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Author Archive

Troy Fowler

Troy Fowler’s life goal is to become a “professional small boy” just like Peter Capstick. Well, in reality, he’s a father to three great kids, miraculously remaining married for 30+ years while employed in a boring corporate fashion. He annoyingly asks “why does that do that” way too often. If you’re a bowhunter - he answers many topics on his YouTube channel - The Ranch Fairy.
ranch fairy logo

From “Failure” To “Fairy” | How the Ranch Fairy came to be

It all began with failure. 

Simply put, my hunting arrows were hitting the mark, but my success rate was less than stellar, and I had nowhere else to go. I could try something different or grab the rifle. After all, as my friend Chris says, “lead is very efficient.”

A Little History on “The Ranch Fairy” Name

Before we get into all the nitty gritty details of hunting arrows, you might be wondering… why “Ranch Fairy?” After all, bowhunting dudes are rough and tough. They take on the ultimate close-range challenge and they sport lots of cool gear (the toys never end, and the bowhunting message boards will keep your head swimming with ideas… some of them are actually good ideas – but beware!)

ranch fairy troy fowler with dead hog and iron will broadhead

Bowhunters can’t be fairies… can they?

Soooo, anyway, “The Ranch Fairy…” The short version is this…

My wife’s family has a ranch in Texas, and I am the dude who manages the details, such as: feeders, blinds, keeping the A/C and toilets running, occasional plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and the “could you look at the cameras and then tell me where the biggest buck is showing up….and at what time” tasks.

The “to do” list, well, it’s a scroll… the end is never reached, because it just keeps unrolling.

So, about 10 years ago, I just off-handedly started calling myself “The Ranch Fairy,” instead of “ranch manager.” 

But, I actually enjoy the piddling and managing things. It’s good for the psyche.




Wonderfully Weird

Of note, I’m a bit weird! I killed a 150” deer in 2007 and for some reason I just don’t care to kill another one. 

Weird? Yup. 

I caught a 9’6” Tiger shark (plus a couple big bull sharks) off the Texas beach after 15 years of trying, and I don’t care to catch a 10+. 

Yup… weird. 

ranch fairy with a 9 foot shark

Catching a 9’6″ tiger shark and then losing interest is just one of the “weird” things about the ‘ole Ranch Fairy.

I am currently trying to catch a 10-pound bass. I suspect that after it happens, I won’t worry about bass anymore… onward to new ideas. 

Troy Fowler the ranch fairy holding a largemouth bass

After I reach the 10-pound bass goal, I’ll probably just move on to some other challenge!

But alas, for some reason, I have never given up on mature feral hogs. 

What do I mean by “mature?” Well, 200+ pounds is where they are considered big at our place (if you think your pigs are big – buy a scale and be amazed at your lack of weight-guessing skill). 

Like anywhere, food and time helps animals get big. Some places have legit 300’s. But, we just don’t have the food piece… no agriculture.  So, our pigs work pretty hard at being, well… pigs.



Fairy Failure

So, now let’s explore failure.

One of the luxuries of pigs and deer feeders is high-volume shooting. I’ll bring this up later. 

So anyway, up until 2015, I was really failing – to the tune of only a 50% recovery rate on big pigs. The little 100-pound zoomers… not a big deal. But the big boys… well, you may hunt one for months before he shows up. You shoot, and… BONK… half an arrow of penetration, and you pray you find it. 

(Remember what Chris says, “Lead is very efficient.” It was in consideration. After all, head shots with any round you have flat out work!)




kids holding rifle standing next to dead hog

As one of my good friends says, “lead is very efficient.” But, I HAD to find a way to be efficient with a bow!

Like many of you, I owned or considered every arrow platform on the earth. Mechs, 4 blade, 3 blade, 2 blade, different “arrows” and magic sights that solve complex calculus while you draw back. 

Honestly, it’s as bad as golf. Did I mention I was a single-digit handicap at one time? Then… you guessed it… I stopped playing!

Don’t get me started.

ranch fairy troy fowler and big hog

I had been failing at killing big pigs with my bow and had tried every broadhead on planet earth. And then…



If At First You Don’t Succeed… Try Something Else!

So, because I was failing, I had absolutely no reason to duplicate the 12 penetration factors made famous by Dr. Ed Ashby in his 20+ year Natal Study. 

