This past fall my twin daughters started kindergarten, which meant that I stopped paying for daycare just as hunting season started. It felt like I won a small, weekly lottery. I was thinking about that at the ATA Show this year when a representative from a bow company mentioned that their flagship bows top out at around $1,700.
That's a big chunk of change, and quite honestly, out of the realm of reality for most of us. Fortunately, you don't have to drop that kind of coin on a bow to kill deer or elk or any critter shy of maybe elephants or Cape buffalo. In fact, for about $500, you can walk out of a pro shop with a new rig that will treat you just fine for years. Following are several.
Bear Archery Species
Bear produces some of the best value bows out there from year to year, but one that has caught my attention is the four-pound, single-cam Species. This 31-inch bow features a draw length range of 23 to 30 inches, a 6.75-inch brace height, and when maxed out, can send arrows downrange at 320fps. It comes in the RTH (Ready To Hunt) package, so that every accessory you need to shoot and hunt is already there. All of this can be yours for $400.
The cool thing about budget bows is that they often sport the technology that was new and ground-breaking only a year or two earlier. If this intrigues you, you should probably check out the 3.4-pound Fuel from BOWTECH. This bow utilizes the company's Binary Cam System to produce arrow speeds of 320fps, while offering serious adjustability in the form of 18 to 30 inches of draw length and 14 to 70 pounds of draw weight. It's also R.A.K. Equipped, meaning the Fuel is fully accessorized. Better yet, the whole thing will cost you $500.
This $550 bow package from Cabela's includes every bell and whistle you need to leave the store ready to shoot (except for arrows). The single-cam Insurgent weighs four pounds, measures a shade over 31 inches between axles, and is offered in a draw weight range of 60 to 70 pounds, meaning you can hunt critters ranging from woodchucks to Alaska moose with it. This bow generates arrow speeds up to 320fps and can be adjusted between 23 and 30 inches of draw length via the DialDraw modules, which don't require a bow press.
Diamond Archery Edge SB-1
The engine behind the Diamond SB-1s performance is the Binary Cam System, which can produce arrows speeds in the 318fps range. The SB-1 is also highly adjustable in both draw length and weight, and comes as a package deal. The $449 SB-1 tips the scales at 3.6 pounds, measures 31 inches between axles, and is a joy to shoot with its 80-percent letoff and seven-inch brace height.
Genesis Archery Gen-X
This bow is definitely a beginner's bow, but what else would you expect from a company that has introduced so many people to archery? That stated, the Genesis Gen-X is adjustable up to 40 pounds of draw weight, making it legal and lethal for big game in most states. The bow itself weighs 3.4 pounds, and while you can opt for the bare bow by itself, the better deal is the kit option. No matter what you choose, you'll still be in the wallet-friendly range of about $190 to $300.
Hoyt has great options for champagne drinkers, as well as domestic beer guzzlers. Case in point is the 31-inch Powermax, which is offered in draw weights of 30 to 70 pounds, weighs only 3.8 pounds, and thanks to the Powermax cams and ZRX limbs, will generate arrow speeds up to 328fps. Two things I really like about the Powermax is that it's available for short-armed shooters who need draw lengths down to 24 inches, and that you can upgrade to the Fuse accessory package. If you do, you'll be out about $650, but you'll also have a bow that is suitable for taking backyard deer or a Super Slam. Take your pick.
Mission Archery Hype DTX
No budget-bow piece would be complete without at least one entry from Mission Archery. This company, which was borne out of the same minds that brought you Mathews Inc., produces some of the best values on the bow market including the Hype DTX. This bow will fit just about anyone with its 19- to 30-inch draw lengths and 15- to 70-pound draw weights. To ensure a most enjoyable shooting experience, the Hype DTX utilizes the F.I.T. Cam System, which provides a smooth, quiet and dead-in-hand shot cycle. The best part? This bow costs $399.
Obsession Turmoil RZ
Occasionally we see legacy bow companies get a little complacent and create a space for a new company like Obsession to slip in and start pulling a share of the market. Obsession is churning out some great bows, and their 3.8-pound Turmoil RZ is no exception. It's not as cheap as some of the other bows, but at $700, it's not terrible either — especially when you consider it can produce arrows speeds up to 350fps, which is smoking. The Turmoil RZ measures a shade under 34 inches between axles and is offered in four peak draw weights - 50, 60, 65, and 70 pounds.
Quest Bowhunting Thrive
The 33.75-inch Quest Thrive is at the upper end of the bargain price range in that the bare bow is $650 and the package deal is $750. But here's the thing, they are made in the USA and designed by some of the brightest minds in the archery business. Essentially, you get A LOT of bow for that price. Choose from draw lengths of 26 to 31 inches and peak draw weights of 50, 60, and 70 pounds in the 4.3-pound Thrive, which will send arrows downrange at up to 330fps.