Hunting Season Preparation: Three Steps to Broadhead Tuning

Tuning your bow is an important step to ensure accuracy and confidence in your equipment. Properly tuning your bow is what ensures your arrows fly consistently and hit where you aim. It can be a time consuming process that many people find endlessly frustrating, but there are some ways to make it a bit more straightforward. At the end of the day, it will make shooting much more enjoyable and it’s a critical part of being an ethical hunter.

There are a variety of methods to tune your bow for shooting with field points, such as paper tuning and walk-back tuning, and you probably covered some of these when you purchased your bow. In the months leading up to hunting season, it’s important to spend some time practicing with the broadheads you intend to use in the field. img_3044_2Broadhead companies will boast that their products fly the same as field points and loyal customers will swear that if you use a certain broadhead, it all but eliminates the need for additional tuning; however, all bow and arrow combinations function slightly differently, so it’s crucial that you test your bow with the exact broadheads you will be using in the field. Here is a quick step-by-step to get your rig ready for season opener.

1. Purchase Practice Broadheads

Broadheads kill efficiently because they have razor sharp cutting edges and it’s important that your hunting broadheads are in perfect condition. Always purchase an additional set of your hunting broadheads for pre-season practice. Most broadheads will come with a practice broadhead for this exact purpose, but never use the ones you intend to use on your hunt.

2. Compare Broadhead and Field Point Flight

Select a distance you are comfortable and confident shooting. You don’t need to be 100 yards away for this – I recommend 20 or 30 yards. First, shoot a broadhead arrow at the target (be sure you are using a target specifically designed for broadheads). Next, shoot a field point arrow at the same spot on the target.

3. Correct Your Broadhead Flight

If your two arrows did not hit in the same spot, you are going to adjust the rest. To make the correct adjustments, “follow the field point” with your rest – move the rest in the direction of the field point arrow. Begin with the vertical adjustment until the two arrows are hitting in the same vertical position. If your arrow rest does not have vertical adjustments, you will need to adjust the nock height. In this case, you will move the nock in the opposite direction from where the field point hit. For example, if your broadhead hit above your field point, move the rest down (or adjust the nock point up).  Next, move on to the horizontal adjustments. Similarly, if your broadhead hit left of the field point, adjust the rest to the right. Continue to shoot one of each arrow until they are hitting together.

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Some Extra Tips:

  • It’s important that you treat this as a tuning issue, not a sighting issue. You want your broadheads and field points hitting in the same spot, and if you just adjust your sight to correct this difference, the broadhead may hit the target, but the gap between the arrows, and therefore the tuning problem, will not be corrected.
  • When adjusting the rest, make very small adjustment, starting with only about 1/16” at a time.
  • I recommend always shooting a broadhead arrow first, followed by a field point. As your arrows move closer together, this will avoid shaving off vanes with the broadhead every time you shoot.
  • Continue to shoot at 20 yards until your arrows are hitting as close as you can get them before you move back to 30 yards or beyond.
  • A common source of debate is whether or not you should align your broadhead blades to the arrow vanes. Some will tell you this is crucial for arrow flight. I have never done this and have been able to tune my bows just fine. I won’t say that people are wrong when they suggest you do this, but I will say that there isn’t really any scientific evidence to support the need to do this. Also, what about 2 or 4 blade broadheads? People achieve perfect tuning with those as well.
  • Be patient with this process, making only small adjustments at a time. Remember that bows, arrows, and broadheads can all interact differently. I’ve seen paper tuned bows almost robin hood arrows on the first shot with a broadhead; I’ve also seen bows take a dozen adjustments before I was satisfied with the broadhead tuning. Be prepared to invest some time in this process and your hunting experience will be much better!

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

“The North American model of wildlife conservation has seven components that collectively form a foundation that yields its distinct structure:

1. Wildlife as public trust resources
2. Elimination of markets for wildlife
3. Allocation of wildlife by law
4. Wildlife can only be killed for a legitimate purpose
5. Wildlife are considered an international resource
6. Science is the proper tool for discharge of wildlife policy
7. Democracy of hunting

It is hunters, or, more accurately, hunting, that led to the development of the components listed above that form the foundation for North American wildlife conservation.”

