The last time that I changed my arrow setup was probably whenever I switched from an eighty-five to a hundred grain broadhead; so needless to say that was a long, long time ago. Besides the occasional turkey, bowhunting whitetails is what I've always built my arrows around, with truly the only variable being the style of broadhead. Aside from that, I've always shot a 340 grain spine, 100 grain broadhead and some fairly short fletching. And though my groups have always been fairly consistent and animal recovery has been high, I wanted to experiment with another setup, just to see what that might do for my groups and target penetration.
From what I can tell, there's been an awful lot of folks moving to heavier arrow combinations these days. It's not uncommon to hear people building 700-800+ grain arrows for thin skinned game North American game. But is overall weight what you should be focusing on for your next build or should you be taking a closer look at each component while you're standing at the drawing board? I'd urge you to do the latter, because building the right arrow for your own needs and application is what is most important. Between draw length, draw weight, type of game and about 100 other factors, the right arrow build for you might be drastically different than your neighbor who shoots a similar setup.
For me, overall arrow weight is important, but not as important as where that weight lives, so I pay more attention to the front-of-center "FOC" percentage. Building an arrow with a higher FOC does a few things that I really like for the species that I hunt. For one, it helps the arrow fly more like a dart. With more weight up front, I've found that my arrows have better flight performance, giving me tighter overall groups. The other thing that a higher FOC arrow does is provide more power on impact, which I especially like. For a Texas whitetail, it doesn't take a super heavy arrow to seal the deal. However, if your arrow does encounter some resistance upon entry, the inertia behind a higher FOC arrow build will assist in driving that arrow further than a lower FOC build. Darts that hit like dump trucks is the easiest way to think about it.
Mike's 2023 Hunting Arrow Setup
To better redistribute the weight, I backed-down to a slightly lighter spine than I've shot in the past. Then I chose to install a one-hundred grain insert, that also covers the front part of the arrow with a sleeve. With this type of system, these arrows are not only gaining weight up front, but a bit more rigidness with the sleeve covering the front. I also decided install a bit of a longer, more sturdy fletching on the rear to help stabilize the arrow right off the rest. Three vanes still seemed like the right number (vs.4), and so far the flight performance has been very flat.
Conveniently, I also moved to a new sight this season, so having to sight back in wasn't a big deal with my new set of arrows. And, as I had hoped, this new combination has been incredible from both a grouping and target penetration perspective. I'm in no way, shape or form a competitive grade shooter, so when I can get groups that are consistently touching at 30 yards, I'm beyond thrilled. If you're on the fence about making the switch to another arrow this season, you should go for it and see what works best. There's honestly no better time to fool with your setup than the early summer.