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A broadhead is a simple tool in its most basic form, think back to the ancient Native Americans with the stones sharpened into a blade. Today there are far more many choices out there when it comes to the best broadheads.
Broadheads can be broken into two main categories; fixed blade and mechanical. Within those categories are tons of options. For example, two types of mechanical heads are the rear deployed or front deployed. The difference between the two is the direction from which the blades deploy. Here is a chart of our top-rated broadheads in both categories.
Given all of those differences and styles, there is much more to consider when it comes to choosing a broadhead style. Questions to ask when considering fixed blade vs mechanical broadheads include:
- What type of bow do you intend to shoot with? There is a difference to what you should shoot because of the draw poundage.
- How much weight or grain do you need? Different bows require different grain ratings, as do crossbows.
- How long will your shots be? Your range and accuracy affect the arrow set up and varies with different grain and broadhead types.
- Are mechanical broadheads allowed in your state? Every state’s regulations are different, so please consult your local DNR guidelines.
Best Fixed Blade Broadheads
*Last updated 2021-10-17 at 21:58 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Fixed Blade Pros & Cons
Fixed blade broadheads typically come in two, three, and four blade options, with a wide range of grain, shapes, and cutting diameters. Let’s explore the pros and cons of fixed blade broadheads.
Fixed-blade broadheads offer durability and reliability, ease of maintenance, arrow tuning, while still being able to deliver strong penetration for quick, accurate kills. Fixed broadheads also take more work to fly true and may require a special set of arrows for each bow you use.
- Durability — There is not much that can go wrong with a fixed blade broadhead once you shoot it. If there is an issue, it will be present before you shoot and that is something to correct through arrow testing, balancing, and maintenance.
- Strong Penetration — Big game requires deep penetration to reach vital organs and arteries. This comes down to a combination of shot placement, bow strength, distance, and broadhead performance. The cut-on-contact fixed blade broadheads offer exceptional penetration. Larger broadheads are more easily affected by wind, so the choice of cutting diameter depends on the size of the animal, and the power of your bow.
- Easy to Maintain — With fixed blade broadheads, you have the option of choosing a replaceable-blade technology which allows you to keep your arrows in the best shape, tuned for accuracy, and capable of delivering lethal damage at a variety of distances. Many fixed blades can be sharpened, extending the life of the blades, and saving you a big of money.
- Flight — Wide broadheads have more surface area, and that introduces flight issues from wind when shot from modern compound bows. Experienced hunters will notice that the size and width of broadheads tend to be smaller these days than they were in the past. As technology improves the speed and power of bows, fixed blade broadheads can decrease in size.
- Tuning — With increased arrow speed, comes the need for better tuning. Your arrow setup must be tuned to the bow with the fixed blade heads. One point to remember is that heavier fixed blades require longer and wider fletching. This helps balance the arrow at higher speeds and longer distances. Tuning bows for broadheads is an art in itself, which we cover in more detail here.
- Design Limitations— The width of cutting diameter affects the accuracy or tuning capability of fixed blade broadheads. Wider diameter blades are less stable when flying. The more surface area on the head the more friction there is. This causes arrows to slow faster and lose accuracy at greater distances. All of which means more detailed tuning, frequent maintenance, and specific arrows for specific bows.
1. NAP Thunderhead – Best 3 Blade Broadhead
The NAP Thunderhead is a tried and true, proven fixed blade broadhead. They have been around for many years, which is a strong testament to their effectiveness. Thunderheads are known to be scary sharp right out of the box, fly true, and be easy to tune.
The foundation of the design is the tapered and grooved, three-sided aluminum ferrule. The chisel tip then flows seamlessly into the .027” stainless steel blades. If you’re looking for a proven fixed blade design for this season, the NAP Thunderhead is a fantastic starting point.
2. Muzzy 4 Blade – Best 4 Blade Broadhead
The Muzzy 4 Blade broadhead is another one of those heads that have gained a solid reputation over the years. They are known to fly true and pair great with carbon arrow shafts. The Muzzy 4 Blade typically comes in packs of 6 at a cost similar to that of other brands 3 packs. The bottom line is this is a broadhead many archers have come to trust and rely on for success.
The design is similar to other proven broadheads on the market. You have an aircraft grade aluminum alloy ferrule, with slots for stainless steel blades. The blades are .020” with cutout “vents” for less in-flight air friction. The ferrule is then capped off with a hardened steel tip, with a trocar cut. The trocar tip allows the head to cut on contact and deliver a takedown blow to the animal.
3. G5 Striker Broadhead
The G5 Striker heads are an excellent choice for a 3 blade broadhead with replaceable blades. When comparing the G5 Striker vs Montec broadheads, they have a similar cut on contact tips aligned with the blades. The biggest difference is the blade angle and construction.
The Montec is one solid piece of steel, blades and all, that require sharpening for continued use. The Striker, on the other hand, has replaceable blades. If you have trouble sharpening a one piece 3 blade, then I recommend the Striker over the Montec. The G5 Striker is known to fly straight with minimal sound, and reliable to inflict a takedown wound. It’s no surprise that the Strikers are loved by bow hunters of all skill levels.
4. Magnus Stinger Buzzcut
I’d imagine the Buzzcut is one frightening looking broadhead to a deer. From the aggressive leading edge to the serrated, knife-like leading edges, the Buzzcut is made to kill. Then you have the short 3/4″ “bleeder blades” perpendicular to the main blades for more cutting and blood trails.
The cutting diameters are 1-1/16″ plus the 3/4″ bleeder blades, more than enough to put down a deer. The blades themselves are precision ground stainless steel with Diamond Tip treatment for the best possible strength. Every Buzzcut is spin tested and shaving sharp out of the box.
5. Magnus Stinger – Best 2 Blade Broadhead
The Stinger is a traditional style fixed blade broadhead that just simply gets the job done. There are no fancy marketing gimmicks with this 2 blade head, just high-quality components. The blade is formed from .042” stainless steel, the same kind used in the best knives made today.