Valerius Geist, Shane P. Mahoney, John F. Organ, 2001

Science Update: Sensory Functions of a Narwhal’s Tusk

Many of us who are involved in outdoors activities are interested in new discoveries in wildlife science. A good deal of the popular knowledge about wildlife that we use in our hunting and fishing activities comes from scientific research, and indeed we rely on this knowledge to better understand the animals we pursue and to develop effective hunting strategies. Most scientific research is first published in academic journals. There are thousands of journals and subscriptions to them are expensive. This means that first hand research knowledge is largely unaccessible to the vast majority of the public. I’m lucky that I have access to databases full of journal articles through my work. I want to use this series to discuss new and interesting pieces of wildlife research that are of particular interest to the hunting-conservation community.

As a hunter and outdoorsman, I’m fascinated by wildlife and ecology. Not surprisingly, I have a particular interest in understanding everything I can get my hands on about North American wildlife, especially those species that are also important table-fare in various communities. This first post is not a brand new piece of research anymore, and it may be somewhat removed from the regions and species many of us hunt, but I chose this story because it’s a species that is relevant to the areas I work in the Canadian Arctic. Some people may not even be aware of this species’ existence, but it sure is an interesting animal.

Narwhals (Monodon monoceros) are a toothed whale species (odontoceti) roughly 11 million years old. They are a resident Arctic species, meaning that they spend the entire year in Arctic waters, including during winter ice-covered periods when they rely on openings in the ice to come up for air. Their Canadian range is throughout the central and eastern Arctic waters where they move between summer and winter grounds. Narwhals spend more of their time in deep offshore waters, but also move into more shallow fjords during summers. They eat fish, squid, and shrimp, and do much of their feeding under the ice throughout the winter. Narwhals are hunted by Inuit communities as an important food source. Both of the communities I do research in, Kugaaruk and Pangnirtung, Nunavut, have active summer narwhal hunts. I’ve heard from many people that the narwhal hunt is one of their favourite times of year.

naturepl.com : Bryan and Cherry Alexander : WWF

Copyright: naturepl.com / Bryan and Cherry Alexander / WWF

The most recognizable and magnificent feature of narwhals is the long tusk that protrudes directly from the front of the mouth. The tusk is actually an erupted, protruding left canine tooth that spirals forward, growing as long as 2.6 m / 9 ft, with typically only males growing tusks (as an interesting side note, walrus tusks are also protruded upper canines, whereas elephant tusks are actually elongated incisors). It’s not surprising that this species has been the subject of lore and cultural stories throughout human history.

Since narwhals have been studied by hunters, explorers, and scientists, there has been a great deal of uncertainty over the specific function of the tusk. As may be expected, there is evidence that males use their tusks to attract mates through displays of dominance and to fight other males. In 2014, some of the mystery surrounding narwhal tusks was answered. A study examining the sensory functions of the narwhal tusk discovered that the tusk provides a type of direct line of communication between a narwhal’s brain and temperature and chemical changes in the ocean. Like many mammalian teeth, working inwards from the surface, the outer layer of a narwhal’s tusk is covered with a porous cementum, followed by a dentin layer containing tubes that channel in towards the centre of the tusk. In the core of the tooth, running the full length of the tusk, is a pulp layer full of nerve endings that connect to the brain. In other mammalian teeth, the portion of the tooth that is exposed above the gum line is covered with a hard enamel layer. What sets the narwhal’s tusk apart from other mammalian teeth is that the porous cementum layer is exposed, allowing it to detect changes in the surrounding ocean.

These findings indicate that tusks may fulfill a sensory function to help narwhal locate food sources and mates. Diet analyses show that males and females have different food sources for much of the year, overlapping particularly during the spring-summer mating period. The study also suggests that there may be a number of hypotheses for how tusks could be used to find and attract mates. For example, the tusk may be used to detect females in estrous; to detect food sources that are likely to attract feeding females (which is also supported by the fact that diets overlap during the mating period); or as an indication to females that a male with a well developed tusk could be more successful at finding food for calves.

It’s interesting to learn more about the evolutionary purposes of what is already a stunning physical trait in an elusive species like the narwhal. It’s sometimes easy to forget that we are still discovering the natural world every day. We have a great deal of knowledge about wildlife, but there are also many species we have yet to discover, and it’s a guarantee that we still have much to learn about the species we do know. Each of these little pieces we uncover should remind us to remain both humble and in awe at the diversity of species on this planet. More so, it should remind us of the importance in conserving each of these species and maintaining this diversity.