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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
vpa broadheads review

VPA Broadheads Review | A Duel For Beveled Supremacy

Who doesn’t love a good broadhead battle?

In this broadhead review, I tested the VPA 2-Blade double bevel broadhead, which is a classic and has been popular for awhile. I also tested the newer VPA 2-Blade single bevel broadhead.

Let’s go through some of the design features and specifications and then test them head-to-head!

VPA Double Bevel Broadhead

vpa double bevel broadhead

Here’s a look at the 150-grain, 2-Blade Double Bevel Penetrator as they call it, designed for maximum penetration. It’s machined out of a solid chunk of high-carbon steel one-piece design.

The blades of the VPA 2-Blade Double Bevel Penetrator are 0.065 inches thick and they are brought to a Rockwell hardness of 55.

The cutting diameter of the Double Bevel head is 1-1/8 inches.

vpa double bevel flared up blades

You can see here the overall short profile of the VPA Double Bevel head, which aids in flight, and then the blades come back up. They are not back sharpened here but they flare up, again, just to lower the surface area and aid in flight.

vpa double barrel ferrule

Here you can also see the ferrule of the VPA Double Bevel extends all the way up to the tip, providing extra lateral support and rollover prevention.



VPA Single Bevel Broadhead

The VPA Single Bevel is also 1-1/8 inches. It’s the same high-carbon steel, but this one is brought to a Rockwell hardness of 57. It’s also a bit thicker than the Double-Bevel, at 0.070 inches thick.

It has the same ferrule that extends all the way up to the tip to prevent rollover. It’s really a simple bevel design, with just two edges that extend all the way up to the front.

vpa single bevel broadhead

Now, here’s the 150-grain, 2-blade Single Bevel broadhead. It’s a very similar design to the Double-Bevel, although it’s single bevel. That’s a big difference I suppose. But, the cutting diameter is the same.

Again, the backs of the blades on the Single Bevel flare up just like they did with the Double Bevel Penetrator, to make it have an even shorter profile and aid in flight with less surface area. The bevel is 35 degrees.

I was really eager to compare these two heads, especially since they are the same weight, the same cutting diameter, and very similar thicknesses, and made by the same company.

Let the battle begin!



VPA Broadheads testing | Head-To-Head Battle

Flight Test

In the flight test, I shot the Double Bevel and Single Bevel heads and then a field point for comparison from 40 yards.

flight test of vpa double bevel and single bevel broadheads

40-yard flight test… (I was aiming at the lower dot)… A really good group and definitely within my margin of error.



Out-Of-The-Box Sharpness

I tested the out-of-the-box sharpness of both the VPA Double Bevel and the Single Bevel head.

vpa double bevel out of the box sharpness test

Double Bevel out-of-the-box sharpness: 775. This head needs to be sharpened before hunting.

vpa single bevel out of the box sharpness test

Single Bevel out-of-the-box sharpness: 400.






Penetration (Ballistic Gel)

I shot both heads into the ballistic gel that was fronted with 1/2-inch MDF and foam matting.

vpa double and single bevel broadheads in ballistic gel and mdf test

The Double Bevel penetrated 8 inches and the Single Bevel penetrated 8 and a half inches.



Post-Penetration Sharpness Test

After the MDF and ballistic gel penetration test, I tested both VPA heads again to see how sharp they were.

Double Bevel after penetration test: 825.

Single Bevel after penetration test: 400.



Layered Cardboard Penetration Test

In the layered cardboard test, I shot both the VPA Double Bevel and the Single Bevel into layered cardboard to record how many layers each could penetrate.

vpa double bevel broadhead after cardboard penetration test

The Double Bevel penetrated through 55 layers of cardboard.

vpa single bevel broadhead after cardboard penetration test

The Single Bevel penetrated through 62 layers of cardboard.



Durability: Steel Plate Test

I shot each head into a steel plate five times. Check out the results…

vpa double and single bevel broadheads shot into steel plate

Here’s a good look at the difference in the wound channels. The Double Bevel on the right has just a straight 2-blade hole, whereas the Single Bevel on the left has that classic “S-cut” hole. And that’s going to be a little bit more difficult to close up as a wound channel.

vpa double bevel broadhead after steel plate test

Here’s the Double Bevel after going through the steel five times. It spins very well. There’s really no signs of wear at all. I mean this thing is in pristine condition except for the tip, which had a slight rollover that would be very easily sharpened out. But overall, it did very well.

vpa single bevel head after steel plate test

Here’s the Single Bevel. You can see it held up very well through five shots into the steel. There’s a little bit of edge chatter along the back edge of the blade, and a little on the top, which will be very easily sharpened out. Aside from that, it held up very well.



VPA Single-Bevel Rotation Test

I shot the VPA Single Bevel broadheads into the ballistic gel to measure how much it rotatied.

vpa single bevel rotation in ballistic gel

The VPA Single Bevel rotated 45 degrees. If you look closely, you can see the wound channel and how it rotated in gel here.



Concrete Block Test

I shot both of the VPA heads into a concrete block to see how they would hold up.

vpa double bevel broadhead after concrete block test

Here’s the Double Bevel, it also did fairly well. It got a little bit of tip curl. But, the edges held up well, but not quite as sharp as that Single Bevel for whatever reason. And that tip curl is very slight, easily re-sharpened, and reusable.

vpa single bevel broadhead after concrete block test

This is the Single Bevel after shootingit into the concrete block. It’s also the same Single Bevel head that went through the steel plate. It’s still in excellent condition. The edges are still sharp actually (that’s kind of weird). And the tip is just perfect as well. This could be easily re-sharpened and reused.