The Stinger also carries a hardened diamond tip for penetrating strength. The steel blades are mounted on an aircraft grade aluminum ferrule, which can be removed for easy sharpening or replacement. This would be a good broadhead for bows with low to medium poundage, or even traditional bows.
Best Mechanical Broadheads
4. Grim Reaper Razorcut SS
4. Grim Reaper Razorcut SS
*Last updated 2021-10-17 at 21:58 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Mechanical Broadhead Pros & Cons
Mechanical broadheads come in rear deployed or front deployed designs. They offer a conical head design that allows them to behave more like a field point rather than a broad head, but they have negative aspects too. Let’s explore the pros and cons of mechanical broadheads.
- Accuracy — The narrow launch geometry of a mechanical arrow allows it to fly in a similar fashion to that of a field point. It faces less wind and flight plane issues than the fixed blade broadheads do. This allows them to fly farther with greater accuracy, especially outside of the 60-yard mark.
- Inflicts more Damage — Mechanical broadheads have a wider cutting angle. When they penetrate the blades deploy and create devastating tissue damage. While fixed blade broadheads may penetrate deeper, a mechanical broadhead is going to take out veins and arteries as it penetrates. If it hits an organ you can count on maximum damage. All that damage means that shooter error is marginalized as the damage caused helps overcome shot accuracy. That does not mean you should not practice because no mechanical broadhead is going to overcome a poor shot.
- Wider Cutting Path — Mechanical broadheads work especially well on smaller game whereas fixed blade broadheads are used to kill bigger animals (Elk, Caribou, Bear). With the mechanical broadheads, you gain more immediate tissue damage which is a benefit when you have smaller game such as turkeys which have a very small kill zone. Choose turkey broadheads in that situation.
- Decreased Penetration — Mechanical blades often have a wide blade angle when deployed. The wider the blade angle, the more resistance it creates when it strikes a softer target. If you want deep penetration you need a narrow blade design or you need a bow that is uber-powerful. The grain in mechanical broadheads tends to be on the lower end of the scale (under 100 grain) which means that inertia is less on impact. The blade angle can be an issue with both mechanical and fixed blade broadheads.
- Limits Game Options — Because of the decrease in penetrating force, mechanical broadheads are not always the best choice for big game like elk or bear where the vital organs are deeper and the arrow must travel farther into the target to deliver a killing shot.
- Mechanical Errors — Fixed blade broadheads rarely have mechanical failures, which is not always the case when it comes to mechanical broadheads. Blades can occasionally fail to deploy, leaving the animal with a wound to suffer. While still small, the risk of an arrow failure is a little bit higher simply because there is more involved in the blade deployment vs a tried and true fixed blade broadhead.
1. WASP Jak-Hammer SST
The Jak-Hammer is my number one rated mechanical broadhead for bows and crossbows. The Jak-Hammer has a proven and reliable front deploying design that is good for use on turkey, deer, hogs, and sometimes larger game. WASP kept things simple on this broadhead, using a neoprene o-ring to retain the blades in flight, and rolls backward on impact.
The Jak-Hammer utilizes quality materials like .036” stainless steel blades, which is a strong gauge to provide power to cut deep wound channels. On the front end is a hardened steel trocar tip to cut on contact. Don’t be surprised if you get a complete pass through shot with these heads. Multiple hunters have reported shooting multiple animals with the same head. If you take care of them by sharpening and replacing blades as needed, the Jak-hammers can last you several seasons.
2. NAP Spitfire 3 Blade
The Spitfire 3 might be one of the most popular mechanical broadheads ever made. The Spitfire is highly regarded as one the best broadheads for deer thanks to a simple blade mechanism. Each blade is sandwiched between a retention clip and the slot in the ferrule, and these parts have a hole that pivots on a small screw. The force of impact pushes the front edge of the blade past the retention clip, exposing the cutting edges. Be sure to replace the retention clips and screws after 5 impacts.
The Spitfire point and ferrule have a nice aerodynamic shape that flies and groups very well. When properly assembled, the blades won’t open in flight like cheaper heads. Just like on the NAP Thunderheads, the trophy tip and ferrule have small grooves on all three sides, meant for flight accuracy. A lot of bowhunters try all kinds of mechanical broadheads, only to end up settling on Spitfires. You could save yourself some time by getting set up with the best at the start.
3. Ramcat Mechanical Broadhead
Ramcat expandable broadheads are supposed to be one of most aerodynamic designs made. The ferrule is larger than other mechanicals but features 3 airfoil lobes that allow airflow, preventing the wind from catching it. Ramcat claims the razor-sharp head has market best penetration, and multiple independent tests have proven this to be true.
The Ramcat is actually a hybrid broadhead, where the blades can fold forward, but once deployed are fixed in place. There are no fancy slots or lightening holes in this head, just solid .032” stainless steel cutting surfaces. Should you not get a pass-through shot, the back edges are also sharp so you can cut while pulling the arrow back out. One thing to know with Ramcats is to make sure to check the small screws every time you get ready to shoot for consistent deployment.
4. Grim Reaper Razorcut SS
If you’re looking for a good 100 grain mechanical, the Grim Reaper Razorcut SS is one to seriously consider. If you are one of those shooters who are unsure about an o-ring blade retention system, then have a look at the Razorcut SS. Each blade is fitted with a spring loaded mechanism that holds itself in place until the pressure of impact.
The entire head is made in one piece out of stainless steel. It’s actually specifically designed for today’s modern high KE bows and crossbows. One other feature I like on these heads is the cut on contact tip with a ½” plus setback to the tips of the razor blades. This distance means you get some penetration into the animal before any blades are deployed. This leads to better success on angled shots due to fewer deflections.
5. Swhacker Two-Blade – Best 2 Blade Mechanical Broadhead
The Swhacker Two-Blade is known as one of the most accurate flying mechanical broadheads you can buy. Some hunters will say the blades need sharpening out of the packages, but the great thing is how well they fly, meaning they get the job done. Surgical sharp edges are probably a little overrated anyway. If you can hit your target and leave a nice blood trail to follow that’s as much as bowhunters can ask for.
