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Thread: Effects of Altitude on Arrow Flight

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    Default Effects of Altitude on Arrow Flight

    We have outdoor 3D tournaments that range from 30 feet above sea level up to 6,000 feet above sea level. At 6,000 feet, my arrow was about 12" above normal target center at 30 feet. This becomes problematic with a single pin sight where it is difficult to sight in multiple distances. Does anyone know if adjusting the 20 yard distance on the sight and adding the same number of sight marks to longer distances on the sight tape is sufficient to address the changes needed to shoot 30, 40, and 50 yard distances? Thanks.
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    If i understand you correct you want to sight the bow in at 20 yd and add equal marks on the sight tape for other distances?

    That will not work, because arrow flight is not linear. With a fast bow that might work approximately but not necessarily. In case you shoot different distances and feel such a strong effect of elevation you need to sight your bow in for multiple combinations of distance and altitude.
    (2) Hoyt PCEXL

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    Super Moderator bfisher's Avatar
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    Thinking about it, Simon is right. Somehow I have doubts that going from sea level or so up to 6000 feet would make that much of a difference, but it might be possible. I know the air is less dense at a higher altitude so there should be less drag on the fletching, but 12" at 10 yards would be a pretty good stretch. If it is so, though, you'd have to resight your bow in as all the other marks are going to change, too. With less drag the arrow isn't going to slow down as quickly at longer distances so sight marks would be closer.
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    Thanks for the input. The 12" difference was probably an incorrect setting for 30 yards. I have a new single pin sight and need to develop a new process for shot preparation. Looks like I need to sight in at different elevations to see the true effect with my arrows and the sight.
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    Senior Member elkslayer4x5's Avatar
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    I think that I would try sighting the bow in at 3000 ft, just split the difference, and see how much deveation you get at sea level and at 6000 feet. Sounds like a pretty steep range to me!
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    Super Moderator bfisher's Avatar
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    Speaking honestly, I just remembered something. Some years back I hunted Canaan Valley in West Va. Up on the mountain the height was around 4200'. My bow was tuned and sighted in at about 300' above sea level here in central Pa. Checking the bow out at our hunting altitude I found no discernible difference inside 40 yards. The weather was bitter cold with a lot of snow and ice with temps in the high teens for several days. This was back in the days when a hunting setup producing about 230 fps was considered fast.
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    Yeah, i just had to look up some stuff.

    There should be more effect of an angled shot than due to altitude (Angled Shot changes trajectory). Even better: The effect of sighting in at sea level around the equator and shooting at the same distance somewhere in Canada has more effect (Due to the not regularly shaped earth ellipsoid).

    Gravity and thus air pressure decreases in higher altitudes, but you would have to get as high as around 15000ft or higher to see a significant and reproducible effect..
    (2) Hoyt PCEXL

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    Many thanks for the responses to my question. I have a 3D at 2,775 ft today and feel a lot better about not having to worry about my sight pin marks. Thanks to all.
    2012 Martin Pantera, 2014 Nemesis, 2010 Contender, Hogg Father Single Pin, Hogg It 5 Pin, Sure Loc

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    I live at about 4600' and hunt Elk at about 9600'.
    The altitude difference does not make enough difference to have to make sight adjustments.

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