by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier-
This report covers:
- Dot sight
- Hunting limb
- Damage to one arrow
- Stopped at this point
- Next test
Wow! It has taken me a looooong time to return to the Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow. Most of the reason for the delay was the weather that never quite cooperated, but when I tried to do a test at the end of February the problem became something else altogether.
In Part 2 I showed you that the sights on the bow are primitive. There is a front post, but in the rear there is nothing to align it with except the silver spring latch on the magazine cover. There is a red laser built into the AR-6, but it cannot be seen in daylight beyond about 10 feet. With just those crude sights I managed to shoot the bow fairly well, but I wondered what better sights would do.
The sight I selected for the AR-6 was the UTG Reflex Micro dot. Pyramyd Air sells the red one but I have a green one that I use because a green dot is easier for me to see. The crossbow has a Picatinny rail on the front where this sight fits easily. I picked this sight for its small size. It seems to be made for this crossbow. I thought to have it sighted in within a few shots.
I sighted-in the dot sight at about 12-15 feet. Once the dot was doing well there I backed up to 10 meters and shot a magazine’s worth of confirmation shots. Then I backed up to what I now know is 18 meters.
At 18 meters the crossbow hit fairly well on the point of aim. Two arrows went together pretty close. But on the third shot I missed the arrow stop/bag altogether — something I had not done in all my previous testing of three crossbows, plus an Air Venturi Wing Shot air shotgun firing Air Venturi Air Bolts. All of that put over 200 shots into that bag! I heard the AR-6 arrow hit the fence behind the bag. It did not stick in the cedar wood of the fence slat, but bounced off and landed on the lawn. When I examined the arrow I could see it had bent from the force of the impact.
How could I have missed a target that had seemed so easy so many times before? Was the dot sight loose? I grabbed it and shook it and it was still mounted solid. But the bow limb wasn’t! It wobbled and slid in its slot, which it’s not supposed to do. If you recall in Part 1 I told you that I had to assemble the AR-6 before I could shoot it . The bow limb (what many would call the bow) had to be secured to the bow deck with a large Allen screw.
This fault came up suddenly and unexpectedly, though I imagine there were signs beforehand, if I had been looking for them. But now the bow limb was moving around like I knew it wasn’t supposed to and I remembered there being some steel shims in front of and behind the limb where the Allen screw contacted. I found the shims on the ground where I was shooting.
The AR-6 is a completely mechanical contrivance. Every time it fires the bow limb springs forward as far as the bowstring will permit and then stops suddenly, sending vibration throughout the entire assembly. I did not appreciate that. I know that spring piston airguns vibrate, but crossbows vibrate, too. And they need the same attention to tightening their screws as do springers — especially this large one that holds the bow limb in place.
At first I was concerned that I might not get the limb back into perfect alignment. Then I remembered that I had assembled it only a few weeks before and the process is very straightforward. There are marks and guidelines on the limb and the deck to assist you.
A bigger concern for me was safety. I had never missed the arrow bag/trap before, in spite of testing numerous crossbows and arrow shooters. Two people I allowed to shoot my Sub-1 crossbow and the Wing Shot had missed the bag, but I found out afterward that neither of them understood how they should be aiming them. It’s funny how they won’t tell you beforehand that they don’t understand what you have told them to do, but after the shot goes bad they open up!
Now, I was the one who wondered whether I knew how to shoot the thing. Sure I got it together again and it seemed tight, but I had also done that before, when I assembled it out of the box the first time. Oh, woe is me! And then the hunting limb arrived from Pyramyd Air!
The hunting limb increases the power of the AR-6 to about 12 foot-pounds. That doesn’t sound like much until you consider that the target limb I am testing produces a little over 8 foot pounds (8.31 foot-pounds, according to the description on the website). Then you realize the hunting limb boosts the power by almost 50 percent. Here I am languishing in fear of the target bow and there is still a more powerful bow to test. Buck up, BB. Time to get with it!
Well, weather and equipment issues slowed me down again until last Friday. Then I got a perfect day to shoot and took full advantage of it.
I sighted-in the dot sight again, since I had to remount the bow limb. Again I shot from 12-15 feet, then 10 meters and finally from the same 18 meters as before. When I was finished the bow was shooting to the point of aim at 18 meters.
I had used the same arrows for all earlier shooting, as well as sighting-in this time. The fletching on those arrows was pretty much gone.
So, I decided to use 4 new arrows to shoot at 18 meters. Would they shoot to the same place as the arrows I used for sight-in? Only one way to find out! Watch the video.
Three arrows went into 2.552-inches at 18 meters. The fourth arrow opened the group to 3.827-inches. All of this was shot offhand, as you saw in the video.
Damage to one arrow
The arrows sank deep into the target bag. The first shot went in beyond the beginning of the fletching and peeled back both synthetic “feathers” of either side of the arrow. I think there are now so many holes in the target bag that the smaller AR-6 arrows have an easier time sinking in.
Stopped at this point
I ended the test at this point. Though the film shows only the final 4 shots, I shot about 15 other times to get the crossbow sighted in. At this point in this series I have made several observations.
The new arrows shot to a lower point than the ones with damaged fletching. I need to correct the dot sight to account for that.
The fletching on the arrows is subject to damage from penetrating the target bag too deeply. I now have many straight arrow shafts that are in need of repair. I will also look for ways to mitigate the damage, if possible.
The new arrows hit lower on target than the old arrows with damaged fletching. This is possibly because the full fletching creates higher drag on each arrow. I should shoot this bow again and adjust for the new arrows.
After 19 shots the Allen screw is still tight and the bow limb is still locked in place. I need to continue to check that from now on.
The word fletching means feathers, which were used on arrows in times past to create high drag and spin. The synthetic fletchings found on the AR-6 are called vanes and are sold by many places, along with the glue to hold them to the arrow shaft. This is something I need to research so I can repair my damaged arrows. I will tell you about it as I go.
I plan to shoot the bow again with fresh new arrows and adjust the dot sight to hit with them. I believe I can shoot 5 arrows offhand into a group smaller than three inches from 18 meters. That will be the completion of my sight-in with the dot sight.
After that I plan to switch the bow limb to the hunting limb that also came with a new bowstring. Then I will run the same tests that I have with this bow limb, except I will start with the dot sight mounted.
I did discover that my AR-6 works fine with 5 arrows or less in the magazine, but if I load a 6th arrow that it is supposed to work with, it malfunctions. That was probably my fault, because I accidentally bent the magazine spring that holds the arrows down and feeds them, when I closed the mag cover with the spring not inside. I could probably fix it but I don’t mind using it as is, and it does work just fine with 5 arrows.
The AR-6 crossbow pistol is a blast to shoot. It is to crossbows what the Diana 27 is the pellet rifles. There are many that are more powerful, but none that are more fun. I don’t think it has to justify itself by being a hunting arm. Can’t something exist just for the fun of shooting?