The other pro for this broadhead is the huge 2″ cutting diameter, opening after entry, which has been found to be true and maintained even as it passes through an animal. The means even a less than perfect shot can inflict enough damage to drop the deer. If you are having trouble with flight accuracy, slow killing shots, you definitely should give the Swhacker a try.
Real Life Data –Fixed Blade vs Mechanical
Still not sure what type of broadhead you need? An article out of the Quality Deer Management Association provides excellent stats from a study conducted by Andy Pedersen on fixed blade versus mechanical broadheads. Here is a little of what they found.
- Fixed blade broadhead arrows recovered 82 percent of their targets. The target field was 1,066 deer and 874 were bagged.
- Mechanical broadhead arrows recovered 91 percent of their targets. Out of 230 hits, 209 deer were bagged.
- Bow Type Matters — Compound bows had an 89 percent recovery rate with mechanical broadheads whereas crossbows with mechanical broadheads have a 96 percent bag rate.
What does this mean?
The target in the study was deer, which is a species that offers a size and kill zone that makes both fixed blade and mechanical arrows somewhat equal.
The bow type mattered greatly as crossbows provide more direct power and deeper penetration using mechanical broadheads. Recall that one of the disadvantages of the mechanical broadhead was penetration. That is overcome with short distance shooting (19.7 yards for crossbows) and more power behind the arrow.
This brings up the question of distance. Both types of shooters in this study were close range. Crossbows took shots at an average of 19.7 yards and compound bow at 17.6 yards. Add distance to the equation and the results of this study would likely be different.
What About Turkey?
Selecting broadheads for turkey hunting is another situation where the choice between fixed and mechanical blades is important. While fixed blades can offer penetrating power to get through the tough outer feathers and wing bones, mechanicals can provide instant takedowns with shots to the neck and head.
So while it seems that mechanical broadheads outperform fixed blades, you have to really consider skill level, distance, and the conditions in which hunting occurs.
Just make sure to choose a broadhead with a stout tip, whether cut on contact or chisel. A cut on contact style is probably superior in most scenarios when hunting for larger animals like deer. Cut on contact broadheads would seem to inflict the most damage regardless if you strike bone or the vitals.
The conclusion of which is the best broadheads is not a broad statement but more of an individual answer. What is your target? What is your range? What is your accuracy and skill level?
*Last updated 2021-10-17 at 21:58 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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‘They’re coming in younger and coming in sicker’: One hospital’s war with coronavirus
As Dr. Louis Tran walked through the field hospital outside Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, he passed weary casualties of a COVID-19 surge with no peak yet in sight. Young and old, they slept on cots while receiving oxygen through nasal tubes.
One of the largest hospitals in San Bernardino County, the 456-bed facility ran out of intensive care unit space two weeks ago amid an onslaught of COVID cases across Southern California.
By now, the effects of the surge on hospitals have become familiar: Ambulances waiting up to six hours to offload patients. People suffering from other ailments, including one with kidney failure, getting treated outside the hospital for more than two hours before a bed opened up. Medical staff thinking about what other areas of the hospital, including conference rooms, can be used to treat the ill.
And yet, Tran said, he believes the worst is yet to come.
“We knew there was [another]wave coming in the wintertime,” Tran said. “But I did not expect to have as many sick people who required ICU care like we’ve been having.”
Hospitals across Southern California have been hit hard by the recent COVID-19 surge. Many of them are operating at peak capacity and are concerned about an even larger surge after Christmas and New Year’s gatherings. The feeling that the other shoe — a larger and heavier one — has yet to fall is pervasive among healthcare workers.
“We are short-staffed because there are not enough nurses to take care of all these patients,” said Vanessa Heaton, 34, a charge nurse. “I just don’t know, if it gets any worse, how we’re going to be able to handle it.
“We hope that it slows down at some point, but we’re kind of scared of post-Christmas,” she added.
Heaton worries that if the hospital becomes too inundated with COVID-19 patients, it will be harder to care for people having other emergencies, including victims of crimes.
“People are still going out, they’re still getting shot or stabbed, and our hospital has to deal with all that on top of COVID,” she said.
If ever a region was susceptible to faring poorly during a pandemic, it is one like the Inland Empire, with rampant poverty and high rates of people with just the kind of underlying health issues that COVID-19 preys on. And San Bernardino County has been more resistant to state mandates than L.A., with officials clashing with Gov. Gavin Newsom over the latest stay-at-home order.
For weeks, coronavirus cases in this region were growing faster per capita than in most counties in the state, according to a Los Angeles Times tracker.
Although the infection rate has slowed a bit in San Bernardino County, it is still listed as one of the 10 counties hit hardest by the recent COVID-19 surge.
Over the last seven days, there were about 744.4 cases for every 100,000 residents in San Bernardino County.
The situation is far worse in Riverside County, where in the last seven days there were 941.7 cases per 100,000 residents.
A Times analysis of coronavirus case rates in communities for which data are available found that, of the top 50, about half were in the Inland Empire, including Riverside, San Bernardino, Perris, Moreno Valley, Jurupa Valley, Bloomington, Barstow, Colton, Rialto, Victorville, Fontana, Highland, Adelanto and Hesperia.
Kareem Gongora, a board member of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, was not surprised.
“Those are all minority communities,” he said. “They’re predominantly Latino, Black and low-income.”
He said many people here work at warehouses and live in multigenerational homes under crowded conditions. The region is home to a booming logistics industry that has created tens of thousands of warehouse jobs.
But that same industry has also helped drive up air pollution, which has led to an increase in asthma rates, Gongora said.
“We call this region the diesel dead zone because your increased exposure to particle matter worsens Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and a slew of other diseases,” he said.
At Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, a short walk from the medical tent, men were putting the final touches on trailers that will add about a dozen treatment rooms for COVID-19 patients. Twelve more rooms will be added in the coming days, officials said.
