Archery Elk Bow Setup, Bowtech BTX-31
by Chad de Alva
For my Arizona archery elk hunt, I picked-up a Bowtech BTX-31. The first place I went with my shiny new bow was to the place where all questions archery related are answered; Bull Basin Archery in Flagstaff, AZ. I spent hours working with and picking the brains of the guys at the local pro shop. We talked about the “54-kabillion” options there were for setting up my bow. We did math, and we spent some time measuring and playing with numbers in a few handy calculators—like the Western Whitetail Arrow Efficiency Calculator. I was anxious to figure out the finished product.
The goal with my setup was to be able to accurately and precisely launch an arrow that delivered the maximum amount of kinetic energy possible to my target. My setup for the BTX-31 was a blend of parts (sight and stabilizer) that I’ve used before, and few new parts that the guys at my pro shop recommended (quiver, rest, arrows). Let me geek out here for a moment to talk about how we made these choices and set up my bow. We started by maxing out the draw weight on the 70-pound limbs and setting the draw length appropriately. My BTX-31 ended up pulling a peak weight of 71 pounds, and we set the powershift dial in the first position(performance) to get the most speed out of the bow. Next, I shot several arrows (350-, 400-, and 466-grains, respectively) over the chronograph to gather some data points that we could feed Arrow Efficiency Calculator.
After plugging in the data, the calculator suggested that a 420-grain arrow would provide the optimal speed, kinetic energy (KE) and momentum (M) for my specific setup. The guys at the shop were all quick to recommend Gold Tip’s new Pierce Shafts, which offered me several advantages. The Gold Tip Kinetic Pierce are a small diameter shaft which is less susceptible to wind affecting your arrow’s trajectory as it offers a smaller cross section. Second, the insert system accepts standard tip threading, so that field points and all of the broadheads that I already had would screw right on. Lastly, since the arrow shaft diameter is smaller than the tip diameter, the amount of drag caused by the arrow in a target is drastically reduced as the tip cuts a larger diameter hole than the diameter of the shaft. The BTX-31 is a hard cam bow, and with a 300-spine shaft, I ended up with a 420-grain arrow leaving the bow at 315 feet per second. Once the glue on my arrows dried, I set off to the range to start hammering targets.
At the range, the BTX-31 quickly won me over. The entire experience of drawing and firing the bow instantly instilled confidence. After sighting-in and shooting a few hundred arrows, I was back at my pro shop to have a sight tape made for my ascent sight. Now, I could really challenge myself and refine my shooting craft at the range. Once I felt that I was shooting the bow well, I started playing with different lengths of stabilizers. Ultimately, I found that a 10-inch stabilizer offered the best performance for me, and with that last piece I was done setting up my BTX.
Now that I was dialed in, I started pushing myself at the range. I would shoot at dawn, at dusk, and in the middle of the day to get used to my bow in all lighting conditions. I shot while standing, sitting, kneeling, and I drug my target bag into the woods to shoot up and down hills. September was getting close, but I was feeling good in my ability to shoot.
Chad grew up in Telluride, CO and was learning to ski the day after he started walking. As he grew up, he spent his time exploring the San Juan Mountains on his mountain bike in the summer and on his skis in the winter. He picked up a camera in high school after breaking his collar bone twice–if he could not participate in his favorite sports, he was going to take photos of his friends riding and skiing. He then interned under the photo editor of the local paper to improve his craft and spent more and more of time behind the lens capturing images to tell the stories of his favorite sports and adventures. As digital cameras started to capture video, he was quick to adapt and started shooting video along with still images.
GoPro cameras had not been invented yet, but inspired by ski and mountain bike movies of the day, Chad started jerry-rigging cameras to his helmets to so that he could attempt to replicate some of the shots found in his favorite ski and bike movies. Thankfully, SLR bodies are now environmentally sealed, and GoPro cameras can take a beating so he is not actively destroying cameras–as fast.
Chad was officially introduced to hunting in the fall of 2012 when he went on an Arizona unit 9 archery elk hunt. Under a moonless sky in an endless Ponderosa forest, Chad struggled to find sleep while listening to bulls screaming at each other. The hunt was a mind blowing experience for Chad and set the hook on this sport called hunting. Less than a month later, Chad found himself on an all-night sheep recovery in Arizona’s unit 10. The adventure of 30 miles of hiking in a 24-hour period and watching a good friend tag out on a once in a lifetime hunt made Chad a hunter for life.
In early 2013, Chad started flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to add a new dimension to his work. Today, Chad shoots photos and videos to tell stories and inspire people.