It's now common for bows to measure in the 28-inch to 32-inch range, weigh in under 4 pounds., and blow arrows through chronographs at speeds of 340 and even 350 fps. It's truly impressive to see where our bows have gone, and while I'm continually surprised by what bow companies can do, I'm starting to realize how they do it because I've had the chance to chat with a host of engineers from the top companies.
While these folks may not speak in the same tongue as their sales and marketing counterparts, they make up for it in sheer brainpower and innovation. Take a look at the vast array of technologies used in these bows, and think about the fact that not only did someone have to conceive of the idea, but actually implement it with real-world materials on a limited budget.
That is no easy task, but fortunately for us, it translates into a higher level of enjoyment at the shooting range and more taxidermy bills.
Alpine Archery ROXSTAR
While it'™s highly unlikely you'™ll achieve a Mick Jagger-like status in your life, you can still take center stage in the whitetail and elk woods this fall thanks to the new 4.5-lb. ROXSTAR from Alpine Archery
. The ROXSTAR combines Gordon composite limbs, the Velocitec 3G Cam, and Split Point Limb Capture System limb pockets to fling arrows at speeds up to 330 fps.
Two limb choices offer draw lengths of either 28" — 31" or 29" — 32", along with brace heights of either 6.5" or 7.5". The ROXSTAR measures 34.5" and is finished with Realtree APG camouflage.
APA Mamba M5
Short-draw archers are often left looking at their chronographs in disgust, wondering how to get more speed without sacrificing momentum. This dilemma was the impetus behind the design of the 32.25" Mamba M5
. At 28" of draw, the M5 can sling arrows up to 348 fps, which gives shorter-draw shooters flatter trajectory and tighter pin gaps, not to mention appreciable downrange energy.
The M5 weighs only 4.1 lbs. and is available in peak draw weights of 50 lbs., 60 lbs., and 70 lbs., and draw lengths from 23" to 28". The M5 is also fully outfitted with APA'™s extras like the Fang Riser, built-in broadhead wrench, and carrying handle, among others.
Bear Agenda 6
I'™ve been shooting the 32" Agenda 6
for months now, and it'™s one of the few true 6" brace height bows that I'™ve come to love shooting. When I asked Bear Archery'™s Engineering Manager, Josh Sidebottom, just how they came up with such a comfortable bow that can still burn arrows through a chrono at 350 fps, he brought up the H13 Cam, which is a hybrid cam system.
'œThe H13 provides the ideal combination of speed and shootability,' Sidebottom said. 'œIt allows the bow to have a reasonable distance to fall into the valley, yet gives it enough room in the valley to still be comfortable. Essentially, it generates as much speed as possible without creating a harsh draw cycle.'
Bowtech RPM 360
To achieve scorching arrow speeds of 360 fps while maintaining shootability is no easy engineering task. Fortunately, Bowtech employs some of the best engineers out there, and for 2014 they'™ve released the 31" RPM 360
. A 6" brace height, Bowtech'™s OverDrive Binary Cam System, Center Pivot Extreme, and the new trapezoidal I-beam riser all work in harmony to produce such impressive arrow speeds.
Each 4.4-lb. RPM 360 offers a draw-length range of 24" — 30", and peak draw weights of 50 lbs., 60 lbs., and 70 lbs. Finish options include Black Ops, Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, and Realtree AP and APG HD.
A great option for a wide range of bowhunters comes through a partnership between two outdoor industry powerhouses — Cabela'™s and BOWTECH Archery. The result is the 31", made-in-the-USA Instigator
. This bow tips the scales at only 3.2 lbs. and offers a huge range of adjustments from 30 lbs. — 65 lbs. of draw weight and 23" — 29" of draw length.
The Instigator is designed with 80% letoff and a 7" brace height, yet it still records chronograph speeds of up to 300 fps. Each Instigator package contains a 3-pin Apex sight, Hostage XL rest, Octane quiver and stabilizer, wrist sling, and a peep sight.
