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Arrow weight for Elk
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Mad_Angler 13-Dec-10
iowa elkbum 13-Dec-10
Mad_Angler 13-Dec-10
NM_alazan 13-Dec-10
Beendare 13-Dec-10
Matt 13-Dec-10
arrowsenfoam 13-Dec-10
Ermine 13-Dec-10
JJJ 13-Dec-10
JJJ 13-Dec-10
WapitiBob 14-Dec-10
howler 14-Dec-10
Raghorn 14-Dec-10
ElkNut1 14-Dec-10
WapitiBob 14-Dec-10
brewer57 14-Dec-10
Matt 14-Dec-10
Huntsman 14-Dec-10
Gus 14-Dec-10
howler 14-Dec-10
Sapcut 14-Dec-10
JMO012366 14-Dec-10
Mad_Angler 14-Dec-10
Sapcut 14-Dec-10
Coldsteel 14-Dec-10
RLong 14-Dec-10
wyobullshooter 15-Dec-10
Ziek 15-Dec-10
Matt 15-Dec-10
Coldsteel 15-Dec-10
joehunter8301 15-Dec-10
WapitiBob 15-Dec-10
Ziek 15-Dec-10
wyobullshooter 15-Dec-10
ElkNut1 15-Dec-10
The Yode 15-Dec-10
trophyhill 15-Dec-10
Sapcut 15-Dec-10
DaveBBowhunt73 15-Dec-10
Coldsteel 15-Dec-10
Tomahawk 15-Dec-10
WapitiBob 15-Dec-10
Sapcut 15-Dec-10
ElkNut1 15-Dec-10
Sapcut 15-Dec-10
nmbohntr 15-Dec-10
Sapcut 15-Dec-10
joehunter8301 15-Dec-10
BigAl 15-Dec-10
brewer57 16-Dec-10
Ermine 16-Dec-10
Sapcut 16-Dec-10
Matt 16-Dec-10
Mt. man 16-Dec-10
Sapcut 16-Dec-10
Bigdan 16-Dec-10
NM_alazan 16-Dec-10
RLong 16-Dec-10
Sapcut 16-Dec-10
JRW 16-Dec-10
DaveBBowhunt73 16-Dec-10
NM_alazan 17-Dec-10
elkoholic 17-Dec-10
The Yode 17-Dec-10
Beendare 17-Dec-10
Matt 17-Dec-10
elkoholic 17-Dec-10
Ziek 17-Dec-10
Matt 17-Dec-10
RLong 17-Dec-10
Matt 17-Dec-10
Sapcut 17-Dec-10
RLong 17-Dec-10
Seminole 17-Dec-10
Matt 17-Dec-10
Sapcut 17-Dec-10
Jaquomo_feral 17-Dec-10
Mt. man 17-Dec-10
Sapcut 17-Dec-10
Sapcut 17-Dec-10
Bigdan 17-Dec-10
CK 17-Dec-10
Sapcut 17-Dec-10
Jaquomo_feral 17-Dec-10
RLong 17-Dec-10
Sapcut 17-Dec-10
Jaquomo_feral 17-Dec-10
Jaquomo_feral 17-Dec-10
Sapcut 17-Dec-10
skullz 18-Dec-10
Joe Klink 18-Dec-10
Joe Klink 18-Dec-10
Joe Klink 18-Dec-10
Joe Klink 18-Dec-10
overbo 18-Dec-10
Bou'bound 18-Apr-21
Dale06 19-Apr-21
Jaquomo 19-Apr-21
Treeline 19-Apr-21
WYelkhunter 20-Apr-21
Wally 20-Apr-21
Ned 24-Apr-21
GF 25-Apr-21
From: Mad_Angler
13-Dec-10
I currently shoot a fairly light arrow with 2" Quickspin vanes and 100 grain broadheads.

Should I switch to a heavier arrow for elk?

From: iowa elkbum
13-Dec-10
Yes. Go as heavy as your comfortable with. Its at least as important to shoot a good coc broadhead. Their are many old threads on this topic. Look up "penetration on an elk shoulder" Good luck

From: Mad_Angler
13-Dec-10
Sorry. I did a quick search and didn't find any threads. I repeated the search and found numersous threads.

It seems that the concensus is "heavier is better within reason"

From: NM_alazan
13-Dec-10

NM_alazan's Link
I think you are on the right track. Might also check out this post for Dr. Ashby's "arrow penetrating factors" listed in order of importance.

From: Beendare
13-Dec-10
Very few experienced elk hunters shooting light arrows for elk...that should tell you something

Min. for the experienced guys I know is 420ish

From: Matt
13-Dec-10
Yes. This subject is covered every week to two, so lots of good info available via the search function.

From: arrowsenfoam
13-Dec-10
Thanks for the link, good stuff.

From: Ermine
13-Dec-10
The heavier the better. I shoot a 500 grain arrow.

From: JJJ
13-Dec-10
600 for me.

From: JJJ
13-Dec-10
600 for me.

From: WapitiBob
14-Dec-10
What arrow would you shoot at a Carp, 10' under water?

A light one or a heavy one?

From: howler
14-Dec-10
getting a carp under 3 feet of water is tough but for elk I use a bit over 600 grains for the carp 1200 might not be enough, lol

From: Raghorn
14-Dec-10
For elk under 10 feet of water, I use a spear gun with exploding heads.

