With a packed 2017 hunting schedule filled with pronghorn, mule deer, elk, black bear, and mountain goat as primary goal harvests, I began the year with a serious focus on preparation. After all, I wanted to give myself the absolute best opportunity to fill as many of those tags as possible. Whether looking at the physical preparation I would need or the gear I would be using in the backcountry, I knew the law of specificity would have a direct impact on successfully filling the freezers. From campfire chats to 3D shoots, arrow performance consistently comes up as a hot topic for archers looking to improve their set-up and I took it as a personal mission to make sure I was using a very specific arrow, that was best suited for taking some of the toughest North American big & trophy game animals.
The arrow options available for today’s bow hunter seem endless. With so many brands touting the “best,” it can be down right overwhelming trying to wade thru the hype. After weeks of research and conversations, one brand continued to come up with superior quality control. While many of the current brands of arrows are manufactured in uncontrolled factories, Victory Archery owns their own. It made perfect sense to me that owning their own facility would allow Victory to stand behind their motto, “The carbon arrow experts.” I intended to test that claim as well as the other impressive features that stood out as needed technology in my archery kit.
As a passionate hunter, I obviously wanted the best arrow Victory had to offer. To that end, the most important features of any arrow must combine to maximize kinetic energy, momentum, and accuracy. The VAP TKO is listed as a .166 micro-diameter hunting arrow that incorporates the most advanced carbon engineering to date to create the deepest penetrating and most lethal arrow Victory makes. Sounded like we were on the right track. After determining my desired spine weight, and broad head adapters, a couple dozen TKO’s were on their way.
Three days later, my arrows were on the scale. Each of them were matched weight and well within the advertised +/- 0.5 grains. Whether shooting 3D, punching paper, or hunting, the confidence found from this consistency, undoubtedly transfers to tighter groups. Victory contributes this quality to their Maxxe Technology, which is essentially a 3k carbon weave, which is engineered to create less arrow torque and a faster arrow flight recovery out of the bow.
Shafts were cut and adapters were glued the same day my arrows arrived and they were flying down range on day two. Initial spin tests were flawless across all 24 arrows, making the quality immediately apparent. From the Ice Nano Ceramic Coating, which improved target penetration and allowed for easier removal from targets, to the 100% custom hand fletched vanes, which came perfectly aligned with a stronger adhesive than I personally use, attention to detail was evident in all regards.
My home state of Wyoming is well known for wind and my initial testing of the VAP TKO’s was done during a few of those windy days. Mornings and evenings afforded the least breezy conditions, and allowed a solid test of arrow flight. The very first characteristic that became quickly apparent was the flat shooting speed. The 100% high modulus carbon fiber construction left me with the tightest pin grouping I’ve ever had on my seven pin sight and the true micro diameter also had very little wind deflection, even when winds picked up. Easy to dial in, it was time to hunt.
The first animal to test the VAP TKO’s would be spot and stalk pronghorn in the high plains of Southeast Wyoming. The open plains rarely afford close shots or perfect conditions. In the closing moments of my last day to chase the wary speedgoats, I was able to find my mark at 55 yards. The TKO zipped right thru the back side of both shoulders, and the first critter of the season was down a few moments later.
The next days were devoted to back calling public land elk for my 14 and 16 year old boys. When a young bull circled around my boys and offered me a small window, I decided to fill the freezer with a 22 yard shot that sent the TKO thru the front shoulder and angled back out the ribs on the opposite side. Another pass thru, and another short recovery with the SAME arrow. That kind of performance is exactly why I shoot a heavy 300 spine arrow which affords excellent kinetic energy.
The next week was spent on spot and stalk mule deer in the open country foothills. After several blown stalks, I was able to find a group of bedded bucks in a small rock out cropping. A two hour stalk, only stepping when the wind would blow, allowed me to sneak onto the rocks and make a 2 yard vertical shot from above my buck. Another clean harvest with the SAME arrow. Despite slamming into the dirt beneath the buck, I was impressed that the arrow looked no worse for wear and was ready for the next adventure.
Left with just a few short days before heading to Alaska, I was able to pursue black bear on the ground. My last opportunity worked out with a nice bear providing a slim window. From my elevated position on a hillside, and the bear facing me at 12 yards, once he put his nose to the ground I was able to place the TKO thru the base of his neck, between his shoulder blades. Even the bear dense muscle and bone was no match for the heavy arrow and 95 grain stainless steel outserts. The arrow exited thru the bottom of the bear’s chest and made for my shortest bear recovery to date. The SAME arrow had just made an epic fourth kill with outstanding penetration.
I’m often asked about the arrows I use. With that conversation usually comes my explanation of the importance of a focus on specificity for the animals you hunt and the role of kinetic energy, momentum, and accuracy. The performance of the Victory VAP TKO, has made those conversations shorter as the proof is in the pictures.