arrow with broken nock in target

Pin-point accuracy | How nock tuning your arrows can be a game-changer

See if this sounds familiar…

Deer season is coming up. You know you need to get out and shoot your bow but you can’t seem to find the time. There’s just so much going on with work and/or with family.

So, you don’t get in the reps in shooting your bow like you need to.

two arrows near bullseyes on foam target

Nock tuning your arrows can be the X-factor in achieving superior arrow flight.

The next thing you know, deer season is here. You’re in a deer stand and Mr. Big walks by and you let an arrow fly.

You either miss, or that arrow does not do exactly what you thought it was going to do and you make a bad shot on that animal.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

I’d like to share how the flight of one arrow made me pay much more detailed attention to each of my arrows prior to hunting with them.

This is the story of how I decided it was time to start nock tuning my bare shaft arrows.



Did the arrow fail? Not quite, but it wanted to!

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.

buck laying down in high grass with lighted nock arrow flying toward it

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 Wells of N1 Outdoors with a south georgia whitetail

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.


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So, while your bow shop can get your bow in center shot and “in tune,” there is much about your personal 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!




In the moment of truth, we want great arrow flight

Our experience with erratic arrow flight on this hunt made us want to learn for ourselves how to get our bow, as well as our arrow shafts as tuned as possible.

When it really mattered, we needed confidence that fletchings would not have a ton of correcting to do. This way, we could be ensured with arrow flight that is as straight as possible.

Enter bare shaft nock tuning.

I had seen Troy Fowler (aka, the “Ranch Fairy”) talking about high FOC arrows and also how nock tuning bare shaft arrows was “witchcraft” and that it mattered greatly to achieving excellent arrow flight.

Now, when you start using words like “witchcraft” in regards to bowhunting, you have my attention.


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If you are still reading, and are wondering what nock tuning is all about, I’m going to take you through the process step-by-step, so that you too can do this for yourself. Keep reading!

Why is nock tuning your arrows necessary for great arrow flight?

Nock tuning has much to do with finding the stiffest part of the arrow, known as the “spine.” The arrow most often flies best when this portion of the shaft is facing up when shooting.

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.


A word about arrow spine

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.

arrow flexing in flight after being shot from bow

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.

marking arrow number on the n1 outdoors n-tune arrow wrap

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):

  1. 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.

    lining up nock with marks on n1 outdoors n-tune arrow wrap

  2. 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).

    man shooting bow through paper while nock tuning

  3. 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.

    holes in paper from nock tuning through paper

  4. 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.)

    marking the n1 outdoors n-tune arrow wrap for nock tuning

  5. 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.”

  6. Fletch arrows

    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.

    fletching arrow with nock tuning mark facing up




Nock tuning your arrows [step-by-step]

Conclusion

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.


Nock tuning your bare shafts through paper is a great way to be confident of your arrow flight when it really counts.

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.

If you’re interested in the N-Tune arrow wraps, just visit our online store!



Giles Canter of N1 outdoors with archery buck
Giles Canter of N1 Outdoors.
crimson talon broadheads header image

Crimson Talon Broadheads (Fixed Blade) | The Inside Information

In this review, I tested three models of the Crimson Talon fixed-blade broadheads.

Crimson Talon makes the G2, the G2 Hyperspeed and the Outlaw.

crimson talon broadheads

The Crimson Talon lineup features the G2, the G2 Hyperspeed and the Outlaw.

The G2 Broadhead Specs

First we have the G2. It has a camouflage ferrule that they refer to as “ferruleflage.”

What initially stands out about the G2 is that it has six total blades – three main blades and three bleeders.

The main blade’s diameter is 1.25 inches, which is a big cutting diameter for a 3-blade head.

crimson talon g2 broadhead blades

The G2 broadhead has curved blades as well as a camo ferrule they call “ferruleflage.”

The cutting diameter of the smaller bleeder blades is 1/2 an inch. So, although they are shorter, they help with the cut.

The total cut of this head is 2.6 inches!