14-Dec-10
weight is simply a factor the meaningful number represented by KE.

From: ElkNut1
14-Dec-10

ElkNut1's Link
450 grain min. The more head wt up front in the total arrow wt the better. Right head wt, right arrow spine equates to a penetrating monster!

ElkNut1

From: WapitiBob
14-Dec-10
Momentum is more important than KE for penetration purposes.

It's all white noise anyway. Shoot what you have confidence and experience in, go hunting, have fun.

What we think doesn't matter.

From: brewer57
14-Dec-10
I shoot my elk with a 280 grain arrow with an 80 grain tip equaling 360 grains total. First arrow hit a rib and went in 12- 14 inches. Second arrow went straight through. The elk expired 10 yards away. Thankfully he got out of the wallow. Shoot placement is the key. Both arrows were less than 2 inches apart. Nothing wrong with heavy arrows, just use what your comfortable with.

From: Matt
14-Dec-10
"First arrow hit a rib and went in 12- 14 inches."

Exactly the reason for more arrow weight. An elk rib should not reduce penetration of an arrow with appropriate weight.

From: Huntsman
14-Dec-10
I believe that there is more to a good elk hunting arrow than weight alone. Tuning your bow/arrow combo is the key...

My 26" arrow weighs in at a whopping 402 grains, and is propelled out of a devastating 56 lb bow. I've shot basically the same arrow weight for the last 25 years. I've never had a penetration problem on any of the big game critters that I've harvested, including 13 bulls.

If you shoot a setup that allows you to utilize a heavier arrow then thats great, but there are other options...

From: Gus
14-Dec-10
if it were me and I hit only a rib with only 12-14 inches of penetration, I would consider shooting a heavier arrow next time.

From: howler
14-Dec-10
when determining arrow weight It is understood that the weight you determine will be tuned to the bow,

From: Sapcut
14-Dec-10

Sapcut's embedded Photo
Sapcut's embedded Photo
A heavy arrow will kill anything a light arrow will but a light arrow will not kill everything a heavy arrow will.

The heavier arrow can be tuned perfectly, shot proficiently, built with structural integrity, etc. just like the lighter one...except...the lighter one likes to stop quicker.... And that is a NO NO.

There is not an upside to shooting the lighter of the two arrows.

From: JMO012366
14-Dec-10
I shoot an 11.7 GPI shaft with 100 grain G5 Striker broadheads. Total weight is 465 grains. Last 4 elk were all clean pass through shots and I saw the elk go down. Bow is a Hoyt compound pulling 65 pounds.

From: Mad_Angler
14-Dec-10
quote. "There is not an upside to shooting the lighter of the two arrows"

How about arrow drop? If the arrow shoots flatter, estimating distance is more forgiving.

Everyone says that shot placement is the most important thing. Don't lighter arrows help with that?

From: Sapcut
14-Dec-10
I shoot a 71 lb. Widow recurve so the above does apply to my setup.

For the reason you stated....flatter trajectory... I will actually drop my arrow weight down to about 815 gr. with 32-33% FOC for elk because I don't mind shooting out to 35 yards. (Haven't done it yet though)

But within reason, regardless of weight, any arrow can be shot accurately in the backyard at a stationary target. In the wild, arrows hit in unintentional locations like big bones. Just about any setup will give you good penetration through soft tissue lungs and heart. No issues there.

But the bone busting setup will slide right through the heart and lungs as well as big bones.

From: Coldsteel
14-Dec-10
It just seems we shorter archers are at a distinc disadvantage when these disscussion pop up...

Ok I get it hvy arrow equals better success. Heres my Question How many out there have short draw lengths. 24-26 inches??? Whats your arrow weight and draw weight. how fast and maximum effective range???

Thx Merry Xmas

From: RLong
14-Dec-10
It doesn't take a 1000gr arrow to kill an elk. :)

Just a well placed and tuned one. :)

15-Dec-10
Coldsteel...I know from where you speak!

I have a 26 1/2" DL and thought I was always doomed to shooting a relatively light arrow. I killed many elk with a 385 gr arrow, but I always wished I could shoot heavier. I did several things that allowed me to finally accomplish that.

I had always heard that your shaft should only stick out about 1/2" beyond your rest, so that's what I went with. By lengthening my shaft another 1 1/2" and going to a 125 gr tip, I was able to shoot a heavier spined shaft, thereby gaining quite a bit of weight. In addition, by going to the FMJ, my arrow now weighs 445 gr, which is more than adequate.

With a short DL, a 6" brace height doesn't present the problems it can with a longer DL, since our power stroke is shorter. Going to a "speed bow" can recoup some of the speed we lose with our short DL without sacrificing accuracy.

I currently shoot a BowTech 82nd Airborne. At 67 lbs, it shoots my 445 gr arrow @ 270fps. I just ordered a Destroyer 350. The one I shot at the dealer was set at 71 lbs. It shot that same 445 gr arrow @ 280 fps. I now get KE and momentum I used to only dream about!

As far as effective range, I practice out to 70 yds. This makes those 30-40 yd shots much easier. I would take a 50 yd shot if all conditions were perfect, but that's about it. Any further and I might as well go back to shooting a rifle.

