the bow string smoothly and quietly is important to shot performance in the field. The biggest issue with release aids is that most hunters do not set the release to fit properly, often leaving the release too long. By doing so, they find that it can become a struggle when their normal form is pushed to a new level when shooting from an elevated stand. A buckle release is preferred by most archers but don’t rule out Velcro when it comes to getting the right fit–Velcro is going to be micro adjustable.
The type of release an archer chooses, whether it’s an index finger release, a thumb trigger release, a back tension release, or a resistance activated release, is going to depend on their shooting style. A single caliper or double caliper is going to offer the same performance, however, some archers find the single to be lighter and causes less D Loop wear. Having the opportunity to go to a bow shop and shoot several styles will let an archer know what works best for them.
Arrow and Broadheads
The archer’s choice of arrows and broadheads will be a large factor on performance in the field. It should be an archer’s task to learn what the best broadhead is when optimizing a bow’s performance, For this, reading articles such as “How to Decide Which Broadheads You Need” go a long way in helping determine which broadhead fits the setup of the bow.
Ultimately, the goal is for an archer’s equipment to be optimized to its full potential giving the archer the best advantage on the hunt. Taking the time to make sure that the draw length and draw weight are appropriate, then adding the accessories that are customizable to the archer’s shooting style will instill in them the confidence they need for a successful hunt.