Final Thoughts On This VPA Broadheads Review

So what do you think of this broadhead battle? Which one do you think came out on top?

I have to say, both of them are really good.

But for me, there was no question, it’s Single Bevel.

This is a really good single bevel head with a super-simple design. But man, it’s got everything that I look for in a single bevel. And, I was really impressed how it compared to the Double Bevel in each of the different areas.

So, the winner of this broadhead battle is the VPA Single Bevel. Great job, VPA!

tuffhead evolution 3 blade broadhead test

Tuff Enough? | Tuffhead Evolution 3 Broadheads Review

In this broadhead review, I put the Tuffhead 3-blade broadhead to the test.

The Evolution is Tuffhead’s series of broadheads that crosses over into the compound bow market. They already have a great reputation for what they’ve done in the trad archery market.

Tuffhead Evolution 3 up close and personal

Below is a really good look at the broadhead close-up. The Tuffhead Evolution 3-blade has a double bevel to it. It’s constructed and machined out of a single piece of S7 tool steel, which is an excellent steel to use in a broadhead application because of its incredible resistance to impact. As a result, it is super durable and its resistance to impact is many times greater than that of typical stainless steel.

tuffhead evolution 3 blade broadhead

This is the Tuffhead Evolution Series 3 Blade Head, which has some really unique features…

I want to note here that when I previously tested the 2-blade version of this broadhead, the tip of that head rolled over when it impacted the concrete block.

The Tuffhead owner saw that and he asked me to send the heads back, because he feared there might have been an error in the hardening process.

And, after testing them, he found that was indeed the case. The Rockwell hardness was supposed to be 55 on those heads, but in that particular batch, it was only 48.

So, when I get some more of the 2 blades, I will retest them in that hard impact test. But the 3-blade heads in this test DO have the correct hardness of 55 on the Rockwell scale.

Now, the head I tested in this test is the 200-grain model (there’s also a 300-grain model).




tuffhead evolution 3 blade cutting diameter

The cutting diameter is 1-inch. So that’s relatively small. A 1-inch cut is not going to be a very big hole but the overall goal is to maximize penetration. This head will do that by just having a 1-inch cut. But, remember, this head has 3 blades, so you’re actually getting an inch-and-a-half of tissue being cut.

The blades of the Evolution 3-blade are 0.042 inches thick. The head is 2.1 inches long.

tuffhead evolution 3 scooped ferrule

Notice here that the ferrule has a “scoop” design to the ferrule. This aids in flight as well as penetration. It also helps create a nice wound channel as it goes through an animal.



Tuffhead Evolution 3-Blade Testing

So I was really eager to put this head to the test and see how it performed!

40-Yard Flight Test

tuffhead evolution 3 blade head long range shot

I shot one field point and two of the Tuffheads at 40 yards (you can see that I shot high on the field point!)



Initial Sharpness Test

The sharpness tester evaluates how much pressure it takes to cut through a wire. The initial test result was 400.

initial sharpness test tuffhead evolution 3

Initial sharpness test: 400.

Ballistic Gel Penetration Test



I shot the Tuffhead Evolution 3 into ballistic gel that was fronted with 1/2″ MDF and foam matting.

tuffhead evolution 3 blade head penetration of ballistic gel and mdf board

The Tuffhead Evolution 3 penetrated the MDF and ballistic gel 5-3/4 inches.




Edge Retention Test

tuffhead evolution 3 sharpness test after ballistic gel test

Sharpness test result after the ballistic gel penetration test was 475.



Cardboard Penetration Test

tuffhead evolution 3 blade broadhead after cardboard penetration test

I shot the Tuffhead Evolution 3-blade penetrated through 53 layers of cardboard.



Steel Plate Test

Below you can see the holes in the steel plate and you can see that they’re nice triangular holes that often come with a one-piece steel head like this. So even though they’re only 1-inch in cutting diameter, they are nice holes and not just three slits.

tuffhead evolution 3 blade head steel plate test

I shot the Tuffhead through a steel plate 5 times to test durability. It made nice triangular holes.



tuffhead evolution 3 after steel plate test

Here’s the head after going through the steel plate five times. Spins perfectly through. Blades are pristine. Just no signs of wear, maybe some slight cosmetic things. But man, incredible durability.



Cinder Block Test

I shot the Tuffhead into a cinder block to see just how tough it really is!

tuffhead evolution 3 after cinder block test

Here’s the Tuffhead 3 Blade after the concrete as well as after the steel plate and it’s just in pristine condition. Excellent, excellent durability! Penetrated very well into the concrete and the tip is still very sharp. There was no rollover and the edges are still sharp as well.





Final Thoughts On The Tuffhead Evolution 3-Blade Heads

So what do you of the Tuffhead Evolution Series 3 Blade? Man, it performed very well.

Check out the score sheet and see how it did in the areas that matter to you the most for your hunting purposes.

But, if you are looking for a deep-penetrating super durable head, this one is definitely worth a look. I would say those are its greatest strengths.



On the weakness side, if you call it a weakness… I’m not a huge fan of really long broadheads like that because it does adversely affect flight a bit. However, they’ve designed this really well to help make up for some of that.

Also, the cut size is not very big for what I really like in a broadhead but that allows it to penetrate more deeply. And for a lot of people, that’s what they’re really looking for.



So again, check out the score sheets below and see what matters to you the most. But this head is definitely worth a look. Tuffhead has definitely made huge strides from the trad archery market to the compound bow sector. Great job, Tuffhead.

socrecard of tuffhead evolution 3 blade broadhead
lusk grade of tuffhead evolution 3 blade broadhead

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