Target archers who plan to get serious about 3-D archery should consider adding a ballistic chronograph to their arsenal of personal archery tools.
A ballistic chronograph is an instrument used to measure the velocity of a projectile in flight. For archery, it’s used to clock arrow speeds.
Three-D archery is a game where there are lots of speed restrictions. Archery Shooters Association (ASA), for example limits Open Pro, Known Pro and Senior to 290 feet per second and Women’s Pro to 280 feet per second. That 280 fps limit then extends to nearly all of the amateur divisions. Crossbow classes have a 330 fps limitation.
At International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) tournaments, the pros and semi-pros are capped at 300 fps. Most amateur classes are limited to 290 fps. But both IBO and ASA allow for chronograph variances, so competitors can shoot arrows a few feet per second over the speed limits.
In most instances, archers can benefit from shooting the fastest arrows allowed. Fast arrows can cover up minor mistakes in judging target distances and it can minimize errors caused by shooting flaws, like dropping your arm at the shot.
Having a chronograph at home will allow you to regularly check your setups to be sure you’re getting the most out of your equipment, without exceeding the speed restrictions. Bowstrings stretch over time, and that stretching – if you don’t account for it – will reduce arrow speed. A chronograph will tell you when that happens.
Also, when you are trying different arrow components – vanes, nocks, bushings and points – a chronograph will tell you their effects on arrow speed. If you can check the speed of an arrow as soon as you build it, you’ll know right away if your arrows are too fast, too slow or just right.
There are chronographs on the market today that are small, portable and fairly affordable. The Competition Electronics ProChrono DLX Ballistic Chronograph, for example, weighs 2 pounds, can be mounted on a tripod and operates on a 9-volt battery. It’s intended for use outside, but you can buy an indoor lighting kit for use inside.
The area you need to operate the chronograph is minimal. Position it far enough in front of a target so your arrow can clear the machine, stand back a couple feet and shoot over top of the unit to clock your arrow speed.
The DLX has built-in Bluetooth connectivity so you can link your unit to a free Competition Electronics app so you can view and manage your data.
Don’t go to a tournament not knowing the precise speed of your competition rig. Get a chronograph to get the fastest setup allowed.