Shooting at a deer is not a good time to find out that your arrow is not flying true.
On one of our bowhunting retreats to South Georgia, my business partner, Josh Wells, was able to take a whitetail buck, but it was not without a little bit of drama.
When we reviewed the footage of the shot on this bedded buck, the lighted nock allowed us to see the corkscrew flight path of the arrow… not what you want to see.
When we reviewed the footage of the shot, the lighted nock allowed us to notice some pretty severe corkscrew movement on his arrow. Thankfully, the fletchings did their job and the arrow found its mark.
But, this really got us thinking hard about bare shaft tuning our arrows.
We had not nock tuned our arrows in the past, but we knew folks who did and who recommended it highly.
Just give me one dozen arrows and let’s go hunting…
To be honest, like many of you, in the past we had just gone to our respective local bow shops, ordered a dozen arrows and went hunting.
We had taken for granted that that arrow was going to fly true. After all, when it comes to bowhunting we just need to be a “good shot,” right?
Josh was able to recover his whitetail, but the corkscrew flight of his arrow left him wondering if he had in fact delivered a fatal shot.
Well, we were reminded of an important lesson on this hunt… when it matters most, no one wants that arrow to fly better than the person that’s actually releasing it.
So, as good as your bow shop is (and we have some great bow shops in our area), the truth is that they don’t grip your bow like you do. They don’t necessarily have the same anchor point as you, and they may not have the same release of the arrow that you do.
So, while your bow shop can get your bow in center shot and “in tune,” there is much about yourpersonal shooting method that can affect arrow flight.
So, it’s your responsibility to be sure that each arrow has the best chance of finding its mark when shot from your bow, by you!
The goal of nock tuning is to gradually turn the nock of your arrow to different positions on the shaft to find the one where the arrow flies the straightest. One of the best ways to do this is to shoot a bare shaft (unfletched) arrow through paper until your find the position on the shaft where it shoots a “bullet hole.”
This will give us a very good indicator that when this arrow is fletched and shot, the fletchings will have very little to correct. After all, you may have gripped the bow too tightly during the shot, or even released the arrow abnormally.
Those fletchings will have all that to worry about without adding an arrow that is not properly tuned.
We could certainly go in-depth about arrow spine, but we’ll keep it simple here.
When arrows are shot and released from a bow, a tremendous amount of stored energy is transferred from the limbs of the bow to that arrow.
If you look closely, you can see in this picture that the arrow flexes when shot from the bow. Having the a properly spined arrow for your bow setup is critical to the nock tuning process being fully effective.
The arrow will flex during the shot and the stiffness of the spine is what determines how much that arrow will flex. To fly properly, your arrow needs to flex, but it needs to flex the right amount. That is why having properly spined arrows for your bow setup is critical.
So, as I walk you through the process of bare shaft nock tuning your arrows through paper, I’m going to assume a few things right off the bat. I’m going to assume that your bow is already in center shot and that you have properly spined arrows for your bow setup.
The N-Tune™ arrow wrap and how it makes the nock tuning process easier
Please hear me.
I am not trying to argue for or against arrow wraps.
Many of you may have also gotten interested in the nock tuning and paper tuning bare shaft process by watching the Ranch Fairy.
But, Troy Fowler will tell you, he is not an arrow wrap guy. In fact, he is not for anything that adds extra tail weight. And as it pertains to high FOC, we totally understand why.
What we are saying is, we have found that in the process of bare shaft and paper tuning is tedious. It can take several, if not dozens of shots, and can knowing where you are and where you have been on that arrow shaft is critical to figuring out where the stiffest part of the spine is.
The N-Tune™ arrow wrap allows you to put a small indicator of which arrow you are shooting, so you don’t have to write on your fletchings.
So, we wanted to come up with a way to make the nock tuning process a little bit better, so that you can easily reference which parts of the shaft are tuning better through paper, as well as a way to indicate which arrow you’re working on, so that you can reference that without having to mark up your arrows too much.
How to nock tune your bowhunting arrows | Step-By-Step
Time needed: 15 minutes.