From: Ziek
15-Dec-10
Trajectory is a not a big problem at REASONABLE bowhunting ranges. My wife shoots a 45# bow with a 24.5" draw. Her arrows weigh 426gr. and chrono only 192fps. If anything, when shooting a lighter, shorter draw bow, more arrow weight is critical. If she knows the distance, she is deadly out to 50 yards. She has killed a mule deer at just under 50yds. that I ranged for her, but most of her shots are under 30. Of course, she's an accomplished HUNTER and relies on those skills more than long distance shooting. It seems like a lot of bowhunters place way too much emphasis on arrow speed and not nearly enough on casting a hunting arrow of sufficient weight to penetrate sufficiently when it doesn't hit exactly where you intend.

Look at this way. Shoot a set-up that maximizes lethality for those things you can't control. No matter how good a shot you are, you can't control where your arrow hits when shooting at a live animal. You can, however control the distance you shoot at. If you can't be sure of the range, use a range finder or pass on the shot. If you're passing on too many shots, maybe you need to work on range estimation - developing a skill, instead of using technology as a crutch.

From: Matt
15-Dec-10
"Heres my Question How many out there have short draw lengths. 24-26 inches???"

Mine is shortish at 27.5". I shoot a 435 gr. arrow at 293 fps from a 70# Hoyt Alphaburner. Take 10 fps off that per 1" of DL below mine as an estimate (i.e. 278 fps at 26", 258 fps at 24" if they go that low). Hoyt tends to be fast in the shorter DL's for some reason.

From: Coldsteel
15-Dec-10
Thx Wyobullshooter, Ziek, & Matt... Great info. But isn't your arrows over spined? My arrows are GT 26.5"L x 8.2 gr. x 100gr BH. 2"blz vanes. 63lb draw weight. I've gone up to a heavier spined arrow 8.9. Even though it shoots great with hvy arrow I sacrificed speed... I'm Shooting a MSBXT Thx again

15-Dec-10
if you add a little bit of weight to your arrow tip like some guys have mentioned it makes your spine a little weaker instead of 100 try for a 125 grain tip with the stiffer spine. it should put you right where ya need to be. the switchback xt is a great shootin bow but def not hte fastest on the planet. my brother has one and its forgiving and very reliable but by no means considered a fast bow. with a shorter draw that you have you will def be losing a little speed with a heavier arrow. thats the disadvantage shorter guys have. also with a shorter draw maybe consider a high ibo bow with a shorter brace height to gain some speed. you should have the same power stroke with 6 inch brace as a guy with 29 inch draw and 7 inch brace height if that makes sense. just make sure you practice with whatever your setup will be because you still gotta be accurate fast or slow

From: WapitiBob
15-Dec-10
spine and grain weight are 2 different things. Spine is how stiff the arrow is.

From: Ziek
15-Dec-10
As long as it is stiff enough, spine is not a concern shooting a drop away rest with a release. "Correct" spine is only necessary when shooting fingers off the shelf to allow for archer's paradox - the ability of the arrow to flex around the riser properly for a 'clean' launch. With a compound bow, the only reason to shoot a less stiff arrow is because they are also, generally, lighter. I would be surprised if anyone shooting a 60# bow had any problems tuning a 300 spine shaft with a 125 grn BH.

My set up is a SBXT, 70# at 28.5", shooting FMJ 300, cut at 28.25", with 125 grn BH and a 1.5" 'outsert' behind the tip = 536 grn arrow at 238 fps.

15-Dec-10
"but isn't your arrows over spined?" No.

As WapitiBob points out, spine and shaft weight are two totally different animals. A stiffer spined shaft requires a thicker wall in order to produce that stiffer spine, so naturally your gpi will increase. Basically, the increased shaft weight is a by-product of the increased spine.

As also pointed out, increasing the tip weight will decrease the spine, decreasing the tip weight will increase the spine. That is why changing tip weights often requires changing which shaft (spine) will tune best out of your bow. Not always, but usually.

From: ElkNut1
15-Dec-10

ElkNut1's Link
As Wyo points out that's exactly how it works!

But don't over think it! (grin) Most 340 spine arrows in the 27"-28 1/2" length will handle from a 100 grn head wt. to a 175 grain head wt. if you draw from 60# to 66# Now if you need to up the spine to 300 then you could still play with the same length arrows & head wt. but now you get away with 66# to 75# draw wt.

So you do have variance there, it's not like 25 grains will throw your setup way off! Just stay within the parameters, if not then adjusting your arrow spine may be needed?

What I always do first is choose the head wt. I want to shoot or hunt with then build an arrow around that not the other way around! It's by far the easiest to do!

ElkNut1

From: The Yode
15-Dec-10
And don't forget what Wyo also said - a longer arrow doesn't hurt anything as long as the spine is right for your bow. I increased the length of my arrows to accommodate a Bullhead and switched everything over to that new length (1 1/2 inches longer). I got stiffer spine (more weight) and a longer arrow (more weight). They shoot every bit as good as my old shorter arrows did. I increased my draw weight a bit and I'm a happy camper!

From: trophyhill
15-Dec-10
i've gotten away with a 389gr arrow on 2 cow elk thus far. these were both slightly quartering to shots and blew thru like hot butter. both heads struck rib on the way in or out with no issues whatsoever. ribs are no match for a sharp coc head traveling at this speed. (320fps)

will this same set up work on a hard quartering away shot? or a frontal shot?

although i will continue to strive for making a great shot, after talking to some great elk killers i will be upping my arrow weight next year for elk so i'm not limiting myself to a broadside shot.