Ravneet Mann, a clinical director at Arrowhead, said they have been trying to plan for the worse. She said they have placed cots in conference rooms should they run out of space again.
“If worse comes to worst with our planning, then we’ll use the cafeteria,” she said. “We can go to the lobby also.”
On the second floor, a surgical intensive care unit was converted to a COVID-19 unit during the summer. At least 32 patients lay in beds; most of the men and women wereintubated.
Mann said that if the situation becomes more critical, nurses may have to consider taking on more patients. Normally the ratio is one nurse for every two patients. Hospital officials say staff shortages have led them to alter those ratios at times.
But it takes a lot of work to care for even one COVID-19 patient who’s been intubated. Nurses not only must monitor IV pumps but sometimes also have to flip patients onto their stomachs because it helps them breathe more easily. It takes about six nurses to flip a patient.
Around the corner, a 41-year-old man lay intubated. He arrived Dec. 12, and four days later his condition worsened. He recently was placed on dialysis after his kidneys began to fail, another complication brought on by the disease.
“That’s our average age that we’re getting,” Mann said. “They’re coming in younger and coming in sicker.”
On average, patients are going into respiratory and cardiac arrest at least four times a day. The medical staff has saved people from dying during those medical emergencies.
But every day, at least two people are dying of COVID-19 here.
“That’s the hardest thing,” Mann said. “We became nurses to make sure patients get better. To see a death every single day is just so depressing.”
The hospital staff has shown resiliency during the latest surge, which has become the deadliest since the pandemic started.
So far, more than 26,000 people have died of COVID-19 in California. It is the third-leading cause of death in the state.
During moments of relative calm, nurses share tips about caring for patients.They discuss scheduling shifts. There are random conversations and laughs. And always, there is praise for the exceptional care they provide to patients.
“There are some pretty amazing nurses here,” Mann said.
In the medical ICU on the fourth floor, Elizabeth Koelliker, 36, the charge nurse, dashed from one patient to another, checking IV pumps.
“There’s just way too many patients and not enough nurses and we’re trying our best,” she said. “You think last week was bad, and then you come in this week and it’s worse.”
Koelliker arrived at 7 a.m. and had been unable to take a break for more than six hoursbecause there was no one to take her place.
The state has sent 24 ICU nurses to the hospital. Although workers say it helps, it’s still not enough.
In the last few days, Koelliker said, some nurses have had to come in for some overtime just to help relieve other nurses for lunch.
“We would not be able to do what we’re doing without the teamwork we have here,” she said.
More help is expected to arrive soon as 75 Air Force and Army doctors, nurses and other medical personnel have been deployed to California hospitals, including Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, according to Army officials. Mann said the hospital will get 14 nurses, four physicians and two respiratory therapists.
It was just about noon when a nurse put on a negative-pressure helmet and a yellow plastic gown over his scrubs before sliding the glass door open and walking into a patient’s room. Outside, a second nurse held several IV drips that he passed through a gap on the side of the door. The nurse inside grabbed the plastic tubes, gave a thumbs up and walked over to the patient.
To limit exposure to COVID-19 patients, the staff has placed all the medication pumps outside the patient rooms. If healthcare workers go into a patient’s room, it’s often one nurse at a time. Mann said she is trying to obtain more negative-pressure helmets for her nurses.
“If I can keep them safe,” she said, “they can keep taking care of patients longer.”
Koelliker said it took a while for nurses to get used to not walking into a patient’s room without putting on the proper gear.
“We’re not used to not getting to a patient when they need us, so a lot of us found ourselves running in,” she said.
Koelliker said she worries about what lies ahead. She’s afraid that nurses will be overwhelmed by the number of patients they will have to care for — even with the extra help that’s coming. She thinks about the phone calls she’s had with family members who blame themselves for playing a role in the relative’s condition. She worries about her colleagues.
“I’m extremely scared,” she said. “It’s already bad now.”
The Deadly Point; In certain instances, poisoned darts and arrows outperform the civilized gun.
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IF the victims can tell about it at all, they say that for a split second they heard a high, faint whistling, then felt a sharp, searing blow, as though struck by a hot blade. This is how a deadly arrow sounds and feels, and if the arrowhead is poisoned, the last moments can bring excruciating pain and sometimes madness.
In recent weeks the poisoned arrow has claimed a number of victims, including an American woman missionary, in the terrorized Kwilu Province of the Congo. Guerrilla rebels there killed the Congolese Army Chief of Staff himself with a poisoned arrow that sped out of the undergrowth and felled him as he led a column of reinforcements along a jungle road.
The reason weapons so primitive as bows and arrows survive in an age of light, efficient, rapid‐fire small arms is that they are ideally suited to the stealth of guerrilla warfare. (Some special United States troops are being taught jungle archery.) Both the bow and arrow and a sister weapon, the dart‐hurling blowpipe, are nearly silent and thus not only can take their victims by surprise but do not reveal their firing positions, as with shots discharged by explosives. Aimed by experts, poisoned arrows and darts can be as deadly as bullets and, depending on the poison, considerably less merciful.
POISONED arrows have been used principally by African and South American tribes, and poisoned darts by tribes of the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago. Poisoned arrows were not unknown to the North American Indian, however. The Osage tribesmen of what is now Missouri and Arkansas made poison by enticing a rattlesnake to bite a piece of liver which was then diced and pressed into clamshells for preservation. In wartime the shells were entrusted to the squaws, who carried them to the battlefield and helped the braves dip their arrows.
Compare this businesslike approach with the traditional rituals of African tribes preparing poison for war. Death was presumed wingless until a medicine man had reeled off incantations over simmering pots, though it may be noted that the men were careful to let the women have a major share of the work right from the start. It was said that the casualties among the women were more numerous than among the warriors on the battlefield.