Here’s how to nock tune your arrows through paper using the N-Tune™ arrow wrap (estimate: 15 min per arrow):
Align hole/mark on nock with line on the arrow wrap
Line up the center of the hole in the lighted nock (if you have one) with the number 1 line on the wrap. If your nock does not have a hole, you can mark any place on the nock with a dot as a reference point.
Shoot bare shaft arrow through paper
Shoot the arrow from about 10 feet away through paper (be sure you have a heavy target, such as a speed bag or crossbow target behind the paper that will stop the arrow. Also, be sure that your target is behind your paper more than a full length of your arrow, so that the arrow will not impact the target until it has fully passed through the paper).
Mark corresponding wrap number next to hole in paper
Next to the hole in the paper, write which position on the N-Tune™ arrow wrap you were on when you shot that hole.
Mark your arrow shaft
Once you have shot using all 8 positions on the wrap, examine the holes and see which one is closest to a “bullet hole.” Once you determine this, make a mark on the shaft with a sharpie or other marker and be sure to shoot the arrow with this mark facing up. (Note: If you are fletching your own arrows, you may need your fletchings pointing a certain direction in order to clear your rest of cables. Just be sure that t this mark can always be facing up when shooting.)
Repeat steps 1 through 4 on all shafts
Continue the above process for all 8 positions on the N-Tune™ arrow wrap. (You may have to do this process more than once on each number if you know you had a bad irregularity on one of the shots that was not necessarily the “arrow’s fault.”
If you are going to fletch your own arrows, be sure that you fletch them so that the mark you have made on your shaft is pointing UP when you nock the arrow.
So maybe you’re still asking, “why are you so worried about all this bare shaft nock tuning through paper stuff? That’s what’s the fletchings are for, to correct arrow flight!”
Well, that’s true. But if you’ve bow hunted long enough, you know that a lot of things can happen when you release that arrow.
Maybe your stance wasn’t exactly right. Maybe you were wearing baggy clothing and the string slapped your sleeve when you released the arrow. Maybe you had hand torque when you released the arrow. Maybe you had facial pressure on the bow string.
All these things can negatively affect arrow flight.
Yes, when these things happen, the fletchings will help correct the flight of that arrow. But, you want them to have to correct as little as possible.
Minimal correction is best
Would you rather your fletchings be correcting lots of imperfection because the arrow was not properly tuned? Or, would you rather the fletchings be correction small imperfections because you had taken every precaution to ensure that the bare shaft was flying as true as possible before any of that other bad stuff happened?
I’m choosing option 2, because not only do I want to be the best hunter I can be, I want my arrow to have the best chance possible of making an ethical impact on my target deer or other animal. This will result in me having the best chance possible of recovering that animal.
I hope you’ve learned some helpful information regarding nock tuning through paper.
The wild turkey is a complex creature and has some anatomical features that are pretty peculiar. Many hunters may not know what some of these features are and how they help a turkey survive in nature.
So, let’s take a closer look at the anatomy of the wild turkey.
If you are an avid turkey hunter, you are likely aware that this bird sports some powerful eyesight and can detect a turkey hunter with ease if they are not properly concealed and camouflaged.
Unlike us human hunters, the wild turkey possesses monocular periscope vision.
Turkeys have powerful eyesight, nearly a 360-degree field of vision, and each eye can move independently of the other.
Monocular periscope vision allows the eyes of the turkey to act independently from one another, allowing them to scan for potential threats in two different directions simultaneously.
Turkeys also have eyes situated on the sides of their head and not in a forward-facing direction. The positioning of the eyes and the independent operation they are capable of means that turkeys have nearly 360 degrees of viewing range.
The ears of a turkey are located right behind the eyes.
The eyes being able to scan so much of the immediate area around them means they can pick up the slightest movements with ease and is one of the reasons they are so challenging to hunt.
Like all birds, the turkey doesn’t have any external ear features, and their ears are essential, just holes in their head directly behind their eyes.
The ears of the turkey feature pinpoint hearing, and if you have ever called in a turkey from a long distance, you will have observed how they can pinpoint the exact location of the sound and track directly to you.