From: Sapcut
15-Dec-10
"A stiffer spined shaft requires a thicker wall in order to produce that stiffer spine, so naturally your gpi will increase. Basically, the increased shaft weight is a by-product of the increased spine."

I am now using the GT Ultralight 300 for my 71 lb. Widow. I like this arrow because first of all it is very stiff and light at 8.6 gr/in. The combination of 'stiff AND light' allows me to load up the front with 500-600 grains, which includes 100 gr. of external footing, 100 gr. insert and 400 gr. broadhead and adapter, and still be tuned perfectly for my bow and not heavier than I want.

This gives me 32-36% Ultra-EFOC.

AND...as sure as I am writing this the 850 gr. 34% FOC shoots significantly flatter than a low FOC arrow of the same weight.

15-Dec-10
Laymans terms. Please simplify.

From: Coldsteel
15-Dec-10
Thx to all again great info. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. But at least I have a starting point... Merry Xmas

From: Tomahawk
15-Dec-10
10 grams per/lb of bow weight is what I go by...plus cut on contact broadheads with take you all the way!

From: WapitiBob
15-Dec-10
"Laymans terms. Please simplify"

go to an archery shop with bow and broadhead in hand, they will fix you up.

Most everybody on the planet that shoots a straight carbon arrow will end up real close to 400 grains. That's where this "400 gr. minimum for Elk" comes from. There ain't no magic formula that spit out the "400 grain" number. It's where we all end up and people just started saying that's what you need and it continued from there.

If you want heavier by 100 grains, tell the shop and they can choose the components to get you there.

Back in the 70's that number was over 500 because that's where you end up with aluminum shafts.

I could point you to arrow charts but they will do nothing for you if you don't build your own arrows.

From: Sapcut
15-Dec-10
I do not shoot a compound and realize I may be speaking out of turn but.....

You guys shoot a arrow slinging machine that has soooo much power and ability to sling an arrow at ridiculously fast speeds. Because of that I can't understand why you don't shoot at least 600-700 grain arrows. You would absolutely destroy any bone of any size in probably any animal hunted. And would not loose any trajectory out to probably 30 yards (guessing).

You could easily build an arrow for a compound bow that would be illegal it would be so stinkin deadly...on any animal. :))

From: ElkNut1
15-Dec-10

ElkNut1's Link
Sapcut, you are certainly speaking in the right direction! Of course lesser faster arrows kill elk but SPEED is the name of the game in today's industry & world of hunting! If guys shot arrows in the 550-600grain total arrow wt you would have far fewer threads of lost animals, they're not a cure all but many elk that are not recovered could have been, but were not due to arrow stoppage where a heavier unit would have went to bat for them!

You will never convince the majority of hunters this though, this info will fall on deaf ears for the most part!!!! (grin) I'm setting up my elk arrow for this year at 550-560grn at 69#---It will do the job!!!

ElkNut1

From: Sapcut
15-Dec-10
Elknut, I could not agree more.

When I guided whitetail bowhunting at Willow Point Island it was disturbing to see and trail sooo many deer that were shot with fast light arrows. Terrible penetration on way to many occasions.

I really wish the mindset of hunters was all about animal recovery. It would transform the bowhunting community as seen from many different angles.

Richie

From: nmbohntr
15-Dec-10
I've blown through elk with a 370 grain arrow coming from a 27" draw bow and 67# draw at 60 yards no problem. the key is sharp broadheads and shot placement. Now Im shooting a 400 grain fmj but I would use that 370 grain arrow again in a heart beat!

From: Sapcut
15-Dec-10
nmbohntr,

You can control the broadhead sharpness all the time and the shot placement some of the time...which is the problem.

yes...It is a given that very light fast arrows will go through an animal WHEN the perfect shot is made. A field point will blow through a soft tissue rib cage when the shot is perfect.

It ain't the perfect shot that is the problem. It is when the shot is NOT perfect. What do you do then? Chalk it up as "oh well, bad shot". "Wish he didn't take that slight turning step as the arrow broke the 40 yard mark."

My point was I just personally wish more hunters cared more about that aspect of bowhunting with their equipment decisions.

15-Dec-10
as you can tell a wide range of weights work for guys so dont over think it and think 10 grains will make a difference. after saying that i would plan for the worst and hope for the best. also last night while i was sleeping the thought came to my head that many guys fail to mention...there is a big difference between a cow and the herd bull. 400-500 lb cow vs a 1000 lb screamin bull is a big difference. you dont want mr big to step out and you feel like ya need a bigger bow lol. you have some good advice from very experienced guys here.

From: BigAl
15-Dec-10
Fred Bear killed more big game than most of us ever will. He advocated a 9 GPP arrow as the optimum. Good enough for me! Mine is 8.5 GPP resulting in two elk shot at, two pass throughs in two years. If I had to choose, I think I'd far rather be hit in the chest with a feather at 500 FPS than a bowling ball at 75 FPS!

From: brewer57
16-Dec-10
I notice that nobody talks about kinetic energy when they speak of how much their arrows weigh. My arrows may be light to some of you, but I produce more kinetic energy with my setup than a 600 grain arrow out of a bow shooting 200 fps. Not saying heavier isn't alright, just wondering if some realize how much more loft there is in an arrow every time you add 100 grains. Moderate speed + moderate weight arrow + excellent shooting[within your range] will = a successful kill.

From: Ermine
16-Dec-10
"Heres my Question How many out there have short draw lengths. 24-26 inches???"

