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All About Broadhead Sharpness

There seems to be a trend that is growing in the bowhunting community. When the Bowhunter ed class was mandatory, mostly by USFWS for some refuges, the older generation went through the class. One of the most important things taught was the rubber band jig test. Many rubber bands were stretched across nails in a square to simulate arteries, veins, and blood capillaries. When a ultra sharp broadhead was passed through it, almost all bands were cut and flew across the room. When a dull head was passed through it, very few bands were cut. This simulated the importance of sharp heads- to cut arteries instead of pushing them aside.

Today, all this is history. The younger generation is not exposed to it. Well meaning older folks try to pass along some good info, however Sometimes some of the younger crowd refuses to be taught. Not all, but some. Many folks think that NEW heads out of the pack are ready to hunt sharp. Most are NOT. No matter what the manufac. says or prints, most heads out of the pack are far from hunting sharp acceptable.
This is not a how to sharpen post, but rather a post in an attempt to get some of the hunters to really look at their heads, and learn how to get them ultra sharp. Pioneers knew. Fred Bear was constantly touching up that fine keen edge because he knew humidity alone in a couple days would dull it. Some Loss deer can be prevented by this. If folks could just break free of that ' do what the group does' thinking and really take a second look at how sharp their heads are, it may benefit them. Take a moment to read this very true article. I will pass along any tip I know if anyone needs help sharpening. Here's the article:

The Sharpness Factor

Text & Photography By Russell Thornberry

Many bowhunters donít understand how the ďsharpness factorĒ figures into bowhunting success. First, one must realize that game animals shot with arrows die from blood loss or hemorrhaging. Arrows, unlike bullets, have relatively little foot pounds of impact on big game animals.

My 80-pound compound bow delivers a 660-grain hunting arrow, leaving the string at 245 fps, with about 88 foot pounds of energy. Compare that with a .270 Winchester, 130-grain bullet leaving the muzzle at 3,100 fps and developing well over 2,500 foot pounds of energy. When you compare 88 foot pounds to 2,500-plus foot pounds, itís easy to see why the impact of a hunting arrow means virtually nothing in terms of lethal impact on big game. A firearm relies on tissue damage and hydrostatic shock created by bullet impact to dispatch an animal. There just isnít enough ďoomphĒ in an arrow to do that.

In bowhunting, itís all about the broadhead. It must slice cleanly with little or no bruising or tearing of the tissue. In very simplified terms, when a razor-sharp blade slices living tissue (muscle and/or organs) without bruising or tearing the tissue it has sliced, the brain fails to initiate the process which causes blood coagulation, resulting in extreme hemorrhaging.

The faster the hemorrhaging, the faster the oxygen supply (which is carried in the blood) is deprived from the brain, rendering the animal unconscious. Most animals taken with bow and arrow fall to the ground unconscious before death actually occurs. So, for bowhunters, the object is to create massive hemorrhaging with a razor-sharp broadhead. The sharper the broadhead, the quicker the animal will be dispatched.

Now, back to that original question: How sharp is sharp enough? Simply put ó razor-shaving sharp! Anything less is irresponsible and unethical. A broadhead should shave hair cleanly and effortlessly. If your broadheads wonít do that, then sharpen them or throw them away.

This brings us to the crux of the matter: Most hunters donít know how to put that true razorís edge on a broadhead, or even a knife blade for that matter. They buy pre-sharpened broadheads and assume they are sharp enough. Regardless of what it says on the package, if the blade wonít melt hair cleanly off your arm, it isnít sharp enough for hunting purposes.

Ragged Edge vs. Smooth Edge
There is an ongoing argument among bowhunters about the best way to sharpen a broadhead. Some argue that a ragged edge kills quicker or better than a smooth razorís edge. This argument can only exist where there is ignorance of what causes the greatest degree of hemorrhaging in the first place. The ragged edge proponents are simply wrong. A ragged edge creates minute tearing of tissue as it cuts, something like the teeth of a saw. That tearing actually helps initiate coagulation. A smooth razorís edge does not.

If you have ever nicked yourself while shaving with a safety razor, you can attest to the difficulty of stopping the bleeding. This free flow of blood occurs because coagulation is not initiated, due to the fact that the tissue was not bruised or torn.

Compound that same principle by the lethal blades of a broadhead passing through internal organs and you begin to understand the massive hemorrhaging created by such a wound. The bottom line is this: The sharper your broadhead, the faster it dispatches the game through which it passes.
Very true.Great post!
bump up for the 2013 season
I was ignorant to this in my younger years. I thought like most hunters that broad heads were already sharp out of the pack. I used Vortex Broad Heads and wounded 2 deer. After doing research I found that these blades are not as sharp as they should be. Since then I have check to confirm my broad heads are sharp. I owe it to the animal I am hunting. I felt terrible about how I left the 2 deer I hurt. Not a good feeling.