Finding the best vane for you arrow set up can be an absolute chore there
are so many types and styles and things to consider and what it comes down to is fletching up 3 of all the types and styles you want to test and shoot them… Shoot them inside, outside, in wind, your self , shoot them with a shooting machine and when you are all done and have spent countless hours and money to find out that its nearly impossible to try every configuration to see what is best you pick whats most important to you . Lucky for you I did a lot of this for you so you can have a starting point.
First I set out to see what the best vane design was by first using group
size with field points then with a 1.25″ 2 blade fixed head. Originally I
did my testing indoors with a hooter shooter with the guys over at AZ archery club and I found out quickly that it was almost impossible to get a measurable difference mainly because we had the arrows, bow and hooter shooter so dialed in that with field points we were getting same hole accuracy at 40yards and we were splitting nocks with the broadhead. The more and more I went down this rabbit hole, the more I figured out it all comes down to tune of your bow. And I’m not talking a perfect paper tune that your bow shop set up for you, But a super tune to your shooting style. The bow needs to be super tuned to you and your shooting style, angles, grip, release etc. and you can shoot just about anything within reason pretty well. Consequently this was the first step in my broadhead testing.
Shooting with Hooter shooter
I promise you, you can get any quality arrow, fletch, broadhead to fly perfectly for you indoors with a bow that is perfectly tuned like the guys at AZ Archery Cub did for me. It takes some time but its worth it.
Anyway once I figured this out I set my goals on which was the most efficient vane, which vane performed the best in windy conditions, which vane was the most forgiving when my shot didn’t break well. This is all stuff unfortunately you need to try on your own. Because we all shoot differently, everything from facial contact to follow through all plan a part. So for the remainder of this article we will talk about efficiency mostly to help you narrow it down a bit. Because like I said with the right bow tune, and arrow tune group size can be achieved with almost any vane.
4 fletch vs 3 fletch
arrow vane testing4 fletch vs 3 flecth: First I wanted to see if there was an advantage to using a 4 fletch set up verse a 3 fletch. These are the pros and cons of four fletch. Pros: 1)They stabilize the arrow faster almost 3 yards sooner. 2) If you don’t index your arrows and need to nock tune 4 fletch allows you to have another position to turn your nock to 3)They look badass and you can say you are part of the cool kids…. 😉
1) they weight more and rob you of FOC, 2) They shed velocity at a faster rate on average 3) if you don’t adhere them way forward they cause more facial contact which will disrupt your shot. 4) they tend to be louder (not all models). In short I haven’t found a real advantage to make me want to switch. I imagine the reason why guys are getting good results with them is they need that much fletch to compensate for a poorly tuned bow or a poor broadhead design. Like I said above, if I take out the human factor and shoot with a machine I got every single fletching configuration to hit same hole at 40. So If you look at the video #1 bellow I used a 4 fletch as a comparison and you can see you lose speed and ultimately KE faster with 4 fletch vs 3 fletch .
arrow vane testingNoise level: During my arrow vane testing We tested noise levels with a sound meter. However the results were very inconsistent and we resulted in a blind subjective test. Three of us took turns shooting the arrow past us and we notated the noise level. Now I’m not saying the quietness is not important, but we are splitting hairs on the noise factor in my opinion. It was almost impossible to get a large enough variation on the sound meter to determine which was louder and when we did an subjective test we all agreed the quietest 4 fletch were louder than the loudest 3 fletch. Results: All 3 of us picked the AAE Max as the loudest, followed by the AAE Hybrid then the blazer, the Q2i Rator, Q2i fusion and the AAE stealth. But here’s the caveat they were all heard, none of them are silent by any means. Moreover you can hear all the arrows coming at about the same point each time with each configuration so weather you hear 5 db 30 yards out or 8db 30 yards out you still hear it thirty yards out and have that much time to react. (hopefully that makes sense to you )
testing fletching configuration
My findings:1) During my arrow vane testing I found that when fletching an arrow there is a notable advantage to fletching them in the same direction of their natural spin in order to determine what helical to use you must clock your arrows first. 2)Parachuting effect: most guys will talk about the parachuting effect when using too much helical. I could not determine this is true, at least not within 100 yards. My assumption is this happens when the arrow dips bellow 150fps because there is research done on recurve bows that show this at those speeds. To fortify my assumption I shot arrow with flu flu set up and you can see at longer distances when the arrow slows down a bunch it becomes very unstable. My other assumption that parachuting is more prevalent with FOCs over 25% . I come to this assumption because I shot an EFOC set up and I could visibly see the arrow losing stability at longer distances. 3) Find a happy balance: Shoot a helical in the middle 2 to 3 degrees this falls in line with my arrow build philosophy because you cant gain something without giving up another it is best to find the middle ground of everything to have a balanced performance in your arrow. If you see the video #1 below the best performing arrow holding the most KE upon impact is a left 3 deg helical, followed by the 5 deg left and then the 3deg right. 4)Correct spine: Don’t under spine your arrows! As a side affect to my vane testing I found that a weaker spine sheds velocity faster depicted in video #2 5)Conclusion: In the end it comes down to picking the best vane for your set up we all shoot different we all have different angles and pressure points etc. so its important to pick a stating point whether it be your arrow your broadhead and build and tune from that starting point because there is no perfect…
What vane design should I use? Well I tested Q2i fusion, Q2i Raptor X, AAE max Hunter, AAE stealth, AAE Hybrid, and Blazer and tested them all in 1,3,5 deg helical, both right and left and both 3 fletch and 4 fletch. For me, my arrow, my bow, my broadhead I found that 3 fletched blazer did everything I needed it to and had the most consistent groups in the wind and best broadhead steering outdoors, it was very forgiving even when I forced torque or made bad shots on purpose. Plus I have like 15+ years of confidence shooting it in the field. The AAE max hunter indoors had equally good groups (to 40) and retained the velocity better than all of them (3 fletch) but we don’t hunt inside, they are louder and the extra steps to adhere the vanes made me stay with what I know for now. But I will say I was very impressed with the fact that it only lost 6% of its velocity at 80 yards vs 9% of my current set up I need to do a bunch more shooting with them to make up the 15 years of confidence but for now im sticking with the blazer.
Conclusion : The 3 flecth 3 degree helical max hunter was the most efficient out of my bow both with me shooting and out of the shooting machine, the blazer 3 fletch 3 degree was the most all around well balanced. AAE Max hunter was the loudest but I am not convinced that any of them are quite enough to make a difference. Thus I’m not sure I would choice my vane based on that marketing. I mentioned somewhere in all of this that with the right bow tune you can get just about any vane to steer your broadheads what it comes down to is which is the most forgiving when you don’t make a good shot and which has a happy balance of efficiency and stability. Don’t be afraid of helical, don’t get sucked into the 4 vane hype unless you need it, super tune your bows, spend time indexing your arrows and building a super consistent arrow and you should have a great set up