I’m not real smart, but if what you’re doing isn’t working, you have nothing to lose. 

So, I wandered off into the tin foil hat world, left my friends and colleagues to the message board warlocks, and went on the road less traveled. (Remember, I have a high volume, live target, known-distance place to test these things.)

I ran an arrow up to 670 grains, bare shaft perfect flight, long 3:1 single bevel, and went off to find out what would happen. 

What happened with these “adult arrows” was truly amazing. 



tuffhead single bevel broadhead

My change to single-bevel broadheads like this one and heavy arrows was a game-changer!

The arrows started penetrating through the pigs and then into the dirt

The big pigs started going 60 yards and then, I mean they were dead, dead in 10 seconds (it’s still working). 

The biggest thing I discovered during all of this is that I am now only limited by lethal shot placement. When I do my job in that area, the pigs are dead and there are no issue finding them. 

Before that, I either perfectly heart shot one and it was devastating, or I didn’t shoot it perfectly and there was no blood trail, long nights, and a Duracell bunny that came along to test battery longevity. 



Not The Bat Cave, The Ranch Fairy Lab!

So, I decided to turn the ranch into a live target test lab. 

Nope, this is not a hunting show (though many of my detractors slam that one on me).  It’s an arrow lethality and penetration study. 

Yeah, shooting pigs is still super fun! But to have high volume, year around, 24/7, no laws and high shot reliability.  It’s handy.  The set-up shots at whitetail distances (the average whitetail is still taken under 20 yards if you don’t know that), allowed me to really test different high mass, high FOC, arrow systems. I already had 15 years of the other stuff. 

So, there you go, that’s how The Ranch Fairy came to be. I mean, I was technically already the Ranch Fairy.

ranch fairy approved logo

You can bet if it’s “Ranch Fairy Approved,” that I’ve done the testing at the Ranch Fairy Lab!



I am no marketing genius. But, when I typed “Ranch Fairy” into Google, the results were 0 – none. So, in the social media algorithms, you’re either unique or super popular. 

Well, unique I hit, because bowhunters, as noted earlier, are rough and tough and super manly. No one forgets a bowhunting fairy!  

Stay tuned to the Ranch Fairy.  We have some serious science and physics coming up that will pop the message board cronies’ heads off!

But, hey, if you want to argue with Sir Isaac Newton, feel free. Because, when you argue with math, the old saying kicks you in the rear.  “Liars can figure, but figures don’t lie.”  

ranch fairy wearing shoot adult arrows shirt
Troy Fowler, AKA, The Ranch Fairy
ranch fairy troy fowler with feral hog

In-Depth Arrow Testing with The Ranch Fairy [PLUS: Kinetic Energy & Momentum Calculator!]

When it comes to your bowhunting setup, knowing the “Kinetic Energy” of your arrow allows you to know how much energy that arrow possesses due to motion, from being shot by your bow. The “Momentum” tells you how much force it will take to stop your arrow when it reaches its intended target.

Kinetic Energy and Momentum Arrow Calculator

Kinetic Energy and Momentum Calculator
Arrow weight Value must be between 250 and 1000 grains.
move slider or enter value
grains
Arrow speed Value must be between 100 and 500 Feet Per Second.
move slider or enter value
fps
Kinetic Energy:
0
Momentum:
0
ranch fairy approved logo

If you know your arrow’s weight (in grains) and your arrow’s speed (Feet Per Second), then you can use our Kinetic Energy and Momentum calculator above to find out each! Simply move the sliders or enter the values in the blanks. And, if you really want to take a deep dive into the Kinetic Energy of arrows, check out what the Ranch Fairy is up to below…

Kinetic Energy And Bowhunting (How I Got Here)

the ranch fairy troy fowler

As you may already know, the ‘ole Ranch Fairy (that’s me) is quite out of the norm in his measuring of arrow systems. (If you aren’t aware, I am definitely one of the strange ones in the bowhunting world.) 

In all fairness, I have been heavily influenced by Dr. Ed Ashby’s 12 Arrow Penetration Factors and his almost 30 years-long Natal Study.  These are, in fact, the basis for my YouTube channel and all of the research I have been doing therein.

