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.
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!)
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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 takenunder 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.
You can bet if it’s “Ranch Fairy Approved,” that I’ve done the testing at the Ranch Fairy Lab!
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 youhow 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
Arrow speed Value must be between 100 and 500 Feet Per Second.
move slider or enter value
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)
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.)
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 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…
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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!
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.
This sponge and tape measure help to illustrate wound channel length during a broadside 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.
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.
An imaginary tic-tac-toe board can help provide guidance on where to shoot when taking a quartering away shot.