THE kind of poison varied from tribe to tribe and from region to region. In less inhibited southern Africa, tribes made a fanciful poison of scor pions and spiders ground with lethal plant juice and snake venom, whereas in the more cultivated regions of the north, a vegetal poison was considered amply fatal. In between were other concoctions. Pygmies endorsed poisons derived from powdered red ants. The bushmen of Bechuanaland still favor a poison made by crushing the pupae of beetles found among the roots of infested marula trees.
The beetle poison is so powerful that if one drop enters the bloodstream, the victim will die almost instantly. This is one instance in which the women are forbidden to touch either the poison or the arrows—but only because a bushwoman's hand is said to spoil a huntsman's or warrior's luck. In any event, the more complex the poison, the more likely it is that the extra ingredients have been added to confuse observant spies or, possibly, to confound any analytical medicine men in the enemy camp.
If fresh, most poisons can cause quick though painful death upon penetration of the arrow or dart. If old, a poison can cause lingering death in agony. But many factors determine whether a wound will be fatal, not the least of which, of course, are the velocity and point of entry of the missile itself.
Two especially potent poisons commonly used on arrows and darts are remarkable for the curious effects they have on their victims. Both are derived from plants, and both have emerged into Western civilization as something of value.
THE first, aconite, is from a plant of that name belonging to the buttercup family and found from Asia to Europe and in parts of NorthAmerica. Its roots have been miStaken for horseradish and its leaves used as salad greens with disastrous results. Hungry soldiers of the army Mark Antony led against the Parthians dug up aconite roots and devoured them, bringing madness and death upon themselves, as described in this fashion by Plutarch:
“The eater immediately lost all memory and would busy himself in turning over every stone he met ... as if on some important pursuit… . Whole numbers perished.”
Aconite was commonly used by Malayan aborigines to tip the darts of blowpipes, weapons particularly useful to pygmies, who can huff up a big wind but who haven't the arm span for sending an arrow into lengthy flight. The pipes now are principally hunting weapons, but during World War II the Allies encouraged the aborigines, especially those on Borneo, to use their blowguns and poisoned darts, along with head‐hunting expertise, against the Japanese.
The other poison is curare (or woorari). Derived principally from the strychnine plant, it has been used for centuries as an arrow and dart poison by Amazon and Orinoco Valley tribes of South America. Upon penetration it attacks the nerve ends of the voluntary muscles, paralyzing the victim but leaving his mind alert to what is happening to him.
THE danger is that paralysis of the respiratory system will cause asphyxiation. However, an amount of curare fatal to one person is not necessarily fatal to another (those who eat a lot of salt seem to be especially resistant), and the paralysis is only temporary. Thus in a half hour the victim's fate can be rather broadly decided: he is either stone dead or, except for the wound itself, fully recovered.
Science has taken both poisons and made them useful. Aconite, the poison associated with madness, has served to relieve neuralgia and is sometimes applied as a heart and nerve sedative. Perhaps more curious is the civilized role for curare: tamed as a drug, the poison that can cause paralysis and stop respiration can stimulate respiration and relieve paralysis. From the deadly arrows of Amazon Indians, it has become a weapon against poliomyelitis.
Arrowheads and Other Points: Myths and Little Known Facts
Arrowheads are among the most easily recognized type of artifact found in the world. Untold generations of children poking around in parks or farm fields or creek beds have discovered these rocks that have clearly been shaped by humans into pointed working tools. Our fascination with them as children is probably why there are so many myths about them, and almost certainly why those children sometimes grow up and study them. Here are some common misconceptions about arrowheads, and some things that archaeologists have learned about these ubiquitous objects.
Not All Pointy Objects Are Arrowheads
- Myth Number 1: All triangular stone objects found on archaeological sites are arrowheads.
Arrowheads, objects fixed to the end of a shaft and shot with a bow, are only a fairly small subset of what archaeologists call projectile points. A projectile point is a broad category of triangularly pointed tools made of stone, shell, metal, or glass and used throughout prehistory and the world over to hunt game and practice warfare. A projectile point has a pointed end and some kind of worked element called the haft, which enabled attaching the point to a wood or ivory shaft.
There are three broad categories of point-assisted hunting tools, including spear, dart or atlatl, and bow and arrow. Each hunting type requires a pointed tip that meets a specific physical shape, thickness, and weight; arrowheads are the very smallest of the point types.
In addition, microscopic research into edge damage (called 'use-wear analysis') has shown that some of the stone tools that look like projectile points may have been hafted cutting tools, rather than for propelling into animals.
In some cultures and time periods, special projectile points were clearly not created for a working use at all. These can be elaborately worked stone objects such as the so-called eccentrics or created for placement in a burial or other ritual context.
Size and Shape Matters
- Myth Number 2: The smallest arrowheads were used for killing birds.
The smallest arrowheads are sometimes called "bird points" by the collector community. Experimental archaeology has shown that these tiny objects—even the ones under half an inch in length—are sufficiently lethal to kill a deer or even larger animal. These are true arrowheads, in that they were attached to arrows and shot using a bow.
An arrow tipped with a stone bird point would easily pass right through a bird, which is more easily hunted with nets.
- Myth Number 3: The hafted tools with the round ends are meant for stunning prey rather than killing it.
Stone tools called blunt points or stunners are actually regular dart points that have been reworked so that the pointy end is a long horizontal plane. At least one edge of the plane might have been purposefully sharpened. These are excellent scraping tools, for working animal hides or wood, with a ready-made hafting element. The proper term for these kinds of tools is hafted scrapers.
Evidence for reworking and repurposing older stone tools was quite common in the past—there are many examples of lanceolate points (long projectile points hafted onto spears) that were reworked into dart points for use with atlatls.
Myths About Making an Arrowhead
- Myth Number 4: Arrowheads are made by heating a rock and then dripping water on it.
A stone projectile point is made by a sustained effort of chipping and flaking stone called flint knapping. Flintknappers work a raw piece of stone into its shape by hitting it with another stone (called percussion flaking) and/or using a stone or deer antler and soft pressure (pressure flaking) to get the final product to just the right shape and size.