Anyway, just to set the record straight, the biggest overlap between Dr. Ed, the Ashby Bowhunting Foundation, and the Ranch Fairy is simple: We want to know the highest performing projectile for all impact points to pass through the animal you are hunting.  

The goal is maximum arrow lethality

I like to put it this way: Archery is shooting a target… bowhunting begins at impact with the target.

Finally, I am constantly seeking higher performance and am always questioning what I know today

Why?

Because the longer I live, the more I look back and say, “wow, my assumption about bowhunting 3 years ago (along with many things in life, not just bowhunting) was flawed.”

I keep learning because I kept asking “why” and kept trying to find out ”why.”




The Science Of Arrow Flight

So, now I have embarked upon the science side of the arrow. Some questions to consider:

  • Why does an arrow fly?
  • Why does an arrow fail to penetrate?
  • Why do we measure it with scientific formula?
  • Which formula is correct – OR – is it a combination of formulas?
  • Are we right? (oh man, check the man card here!)


Big Mike and a “Rocket Man”

I like to say, “It’s better to have smart friends than to be smart.” And, I have had the luxury of meeting ‘Big Mike’ who has coached me on the “functional bow and arrow flight” part of this game. 

And then, the latest addition… enter, “The Rocketman,” Darrel R. Barnette. 

Darrel spent 30 years with the Department of Defense (D.O.D.) testing “boring” things like, tank penetrators and rail guns. 

Just to clarify, the Rocketman says he technically never worked on a ‘rocket’.  But, he did shoot, test, and evaluate hard target penetrators pushing Mach 11. 

So, ya know, an arrow is a bit slower. 

darrel barnette testing kinetic energy of bows and arrows

Here’s the Rocketman “aiming’ what is known as a lab radar. NOTE: (If you have a bowhunting idea or concept, Darrel does testing and you can reach him at [email protected].)

Heretofore, Darrel is known as “the Rocketman.” 

When the Rocketman starts talking, he gives me about 15-20 minutes (until steam starts to come out of my ears) and then he pulls back on the reigns. 

Ballistic coefficient, Poncelet equation, yaw, lift, aerodynamic friction and drag, the Physics Hyper Textbook on and on and on. 

Bro! He has me doing calculus!



kinetic energy arrow test machine

The Rocketman brought some fancy gadgets to the Kinetic Energy show…



Kinetic Energy And Arrow Flight

So on to Kinetic Energy (KE), which is super boring. But, we’ll play along, since it is the most common measurement of bow efficiency.

But is it the right one? 

More to come, but for now,  I’ll stay on the rails with Kinetic Energy so the speed bow guys can relate with ‘hitting the target’.  

ki·net·ic en·er·gy

/kəˈnedik ˈenərjē/

noun

energy which a body possesses by virtue of being in motion.

Oxford Languages



The first time Rocketman said, “well, Troy, a bow is just a spring with fixed Kinetic Energy,” I thought… BLASPHEMY! 

But, from what I understand, he is right. 

The bow can’t “make” more KE. It is what it is. 

BUT, you can change the arrow and gain some…..so hang on. Let me set the table here… 

metal spring

A bow is just a spring with a fixed Kinetic Energy. It can’t make more kinetic energy than what it already possesses.

KE Arrow Testing

On a basic level, radar measures a projectile’s speed over distance. 

The testing unit that we used measures 5 total distances.  So, if you want to shoot 60 yards, the computer divides that distance into 5 increments. 

[NOTE TO SELF – you need to put the target further than 60 yards to capture the flight speed. To address this, we placed the target at 70 yards. Because, if impact is at 60 yards, the data would be flawed for velocity testing because the target stops the arrow at a yardage that it should be being measured.]



Below is the spreadsheet, graphs, etc., shooting 3 different bows under the conditions described above.  

Yeah, its super small. I don’t intend for you to read it and geek out (but that’s coming… keep reading!)

Just know that it’s a lot of information, and we ran the best test we know to do… today anyway.  (See my comments on being smart, today, included earlier in the article.  We will be smarter very soon!)

graph and spreadsheet of kinetic energy testing on bows and arrows

The Tools In Our Kinetic Energy Toolkit

The three bows we used in the Kinetic Energy testing were:

  1. Elite Kure 65#/28.5” draw
  2. Xpedition Xcursion 6 65#/28.5” draw length (my beloved “Pamela”)
  3. Mathews DXT 70#/29” draw length

I bare shaft tuned 350, 300, and 250 spine Sirius Apollo arrows to achieve the following arrow weights (in grains): 388, 436, 514, 589, 616, 670, and 718. 