Turkey’s have an uncanny ability to judge distance with their ears.
Despite not having external ears that serve as a sort of “radar dish” to detect noises from a wide range of directions like a deer, the turkey has hearing that can easily pinpoint the exact location of noise, and their brains will even register the distance of the sound from the bird.
The snood is an anatomical feature that a turkey possesses that causes most hunters to scratch their heads and ask, “what is that thing for?”
The most noticeable feature which has the fitting name of a snood is the familiar bright red lumpy area located on the throats of male turkeys.
A turkey’s snood helps to regulate body temperature, and in males, help to attract female turkeys (hens).
The snood serves a few different purposes for male turkeys, with the biggest being attraction to the opposite sex, with the bright ornamentation helping attract females for breeding.
This weird anatomical feature also serves another critical role for tom turkeys. It helps dissipate excess heat and helps regulate the bird’s body temperature on those hot summer days.
The colorations of the head of a male wild turkey are to this day not fully understood, and the colors can change depending on the bird’s mood.
The Coloration of the head can change from blue to white to red, and the bird can do so based on moods like agitation, excitement, irritation, fear, and others.
A turkey’s head colors can change, depending on factors like fear, anger and during mating.
When it comes to mating, there will often be a prominent white coloration at the top of the head, and this occurs when a tom is approaching hens or, in many cases, a hunter or decoy that the tom thinks is a hen.
The beard of a tom turkey serves the same purpose as the coloration and snood, to attract hens. The beard of a tom turkey isn’t actually a beard at all but a modified form of a feather.
While males use it to attract hens, hen turkeys are also known to sport a beard, albeit on a rare basis. This has led some experts to not definitely hold the beard as a definitive in terms of its’ role.
The beard of a make turkey has a texture similar to a thick monofilament fishing line, and is used to attract hens.
One of the anatomical features of a turkey that is a trophy feature among hunters are the spurs.
A turkey grows spurs on the back of each leg near the foot, and can be used for defense as well as for fighting.
The spurs serve two primary purposes for a tom turkey; it is the major form of defense for the bird, and hunters try to avoid them when retrieving a recently downed bird for this very reason.
Tom turkeys also use these spurs to fight other toms for the same reasons bucks or rams fight, to establish a hierarchy within the flock, as turkeys are social animals.
Just like the antlers of a buck, the spurs of a tom turkey can cause severe lacerations, cuts, and bruising, so be cautious when approaching a wounded tom.
The tail feathers are probably the most prized feature of a tom turkey among hunters, and both hunters and toms love to display them.
A turkey’s tail feathers are the prize possession of turkey hunters.
The tail fan of a turkey serves a few purposes; it makes them look larger when they are fully displayed, which serves as a form of intimidation to other toms when fighting during the mating season and attracts hens.
The large tail feathers also serve as a rudder when flying, helping the bird control their direction of flight and helping them brake and slow down when they come in for a landing or when roosting in the trees at night.
Here’s a look at a turkey’s tail feathers from behind the bird.
Unlike other birds, a turkey will rarely use flight to simply get around due to being a relatively heavy bird and use flight for the purposes of getting up into trees for roosting and back down again.
But don’t be fooled, as a threatened turkey can kick into high gear and escape nearly any potential threat quickly by flying fast and low, albeit in relatively short bursts compared to other birds.
Although turkeys canfly, their wings are used primarily to fly up and down from their roosting locations.
The wings also serve a purpose in establishing dominance in the flock hierarchy, with “wing slapping” being a common way for toms to fight and work their way to the top of the pecking order.
during mating season, a male turkey will often “strut” with it’s tail feathers up and its wings pointed in a downward fashion
Wings also come in handy for dusting, which is when a turkey wallows down into dry dirt and ruffles its feathers to spread a fine powdery coat of dust on itself.
Dust baths keep the feathers of the turkey in optimum condition and are a part of their preening and plumbing maintenance, as the dust absorbs excess oils and moisture.