The bleeders are also offset at a 60-degree angle, so that allows them to create an even better wound channel and do damage that is difficult to close up.


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But the biggest differentiating factor on the G2 broadhead is that the main blades are curved. This apparently creates two advantages…

The other advantage of the curved blades is that once they hit the animal, they continue to rotate, causing a spiral wound channel. Combine that with the 1.25 inches of cutting diameter and 2.6 inches of blade cutting, and that creates a wound channel that is very difficult to close up.

Crimson Talon calls this curved blade feature their “spintite” airfoil technology. As the arrow flies, the curved blades function as vanes or fletchings would, creating quick rotation of the shaft, which results in more accurate flight. This is supposed to prevent arrow planing.

The tip is made out of A2 tool steel, so a really tough, beefy chisel tip of a very high quality steel. The ferrule is 7075 aluminum, which is a very stout, durable aluminum, stronger than some steels.

The blades of the G2 broadhead are 420 G2 stainless steel. The main blades were 0.028 inches thick, which is relatively thick compared to some other blades. But, with so much blade cutting action going on, that probably isn’t going to be an issue.



We’ll see how it does in the durability test below.

One of the cool things about all of the Crimson Talon broadheads is that they have 100% lifetime warranty for any breakage, for any reason, with no expiration and no limitations. So, if any of these heads break, you just send them in and you get a replacement. That’s pretty nice especially at the price point that they are sold at.



G2 Hyper Speed Specs

The next broadhead I tested was the G2 Hyperspeed. It’s the same head as the G2, but without the airfoil design. So, the blades are all straight.

hyperspeed broadhead blades

The Hyperspeed broadhead is like the G2, but without the curved blades.

Now, the bleeders are still offset at a 60-degree angle, but everything is just a straight blade. Some people that don’t want the airfoil designs will like this head.

I remember when I lived in Colorado, the Crimson Talons were illegal (at least at that time) because the blades had to exist in a continual single plane. They couldn’t be curved.

The Outlaw Specs

The last Crimson Talon head I tested was The Outlaw.

The Outlaw is it’s really basic in some ways and unique in others. It’s basic in the sense that it’s a 3-blade head with a 1-1/8 inch cut. It’s a little bit different in that all three blades are offset. The 0.040 inch thick, stainless steel blades are an offset design, to create a better wound channel.

offset blades of outlaw broadheads

The Outlaw broadhead has offset blades and a 1-1/8″ cut.

The tip is hard stainless steel and the ferrule is solid titanium. It also has a 3-blade locking system, keeping the blades in three different places, which is supposed to make these heads very durable and have really good blade retention.



Crimson Talon Broadhead Testing

I was eager to put all of these heads to the test.

I tested them for flight, edge retention, sharpness, penetration and durability.

Let’s see how this Crimson Talon lineup performed.



Crimson Talon Flight

All three of the Crimson Talon heads were able to pop a balloon at 70 yards.

Edge retention results (out-of-the-box sharpness)

For the Crimson Talon G2, I just tested the sharpness and edge retention of the straight blades (Hyperspeed), because it’s too difficult to get it all lined up with the curved blades and they are the same blades anyway.

stroking arrow on g2 broadheads shaft

The Crimson Talon G2 Hyperspeed cut paper after 5 strokes of the arrow.



stroking an arrow shaft on outlaw broadhead

The Outlaw cut paper after five strokes of the arrow.

Penetration results (ballistic gel)

penetration of crimson talong broadheads in ballistic gel

The penetration of these heads was pretty much as expected. The Outlaw penetrated the most at 8 and a half inches, followed by the Hyperspeed at 7 and a quarter inches. And then the G2 with the curved blades penetrated 6 and 3 quarter inches.



g2 broadheads into ballistic gel

Down at the bottom there in the middle, you can see the wound channel of the G2 and you can see that rotation. The blades actually rotated from initial impact with the rubber foam mat to their final resting place. They rotated 90 degrees. So that’s pretty cool. That’s like a single bevel, 2-blade head in terms of rotation. And, that’s a wicked-looking wound channel as well.



crimson talon broadhead holes in steel plate

Here are all three heads after going through the 22-inch steel plate five times each. I was definitely impressed with the durability. I really didn’t expect any of them to make it through all five times. I expected them to lose blades on maybe the second or third shot. But, none of them did. All of them held their blades together really well and stayed intact.