I have a 26.5 inch draw length. And like I said earlier I shoot a 500 grain arrow. Heavy arrows win over light any time. i dont care about speed. Why do you think trad guys shooting slow bows can blow thru critters?

From: Sapcut
16-Dec-10
brewer57,

Below is just a little piece of one of Dr. Ashby's field data reports.

"Using the TPI formula, a 60 pound longbow firing a 788 grain compressed cedar arrow, with a 190 grain Grizzly broadhead, at 148 fps has only 38.34 ft. lbs of K.E., .52 lb.-sec. of momentum, but has a TPI of 1.50. That combination was used to repeatedly shoot through the scapula of a large zebra stallion and through the thorax to the off side, often breaking off-side ribs (never failing to penetrate the scapula and completely through the thorax). This was compared to a compound firing a 555 grain aluminum shafted Black Diamond at 229+ fps. This combination gives 65.21 ft. lbs. of K.E., a momentum of .57 lb.-sec., but a TPI of only 1.27. That compound was, at best, able to penetrate only 5 to 8 inched beyond the scapula, and occasionally failed to penetrate the scapula at all on that same zebra carcass.

The 60# longbow/788 grain arrow/Grizzly broadhead was also compared to a high energy compound firing a 450 grain carbon arrow tipped with a three blade head, with cut width of 1 1/8" and a cutting blade length of 2", at a velocity of 259+ fps. This combination yields 76.56 ft. lbs. of K.E., .52 lb.-sec. of momentum, but a TPI of only 0.62. It was unable to penetrate the zebra scapula."

KE is irrelevant according to the best lethality research I personally have read.

From: Matt
16-Dec-10
"I notice that nobody talks about kinetic energy when they speak of how much their arrows weigh."

Observant, there is a reason for that. Sapcut's last post is anecdotal evidence as to why.

From: Mt. man
16-Dec-10
400 min. in my opinion. My wife shoots 48# and her arrows have zipped thru 3 Elk in the past 4 years. Her arrows are 402 gr. Me I shoot a 406 gr. arrow at 62 lbs. and have had zero penetration problems on my last 8 bulls. A good sharp fixed broadhead is key for us.

From: Sapcut
16-Dec-10
Mt. man,

Have you hit anything other than the rib cage? Just curious.

From: Bigdan
16-Dec-10
My arrows are 475 grains for everything. About 10 years ago I made me some super heavy arrows for hog hunting in Texas took a 2020 alum and put a 1716 inside of it then put a 160 gr Thunder head on the tip my arrows my arrows came in at 840 grains. I shot 8 hogs with them and only got about 6 inches of arrow in them. I lost 7 of the 8 hogs. I was pissed. The next year I went back to my 450 gr carbons shot 6 hogs all were pass throughs and recovered all of them. It was not just me two of my hunting buddys made the same arrows and all did better when we went back to are 450gr arrows. So there is such a thing as having your arrows to heavy. And I have shot lots of elk in the ribs.

From: NM_alazan
16-Dec-10
As far as arrows which are "too heavy", one must be careful that the extra heavy arrows are spined correctly and flying right otherwise you won't get any benefit to the added weight.

If you shoot thru a chrono as you add weight to your arrow and your arrow is spined correctly, you will notice that kinetic energy increases (slightly) as well as momentum when you add arrow weight.

Regardlesss of whether you are a subscriber to the "kinetic energy" club or the "momentum club," a heavier arrow has more of both. If you start setting your chrono next to the target and check on target arrow velocities at various ranges, it's a really big eye opener as to the benefits of a heavier arrow.

From: RLong
16-Dec-10
There are so many variables in arrow performance that to simply point to Dr. Ashby's study and Momentum alone, proves very little IMO. A "balanced" and tuned setup is more important than any other single factor. With a 27" draw I've found that with setups in the 55-70lb range, I won't go below 8.4gpi.....and gain nothing by going over 10gpi. Aside from that, it's all tuning.

I've seen folks go WAY too far in the speed category dropping arrow weight to reach the magical 300fps benchmark. And I've seen just as many folks weight their arrows down to where they are shooting a slug of a bow, because they read somewhere that arrow weight was in fact the holy grail. Both situations serve themselves poorly. I wouldn't shoot a 70lb cam bow with a 350gr arrow, nor whould I shoot a 50lb longbow with a 750gr arrow. Both give away too much in perfomance on one end or the other.

From: Sapcut
16-Dec-10
RLong,

"A "balanced" and tuned setup is more important than any other single factor."

I agree there probably are detrimental extremes on both ends of the spectrum but a balanced and tuned setup is a "given" with every single arrow any bowhunter should shoot. Whether heavy or light, the arrow can be perfectly tuned for the bow.

Again, when everything else is equal (tuning, sharp head, etc.) it seems that positive penetration is directly proportionate to increased arrow weight... for a looong trek within said spectrum.

From: JRW
16-Dec-10
Rlong,

Very well said! There's a common sense middle ground that folks with first-hand experience generally understand.

16-Dec-10
excellent insight. more weight=more spine?