Concept Mini 29
The 29" Mini 29
from Concept differs from a lot of the bows on the market in a few appreciable ways. First, the single-cam Mini 29 features a 77â„8" brace height, and letoff that you can adjust from 80% to 99%. This results in a truly comfortable shooting bow that is still capable of firing arrows at 318 fps. The Mini 29 weighs only 3.875 lbs., and offers a draw-weight range of 30 lbs. — 70 lbs. and draw lengths from 23" — 30".
C.P. Oneida Kestrel
Experience true centershot arrow and string alignment, and the resulting accuracy and power transfer, when you shoot the unique Kestrel from C.P. Oneida
. The 42", or 43", Kestrel can accommodate shooters with draw-length ranges from 26" — 31.5", and who draw anywhere from 35 lbs. — 70 lbs. Brace heights of 6" or 7" are also available in the Next Gen G-1 or Flat Black-finished Kestrel.
Any company that has produced quality bows for 64 years knows what bowhunters are looking for in their next hunting rig. Like a good spouse, they know what you want before you know you want it. Darton'™s latest, the 33 13â„16" DS-3714
, certainly keeps the trend alive by improving on their popular DS-3800.
The DS-3714 features a 7" brace height, delivers arrows downrange at up to 340 fps, and weighs only 4.1 lbs. To accommodate a wide range of shooters, each DS-3714 is available in peak draw weights of 40 lbs., 50 lbs., 60 lbs. and 70 lbs., and draw lengths ranging from 26" — 32".
Diamond Archery Carbon Cure
Cash-strapped bowhunters have been gazing at carbon bows hanging from bow racks across the country for years now, wishing that prices would drop. For 2014, Diamond Archery
has granted that wish in the form of the 32" Carbon Cure
. The 3.3-lb. Carbon Cure uses a rotating module system to adjust draw lengths from 27" — 30.5", and it'™s available in peak weights of 50 lbs., 60 lbs., and 70 lbs.
The Carbon Cure achieves arrow speeds of up to 325 fps, while offering a smooth draw cycle through its 7" brace height and 80% letoff. Bowhunters looking for a package deal can opt for a R.A.K. equipped Carbon Cure that comes fully accessorized and ready to shoot.
Elite Energy 32
I'™ve never met an Elite
bow that I didn'™t grow to truly love, and after shooting the Energy 32
, it'™s safe to say the streak is alive and well. The Energy 32 (32" axle to axle) is built with the new Riser Cage design, which increases riser strength by 30% and rigidity by 19%. If that doesn'™t seem too important, search out some videos of bows being shot in super-slow motion on the Internet, and watch how much they flex and move at the shot.
In addition to the Riser Cage, each 4.3-lb. Energy 32 boasts a 7" brace height, arrow speeds of up to 335 fps, and is offered in Black, Realtree Xtra, Realtree Max-1, and Realtree APS. To further complete the Energy 32 package, each one of them relies on BCY cables and Winner'™s Choice strings, along with LimbSaver dampeners for consistent, quiet accuracy.
Hoyt Carbon Spyder 30Hoyt'™s
carbon line of bows looks like something off of a Hollywood movie set. Fortunately, their function exceeds their good looks. That look comes from their industry-leading use of carbon risers, which offers far more than aesthetics. For 2014, they'™ve stepped up the game even more with their Hollow Tube Technology, something that Product R & D Manager, Gideon Jolly, explained to me. 'œCarbon Hollow Tube Technology is the fundamental base for our carbon bows,' Jolly said. 'œWe have optimized this with the current Carbon Spyder series by applying the Helical Flex Tune shapes to the carbon tube design.
The result is better flexibility to engineer the structure for strength, stability, and vibration.' In layman'™s terms, bows built with rock-solid risers are more accurate and quiet, which is exactly what the Carbon Spyder 30
is all about. Measuring 30", the 3.6-lb. Carbon Spyder 30 generates arrow speeds of 332 fps, boasts a 6.75" brace height, and is available with draw weights of 30 lbs. — 80 lbs. and draw lengths of 24" — 30". Having shot this bow since last October, all I can say is that it'™s worth every penny — and more!
