December 2, 2022
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DIY heavy FOC hunting arrows for less money

By on June 27, 2022 0

Alright, let’s get this straight: Ranch Fairy. Love it or hate it, Troy Fowler, aka The Ranch Fairy on YouTube, should be credited with bringing a much-needed conversation to the forefront of the bowhunting community: the benefits of using a hunting arrow heavy with an adequate centre-forward (FOC) cooked.

Yes, it can sometimes rub people the wrong way. But I’m admittedly a fan of his work and sincerely admire the level of research he put into all things arrows, broadheads, and dead creatures. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says, nor do I think his methods are the best for every bowhunter. Some hunters just don’t have the ability, time or appetite for detail to build arrows like he does – and I would include myself in that group.

Make no mistake, the Ranch Fairy method of building arrows, selecting broadheads, and tuning works. And there are many benefits to stepping away from the high-speed craze. In my experience, the heavy arrows I used to shoot with my traditional bow passed through deer while the supersonic arrows in my compound delivered a 50/50 percentage of pass. Increase arrow weight without decreasing arrow speed too much, and you will have a hunting arrow that penetrates more than a lighter, faster arrow. It’s just physics.

But almost all of the latest options for building heavier arrows today are damn expensive. There are wide tips that cost $30 each. Bare arrows that exceed $250 a dozen. Inserts that FOC beef almost as much as it empties your bank account. So, yeah, not exactly an ideal fit for everyone. The good news? You can build your own heavy hunting arrows with improved FOC without breaking the bank. Here’s how.

Select the best shaft for an economical heavy arrow

Obviously, you can’t build arrows without arrow shafts, and that’s the first place to cut costs. I’ve shot an awful lot of arrows over the years, and I can say without hesitation that it’s hard to find a really bad arrow these days. Some are more straight than others, but if you grew up in the XX75 days, you would know that straight has taken on a completely different meaning now. While some high-level competitive archers would notice the difference between .001 and .006 straightness tolerances, this level of accuracy does not apply in most hunting situations.

Instead, the most important factor to consider when constructing a heavy finished arrow is the weight of the shaft. For the purposes of our discussion, we’ll keep the math pretty simple and build a 30 inch boom for a 29 inch draw length. The end goal is a finished weight of at least 500 grains – and that’s not a number I came up with on a whim. There will be room to play above 500, but it is important not to go below.

To figure this out I ran the numbers on a KE/momentum calculator and found that a 500 grain arrow would still be fast enough to provide the best combination of energy, momentum and setting. For this, I like to start with the Kinetic series from GoldTip. They offer a 300 spine shaft that comes in at 10.4 grains per inch. For our arrow, the bare shaft (which will be just under 30 inches because we have to account for the nock) is going to come in at around 306 grains. You can get half a dozen of these trees for around $70.

Select the right broadhead

Wasp Archery SharpShooter Traditional 150 Grain Cut On Contact Broadhead

I can’t sharpen anything more than a pencil. I tried, but the magic of turning dull steel into sharp steel eludes me. That’s why I don’t use the ultra-chic (and ultra-expensive) single-bevel wide tips you read about on just about every forum and social media post these days. Instead, I stick with what works for me: solid, proven fixed blade heads with replaceable blades. I like traditional Wasp 150 grain archery. And they’re only $40 for three heads.

Coupled with the standard GoldTip Kinetic inserts (at 24.8 grains) and a 306 grain shaft, you now have an arrow that weighs around 480 grains. Add the empennage (three Blazer vanes at 6 grains each) and a standard notch (11 grains), and you’ve crossed the 500-grain mark to 509-grain. Total cost for each arrow: about $20, or about the cost of half a dozen bare arrows designed for the FOC.

What kind of performance can this boom setup provide

The KE calculator says these arrows will deliver about 92 lb-ft of kinetic energy if your bow can shoot them at 285 fps. I shoot a Mathew’s V3X (29 inch draw) and should hit that number or very close. Plugging the numbers from the arrow above into the FOC calculator shows the FOC at just over 12%, which is solid. Most important to me is that this number should provide accuracy with minimal fuss and adjustment.

If you want to increase the weight a bit more, you can do so by adding the GoldTip Fact 20 Grain Weight System. It costs $15, which adds about $1.10 to the cost of each arrow. You would then have a finished arrow weight of around 529 grains, an increased KE to around 93 lb-ft (I reduced the arrow speed by 5 fps for the 20 grains of extra weight) and a higher FOC at 14%.

You can definitely push things and try to get a heavier arrow or spend a lot more per bare rod for more grains per inch. You can even opt for one of the fancy new buds that grow 250 grains. But I’m not sure you could build an arrow that would work much better on white tails at 30 yards and under.