How to Tune your Broadheads
In the off-season, most hunters will keep their skills sharp with regular practice sessions with a bow. This is an invaluable habit that will greatly improve your chances of success when you step into the field on opening day. Unfortunately, if you do not tune your broadheads to your bow, all of that practice may be wasted time.
All broadheads shoot different from field points. Even the very best mechanicalbroadheads shoot different, despite what you may have heard. Everything in archery comes down to consistency. Practicing with your hunting broadheads would be expensive and impractical so you have to do the next best thing!
We’ve talked about consistency so that’s a good kicking off point. Start by getting your bow tuned, preferably by a pro shop, to make sure everything is working right and the bow is shooting the exact same every time. This will save you a lot of frustration.
Next, make your arrows are consistent. They should already have the same weight, spine, and overall setup. You need to make sure they are perfectly straight with consistent fletching. Your tip inserts should be seated fully and the shaft of the arrow should be level where it meets the insert with no gaps or burrs.
Straightness, especially straightness of the tip is the number one problem with getting your arrows hitting consistently. Luckily it’s easy to check. With broadheads attached, place the arrow tip on a board on the floor and gently spin it with your fingers. Downward pressure can blunt your tip, just let the arrow sit under its own weight.
Looking straight down at the nock, you should be able to see if there is any wobble in the arrow. If it’s bad enough, you can probably feel it in your fingers. Arrows that wobble should be thoroughly checked to see what is out of line.
Many bow hunters insist that their broadhead blades be in line with their fletching. I have never noticed a difference one way or the other if everything else was correct. However, lining up your blades with the forward point of your fletching can make the rest of the process easier. You can get this alignment either by moving the insert or adding a small O-ring behind the broadhead.
Shooting paper will give you the best indicator of whether or not your arrows are leaving your bow straight. You will need your bow, the arrows you plan to tune with, and a foam target. You will also need to make a paper target by cutting a hole in a piece of cardboard and taping a piece of tape over it.
From a distance of less than 10 feet, shoot one arrow at a time completely through the paper and let it hit the foam target behind it. Examine the hole cut into the paper. If your broadhead is aligned with your fletching, you should see a clean hole in the shape of your broadhead. You should even see this pattern with a field tip as the fletching cuts through the paper.
If the tear is longer either vertically or horizontally, you will need to make some adjustments to your bow. For left/right adjustments, move your arrow rest. If the tear is to the left, move your rest left and vice versa.
For vertical tears, you will need to either move your rest or nocking point. Moving the rest is often easier if it’s possible on your bow. Move the rest up to if you have a tear that goes up. Move it down if the tear goes down. The knocking point is the exact opposite. Move it down if the tear goes up etc.
Only adjust one direction at a time. Fix the horizontal before you fix the vertical. Repeat this exercise until you get a cleanly punched hole.
Time to Tune
The previous steps were just getting you ready. Tuning should be a systematic approach much like sighting in a rifle. Making sure everything is correct before you start the tuning process will be a lot less frustrating. The more consistent you can get your arrows flying before you get here, the easier the whole process will be.
You will need a bow, 3 arrows that are tested and aligned with field points. At least one arrow with the broadhead you plan to use or a practice broadhead of the same style. You will also need your bow, any shooting gear like a release, and a foam target.
The goal here is to shoot groups, it doesn’t matter if you are hitting where you are aiming. You can take care of that later. Just aim at the exact same point with every shot and go for a good group. For now, we just want some 20-yard shots we can work with.
I start by shooting all three field tip arrows to get a good group. I mark the center of the group with a sticker or permanent marker if I can. This prevents damage to the broadhead should it accidentally strike an arrow stuck in the target.
Now shoot the broadhead. If it hits in the same group you are good. If not, start the sometimes tedious process of moving the nocking point and arrow rest until you get a consistent point of impact.
Keep repeating this until your arrows all group. I like to try at least three shots like this to confirm my bow is tuned. Now it’s time to sight in your bow. Just remember to do it by moving your sights. Leave the arrow rest and nocking point be.