Penetration (steel plate)

If you look at the holes that the heads made in the steel plate, it’s really interesting. You can see that the Hyperspeed (top right) made the most impressive holes. It made really big, triangular holes with extra wide cuts in the tips.

g2 broadhead damaged blades

Notice the G2 with the curved blades. I’m really surprised that it held together like it did. The blades did not straighten out when going through the steel plate five times. They really stayed curved together, which is really impressive. Also, the holes are still really big. You can see the curls in the ends. It didn’t make as big of a triangular hole as the Hyperspeed for some reason, but it still made a really impressive wound channel with those “S-cuts.”



outlaw after going through steel plate

The Outlaw held together as well. And you can see the holes are a bit smaller there, that at a 1 1/8 inch cut.

Edge Retention (steel plate)

Now, in terms of the edge retention and the durability of the blades themselves after going through the steel plate; again, all of them stayed intact. None of them bent out of shape. But, all of them did get really nicked up.



The one that probably got the most nicked up was the G2. Because of those curved blades, the head hits the steel in a new place each time as it curves around. And so, those edges would have had to be replaced after probably the third or fourth shot. But they still held intact. You can imagine there might be some damage when coming in contact with a rib, shoulder or other bones of a deer.


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The Outlaw has the thickest blade, so they took a big brunt of the impact on the steel and they got next most nicked up (although the tip held together perfectly and the A2 tip on the G2 and on the Hyperspeed look brand new).

The Hyperspeed got the least amount of damage on the blades. It made it through four times before it would have had to be replaced. So, it stayed in relatively good shape. Some of the blades were still perfectly intact and some were nicked up.

So overall, really impressed and surprised with the durability of these heads.



Crimson Talon broadheads: Final thoughts

So what do you think of the Crimson Talons? I’ve got to say, I was really impressed.

When I first saw the price point looked at the heads, I thought, “Man, these things are going to fall apart.” I just thought they were kind of cheap.

But man, I was wrong! They really did perform in each one of the tests that I did on them. I was pleasantly surprised.



So, you can check out the score sheets below and see how they rank compared to each other and compared to other heads.

After reviewing these heads, if I had to pick a winner between them, it would definitely be between the G2 and the G2 Hyperspeed. And which one would be the winner would be based on my setup and on what animal I’m pursuing.

g2 broadhead score card
hyperspeed broadhead score card
outlaw broadhead score card


If I’m going after a really big animal or I have a lighter setup where I need to maximize penetration, then I’m going with the Hyperspeed.

If I’m using a setup that has a little bit more momentum, and I’m going after an animal like a whitetail sized animal, I’m going with the G2 because that is one wicked-looking wound channel!

But these two heads are fantastic heads. If I decide to pick one for my setup then it would be the G2. But, I’d be a 100% confident using both of them on an animal.

Great job, Crimson Talon. Give these a look. 

gravedigger hybrid broadhead

Gravedigger Broadheads Review | The Inside Information

In this review, I’m going to be covering a broadhead that has been around for a while. It’s one I’ve actually used in the field quite a bit and been fairly successful with. It’s called the Gravedigger.

The Gravedigger Hybrid broadhead overview

Let’s take a look at the design and some of the features of the Gravedigger Hybrid head (it’s called a “hybrid” because it has both fixed and mechanical blades). Then, I’ll show you how it performed when I put it through my standard array of tests.

gravedigger hybrid broadhead in closed position

Here is the Gravedigger hybrid in the closed position.

gravedigger hybrid broadhead chisel tip

This Gravedigger hybrid model has the chisel tip. (They also make a cut on contact tip where the fixed blades extend all the way up to the top).