- Myth Number 5: It takes a really long time to make an arrow point.
While it is true that making some stone tools (e.g., Clovis points) requires time and considerable skill, flintknapping, in general, is not a time-intensive task, nor does it necessarily require a great amount of skill. Expedient flake tools can be made in a matter of seconds by anyone who is capable of swinging a rock. Even producing more complicated tools is not necessarily a time-intensive task (though they do require more skill).
If a flintknapper is skilled, she can make an arrowhead from start to finish in less than 15 minutes. In the late 19th century, anthropologist John Bourke timed an Apache making four stone points, and the average was only 6.5 minutes.
- Myth Number 6: All arrows (darts or spears) had stone projectile points attached, to balance the shaft.
Stone arrowheads are not always the best choice for hunters: alternatives include shell, animal bone, or antler or simply sharpening the business end of the shaft. A heavy point actually destabilizes an arrow during launch, and the shaft will fly out from the bow when fitted with a heavy head. When an arrow is launched from a bow, the nock (i.e., notch for the bowstring) is accelerated before the tip.
The greater velocity of the nock when combined with the inertia of a tip of higher density than the shaft and on its opposite end, tends to spin the distal end of the arrow forward. A heavy point increases stresses that occur in the shaft when rapidly accelerated from the opposite end, which can result in "porpoising" or fishtailing of the arrow shaft while in flight. In severe cases, the shaft can even shatter.
Myths: Weapons and Warfare
- Myth Number 7: The reason we so many projectile points is that there was a lot of warfare between tribes in prehistory.
Investigation of blood residues on stone projectile points reveals that the DNA on the majority of stone tools is from animals, not humans. These points were thus, most often, used as hunting tools. Although there was warfare in prehistory, it was far less frequent than hunting for food.
The reason there are so many projectile points to be found, even after centuries of determined collecting, is that the technology is a very old one: people have been making points to hunt animals for over 200,000 years.
- Myth Number 8: Stone projectile points are far more effective a weapon than a sharpened spear.
Experiments conducted by the Discovery Channel's "Myth Busters" team under the direction of archaeologists Nichole Waguespack and Todd Surovell reveal that stone tools only penetrate about 10% deeper into animal carcasses than sharpened sticks. Also using experimental archaeology techniques, archaeologists Matthew Sisk and John Shea found that the depth of point penetration into an animal might be related to the width of a projectile point, not the length or weight.
Favorite Little Known Facts
Archaeologists have been studying projectile making and use for at least the past century. Studies have expanded into experimental archaeology and replication experiments, which includes making stone tools and practicing their use. Other studies include microscopic inspection of the wear on stone tool edges, identifying the presence of animal and plant residues on those tools. Extensive studies on truly ancient sites and database analysis on point types have given archaeologists a great deal of information about the age of projectile points and how they changed over time and function.
Pointed stone and bone objects have been discovered on many Middle Paleolithic archaeological sites, such as Umm el Tiel in Syria, Oscurusciuto in Italy, and Blombos and Sibudu Caves in South Africa. These points were probably used as thrusting or throwing spears, by both Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans, as long ago as ~200,000 years. Sharpened wooden spears without stone tips were in use by ~400–300,000 years ago.
Bow and arrow hunting is at least 70,000 years old in South Africa but was not used by people outside of Africa until the Late Upper Paleolithic, about 15,000–20,000 years ago.
The atlatl, a device to assist in throwing darts, was invented by humans during the Upper Paleolithic period, at least 20,000 years ago.
- Little Known Fact Number 2: By and large, you can tell how old a projectile point is or where it came from by its shape and size.
Projectile points are identified to culture and time period on the basis of their form and flaking style. Shapes and thicknesses changed over time, probably at least partly for reasons related to function and technology, but also because of style preferences within a particular group. For whatever reason they changed, archaeologists can use these changes to map point styles to periods. Studies of the different sizes and shapes of points are called point typologies.
In general, the larger, finely made points are the oldest points and were likely spear points, fixed to the working ends of spears. The middle-sized, fairly thick points are called dart points; they were used with an atlatl. The smallest points were used at the ends of arrows shot with bows.
Previously Unknown Functions
- Little Known Fact Number 3: Archaeologists can use a microscope and chemical analysis to identify scratches and minute traces of blood or other substances on the edges of projectile points.
On points excavated from intact archaeological sites, forensic analysis can often identify trace elements of blood or protein on the edges of tools, allowing the archaeologist to make substantive interpretations on what a point was used for. Called blood residue or protein residue analysis, the test has become a fairly common one.
In an allied laboratory field, deposits of plant residues such as opal phytoliths and pollen grains have been found on the edges of stone tools, which help identify the plants that were harvested or worked with stone sickles.
Another avenue of research is called use-wear analysis, in which archaeologists use a microscope to search for small scratches and breaks in the edges of stone tools. Use-wear analysis is often used in conjunction with experimental archaeology, in which people attempt to reproduce ancient technologies.
- Little Known Fact Number 4: Broken points are more interesting than whole ones.
Lithic specialists who have studied broken stone tools can recognize how and why an arrowhead came to be broken, whether in the process of being made, during hunting, or as an intentional breakage. Points that broke during manufacture often present information about the process of their construction. Intentional breaks can be representative of rituals or other activities.
One of the most exciting and useful finds is a broken point in the midst of the flaky stone debris (called debitage) that was created during the point's construction. Such a cluster of artifacts offers copious information about human behaviors.
- Little Known Fact Number 5: Archaeologists sometimes use broken arrowheads and projectile points as interpretive tools.
When an isolated point tip is found away from a campsite, archaeologists interpret this to mean that the tool broke during a hunting trip. When the base of a broken point is found, it's almost always at a campsite. The theory is, the tip is left behind at the hunting site (or embedded in the animal), while the hafting element is taken back to the base camp for possible reworking.
Some of the oddest looking projectile points were reworked from earlier points, such as when an old point was found and reworked by a later group.
