For bowhunters across the world, deer are a prized target. It takes stealth, precision, and a good amount of target practice to bring down your first buck, and when you do, it’ll certainly be a memory that will stay with you for the rest of your days.
However, when you are hunting deer, you need to make sure that you have the right equipment. From a reliable bow to your camo clothing, everything plays an important role. When it comes to choosing the best arrow weight for deer hunting, you need to consider a few things.
In this article, we will be exploring what factors influence the weight of your arrow for deer hunting and why the weight is so essential in getting a kill.
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Why Does Arrow Weight Matter?
A lot of archers, particularly those who are new to the sport, believe that their bow is the most crucial piece of equipment. And, yes, it is important. After all, you wouldn’t be able to practice archery without it.
That being said, you wouldn’t be able to take part without arrows either so considering them when making a choice is vital. One of the most critical factors when choosing an arrow for deer hunting is its weight.
You’ll likely have seen a lot of talk about this online and in your research but why does the weight of your arrow matter so much?
Understanding Arrow Weight
Before we discuss the importance of your arrow’s weight, it is key that we understand how arrows are measured for archery. You will notice that when you purchase arrows, the weight is given in grains per inch, often shortened to GPI.
The weight of the arrow will vary from product to product and there are many factors involved in this. The material from which the arrow is made, it’s length, and thickness will all influence how heavy the arrow is.
You should also keep in mind that the weight of the arrow includes the fully constructed piece of equipment and not just the shaft. The weight takes into consideration the nock, heads, fletchings, wraps, and inserts.
One of the biggest influencing factors where weight is concerned is the material. Arrows come in various forms; some are made from wood whereas others are made from metals. The most common metals for arrows are aluminum and carbon.
Both of these are lightweight options, although carbon is much lighter and is one of the most popular materials for modern arrows. But even though carbon is lightweight, that doesn’t mean that it cannot be used to take down a sizable deer.
This is because many brands now infuse their carbon shafts with resin giving them a much more durable design. You will be able to tell these arrows apart from others since they are labeled ‘pre-preg.’
Using this approach also allows the manufacturer to create a series of arrows with various weights, shaft diameters, and other differences.
Furthermore, you may see some brands using steel infusing techniques. This results in an arrow that is much heavier and considerably more durable. These might be particularly useful when it comes to hunting deer.
When you are thinking about the weight of an arrow, you will usually find that on average, arrows weigh between 400 and 500 grains per inch. If you are looking for a much more lightweight arrow, you will search for something in the range of 350 grains per inch. Conversely, heavier arrows might weigh anywhere between 600 and 700 GPI.
However, these arrows are normally used for much more conventional equipment such as a longbow or recurve bow. Archers shooting a compound bow don’t typically go for such a heavy projectile.
Finally, it is important to point out that when looking at arrow weight, you will often hear about the FOC or front of center. This term refers to the point at the front of the arrow where weight is distributed according to a balance point on the arrow.
If this is not considered, you may end up with an arrow that doesn’t shoot in the direction that you would expect it to. The trajectory can be hugely impacted when not selecting the correct weight in terms of FOC.
So, Why Does Weight Make A Difference?
When you shoot your bow, an incredible amount of energy is transferred from the bowstring into the arrow. Some bows are particularly powerful and the higher the draw weight, the more power and force will be released when you fire the bow.
But what does this have to do with the arrows? It’s quite simple; your arrows must have the ability to handle the energy that is going to be transferred into them.
Imagine releasing the energy of a 200lb longbow into a straw; it isn’t going to do the straw much good. However, when you use a heavier arrow that is designed to handle the pressure of the release, it won’t become damaged and will fly as you would expect.
Not only this, but it could be potentially dangerous to shoot an arrow that is not the correct weight from any given bow. If you use an arrow that is not heavy enough, you are risking the bowstring snapping or coming free of the cams. This could result in either serious damage to your bow or even worse, an injury for you.
On the other end of the scale, using an arrow that is too heavy won’t cause any problems in terms of safety but may result in an inferior flight. Too heavy arrows can lose speed very quickly which means that they won’t travel as far.
Manufacturers tend to follow the general rule that an arrow should weigh 5 grains for every pound of the draw weight.
Arrow Weight For Hunting Deer
One of the main concerns for anyone out in the field doing bowhunting is that they achieve a quick, and most importantly, humane kill. This will never be achieved when using arrows that are not the correct weight.
You will want to have an arrow that can cause a two-hole penetration and a fast blood trail, killing the animal as quickly as possible. This is one of the most crucial reasons that you should find an arrow that is a suitable weight, especially when you are bringing down a large target like a deer.
There are ongoing debates all over the internet and in bowhunting communities. There are some archers that argue that light arrows that travel quickly are best for hunting deer. On the flip side, other archers will tell you that a heavy arrow is better as it penetrates much more easily.
In an ideal world, you would have everything in one arrow but technology is yet to bring us that. However, for the most part, the general consensus is that a heavier arrow is better for hunting deer, or any other kind of live game, for that matter.
The reason behind this is simple; physics. An arrow with a greater weight will more freely penetrate the deer, killing it quickly.
