Broadhead Practice Bolsters Field Confidence

By The Northern Whitetail Pro Staff

This article is part of a series by The Northern Whitetail Pro Staff. They are dedicated to helping deer hunters choose the right scents for the right situation. Look for their original lures such as, Trail Bait, Buck-in-Rut, Pure Heat, along with the all new Block archery target.

True bowhunters know two seasons: One is spent in a tree stand with an arrow nocked. The other begins when they climb down from the stand and start post-season scouting.

Bowhunting lasts 365 days a year and serious bowhunters make the commitment to practice shooting year round, thoroughly preparing for that one shot when the trophy buck follows a scent trail to their stands.

Unfortunately, many bowhunters dont practice enough with broadheads, and many stop practicing during the season. They don't switch from field points soon enough, wrongly believing that because their broadheads weigh the same as their field points, their arrows will fly the same. That mistake can change a record book entry into a sad story of the one that got away.

The excuse for not practicing with broadheads used to be that it was difficult, and expensive. The broadheads would bury into conventional targets often causing bent heads and shafts, and soon destroy the target. Prying the arrows out of the target was a chore, too.

An innovative target designed for both broadheads and field points ends those excuses. Its called The Block, from Northern Whitetail, and it uses a unique layering system to achieve what other targets dont: a virtually lifelong target that accepts broadheads and field points, and allows you to retrieve them without a tug of war. In fact, in our field tests, we shot thousands of broadheads at The Block with an extremely fast bow without any arrow passing through it. Removing the broadheads was simple, too; we never needed to pull with two hands.

To make the one shot that counts, you need repeated practice with the exact equipment youll use while hunting. Broadheads are at least as vital as your release and sights. You must continually shoot with them to know theyll hit your aim point. When you replace a compact field tip with a longer, wider broadhead, you change the weight distribution of the arrow and add "wings" to the tip. Broadheads catch wind more and amplify any inconsistencies you have in form. They also amplify any tuning problems your bow has. You might shoot five-inch groups with field points, but suddenly be shooting 12-inch groups with broadheads; ample margin of error to change a clean, humane, killing shot to a shot that doesnt do the job. The only solution is practice to correct your form and to make sure your tackle is tuned up.

Broadheads should be phased into your shooting regimen. If you shoot rounds of 10 arrows in your practice season, by August, tow arrows ought to have broadheads. As the season approaches, half should be tipped with broadheads.

Once bow camp begins, broadhead practice shouldnt end. You dont know if sight pins got knocked or the peep sight got moved on the string. After a morning hunt, take a few shots with broadheads before your evening hunt. The Block, incidentally, is made in four sizes, with the portable version just 16" X 16" X 12" and only weighs eight pounds, small enough to be taken along to camp, even if air travel is involved.

Speaking of air travel, some practice shots with your bow are extremely critical after you make a long trip to a different elevation. Air density at different elevations can radically affect your grouping; were planning to check The Block through with the rest of our luggage.

The Block is also a good target for shooting from your tree stand, or at your practice range that simulates your tree stand. Simply lay the target on its side and the special layers will continue to stop your broadhead and allow easy arrow extraction. Experienced bowhunters know that shooting from the actual height of their tree stand is the only was to make sure theyre on target when actually hunting. The best way a hunter can get full confidence for the hunt is by shooting from an elevated position, with broadheads.

Paper testing will confirm your equipments accuracy, and your arrow placement will reflect you own. Only when you are comfortable with your results with field points should you switch to broadheads. This is true with any changes to your archery equipment. If everything works properly before you alter or add one single component you can isolate any problem immediately when you make a change.

Just because your broadheads fly the same as your field points initially, doesnt necessarily mean youre ready to hunt. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Remember, when it really counts, youll often be shooting in less-than-ideal conditions, contending with rain, snow or wind, not to mention your own heart hammering its way our of your chest! Any negative influence will be magnified many times over it the broadhead doesnt fly true.

The Block can also add more realism to your practice. It even comes in sizes that simulate real deer in the field. Shooting broadheads helps create an even more realistic shooting situation. The more reality built into your practice, the more confident youll be.

Other factors in bow tuning and shooting with broadheads are a given. You allow clearance for your sight and the bow rise. And you practice with a cold weather glove. But gaining confidence by practicing with the exact setup that youll use in the field is a valuable as a straight arrow. Youll have enough to worry about during the moment of truth this season; you dont want to worry about your arrow with a broadhead not going where its aimed.

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Field Logic-Broadhead Practice Bolsters Field Confidence -- Revised: October 26, 1998
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