The cutting diameter of the Gravedigger Hybrid’s fixed blades is 1 inch. In the closed position, the mechanical blades are ½-inch. So, just in the closed position, if the blades were not to open at all, it would be an inch and 1/2 of a cut, which is no slouch of a cut.

But the mechanical blades do open. They open really well, in fact. They’re not held in place by an O-ring or a retention clip, but rather just by friction, and that’s adjustable with a small Allen bolt.

The cutting diameter in the open position here is a full 1 and 3/4 inches. So, 1 and 3/4″ by 1″ – that’s a lot of cut!

adjustable friction screw on gravedigger broadhead

You can adjust the tension that holds the blades in place. But, when they encounter a medium, they open over the top and they fall back into their fully opened position.




Gravedigger Blade specs

The blades of the Gravedigger are made out of a 416 stainless steel. The ferrule is a 7075 aluminum. It’s a pretty vented blade, but it’s still is a good stout aluminum, and the tip is a hardened steel, really stout, chisel tip.

I couldn’t find any information listing the blade thickness, so I used my micrometer to measure. The fixed blade measured 0.039 inches thick and the mechanical blades were 0.032 inches thick.

Gravedigger broadheads testing

I was eager to see how this head performed in my tests. I did not test it for long range flight, because I know it flies really well.

I consider it like a mechanical in terms of flight in the closed position, and I don’t test mechanicals for long range flight, because they all fly really well, even though this head has the little one inch fixed blade. I know it flies fantastic.

I tested for edge sharpness and retention, for penetration, and for durability.

Let’s see how the Gravedigger performed.


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Sharpness Test

The Gravedigger cut paper after four strokes of the arrow.

carbon arrow shaft dulling the gravedigger hybrid

I use strokes of carbon shaft arrow to dull the blades. I want to see if they can still cut paper after each stroke.

gravedigger broadhead paper cut test

I use strokes of carbon shaft arrow to dull the blades. I want to see if they can still cut paper after each stroke.



Ballistic Gel Penetration Test

The Gravedigger penetrated 6 and 1/4 inches through the foam and ballistic gel.

gravedigger ballistic gel penetration

The Gravedigger penetrated 6-1/4″ into the ballistic gel.



entry hole of gravedigger broadhead in ballistic gel test

Here’s the entrance of the Gravedigger. And you can see that the mechanical blades opened almost 1-3/4″ on impact. That bottom blade for whatever reason deployed a bit more effectively than the top blade. But, both of them opened up quite well for an over the top mechanical.




MDF penetration test

I shot the Gravedigger through MDF five times. Below are the pictures.

I shot the first one in the closed position and the baldes didn’t open very much. But, then on the following shots, I kept the head in the open position when I was shooting, just to test durability.

gravedigger hybrid after going through MDF

Here, you can see the Gravedigger after going through a half inch MDF five times. As you can see, it held up relatively well. The tip is in still in great shape. The ferrule is also in great shape. The fixed blades are in perfect shape. And the mechanical blades also did really well. They didn’t break off.



bent blades on gravedigger broadhead after going through mdf

Now, in terms of a bend, they did bend backwards a bit. The original on the left gives you a frame of reference. After the shots, there is quite a bit of arch to the expandable blades. But you know what? If you’re going to have a problem with the head kind of “failing,” that’s the way to do it. It’s not really a fail, because it’s continuing to cut even after going through this MDF five times. So, if there’s going to be any kind of a problem, to bend in that direction is the way to go. So overall, very impressive.



Final Thoughts

So, what do you think of the Gravedigger?

Going through these tests reminded me why I liked it so much when I first started using it way back.

There are just so many heads. It’s hard to keep using just one. I’m a broadhead junkie and like to keep trying new things!

But, this is definitely a broadhead that’s worth a look. There are some weaknesses to it but there are a lot of strengths to it as well.

So, check out the score sheet below and see what you think about it, and decide if these broadheads are the right heads for you.

gravedigger hybrid scorecard
Gravedigger Hybrid score card.