Our goal was to see the ‘launch’ velocity vs. 60 yard ‘impact’ velocity. (Remember the target was at 70 yards).

Just to revive our blasphemy! “A bow is a kinetic energy spring, with fixed kinetic energy”. 

heavy arrows and filed points for kinetic energy arrow testing

Rocketman has his gadgets, but what would Kinetic Energy testing be without some “adult” arrows?



Test Results (and fancy graphs, oh boy!)

So, the charts below tell us the story.

The top line is the launch velocity. The change in velocity is super boring… Until you look at the 60 yard impact KE. 

The gap in the data sets shows the significant reduction in KE over distance. However, you see that gap narrow as arrow mass increases. 

expedition excursion kinetic energy graph
elite kure kinetic energy graph
mathews dxt kinetic energy graph

As you can see, in all the above graphs, the launch KE is relatively constant, but alas, further away, at 60 yards, with higher mass projectiles, we see something worth pondering. (Well, only if you think math is correct!)



What are the results telling us? (Please pardon the steam coming out of my ears)

So, despite my heavy arrow bias, (I’m not much of a hair splitter), increasing launch KE 3-6 ft/pounds is really boring. 

But the lower line, at 60 yards, is worth chewing on. 

If you search around, many of the wide mechanical broadheads suggest KE’s of 45-60 ft-lb’s. Now, they don’t go out on a limb and say, “that will create a pass through, or break bones.” It’s just a recommended impact KE. 


Formula for Kinetic Energy:
K.E. = 1/2mv2
(where m=mass of object and v=velocity)


And be clear, just like the firearms world, this is launch KE, maximum velocity. This is because a projectile can’t go faster once it leaves the muzzle or the string… It’s always slowing down. 

Silly aerodynamic drag. 

Now in a vacuum… oh wow, throw in some zero gravity and guess what?

It still doesn’t go faster….. it would maintain launch velocity and you wouldn’t be able to breathe to test it. 

Aw Shucks.



archery field points in prescription bottles

Some adult field points and some, ahem, “super weenie points.”

There have been multiple companies and YouTube personalities showing fixed blade vs. mechanical pressure testing on deer thoraxes and other items simulating a critter. They use very complicated mechanical devices down to something as simple as a bathroom scale. 

Let’s just say, the HUGE differences are eye popping.  

It’s not half a pound or 3, it’s exponential. The “precision” of the device doesn’t matter when the difference is 40 pounds.  Please search those tests up, because I know you’ll go do it anyway.   

sir isaac newton

When it comes to arrow penetration, harder things push back harder… you can just blame Sir Isaac Newton for that and keep my hate mail down!



Final Thoughts (For Now)

So, here’s the thing to ponder…

If X brand broadhead requires 50 ft-lbs to penetrate and another type takes, say, 10 ft-lbs., which one leaves you more energy to continue pushing? 

Remember Newton’s 3rd law…“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

So in this case, the tissue will push back 50 ft-lb on the one broadhead and 10 ft-lb on the other… but the arrow is exerting 70 ft-lb.

Given that, the broadhead requiring 50 ft-lbs has to have at least 50.1 ft-lbs. to continue moving and the 10 ft-lb broadhead requires 10.1 ft-lbs to keep moving.

The arrow has to overcome the equal and opposite push back exerted by the tissues: hair, meat, bone, etc.

sirius arrow shafts and heavy field points

If you can shoot between the ribs every single time, none of this matters. I’m not that good, so give me the heavy stuff!



PLUS, here’s the kicker.  Harder things push back… harder.

You can just blame this on Newton’s 3rd law of physics. This will keep my hate mail down!

So, for the 50 ft-lb broadhead, if your bow produces 70 ft-lbs, you have 20 foot pounds of extra work potential.  

Now, with that same bow generating 70 ft-lbs, shooting a beefier broadhead that only requires 10 ft-lbs to penetrate, has 60 ft-lbs of extra work potential. 

