Whether you are new to the sport of archery or have been around for a long time you have likely been hearing the whispers about the importance of FOC. But what is FOC? Do you need it? Is it important? Let’s dig into this a little bit and break it down for everyone to understand.
F.O.C. stands for front of center. To break that down further, it refers to how much of the arrows total weight lives in front of the center point of the arrow. There are some great FOC calculators out there that will help you measure your FOC, to do this you will need an arrow scale. There are many on the market including this one that I use, I will list more at the end of this article. That’s the nuts and bolts of what it is, but what does it do?
There is a lot of debate in the archery world about its importance and place but most of that comes from the old school crowd. Simply put, an arrow with a good FOC percentage flies better and penetrates deeper. That’s science, and its not debatable. Anyone who tells you different doesn’t know what they are talking about. That may be the most abrasive comment I’ve ever written here, but the facts are the facts. It’s physics, and physics is something that we understand as people. Let’s lay that to rest.
FOC is measured in percentage and where the real question lies, is what is a good FOC percentage to set your arrows up with? Mine are very FOC heavy, but that’s a product of shooting a short arrow and having more limited options in my component choices. I’ll say this, there is such thing as too much and too little. Not being a scientist myself, I tend to to pay attention to what the pros are doing or saying. Let’s take Easton Archery for example. They sell and make a lot of arrows and they probably know a lot more about them than most of us do. Their claim is that an optimal FOC will be somewhere around 10-15%. This number is within the range of other arrow companies’ claims and those of a lot of professional shooters.
Levi Morgan for example, says that if are in in between 7-14% you are good. John Dudley shot 10-12% FOC for years. The reality is, most of us probably shoot a good FOC with any arrow setup depending on your inserts and Broadheads, and that’s without putting any thought into it at all. I just believe its important to make sure.
If you’ve been involved in the sport of archery for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard someone toss around the abbreviation FOC But what is it, really? Why do you need to know? How can it positively or negatively impact your accuracy and overall arrow performance? Let’s dive in.
FOC stands for front-of-center. In laymen’s terms, it’s the percentage of the arrow’s total weight that resides in the front half. While some claim FOC only matters to those shooting for big checks in 3-D tournaments and FITA Archery events where shots tend to be long and the competition fierce, I disagree. A perfect FOC percentage will boost arrow performance, which in turn boosts accuracy. In addition to improved accuracy, a solid F.O.C. percentage will help with penetration. With more of the arrow’s weight in the front half, the initial wallop is increased.
The trick is finding the right FOC percentage. Get too high of an FOC, and the weight in the arrow’s front end will quickly drag it down. You will lose speed, and because the arrow is shedding trajectory at a rapid rate, accuracy issues will occur. This is a big turnoff to many. Some shooters fear they will lose too much velocity and not be able to shoot as far. False. If FOC is calculated correctly, speed and trajectory loss are minimal. I will take a shaft that flies a little slower but shoots like a bullet and hits like a tank any day.
Shoot an arrow with too low of an FOC and erratic arrow flight will occur. The shaft will carry too much weight in the backend, which will cause serious left and right issues. Penetration issues will also arise. This is a big reason those who limit their bowhunting shots to 40 yards and under still need to care about FOC. The goal is always a pass-through, and a perfect FOC percentage will lead to more shots that cause blood to leak from both sides.
Your goal is to shoot an arrow with an FOC between 11 and 15 percent. This is ideal for hunting setups and will ensure pinpoint accuracy at longer distances. Am I suggesting taking shots on animals at longer distances just because you have spot-on FOC? Negative. However, I do recommend all archers practice regularly at a distance of 30 yards past where they feel comfortable shooting an animal. Why? Confidence. When you can drop a four-arrow group in the 10-ring of a Rinehart deer target at 70 yards, you get in a zone. Your confidence grows with each arrow, and when you step up to 40 yards, the distance looks and feels like 20.
If you never take time to find your FOC percentage, you’ll never be as accurate as you could be at long range. Your bow may be tuned. Your grip may be perfect. Your hold rock solid. If your FOC is too much or too little, you will struggle with accuracy at distance, which will lead to frustration and confidence issues.