LimbSaver Proton DT
'œI designed the H.E.A.T. hybrid cam system with the string track in the center and symmetric cable loads so it is mechanically precise with absolutely no cam lean at all. This bow was methodically designed to out-shoot every other bow on the planet,' explained LimbSaver Chief Design Engineer Jonathan Seil, when describing the newly redesigned Proton DT
. The Proton DT measures 32", weighs 3.9 lbs., and is offered in draw weights of 50 lbs. — 70 lbs.
Because it comes from the minds behind LimbSaver, you know the Proton DT is going to be extremely quiet at the shot This is something I'™m very comfortable claiming considering I shot the earlier version of this bow extensively. Lastly, although the Proton DT offers all you need in the whitetail woods as far as comfort and speed, it'™s still right at home on the plains with antelope and mule deer thanks to its 335 fps IBO rating.
Martin Archery Blade X4
Easily one of the best value-priced bows on the 2014 market comes your way via Martin Archery
. Their 31.5" Blade X4
carries a sticker price of only $400, while still offering a ton of bowhunter-friendly technologies and specs.
The Blade X4 weighs only 3.75 lbs., fires arrows at up to 320 fps, and is draw-length adjustable from 26" — 32". Built-in vibration dampeners, a 7" brace height, and a sleek-looking Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity finish complete the Blade X4 package, which might just leave you enough money to purchase an out-of-state deer tag come fall.
Mission Archery BlazeMission Archery
is one of my favorite bow companies, simply because the entire line is comprised of high-quality bows that are much more affordable than most flagship bows. This is intentional, and while many mid-priced hunting rigs shed cost by leaving out technology, Mission does not. As an example, I asked Mathews Director of Sales Jon DuMars, if there was any technology on the new 33" Blaze
that he was particularly proud of.
He didn'™t miss a beat when he said, 'œThe AVS (Advanced Vectoring System) two-cam system. It allows us to dynamically move the force vector of the anchored cable from one side of the cam axle to the complete other side of the axle.' In layman'™s terms, this technology optimizes the draw force and aids in energy storage. Draw lengths from 26" — 30" and peak draw weights of 50 lbs., 60 lbs., and 70lbs are offered in the Blaze, which can achieve arrow speeds of up to 340 fps.
One of the speediest flagship bows on the market comes out of the Obsession
camp. Their 4-lb. Knightmare
launches arrows at speeds up to 350 fps. The 33.5" Knightmare is outfitted with America'™s Best Bowstrings, features an anti-torque cable guard, a torque-free grip, and a 63â„8" brace height. Draw lengths of 26.5" — 30" are available on the new Knightmare.
I'™ve said it before and I'™ll say it again: Prime
bows are some of the most accurate bows I have ever shot. This is due to many factors, but the leading contributor to the tack-driving nature of these bows is the Parallel Cam System. G5'™s Marketing Manager, David Hawkey, says that the G5 team is particularly proud of this system, which in his words, 'œProvides the superior balance of two string tracks combined as one. Standing together, they virtually eliminate cam lean.'
That system, found on the new 33.25" Alloy
, works in conjunction with the Flexing Roller Cable Guard and Forged 7000 Series Aluminum Riser to create an accuracy standard unique to G5. Each 4.2-lb. Alloy features a 6.75" brace height, IBO speeds of 335 fps, and four finish choices — Realtree Xtra, Optifade Open Country, Optifade Forest, and Jet Black. Choose from draw lengths of 26" — 30", and peak weights of 50 lbs., 60 lbs., and 70 lbs.
Inexpensive and adjustable are two adjectives not commonly associated with quality bows, but the 3.45-lb. Lightning from Parker Bows
is worthy of both. To fit just about any shooter, the Lightning features 30 lbs. of draw-weight adjustment (30 lbs. — 60 lbs.), and 10" of draw-length adjustment (19" — 29" in ½" increments). A 70% letoff, 7" brace height, and several finish options round out this best-buy-for-your-buck bow.
