Spinexl Spine Tester
Most people purchase wooden arrows with a huge amount of trust, wood being a natural substances can therefore vary greatly from one arrow to the next and while most people measure arrows by spine, physical weight is also a huge issue. What can happen of course is you purchase a dozen arrows at 50-55# spine but the physical weight can vary by up to anything like 100 grains (a friend recently purchased a set which were out by this much).
Ideally what you want is a set of arrows matched to within as tight a range as possible, to do this you need a set of grain scales and a spine tester. Grain scales are pretty easy to get hold of and at a cheap price too, see our review of a low cost option here, however spine testers are a little more difficult to come by and are a lot more expensive, so expensive in fact that very few archers take the trouble to buy one.
I often help Steve teach his master class, where we take experienced archers and refine their form to give them that extra edge, one common thing we see is that they tend to shoot really well for 4 of their 6 arrows but there is often one or two which fly off in a different direction. Most archers put this down to a form issue yet when we take them inside and look at their arrows we see that these errant arrows are in fact due to either being a totally different weight or a significantly different spine. For us a quality set of matched arrows, matched to the bow and each other, is far more important than the latest bow with a bunch of ill matched wood.
And so we come to the review, this is the SpineXL spine tester, which is in fact a preview Prototype we have been given to test. There are a couple of types of spine tester, this on being a Protractor type on account of the measuring device using a protractor scale at one end to test the spine. The arrow is place on the two end points and a weight is placed at the mid point, on this tester it is at the mid point of 26". This then pushes the lever down and the indication rod shows the spine. There are some important differences with this spine tester against some of the others that are out there, firstly it's a lot bigger than most, with a much wider base, this makes it a lot more stable. Others also use some ready made components, I have seen a curtain hook on some models to hold the arrow at one end, this is crafted from wood and looks much nicer.
When using a spine tester it is important that when the arrow is placed on the tester that there is some adjustment to allow for kinks and bends in the arrow. The indicator rod needs to be level with zero to get an accurate reading. On other models you tend to see a wing nut and bold and two plates of metal, these can be very difficult to adjust and are far from ideal, however the SpineXL uses a rather nice wooden adjuster which you turn to raise and lower the back end of the arrow.
The spine is measured by placing a 2lb weight on to the arrow, the amount of deflection is measured, to be honest most Spine testers are not calibrated that well and to the layman it would be very difficult to tell if they were. That however is not an issue as what you really want to know is the relative spine across as set so if the indicator is saying 53# for arrows one, two and three then they can be grouped correctly. The SpineXL does a great job in this regard and all the arrows I have tested have measured in the range that the arrow has been sold at.
This is a quality product with a rather natural look and feel, the construction is all wood and the addition of the high adjustable section being wood is a nice touch. It looks and feels solid which is another point in it's favour. If and when they go in to full production this would be the spine tester to have.
Features & Design
More solid and stable that most spine testers and the addition of the wooden height adjuster sets this apart from the rest.
Measures spine, whether it's calibrated correctly I don't know but performs fine when tested against a set we know to be consistent.
Value for Money
Not currently in production but the suggested price of it did would be great value. At the end of the day spine testers are about £8 worth of components so why they charge close to £200 is anybody's guess.
Good build quality and hopefully a reasonable price makes it an obvious choice over the limited and expensive competition.