New Facts: What Science Has Learned about Stone Tool Production
- Little Known Fact Number 6: Some native cherts and flints improve their character by being exposed to heat.
Experimental archaeologists have identified the effects of heat treatment on some stone to increase a raw material's gloss, alter the color, and, most importantly, increase the stone's knappability.
- Little Known Fact Number 7: Stone tools are fragile.
According to several archaeological experiments, stone projectile points break in use and frequently after only one to three uses, and few remain usable for very long.
For other uses, see Arrowhead (disambiguation).
"Broadhead" redirects here. For other uses, see Broadhead (disambiguation).
An arrowhead or point is the usually sharpened and hardened tip of an arrow, which contributes a majority of the projectilemass and is responsible for impacting and penetrating a target, as well as to fulfill some special purposes such as signaling.
The earliest arrowheads were made of stone and of organic materials; as human civilizations progressed, other alloy materials were used. Arrowheads are important archaeological artifacts; they are a subclass of projectile points. Modern enthusiasts still "produce over one million brand-new spear and arrow points per year".
A craftman who manufactures arrowheads is called an arrowsmith.
Main article: Projectile point
See also: Chronology of bladed weapons
In the Stone Age, people used sharpened bone, flintknapped stones, flakes, and chips of rock as weapons and tools. Such items remained in use throughout human civilization, with new materials used as time passed. As archaeological artifacts such objects are classed as projectile points, without specifying whether they were projected by a bow or by some other means such as throwing since the specific means of projection (the bow, the arrow shaft, the spear shaft, etc.) is found too seldom in direct association with any given point and the word "arrow" would imply a certainty about these points which simply does not exist.
Such artifacts can be found all over the world in various locations. Those that have survived are usually made of stone, primarily consisting of flint, obsidian, or chert. In many excavations, bone, wooden, and metal arrowheads have also been found.
Stone projectile points dating back 64,000 years were excavated from layers of ancient sediment in Sibudu Cave, South Africa. Examinations found traces of blood and bone residues, and glue made from a plant-based resin that was used to fasten them on to a wooden shaft. This indicated "cognitively demanding behavior" required to manufacture glue.
These hafted points might have been launched from bows. While "most attributes such as micro-residue distribution patterns and micro-wear will develop similarly on points used to tip spears, darts or arrows" and "explicit tests for distinctions between thrown spears and projected arrows have not yet been conducted" the researchers find "contextual support" for the use of these points on arrows: a broad range of animals was hunted, with an emphasis on taxa that prefer closed forested niches, including fast moving, terrestrial and arboreal animals. This is an argument for the use of traps, perhaps including snares. If snares were used, the use of cords and knots which would also have been adequate for the production of bows is implied. The employment of snares also demonstrates a practical understanding of the latent energy stored in bent branches, the main principle of bow construction. Cords and knots are implied by use-wear facets on perforated shell beads around 72,000 years old from Blombos. Archeologists in Louisiana have discovered that early Native Americans used Alligator gar scales as arrow heads.
"Hunting with a bow and arrow requires intricate multi-staged planning, material collection and tool preparation and implies a range of innovative social and communication skills."
Arrowheads are attached to arrow shafts to be shot from a bow; similar types of projectile points may be attached to a spear and "thrown" by means of an atlatl (spear thrower).
The arrowhead or projectile point is the primary functional part of the arrow, and plays the largest role in determining its purpose. Some arrows may simply use a sharpened tip of the solid shaft, but it is far more common for separate arrowheads to be made, usually from metal, horn, rock, or some other hard material.
Arrowheads may be attached to the shaft with a cap, a socket tang, or inserted into a split in the shaft and held by a process called hafting. Points attached with caps are simply slid snugly over the end of the shaft, or may be held on with hot glue. In medieval Europe, arrowheads were adhered with hide glue. Split-shaft construction involves splitting the arrow shaft lengthwise, inserting the arrowhead, and securing it using ferrule, sinew, rope, or wire.
Modern arrowheads used for hunting come in a variety of classes and styles. Many traditionalist archers choose heads made of modern high carbon steel that closely resemble traditional stone heads (see Variants). Other classes of broadheads referred to as "mechanical" and "hybrid" are gaining popularity. Often, these heads rely on force created by passing through an animal to expand or open.
Arrowheads are usually separated by function:
- Bodkin points are short, rigid points with a small cross-section. They were made of unhardened iron and may have been used for better or longer flight, or for cheaper production. It has been suggested that the bodkin came into its own as a means of penetrating armour, however limited research has so far found no hardened bodkin points, so it appears likely that it was first designed either to extend range or as a cheaper and simpler alternative to the broadhead. In a modern test, a direct hit from a hard steel bodkin point penetrated a set of fifteenth-century chain armour made in Damascus. However, archery was minimally effective against plate armour, which became available to knights of fairly modest means by the late 14th century.
- Blunts are unsharpened arrowheads occasionally used for types of target shooting, for shooting at stumps or other targets of opportunity, or hunting small game when the goal is to stun the target without penetration. Blunts are commonly made of metal or hard rubber. They may stun, and occasionally, the arrow shaft may penetrate the head and the target; safety is still important with blunt arrows.
- Judo points have spring wires extending sideways from the tip. These catch on grass and debris to prevent the arrow from being lost in the vegetation. Used for practice and for small game.
- Broadheads were used for war and are still used for hunting. Medieval broadheads could be made from steel, sometimes with hardened edges. They usually have two to four sharp blades that cause massive bleeding in the victim. Their function is to deliver a wide cutting edge so as to kill as quickly as possible. They are expensive, damage most targets, and are usually not used for practice. There are two main types of broadheads used by hunters: The fixed-blade broadhead and the mechanical broadhead types. While the fixed-blade broadhead keeps its blades rigid and unmovable on the broadhead at all times, the mechanical broadhead deploys its blades upon contact with the target, its blades swinging out to wound the target. "There are three requirements to making a broadhead. 1. It must be wide enough to cut through tissue to produce a quick, clean kill. 2. It must be narrow enough to penetrate well. 3. It must be of a shape that can be sharpened well."