If you could guarantee you’d never hit anything hard on a deer, elk or other critter, and always shoot between the ribs, none of this matters… you have a winner. 

I’m not that good. So, give me all the extra I can get!



What’s next…

What we haven’t studied, is actually shooting the different broadhead platforms to measure the exit velocities or impact velocity.  That one will take “some doing” to get it right. 

Trust me, I want to know if I am right and “why.”  The math here says I am.  But Dr. Ed always says, “we won’t know until we actually test it under those conditions”. 

So, we will. 

This is why you donate to the Ashby Bowhunting Foundation, so we can go test these things and increase your effectiveness. 

More to come.

ranch fairy wearing shoot adult arrows shirt
Troy Fowler, aka “The Ranch Fairy”
whitetail deer quartering away

The Quartering Away Shot on a Deer | A bowhunter’s best friend

So, there’s a lot of discussion in the archery/bowhunting world surrounding shot angles.

When it comes to this hot topic, there are several subtopics like, “how to,” “where,” “which angle,” and “the best.”

And, of course, there’s the chatter surrounding what arrow and broadhead to use (I have some not so humble opinions on that!)

But, very few shot placement discussions answer the only thing that matters… “Why do you shoot any shot angle?”  

Understanding “why” in regard to shot angles requires practical application.  So, keep reading and find out!

The “why” is important when contemplating shot placement

Just so you know, I drove my teachers crazy in school when we did math equations or wrote papers for English class. Over and over and over again I simply wanted to know… “why are we doing this!?” 

The answer was usually, “because that’s what we are doing today!”  (which still falls like an anvil on my reasoning capability.)

I just kept thinking “we’ve been doing that stuff the past few days and I am moderately proficient!”

But, “why” requires practical application.  So, keep reading and I’ll cover some of that stuff.



So, what is a quartering away shot anyway?

First, let’s make sure we all understand what “quartering away” looks like. Since a large number of bowhunters are after whitetail, that is the example I will use.

Yeah, Yeah, there can be severe quartering, or more toward broadside but quartering. Here’s the simple way to know IF THEY are quartering. Look at the front legs.  If you see daylight, it’s quartering.

deer quartering away with arrow pointing to daylight between the front legs

If a deer is facing away from you and you can see daylight between its front legs… it’s quartering away.

Why the quartering away shot is best

Now that we have that settled, let’s discuss why this shot is the best shot angle.  I’ll set this up in order of operation.

They are looking away

Put simply, the act of drawing a bow requires movement.  The animal is looking away from you, so that puts you at a significant hunting advantage.

The ears are pointed the other way

So, there’s some debate on a quartering away shot being better because a deer’s hearing would be reduced with its ears pointing away as well. A deer’s ears are cupped, so theoretically, if you make noise, this position would in fact be better.

My example above, of course, has an ear rotated back, just to keep me honest. Anyway, the ears aren’t toward you and that can’t be a bad thing!



The lethal part of the critter, any critter, is exposed in a quartering away stance

In the quartering away stance, there are no shoulder blades or ribcage to hit in most cases, even from a treestand. But, the big “kicker” here is that the arrow is traveling forward. Physiologically, and FACTUALLY, the arrow will be moving toward the more lethal parts of the animal. 

So, a little anatomy lesson.. Below is a basic diagram of the broadside of a deer:

whitetail deer diagram standing broadside with vitals showing

Now, you’re going to have to play along with me in this diagram and just imagine the deer is quartering away. 

Each “arrow” represents a shot angle (from top to bottom), i.e. a tree stand, low tree stand, or downhill and ground level.  That’s why I have the “arrows” as long as they are.  They represent a possible wound channel.

But, no matter if the arrow hits the rear of the lungs or the middle of the lungs, the arrow is constantly moving toward the heart, lungs, and major vessels.  This is key to WHY! 

So, why does this matter Fowler??

Well, I’ll tell you.



Keep things moving forward, folks

The most forward part of the animal, (where all 3 “arrows” intersect and I have placed the “broadhead” in the picture above), include much larger vessels and airways. 

Put simply, “it’s legit,” but it’s a bit more complex than that. So, here’s the redneck version… 

Your potential to cut “bigger stuff” increases exponentially every inch that the arrow moves forward (let’s hope you’re shooting an adult arrow and hitting the Earth after blowing through). 