If you wanted to get very scientific, you might consider Newton’s law of motion which helps us to understand how an arrow will slow down once it leaves the bow. A heavier arrow may not travel as quickly in the first instance but it will decelerate much slower than a lighter arrow. This means that, upon impact with the animal, these arrows will be able to penetrate deeper.
With that in mind let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using both heavy and light arrows.
Heavy Arrows vs Light Arrows
As we have just discussed, a heavy arrow will not slow down as quickly as its lighter counterparts. This makes them ideal if you want to achieve the best penetration.
That being said, a lighter arrow will fly much straighter and will often travel much greater distances. But you will notice that as a lighter arrow leaves your bow, it can make a great deal more noise than a heavier arrow.
For this reason alone, light arrows might not be suitable for hunting deer. The noise of the arrow leaving the bow could be enough to startle the deer causing it to move in the seconds between the arrow being fired and it meeting the deer. A lucky escape for him, and extremely frustrating for you.
According to experts, a fast-traveling, light arrow might be suitable for shooting smaller prey that is much quicker. But when it comes to shooting at larger animals, like deer, you may need to go for something much heavier so that it can get the vitals without fail.
However, there are many stories of archers successfully bringing down a 300lb buck with nothing more than a 365-grain arrow. It’s all in the setup.
Ultimately, the choice is yours but you should always consider the pros and cons of each weight before making your final choice as this will have a dramatic impact on its performance.
So, once you have considered the weight of your arrow, you will still not be quite ready to head out and hunt your first deer.
The arrow spine also plays an important role in its effectiveness. When we talk about spine, we are referring to the flexibility of an arrow. This is also given in numbers, typically the lower the number, the less flexible the arrow will be.
The arrow’s spine is determined in one of two ways. Statis spine refers to the way in which the arrow behaves while it is still. There are several factors that can influence this including the weight of the arrow and what material it is made from.
Furthermore, you should consider the dynamic spine of your arrow. Typically this is measured using a weight in the center of the arrow and measuring how much it flexes. You should think about the draw weight of the bow when looking at the flexibility.
For example, if you were to shoot an arrow from a 50lb bow, it would behave in a significantly different way than if it were shot from an 80lb bow.
When thinking about this, you need to not only take into consideration the draw weight of your bow but also its condition. If your bow is poor-performing or has a lighter draw weight, you may be better going for an arrow that was not as flexible. This would also apply to bows that have a shorter draw length.
Conversely, archers shooting a heavier, longer, and better performing bow would certainly benefit from using a much more flexible arrow.
When we think about the weight of an arrow, it is difficult to ignore the material from which it is made. An arrow made from aluminum is going to be much heavier than one made from carbon. That being said, you can purchase arrows that are made from a mix of these two materials, which somewhat gives you the best of both worlds.
In years gone by, we saw a lot of aluminum arrows and while they are still popular today, most modern arrows are made from carbon.
As we discussed earlier, just because this is an incredibly lightweight material, that isn’t to say that there aren’t many heavier carbon arrows that are perfectly designed for bowhunters targeting deer.
Essentially, where materials are concerned, you want to focus more on how durable the arrows are as opposed to how heavy they are. When you are taking down a huge deer, there is little point in using an arrow that won’t stand up to this meaty challenge.
The way in which carbon arrows are made gives them greater durability without comparison when you compare them to their aluminum counterparts. The manufacturers are wrapping the carbon fibers in such a way that the arrow wall is much denser.
But durability aside, you will also find that a carbon arrow gives you greater ease when adjusting the front of center point. This is, as we have learned, an essential factor when looking at the weight of your arrow and will allow for a much more precise shot.
You might consider, however, that owing to the overall better performance of a carbon arrow, that the price will go up significantly.
Since there are pros and cons to both heavy and light arrows, a lot of people will make their choice based on their own personal preferences. What feels good to me may feel terrible for you.
One of the best ways to determine what you prefer is to have a go with arrows of varying weights. If you can get your hand on a wide selection, get yourself to the target range and give them a try.
It is best to practice on a 3D target if you can, to properly replicate the conditions of hunting a live deer. We wouldn’t ever suggest practicing on a real animal until you are confident that the arrows you are using will work how you intend them to. This is purely for the welfare of the deer. All responsible bowhunters will tell you that a humane kill is the best type.
The weight of an arrow is measured in grains per inch and while an average arrow weighs anywhere between 400 and 500 GPI, there are those that are much heavier and much lighter.
Where hunting deer is concerned, there is something of an age-old debate over whether a lighter or heavier arrow is best.
Lighter arrows will offer greater speed and will typically cover more distance, making them ideal for longer shots. Conversely, a heavier arrow has greater momentum, and as such, offers greater penetration, especially for larger game, like deer.
We would suggest going for something a little heavier but it also depends on the type of bow you are using.
Hunters using a recurve or longbow will normally go for arrows with a much higher GPI. In many cases, they may use arrows that are 700 grains or more. In contrast, compound bow hunters will need a far lighter arrow.
Aside from the weight, there are other contributing factors that should be considered when choosing the best arrow weight for deer hunting. These include the arrow spine and the material used to construct the arrow.