The mechanical head flies better because it is more streamlined, but has less penetration as it uses some of the kinetic energy in the arrow to deploy its blades.
- Target points are bullet-shaped with a sharp point, designed to penetrate target butts easily without causing excessive damage to them.
- Field points are similar to target points and have a distinct shoulder, so that missed outdoor shots do not become as stuck in obstacles such as tree stumps. They are also used for shooting practice by hunters, by offering similar flight characteristics and weights as broadheads, without getting lodged in target materials and causing excessive damage upon removal.
- Safety arrows are designed to be used in various forms of reenactment combat, to reduce the risk when shot at people. These arrows may have heads that are very wide or padded. In combination with bows of restricted draw weight and draw length, these heads may reduce to acceptable levels the risks of shooting arrows at suitably armoured people. The parameters will vary depending on the specific rules being used and on the levels of risk felt acceptable to the participants. For instance, SCA combat rules require a padded head at least 1+1⁄4 inches (3 cm) in diameter, with bows not exceeding 28 inches (70 cm) and 50 pounds (23 kg) of draw for use against well-armoured individuals. The Australia/New Zealand based SCA Kingdom of Lochac use 30-pound (14 kg) bows and much smaller safety arrow heads similar to modern rubber bird blunts for their combat archery as these more accurately simulate real arrows.
- ^Kelley, Kevin (2010). What Technology Wants. New York: Viking. p. 55. ISBN .
- ^Paterson Encyclopaedia of Archery p. 20
- ^"Glossary M - P". Uwlax.edu. Archived from the original on 11 March 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- ^"BBC News - Oldest evidence of arrows found". BBC. 2010-08-26. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- ^Marlize Lombard and Laurel Phillipson. (2010). Antiquity Vol 84:325, 2010 pp 635–648 Indications of bow and stone-tipped arrow use 64 000 years ago in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
- ^ abhttp://www.sca.org/officers/marshal/docs/marshal_handbook.pdf
- ^Parker, Glenn (1992). "Steel Points". The Traditional Bowyer's Bible - Volume Two. Guilford: The Lyons Press. ISBN .
- ^ ab"Armour-piercing arrowheads". Royal Armouries. Archived from the original on 2016-03-24. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- ^Pope, Saxton. Hunting with the Bow and Arrow.
- ^Strickland M, Hardy R. The Great Warbow. Sutton Publishing 2005. Page 272
- ^Quidort, Darryl. "Handmade Massey-Style Broadheads." Traditional Bowhunter. ISSN:1076-6537. February/March 2014. Page 50.
- ^"Mechanical vs. Fixed Broadheads". Huntingblades.com. Archived from the original on 2009-09-25. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- ^Delrue, Parsival. 2007. "Trilobate Arrowheads at Ed-Dur (U.A.E, Emirate of Umm Al-Qaiwain)". Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy. 18, no. 2: 239-250.
- The dictionary definition of arrowhead at Wiktionary
- Media related to Arrowheads at Wikimedia Commons
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First Look: New 6.5 BleedMore Claims to Be the World’s Deadliest Broadhead
As a rule, you won’t catch me gushing about a new product without really testing it in the field, but I’ve found something special in the midst of our second annual broadhead review. Just like last year, I’m putting the newest broadheads through the ringer (and a bunch of cattle ribs) this spring—all to nail down the Best of the Best in our three broadhead categories: Fixed, Mechanical, and Crossbow.
Prior to even finishing the test, choosing an overall favorite new mechanical head for 2021 is a no-brainer. It’s the new 6.5 BleedMore—a spring-loaded 2-blade mechanical broadhead, designed specifically to be used with the new crop of high-performance crossbows. It sports a staggering 6½-inch cutting diameter, by far the biggest of any broadhead in production.
“Really, it was our customer feedback that led to this design,” says Terry Bleedmore, owner of Texas Heart Shot Industries, LLC., parent company of the 6.5 BM. “Over and again, our guys have come to me and said, ‘Terry, I just spent $4,000 on a crossbow, and I’ve got to put some deer in the freezer to justify it. I need a broadhead that works no matter what.’”
Inventor and entrepreneur that he is, Bleedmore has delivered just that. The 6.5 BM’s massive blades are each made of surgical-sharp stainless steel and are housed in a 4-inch titanium ferrule that helps keep overall weight down. Still, it is a big broadhead, with the finished package weighing 200 grains. It’ll cost you some speed, but that extra weight at the front of your arrow dramatically increases its Front of Center and penetration potential.
“Look, that’s really the whole point,” Bleedmore says. “It’s not just talk.” Fired from a proper crossbow, his new broadhead is guaranteed to kill a whitetail deer from any shot angle, making worries about a bad hit or sparse blood trail a thing of the past.
“Fact is, having to wait on a so-called ‘perfect’ shot angle is one of the single biggest threats we face in the effort to recruit new hunters,” Bleedmore says. “I mean, what if it’s getting dark and a deer won’t turn broadside? If a kid doesn’t get to shoot today, he’s staying home to play Minecraft tomorrow. With these broadheads, there’s no worry about that. Just put the dot on the spot, and let it eat.”
Of course, Bleedmore expects the vertical bow purists will complain about the 6.5 BM. “But those guys complain about everything,” he says.
Originally, I did have one complaint about the broadhead. Given how innovative the product is, I thought a play on the popular rifle cartridge was a little lazy. But Bleedmore was quick to correct any misunderstanding. He said that not only is his broadhead made in America but in Texas—and that he didn’t appreciate it being compared to “a wimpy bullet named after a Yankee rifle range.”
“Look, I’m a bowhunter through and through,” Bleedmore said, “not some man-bun-wearing hippie who shoots deer with a rifle. My product is named after me and me alone.”
Sales of the new 6.5 BleedMore will begin well in advance of the fall season. They’ll start at $100 per three-pack but could go up from there, says Bleedmore, “depending on how many folks call in about the guarantee.”