Shoot Me Down: Speed Kills

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Bowhunters who pooh-pooh arrow velocity are fond of saying, "Speed doesn't kill." They reference the slow-but-deadly bows of yesteryear as proof. The term "kinetic energy" gives them a terrible rash.

They are right to a point. Deer are not hard to kill. A knitting needle at 200 fps would probably do the job if perfectly aimed. But there's the rub. Some arrows are not perfectly aimed in the real world of bowhunting. While additional kinetic energy and momentum may be wasted on a double-lung pass-through, you'll do well to have more of them should you hit the front shoulder, the spine, or God forbid the ham. And speed gives you that.

I like to shoot one pin out to 30 yards. With a moderately fast bow, I can do that with a 375-grain arrow, all set up to hunt. But with a smoking fast bow, I can do it with a 425-grain arrow, sporting a heavier broadhead, which boosts momentum for better penetration when needed.

Take a look at this photo. I shot these two arrows at 30 yards using a Bowtech Invasion CPX, the second-fastest bow in Bestul's recent test and the prize in our current scoring contest. The top arrow carries a 100-grain head, the bottom a 125. The point of impact is almost the same; so there's no reason not to use the heavier head, which as you can see above has a larger cutting diameter. (At 40 yards, by the way, the difference is only about 2 inches.) On a flubbed shot, which we all know is possible, the extra momentum and the bigger head could easily make the difference.

Besides it's not just about killing deer but killing them quickly and recovering them. Last fall, I shot a buck right under my stand through the back and out the chest/belly. My heavy arrow plowed right through, giving me a decent blood trail. I hit a buck in roughly the same place several years ago with a light arrow that did not pass through, leaving me no blood at all (I was lucky to find him).

If you don't like speed because it encourages some archers to fling light arrows at game from ungodly ranges, I can see that. But speed also lets you shoot a heavier arrow while giving next to nothing up in trajectory at normal ranges. And that can lead to more and quicker kills.

So there you have it. Speed kills. Stand with me or shoot me down. Whoever makes the best argument pro or con will be invited to spew his own brand of nonsense right here as my guest.