A turkey will “dust” its feathers, in an area like this, to keep their wings from being matted and to help prevent parasites and mites.
Dusting keeps the feathers of the bird from becoming matted and greasy and provides clean and aerodynamic feathers for maximum efficiency during flight, and also helps prevent feather mites and parasites.
Shooting firearms recreationally can be an enjoyable hobby, but it can also come at a price to your hearing.
Firearm noises can be especially harmful as they have high and low frequencies that can damage your hearing, mainly when the frequencies are sustained at increased volumes.
Exposure to loud sounds over a long period may result in permanent hearing damage. This is why wearing ear protection is essential when shooting any gun type.
How Loud Is A .22 Rifle
But, let’s zero in and discuss one popular gun in particular… the .22 rifle.
The .22 rifle is often used for hunting small game and is common among recreational shooters. .22 caliber firearms produce noise levels ranging from 120 to 140 dB (decibels), meaning they’re louder than everyday conversations, which emit about 60 decibels of sound.
Is a .22 rifle louder than a shotgun?
.22 rifles aren’t as loud as shotguns. A shotgun can go up to 160 decibels, while a .22 rifle goes to around 130-140 decibels.
A shotgun is louder than a .22 rifle, as the air blast it releases is greater when the gun is fired.
A .22 caliber bullet is quieter than a 9mm, the most common firearm round.
While a .22 emits about 120 sound decibels, a 9mm produces up to 160 because a .22 has smaller rounds than a 9mm. As a result, the kinetic energy it possesses when fired isn’t as much, resulting in less noise.
9mm rounds are louder than a .22 rifle, due to their size.
A .22 rifle is an excellent option for those looking for relatively quiet but powerful guns. It’s ideal for small game hunting and target shooting and won’t bother your neighbors as other bigger calibers might.
Although .22 rifles are quieter than other guns, it’s still vital to take measures to protect your ears when shooting one.
Using hearing protection can shield you from the high-pitched noise they produce as it may potentially damage your ears.
The decibel scale measures sound intensity. And while a a .22 caliber round is considered a low-intensity round, the decibel level can vary based on the ammunition and gun types being used.
For instance, a suppressed .22 pistol could have around a 95 dB noise level, while the unsuppressed one could go up to 135 decibels.
If you want a quieter round that won’t bother your neighbors, a .22 caliber subsonic round can be the way to go. These rounds move at speed lower than a standard round, significantly reducing noise levels.
Earmuffs are personal protective gear meant to protect you against excess noise pollution. They’re made of sponge and thermoplastics and have a pair of cups. The cups are usually attached to a steel or plastic headband’s outer ends to fit over your ears’ top while covering them tightly.
You can wear acoustic earmuffs alone or with earplugs, reducing dangerous noise that can potentially damage your hearing.
Earplugs come in various types, and this is why you should consult a professional to identify a proper hearing protection solution. Some may include:
Custom earplugs: They contain special filters for an accurate, even noise reduction level. You can have custom earplugs programmed to lessen sounds by the necessary amount and filter specific sound types more than others. They’re made with molds of your ear by a skilled professional, ensuring they’re a perfect fit and seal your ear better than standard earplugs. They’re comfortable and ideal for wearing for longer hours
Electronic shooter earplugs: Electronic earplugs can listen to the noises around you, offer automatic protection from impact noises like gunshots, or gradually turn up a reduced protection noise reduction rating in response to background sounds slowly increasing to hazardous levels. They offer you the protection you require from one moment to another without removing or fiddling with your earplugs. Electronic earplugs can let lower decibel sounds pass while blocking harmful noises.
Reusable shooter earplugs: They’re an effective way to reduce sound levels, protecting from high shooting decibels. When looking for reusable shooter earplugs, note that various reusable earplugs have different noise reduction ratings. The higher the ratings, the better the noise reduction level provided it’s a good fit for your ear. Reusable shooter earplugs are durable and can be used multiple times
While a .22 is not as loud as many other rifles, it can still be pretty loud, impacting your hearing. So, consider using hearing protection each time you use any gun, to prevent permanent hearing loss and other impairments.