From: NM_alazan
17-Dec-10
Those who are saying that Ashby only talks about momentum obviously haven't read all of his stuff. Here is a summary of his arrow penetration factors in order of importance. Notice arrow weight is all the way down at number 6. I'm still a proponent of heavier arrows, but only after items 1-5 have been checked off the list. Here they are:

1. Structural integrity of the arrow system 2. Arrow flight 3. Degree of arrow FOC 4. BH Mechanical advantage 5. Shaft dia to ferrule dia ratio 6. Arrow mass 7. BH edge finish 8. Shaft profile 9. BH/arrow silhoutte 10. Type of edge bevel 11. Tip design 12. Arrow mass above the heavy bone threshold 13. Arrow force derived from bow

These are Ashby's most important factors. You can overcome shortcomings in your setup for the factors at the top of the list by increasing the factors near the bottom, but you must increase the bottom factors by a much larger amount to compensate.

From: elkoholic
17-Dec-10
there is a happy medium here. too heavy=too slow=bad penetration.

too light=more speed but less penetration.

what is in the middle between too fast and too heavy is up to each hunters interpretation but I have found that an arrow weight between 375gr and 550gr should cover that happy medium area depending on your bow setup. obviously if you are shooting 55lbs and a 550gr arrow you are shooting the wron arrow for your elk setup. on the other end of the spectrum if you are shooting 80lbs and a 375gr arrow, you are also shooting the wrong arrow for your setup.

I have been told by a number of people that when elk hunting you should try to achieve a KE of 65ft.lbs or more. My setup has a KE of about 82ft.lbs with a 429gr arrow but I am bumping up to about 480gr total weight this year.

From: The Yode
17-Dec-10
elkoholic hit it on the head. Some think speed is the only issue and go too light. Some think weight is the only issue and go too heavy. Stick somewhere in the middle with a well tuned bow and you'll do great.

From: Beendare
17-Dec-10
I would agree with the "Common Sense" approach but think there are too many guys that have success on whitetails and think of an elk as a slightly larger version....

And styling your setup to a "perfect shot" is fine, if all you are taking is layup broadside shots at close range and that animal doesn't move due to the slap from your loud light arrow setup.

From: Matt
17-Dec-10
"too heavy=too slow=bad penetration."

I do not think anyone is going to see that, too much eviednce to the contrary exists. Criticality in range extimation - yes, but poor penetration - no.

From: elkoholic
17-Dec-10
Matt,

I said "TOO" heavy not just heavy. If you shoot an arrow that is" TOO" heavy for your setup you get poor results

From: Ziek
17-Dec-10
The problem is because of the ridiculous quest for speed, the "balanced" approach has been skewed towards lighter arrows. A "mid-range" set-up is more like 500 grns @ 250f ps. Personally, I would increase arrow weight until I was shooting about 250 fps. or I had a 600 grn arrow.

From: Matt
17-Dec-10
I don't think that one could support that through testing from a penentration perspective. There is a reason that folks use 850+ gr. arrows for cape buffalo and such.

From: RLong
17-Dec-10
Matt.....yes, they use an 850gr arrow....but they also crank up the bow weight to 80lbs. I would not hunt Cape Buff with an 850+gr arrow out of a 50lb bow. Simply going heavier does not infinitely increase penetration.

I did an informal, but informative test years ago when stationed on Ft Lewis WA. Getting ready for elk season I was changing at the time from an overdraw setup (popular a tthe time), to a full length elk seetup. I used 3/8" plywood at 40yds. I was shooting a 63# @ 27" PSE Infinity at the time. At the time I was able to put together 5-6 arrow setups that tuned well, and I shot all with field points and all Easton Alum XX75's. The lowest was 400gr and the heaviest was 650gr. The best pentration was NOT with the 650gr arrow. It was actually with a 550gr setup.

Likewise that is the setup I used. But the test did not increase pentration with weight. It peeked, and then dropped. Granted, the drop off was much less from 550 to 650 than it was with the 400 to 550 range. But it did drop off on both ends.

From: Matt
17-Dec-10
"Matt.....yes, they use an 850gr arrow....but they also crank up the bow weight to 80lbs."

So? Would the 850 gr. arrow out of the 50# bow penetrate better than a 400 gr. arrow out of it? I am trying to get at the notion there is such a thing as too heavy of an arrow insofar as penetration is concerned.

RLong, 1) plywood is not homogenous, and b) unless all the arrows had the same OD, you may not have been testing what you think you were.

17-Dec-10
imagine that...a real actual techincal debate for once.

From: Sapcut
17-Dec-10
I agree with Matt.

IMO ....Regarding degree of penetration, there may be a slight possibility that an arrow can be too heavy and result in measureable negative results...but there are countless examples of an arrow being too light (even if its screaming fast) and resulting in very negative results.

There is no comparison. There are hoards of hunters who use too light of an arrow and have terrible penetration.

I have never seen nor heard of a hunter using an arrow that stopped quickly at the point of resistance due to being TOO heavy....as light arrows do.

Have you?

From: RLong
17-Dec-10
If you are going to rule out all other options and simply compare too heavy vs too light....then yes, the heavier is the better option.

That is ignoring however,the fact that somewhere in between is an arrow weight that outperforms both. Unless your only desire is to argue on behalf of Ashby's data. :^)

Sapcut....."There are hoards of hunters who use too light of an arrow and have terrible penetration."

Agreed.....and there are plenty that can't see past the weight is better issue and shoot underperforming setups on the other end as well.

From: Seminole
17-Dec-10
What elknut siad grin! I am at 500 grains and plan to stay there with my set up. I have hunted as low as 425 grains and as high as 630 grains.

