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Story Posted 09-06-2013

Bow Hunting Tips: Broadhead Ins and Outs

Correct kinetic energy a good exit strategy, Cianciarulo says

Bow Hunting Tips: Broadhead Ins and Outs Ralph Cianciarulo of “Archer's Choice.”

By: Mike Suchan,

Bow hunters need a good exit strategy, especially if they’ve ever left an arrow sticking in a deer. Ralph Cianciarulo of “Archer’s Choice” said one of his bow hunting tips is to match their kinetic energy to the broadhead selection.

“Now for some, what the hell is Ralph talking about?” Cianciarulo said. “Here’s the facts of archery. When we tried to push a larger cutting diameter broadhead through game, it takes more energy. Period. When we don’t have the energy stored in that particular bow setup or that arrow is too light, we end up maybe getting an entrance but we don’t get an exit.

“When we don’t get an exit on a high lung hit, we can have a chance of not recovering that deer, that elk, or whatever it is.”

Thunderhead® broadhead

Thunderhead® broadhead

Any hunter who has experience losing an animal knows how horrible that feels. Cianciarulo says that bigger is not always better when it comes to broadheads.

“Don’t get carried away with today’s hype that thinking you have to try to push an axehead through the chest of a deer, because that’s going to need so much energy. Ninety percent of the time you won’t have an exit wound,” he said. “We want an entrance and an exit.

“If you’re shooting from a tree stand or an elevated position and your shot entrance is high, you’re praying for a low exit. With today’s stuff, we’re not getting those.”

Larger broadheads might look nasty and promise large wounds and good blood trails, but the arrow needs to have the energy to pass all the way through the animal.

“In the past couple of years, there was a surge on some mechanical designs that were cutting like 2 ½-inch holes, but they were losing animals; they were not getting exits, just entrances,” Cianciarulo said. “So the problem, because we’re having more people shoot shorter draw lengths, less poundage, is we need to have the broadhead design to go with those properties.”

Cianciarulo points to a broadhead he uses, the Thunderhead from New Archery Products, as a prime example. The fixed-blade broadhead is recognized for killing more game than any other broadhead.

“Maybe because it's been around so long, but you could get that thing to fly at 35 pounds all the way on up,” he said. “When you have a broadhead of that structure, that’s not cutting a giant, giant hole, but passing through everything you shoot, at an inch and quarter, I’ll take that every day over just getting an entrance of 2 1/2 inches and not getting an exit.”

HellRazor® broadhead

HellRazor® broadhead

On their many travels for varied game, from British Columbia bear to New Zealand red stag to Yukon moose, Cianciarulo also has relied on NAP Spitfires and Hellrazors. His wife, Vicki, an internationally recognized bow hunter, shoots the Hellrazor and Shockwaves and son R.J., 12, is outfitted with Hellrazors.

“Be careful with the selection, especially with the girls, the kids and guys that may not be able to shoot a lot of pounds,” Cianciarulo said. “A lot of people are shooting 40, 45, 50 pounds. Set up the broadhead and the arrow accordingly.”

There are a number of websites that will calculate kinetic energy. They have the hunter enter his arrow weight in grains and arrow velocity in feet per second, then give a kinetic energy in foot pounds. Check out Easton’s Kinetic Calculator or one on

Easton’s site includes a game guide, stating that a setup with 25 foot pounds is appropriate for small game, 35 to 41 is good for deer and antelope, 42-65 for elk, black bear, boar, and over 65 for really big game like the Cape Buffalo and Grizzly bear.

Cianciarulo was asked if the responsibility of matching kinetic energy in a bow and arrow setup with a broadhead lied more with the hunter or the archery store staff.

“Hopefully the pro shop, the guys and girls behind the counter, understand this and they’re not giving the archer a giant cut without understanding that it’s going to deter their penetration,” he said. “So honestly, with them reading what you’re writing, hopefully it’s both people. They can go in now with a little more education.”

He advises all bow hunters to check their kinetic energy because the ultimate goal is to get an entrance and an exit hole.

“The big thing is understanding the bone structure,” he said. “I’ve shot our biggest animal, the Yukon moose. I’ve shot them with every broadhead you can imagine. We knew what would happen because I had the energy. If you ask me what I prefer, I’d rather put a Hellrazor or a Thunderhead through a big moose any day of the week, than shooting a mechanical.

“You have to understand, I’m a 26 ½-inch draw. I don’t carry the kinetic energy, so I have to shoot a heavier bow, but I’m capable of doing that. There are a lot of people that aren’t, so we want them to have more success in the field and that means really getting their equipment set up properly.

“Shot placement is everything. The bottom line here is if you put it in the boilermaker, you got him. You’re taking him home. The problem is when we start not paying attention to our setups they are less forgiving. We’re worried about having faster arrows but less kinetic energy. If you’re buying your bow to go bow hunting, set it up for that.”

“Archer’s Choice” Show Page

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