Archery and bowhunting are games of passion. Without it, you’ll never be good at either. That goes for those both who make archery equipment as well as shooters and hunters.
So last May when I walked into the Victory Archery headquarters in Poway, California, and saw some familiar faces, I had one of those “Ah ha!” moments. General Manager Steve Greenwood I’ve known for more than 30 years both as a passionate and highly accomplished bowhunter and forward-thinking manufacturer and marketer of arrow shafts. Navy veteran Nate Watts used to work at a nearby archery pro shop, where he built many of the bows I have shot over the years; now he’s helping ramrod Victory’s quality control. National Sales Manager Jayson Bentcik is a bowhunting fool. These, and other Victory employees just like them, live and breathe archery and bowhunting. They’re a huge reason Victory Archery’s arrow sales have skyrocketed over the past several years.
Then there’s the parent company. On Dec. 30, 2010, Victory was purchased by Aldila, one of the largest manufacturers of carbon golf shafts in the world. Then on April 1, 2013, Aldila was officially acquired by global powerhouse Mitsubishi Rayon Company Ltd.
“Aldila joined a world-class advanced composite materials company that is fully integrated from the base raw material acrylonitrile, precursor, carbon fiber and pre-preg materials,” Adlila Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Pete Mathewson told me. “MRC also offers a leading global graphite golf shaft product line-up under the Mitsubishi Rayon brand. The merger gave us unique synergies and opportunities for growing our two business segments of Composite Products and Composite Materials.”
As I spent the day touring the Victory factory and speaking with those that work there, one theme kept bubbling to the surface — quality control. Most of Victory’s manufacturing and other processes are shared with Aldila, allowing Victory to capitalize on Adila’s expertise and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes.
“Mitsubishi is one of the world’s largest carbon pre-preg manufacturers, which allows us to be vertically integrated,” Greenwood said. “We make our own carbon pre-preg.” “Pre-preg” is the term used to describe a carbon composite fiber that is impregnated with a resin material. The strength comes from the physical carbon fibers and proprietary resins. With Victory arrows, the fibers run both the length of the shaft as well as being woven around the shaft, giving it the most strength possible. A proprietary combination of carbon, fabrics and resins are used. The finished carbon pre-preg is cello wrapped, heat cured and shipped overseas, where the actual arrow shafts are made. Greenwood went on to explain that most arrow manufacturers do not have the capability to manufacture their own pre-preg. By having that capability, Victory can closely monitor the quality.
For several years Victory has been known for its VAP (Victory Armor Piercing for bowhunting, or Victory Accuracy & Performance for competitive target shooting) shafts. These are micro-diameter arrows with a .166-inch internal diameter. VAP’s have a variety of precision 7075 aluminum and stainless steel components that help increase the EFOC (Extreme Forward of Center) design, which aids in both accuracy and penetration.
Remember the quality control I spoke about earlier? Literally each and every VAP shaft undergoes a series of test before it is officially sent to market. One of those tests is for straightness. Each VAP is sorted into one of three groups based on straightness — +/- .001-inch (Elite), .003-inch (Gamer) or .006-inch (Sport). You can easily recognize which is which thanks to the company’s color-coding system. Elite shafts are all yellow, from the boxes they are packaged in to the vanes and the paint on the shaft itself. Gamer shafts are all green, and Sport shafts all red. Any shafts that do not meet the minimum .006-inch straightness test are discarded.
In 2015, Victory introduced the RIP shaft line, which features an internal diameter of .204 inches and .001-inch straightness. You can use either the Top Hat Stainless Steel 60-grain insert or slightly-lighter 40 grain aluminum insert, depending on your needs. They’ve become very popular. For those who prefer shooting a standard-diameter shaft, there’s the VForce with a .245-inch internal diameter.
What about bowhunting’s hottest category, the crossbow hunter? Victory is also manufacturing a line of crossbow shafts, with the 20- and 22-inch XBolt. For the crossbow shooter looking to kick performance up a notch, there’s the 20-, 22- or 24-inch VAP VooDoo that features ultra-small diameter and patent-pending design. They also incorporate Victory’s Rapid Rail design, whereby the arrow only has two small points of contact on the crossbow — one at the nock and the other about midway down the shaft.
In addition to the straightness test, every shaft also undergoes a spine alignment. “Spine” refers to the stiffness of an arrow, which is usually denoted as the three-digit number on the side of most of today’s carbon arrows. Static spine is determined by first supporting a 29-inch shaft at two points that are 28-inches apart. Then an 880-gram (1.94 lbs.) weight is suspended from the center of the arrow. The number of inches the arrow deflects or bends times 1,000 due to the weight is the spine size or measurement of an arrow. So, a 500 arrow bends a 1⁄2 inch when the weight is applied.
Spine alignment refers to locating the spot on the arrow where it bends the least. “Each carbon arrow has a spine running the length of its shaft,” Greenwood said. “Through the manufacturing process, there’s always a spine where the arrow is the strongest and flexes the least. When we do spine alignment, we are also checking for straightness. We twist each shaft 365 degrees to precisely locate the spine. While doing that, we’re ensuring the most accurate straightness classification as possible. Spine alignment makes a huge impact on arrow grouping, especially at longer distances.”
For consistency, Victory places the cock vane of each arrow along its spine, which is shown by a white line silkscreened on the surface along with the arrow’s other designs. When choosing arrows you match the shaft’s spine to your own personal draw length and the draw weight of your bow.
Victory also manufactures nocks and inserts (or “outserts,” in the case of its micro-diameter shafts), but uses vanes made by leading vane makers like Bohning and Norway industries. Some shafts also sport the company’s Nano Ceramic “ICE” coating. This coating is applied to the carbon and imbeds itself or infiltrates the microscopic pores, which allows the ICE and the shaft to become one. Essentially, the coating helps reduce friction with both the air and a target, which helps increase arrow speed and penetration, and makes pulling your arrows out of a hard target much easier than before. I half-jokingly asked Greenwood if that meant I would to need to soap the front of my shafts before shooting them into 3D targets and he said “Yes!” Wouldn’t that be nice?
OK, you are saying. This all sounds good, but are these arrows really any good? Both my colleague and friend, Bowhunting World editor Jace Bauserman and I have hunted with Victory arrows. Jace likes ‘em.
“Victory arrows, specifically the VAP V1 350s, have been a staple in my arrow arsenal for years,” Bauserman said. “Not only does their ultra-thin diameter give western winds less surface area to press against, but these shafts also penetrate like a dream. Chalk this penetration up to their ICE coating, the slim diameter that allows the shaft to simply follow the cutting path of the broadhead, and durable heavy-duty outserts.”
I’ve had the same experience. I have found VAP’s easy to tune with several different bows very durable, and they have gone right through every critter I’ve shot with them, including big-bodied whitetails and thick-chested black bears.
Victory Archery is a company that enjoys a great reputation among serious archers and bowhunters. That reputation is rapidly spreading, and for good reason. When a company preaches quality control at every step of the manufacturing process — and really means it — it’s hard not to give their products serious consideration. You can get more information and find a dealer near you from visiting www.victoryarchery.com or by