From: Matt
17-Dec-10
"That is ignoring however,the fact that somewhere in between is an arrow weight that outperforms both."

In terms of a blend between penetration and trajectory perhaps, but not purely for penetration which is what my comment was directed at.

I do not mean to suggest that heavier is better is absolute, but within the *relevant* range (i.e. 350 gr. - 1,200 grs) I argue it is.

Were all the arrows you used to kill plywood of the same outside diameter and did the points all have the same geometry (i.e. FP's for larger OD arrows have a more blunt taper). I would be willing to bet you are arguing for an optimal "in between" based on those flawed bases - meaning there were 3 different variables (weight/OD/point profile) and you attributed the varying penetration depth as being solely a function of 1 variable.

From: Sapcut
17-Dec-10
"Sapcut....."There are hoards of hunters who use too light of an arrow and have terrible penetration."

Agreed.....and there are plenty that can't see past the weight is better issue and shoot underperforming setups on the other end as well."

Really? You really know of hunters that have penetration trouble due to their arrow being TOO heavy?

Like I said I have personally never heard of such.

17-Dec-10

Jaquomo_feral's embedded Photo
Jaquomo_feral's embedded Photo
How much longer until elk season starts? This is giving me a headache.

The only "big bones" a bowhunter needs to worry about on an elk are the scapulas (or the brisket on a straight-facing shot). The scapula is typically hit because of poor range estimation and misjudging trajectory. On anything besides a steep downhill, quartering-to shot, there are no vital organs behind the scapula, even if the arrow somehow blows through it (I've done it once, steep downhill quartering-to shot, 525 grain arrow from a 68# recurve, killed the bull - but it was a bad shot choice).

I know plenty of guys who have penetration problems from using arrows too heavy for their range estimation ability - the arrows don't penetrate very deep into the ground beneath the elk when they miss low.

Unless we are hunting plywood, this is not a pure argument. Under actual elk hunting conditions, at the moment of truth, there must be a balance between trajectory, penetration, and margin-of-error.

Give me a guy with a 450 grain or heavier arrow who is accurate at unknown distances without a rangefinder, under tense hunting conditions, vs. a guy shooting a 700+ grain arrow who can't consistently hit a pig's butt with a banjo under the same circumstances. Don't tell us about "only limiting shots to 20 yards or under", or whatever. We all know what happens in the woods.

From: Mt. man
17-Dec-10
Sapcut, Yes I have hit opposite side shoulder a few times. I have taken 3 bulls at less than 15 yds. head-on. Very deadly shot if you can put the arrow where it needs to be. My bull this fall was 14 yds. head-on. Put arrow thru base of throat slightly left, clipped left lung front, ran pretty much length of right lung and hit heart. I was uphill and he was quartered just slightly. The angle was awesome. He went less than 40 yds. and crashed. Arrow was hanging by fletches just in front of Right hind quarter. (man that was tough to describe in written word, hope you got it,)

From: Sapcut
17-Dec-10
Jaquomo_feral,

So if you miss an animal low it is automatically due to the arrow being too heavy? I guess that could be an example of an extreme case.

Mt. man,

Great shooting. I would love to make the head on shot at a big bull. I have heard some disagree but it does seem to be a killer shot.

I haven't had the chance but I would like to bust through the off side shoulder to get an exit hole. However, I do realize the animal is running dead anyway at that point.

From: Sapcut
17-Dec-10
BTW....When an animal is angled to you or angled away from you, why do people call it a "quartering" shot.

Shouldn't it be half of a quarter when a quarter is 90 degrees out of 360?

From: Bigdan
17-Dec-10
Sapcut just how many elk have you shot with your setup. I would like to here from all the guys posting how many elk thay have taken with an arrow. I'm at 52

From: CK
17-Dec-10
I shoot a 630 grain arrow. I have had good luck with it but I don't have 52 elk under my belt.

I don't see how a tuned bow is going to help your penetration past ten yards, at that point a tuned arrow is going make all the difference.

From: Sapcut
17-Dec-10
BigDan,

1

17-Dec-10
Bigdan, I'm only at 27, I think, but I have some years to catch you if you'll just slow down a bit! :-)

Most of mine have been killed with longbows and recurves, 57#, shooting arrows that weigh between 450-475 grains with 4 blade Muzzys and a sharpened trocar tip. Have never had any issue with penetration except a couple that I stupidly stuck in the scapula and one in the bottom of the brisket.

Sapcut, most low misses are the result of poor trajectory estimation or dropping the bow arm. Bow arm can be fixed by form discipline. Trajectory/distance estimation issues can be helped by minimizing the margin of error within one's so-called "effective range", whatever that is.

From: RLong
17-Dec-10
Matt, I wouldn't suggest that my little test was perfect...just offered it as an example. Actually, all the middle range shafts were 23xx. The low end was a thinwalled 22xx with the upper end beng a 20xx. So if anything, the test should have been skued in favor of heavier being better. All were shot with bullet heads correct for the shaft size.

But your point is taken and I agree....there are far too many variables to simply take one aspect and make it the "law" of arrow penetration.

Sapcut.....as a matter of fact I have met many. They complain of not getting adequate performance on game, and blame the poundage of the bow as being too low. When in fact they are way too heavy for their particular setup and basically turned their 55# bow into something that performs like a 35# slug. Not the bows fault.

Mind you, I'm not an advocate of light arrows, and will always err on the side of heavier shafting.

