Figuring out exactly what type, number, and tail orientation that give the best arrow flight for your bow setup and hunting style can seem like a rocket science at times. And that’s because it’s sort of when you think about the similarities between rockets and arrows. You can go down the rabbit hole as deep as you want. However, for the vast majority of hunters, it’s pretty straightforward. So if you want to get good performance from your blades, but also want to keep it simple, here’s a rundown.
Should you use a straight, offset, or helical arrow orientation?
If you’re a white-tailed bow hunter who shoots deer from 40 yards and above and you shoot one of today’s popular stretch broadheads, a straight-tailed factory arrow will suit you perfectly. The sleek profile of most extendable heads makes them fly like land points and prevents them from needing additional stabilization in flight. This means you can grab a dozen fletched rods from your favorite arrow maker and experience exceptional field accuracy.
If, on the other hand, if you prefer to shoot a fixed blade head, consider a helical boom, or at the very least, an offset. Why? Because fixed blades are like miniature sails on a boat that pick up subtle air currents, these heads are more likely to wobble or deviate slightly in flight. As a result, they need additional stabilization. Adding a propeller or a slight curve to your tail orientation makes your arrow spin faster, which helps stabilize your fixed-blade hunting head and gives you better accuracy.
It should be noted that some long range hunters and especially 3D shooters avoid the helical as it gives the arrow the most drag, thus slowing it down. But that’s not a big deal at shorter distances. I have a buddy who trains up to 100 yards but never shoots over 40 on the field. He puts a 3 degree straight propeller on all of his hunting vanes, as that gives him the best groups, and he doesn’t mind losing a bit of speed at those distances.
Not many arrow manufacturers offer helical tail arrows, but any good professional store can do the job for you. Or you buy a tail jig with a helical arm and go to work. It’s easy. Watch one or three YouTube tutorials and you’ll be good to go.
An offset boom, one of the most common boom orientations, works well for field points, extendable heads, and fixed blade heads. Offset paddles, offered by many boom manufacturers, do not have a curve, but rather are attached to the shaft at a slight angle. This has a similar effect to helical, in that it rotates the boom faster to provide better stabilization. Another advantage of the staggered tail is that it does not pull the speed of an arrow as quickly as a helical style tail.
What length and size of pallet is best?
You might squint at the number of options available on a pallet manufacturer website. All you really need to know is that a smaller, low profile weather vane will stabilize an arrow less than a larger, high profile weather vane. So if you shoot mechanical heads, you can get by with smaller paddles. If you’re shooting with a fixed blade head, you’ll want something a little bigger, or at least bigger. One of my favorites is the legendary 2.1 inch Blazer from Bohning. Small but tall (0.57 inch) and stiff, this paddle provides incredible arrow control no matter what type of head you are pulling. Another must-have is AAE’s Max Stealth. This paddle is 2.6 inches long and 0.5 inches high and in my experience produces ultra-stable arrow flight.
What could be better, three or four pallets per boom?
Scroll down Instagram and you’ll see loads of archers shooting four-arrow arrows. It seems to be the current craze, but is there a reason for it? Well, many archers opt for four blades instead of the traditional three in an effort to improve accuracy at long range. The theory is that four paddles, helical or staggered tail fins, will turn the boom faster and aid stabilization, giving you tighter groups downstream.
The question is, does it work. I’ve done lots and lots of arrow tests over the years, and being a western hunter, I practice long distances regularly, and my three-tailed arrows group well with my four-tailed arrows up to my distance. maximum test length of 100 meters. I encourage those looking to go the Four Arrows Path to do some testing first. And if you’re like most archery hunters looking to shoot white tails from 40 yards and up, you just don’t need four paddles, whether or not they add a little precision advantage. at long range.
Does an Arrow Wrap help with precision?
A few years ago I was in a deer camp with a group of other outdoor writers and famous outdoor personalities. I was the only one who didn’t have factory wrapped or crested arrows. Why? They don’t do anything to make you more specific. Yes, they look cool and help with paddle grip. Another advantage of a wrapped or crested arrow is that it is easier to find after crossing an animal. Those who go with a light colored casing like white or yellow can also detect the hit better. But just keep in mind that a wrap-around or factory crested arrow does not increase your accuracy.
Now, I’ve talked a lot about people who just want to shoot deer, or really any big game within 40 yards, because that makes up the vast majority of bow hunters. You can modify your tail units however you want in order to get a bit more performance, and I encourage you to do that if you like this process, as I do. But if you want the empennage choice to be a real no-brainer, I’ll make it as easy as possible, choosing for you: Get a pre-hung arrow wrapped or not (your choice) with three offsets from 2 to 2 , 5- vanes at least 0.5 inch high. This setup is widely available and will give you reliable 40 meter field accuracy with the hunting head you love. If you do your job, your vanes will not fail you.