Best Hunting Bow Weight

Bowhunting is about good arrow placement and being able to deliver enough energy-packed power into a razor-tipped arrow to penetrate deep into the vitals of your quarry or big game quest! We practice and practice on delivery and punching the bulls-eye. But there’s more to it than just hitting the mark; we need to deliver the goods all the way through.

Back in the day when I was a boxer, my coach always emphasized how important it was to drive the punch through—all the way through! It wasn’t enough to punch the guy in the nose and lightly dust off the sweat. The punches had to deliver the power that would knock down a brick wall! 

Same with bowhunting: Power, energy, and force need to be delivered! In archery terms, arrows must carry kinetic energy. The more the better! Arrows with little kinetic energy will penetrate only a short way into the target; arrows with a great deal of kinetic energy will drive the punch all the way through. By extension, the bigger and deeper the wound channel, the faster the game will be dispatched and recovered from a well placed shot. The ideal situation for bowhunters is an entry wound and an exit. This way there will be more sign for trailing and faster hemorrhaging.

In archery, there are two things that generate the kinetic power needed to deliver the knock-out punch: Speed and the mass weight of an arrow. Speed alone will not necessarily deliver the energy needed to get the job done, and a heavy arrow will not penetrate if it’s not moving fast enough. Both are crucial for optimal performance.  For example, I can power out a super fast ping-pong ball when hit with a paddle. We’ve all been hit with one, with little effect. A ping-pong ball carries very little kinetic energy because of its lack of mass. Arrows are the same way. Very light arrows can be shot at high velocities but can’t carry the penetrating force needed to hammer the shot all the way through. Now take a bowling ball; even a slow rolling bowling ball could play havoc if it strikes your ankles! Why? Because the bowling ball has mass. It effectively delivered its energy and transferred it to the target. Again translate this into an arrow: A heavy arrow shot even at slower speeds can still give you penetration because of the forward force of its mass. It has increased kinetic energy from its heavier weight.

Once again let’s look at the bowling ball; even the slowest balls knock over pins. Now let’s add speed back into the equation. Add a little heat to that bowling ball and you get an explosion of pins. Power, energy, and force! That ball had a great deal of kinetic energy!

Back to bowhunting… Like the bowling ball, a heavy arrow shot at significant speed will delivery the power-punching package a bowhunter needs once the well placed arrow hit its mark! It drives the broadhead deep with bone-crushing energy!

All of it comes down to this: Power and speed are achieved several ways in bowhunting equipment, including heavier poundage for traditional bows and mechanical cams, and complex engineering of modern compound bows. In both designs, the more bow draw weight, the faster the arrows and the more the kinetic energy delivered. Heavier poundage bows deliver more power and more kinetic energy!

This is great… A bowhunter shooting super heavy arrows with high poundage will deliver more power and will be more successful in the field, right!? Yes, in theory. But there’s one factor to consider: the human factor!

Heavy poundage bows pose complexities in themselves. Even when shooting modern compounds, heavy draw weights can quickly complicate a hunt! Heavier drawn compounds, even with let-off, can quickly weaken an adrenaline-charged bowhunter and give a good dose of shakes! Cold weather also has its way of draining precious energy needed to draw a bow once game walks into range. I’ve heard many stories about hunters over-powering themselves and not being able to draw their bow at that moment of truth. Freezing cold weather and heavy bow poundage can be a bad combination.

Bottom line, you must be able to handle the weight you shoot…and be accurate with it. A balance must be achieved, and you can't forget the winning combination that delivers effective penetration on the game you hunt.

Here’s my winning equation:  Comfortable hunting bow weight + Heavy arrow with plenty kinetic energy + Effective practice = Success

Heath Painter

Tribe Archery, LLC

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*** One more factor we didn’t talk about this time around is “effective range”… Arrow energy drops off fast and can lose essential penetration power needed. Make sure you know your effective range with your gear.