Anyway, with the quartering away shot, Joe Bowhunter’s success percentage goes up and tracking distance goes down. WIN!

The wound channel is long

It’s pretty simple: The wound channel of a quartering away shot is long.

I laugh when I see these “wound channel” measurements.  Mostly to justify a 3” wide mechanical penetrating only 9”.

Mathematically, sure, I get that. But come on man. Can’t we just shoot through a deer? 




Anyway, this next part does apply to “flappers” (mechanicals) and low penetration systems.  As you might know, I advocate for maximum penetration because that’s all an arrow can do… penetrate.

Because an arrow only gets one try, long wounds increase damage.

Let me step off the soapbox now and give 2 examples that will be pretty clear. 

So, let’s get down to my level.

I am a simple guy.  Below is a basic sponge. It’s an excellent lung example because it’s full of air and holes that represent blood airways and blood vessels, they’re longer than they are wide, and because, well, everybody has handled one.

A perfectly normal lung, with no damage, would feel very similar when compressed.

sponge and tape measure showing the concept of a broadside shot

This sponge and tape measure help to illustrate wound channel length during a broadside shot.

sponge and tape measure showing the concept of a quartering away shot

And now, using the same methodology, a quartering away shot. The wound channel on a quartering away shot is longer than that of a broadside shot.

As you can see in the picture above, we get really long wounds with a quartering away shot.  Again, the larger vessels and heart are forward, so that’s improving per the “lethal part of the critter” discussed in #3 above

I’m not saying that broadside shots are bad, so stay on the rails here, this is a quartering away discussion! 

But, just look at that wound length. I think it’s pretty clear. 

Why the longer wound channel matters

Now, another thing your favorite professional bowhunting guru doesn’t recognize is basic physiology. Now, to be fair, few of them have had a cadaver to help clarify why this works.

The largest percentage of vessels in the deer or other animal are going lengthwise, (i.e. front to back in the lung), and have a little wrapper around them. 

Imagine that sponge is inside a balloon but yet stays the same shape. The balloon is perfectly adhered to the outside of the sponge. This means all the air and blood have to enter and exit somehow.  That “somehow” is tubes. And all the tubes go in and out of the front of the lungs and then to the legs, neck, head, etc.



That’s a fact. Separate systems for oxygen and blood, with their own committed tubes, running ’round God’s cardiothoracic plumbing system. 

As an example, if you didn’t have pipes in your house, water would go everywhere. We have clean water pipes and plumbing pipes doing two separate things. But nope, the water comes in from the city, runs in a big pipe, then enters your house, in smaller pipes, then leaves. 

In a lung, the air and blood flow is lengthwise because the entry and exit is in the front. 

Just. Like. That.

blood vessels illustration on quartering away shot using a sponge

A quartering away shot is more devastating than a broadside shot because the the blood vessels are running to and from the front, which is where we want that arrow headed!

Where to aim on a quartering away shot | Tic-Tac-Toe!

So, you can use this simple example for any shot angle. 

Imagine the board from tic, tac, toe. The front legs are the vertical posts.  Imagine a line running on the spine (we prefer not to hit that).  Then, another line on the brisket.

Now, shoot the middle of middle box.  On any angle, the middle box widens or narrows.  Shoot the middle of the middle box.

quartering away deer with tic tac toe diagram

An imaginary tic-tac-toe board can help provide guidance on where to shoot when taking a quartering away shot.



Conclusion

Ok, I hate to be so brief and leave so soon, but it’s really that simple. Of all these concepts, the long wounds are the most important.

Arrows do NOT have any cavitation or expanded wound channel by sheer velocity and shock waves. 

Not one.

Not even the broadhead companies that claim to have cavitation, actually have cavitation.  

100% fake news!



So, the best thing an arrow can do is travel as far as it can, cutting as many different airways and blood vessels as possible and then exit. 

Wait, that’s not the best thing, it is the ONLY thing!

One note, if you have dull broadheads, or just trust your brand to be hunting sharp and you don’t check them, that’s on you. Please take the responsibility to sharpen your broadheads!

The quartering away shot has many advantages. It’s certainly the best shot angle.

Now, if your arrow system fails, none of this matters, so…

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