From: Sapcut
17-Dec-10
Jaquomo_feral,

I totally agree about form discipline, mainly the bow arm drop. I think, with me anyway, that the breakdown in shooting form is so underrated when arrows don't seem to hit the spot. It is easy to get caught up in so many types of "hype" and fail to even recognize bad form, nuch less correct it.

17-Dec-10
Adding one thing - my comments about trajectory, etc.. with super-heavy arrows and medium-draw weight compounds and stickbows. Somebody shooting an 80# compound can shoot 1/2" rebar and have the same arrow trajectory I get from my alleged "light" setups.

So it is all relative to the overall setup.

17-Dec-10
Sapcut, I've missed my share of critters from either dropping the bow arm or "peeking". No excuses, it was form breakdown that caused the miss, not anything to do with my equipment. No matter what arrow I was shooting, I still would have missed.

I missed the first big bull I ever killed with about an 8 yard shot. Shot right under him while I was sitting under a tree, and I know it was a bow arm drop because I picked a spot - I think. I'm not proud of that, but it happened. Thankfully he stopped at about 25 yards so I could kill him with a second shot.

From: Sapcut
17-Dec-10
The 3D shoots I have been too have been a good way to be in a semi-pressured situation (not like hunting of course) and still try to be disciplined enough to hold form perfectly. It is really amazing how much better I shoot if I simply just hold my stinkin arm up longer.

Your right...everything else is totally out the window if form is OFF.

From: skullz
18-Dec-10
This is an area where speed doesnt matter as much. My friends and i all shoot high 500s through 600 grain arrows (finished weight) and have may pass throughs bustin ribs in and out. And the speed is mid 185s.......obviously we r trad guys but it goes to show light and fast, specifically on big boned heavy animals isnt always the ticket.......go heavy! Preferably with a good solid cut on contact head. Ny hunting group has killed over 40 elk with great results. Cheers!

From: Joe Klink
18-Dec-10

Joe Klink's embedded Photo
Joe Klink's embedded Photo
Well...Here's a picture of a vertebrae of a spike bull I shot two years ago. Long story short he jumped the string and dropped to the ground and turned straight away by the time the arrow got to him. It was a 30 yard shot which is the upper end of distance for me.

My setup was this:

53# Recurve Easton FMJ Arrow 100 grain brass insert at the tip 175 grain Abowyer brown bear broadhead total arrow weight of 650 grains ~18% FOC

IMO I don't care what people say, roll with the heaviest arrow you can find with the toughest broadhead you can find.

Good luck!

From: Joe Klink
18-Dec-10

Joe Klink's embedded Photo
Joe Klink's embedded Photo
Here's another pic

From: Joe Klink
18-Dec-10
And one last one.

From: Joe Klink
18-Dec-10

Joe Klink's embedded Photo
Joe Klink's embedded Photo

From: overbo
18-Dec-10
I do know a 380gr arro tipped w/ a 160 Snuffer being shot into the center of a herd bull's ribs @ 35yrds out of a 61lbs recurve,makes for a 2 day tracking job! Also know a 2117 tipped w/a 125gr Snuffer placed 2 ribs back from the scapula of a big bull out of a 55lbs recurve @ 26yrds,will burrie to the fletch. I know that a 560gr arro tipped w/ a 160gr Ace 2 blade out of a 65lbs recurve on a trotting big bull at 30yrds will bust thru the lower part of the scapula and burrie into the opposite side ribcage. Only 3 elk I've killed but all 3 where mature bulls weighing in excess of 750lbs

From: Bou'bound
18-Apr-21

From: Dale06
19-Apr-21
I’ve arrowed five elk, so not an expert. My preference is 450-500 grains, including a shaving sharp coc broad head. I’m currently using IW 125 V. My draw weight is about 65 pounds.

From: Jaquomo
19-Apr-21
Bou has been digging around in the ancient threads shed again!

From: Treeline
19-Apr-21

From: WYelkhunter
20-Apr-21
446 gr is what I have found is the sweet spot for weight and speed. I have killed elk with arrows as light as 395 gr and heavier then 446gr. I have never lost an elk.

From: Wally
20-Apr-21
Don't follow the fairy cult. shoot what ever your current set up is. The key is sharp cut on contact fixed blades. You'll never have a shot in trees with a heavy set up plus less margin of error equals more of chance at wounding. You give of 25% of your speed for 3% more KE.

From: Ned
24-Apr-21
It's all about shot placement. In 1985 I shot my first elk with a Ben Pearson compound, aluminum arrow, 125 grain wasp bullet tip, 55 lbs draw. We used heavy arrows back then because of the slow arrow speed. The elk ran 15 yards, looked back and fell over. shot him from 8 yards. Three years ago, I shot a bull with a Hoyt Spyder,60 lb draw 6 yard shot quartering away and below me, medium weight carbon arrow, expandable BH, arrow penetrated to the fletch lengthwise into the front shoulder, bull ran about 50 yards and fell over within sight.

From: GF
25-Apr-21
“ You'll never have a shot in trees with a heavy set up plus less margin of error equals more of chance at wounding. You give of 25% of your speed for 3% more KE”

Maybe re-run the numbers for Momentum instead? Velocity plummets on Contact. Mass decreases only if parts come off of your arrow.

Pretty comical to see people saying that a bow that won’t break X fps isn’t worth hunting with, though.

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