PSE X-Force DNA SP
Choosing a bow from the PSE
lineup is no easy task, although a clear frontrunner for 2014 is the X-Force DNA SP
. One thing you'™ll immediately notice about this bow is that it can hit 345 fps; however, when you shoot it, that doesn'™t seem possible because of how comfortable the draw cycle is. According to PSE Vice President of Sales and Marketing Blake Shelby, this was no accident. 'œMost companies are cutting every corner they can to get to our speeds, yet we have the technology to hit 370 fps with our bows,' Shelby said.
'œThis means we can give up a little speed in a longer valley, or easier draw, and still have one of the fastest bows on the market.' This is evident in the 31.25" DNA SP, which weighs 3.8 lbs., has a 6" brace height, and 75% letoff. To ensure as many bowhunters as possible can get their hands on a DNA SP, each are offered in draw lengths ranging from as short as 24.5" to 30", with accompanying draw weights of 50 lbs. — 70 lbs.
Youth archery options have exploded in recent years, and I look at the latest offerings with a tinge of jealousy as I think back to the bow I started out with in my bowhunting infancy. One particular envy-inducing model comes our way via Quest
in the form of the 29.25" Radical
. To fit shooters of all shapes and sizes, the 3.25-lb. Radical can be adjusted from 17.5" — 30" of draw length and 15 lbs. — 70 lbs. of draw weight.
According to G5 Marketing Manager David Hawkey, Quest'™s foray into youth bows was well planned out, 'œThe size and weight make it easy to handle, and it is the most adjustable bow on the market,' Hawkey said. 'œYou don'™t even need a bow press to change draw lengths.' Ease-of-use is always much appreciated, especially when dealing with fast-growing youngsters. The Radical is designed with a 7.125" brace height and can reach IBO speeds of just under 300 fps.
Ross HeadhunterRoss Archery'™s new Headhunter
is a rock-solid bow that won'™t break the bank. You will quickly notice the 7" brace height and 80% letoff of the 32" Headhunter, and just as quickly you'™ll also notice that this bow is no slouch in the speed department.
Arrows take off at up to 320 fps out of the Headhunter, while each offers 27" — 31" of draw-length adjustment and peak draw weights of 60 lbs. or 70 lbs. To further enhance accuracy and the shooting experience, the Headhunter is outfitted with Vapor Trail strings and cables. Two unique finish options are available — Kryptek Typhon and Kryptek Highlander.
Winchester Black Horse SST
Any company that offers a Lifetime Transferrable Warranty on their bows believes in its products. Such is the case with Winchester Archery and the 4-lb. Black Horse SST
, the perfect choice for bowhunters looking for a rig that can handle game animals big and small.
The 31.25" Black Horse SST features a 7" brace height, peak draw weights of 50 lbs., 60 lbs. and 70 lbs., and draw lengths of 27" — 30" (adjusted in ½" increments through a rotating module). Gordon Power Tuff Limbs, LimbSaver dampeners, an adjustable roller guard, and an eye-catching finish round out the Black Horse SST.
Win & Win TalonWin & Win Archery
may have flown under many bowhunters'™ radar, but that is bound to change with the release of their 31" Talon
. The Talon is built with a pure carbon riser, and it is available with either the hybrid TLI Cam or the new CS Cam system (two cams). The Talon is adjustable from 25" — 30" of draw length (no bow press needed) and draw weights of 40 lbs. — 70 lbs. At only 3.5 lbs., the Talon is very light yet capable of achieving arrow speeds of 320 fps while maintaining a smooth draw cycle through its 6.5" brace height and 80% letoff.
The new 32.25" Xcentric from Xpedition Archery
is outfitted with the redesigned ATR cable guard, which greatly reduces torque during the draw cycle. The ATR, along with the XS cam system and a host of other features, come together in this 3.9-lb. flagship to create a smooth-shooting bow that can produce arrow speeds of up to 352 fps. The Xcentric, which has a 6" brace height, is available in module-specific draw lengths of 27" — 30", and peak weights of 40 lbs., 50 lbs., 60 lbs., 65 lbs., and 70 lbs.
Mathews Creed XS
When I asked the man behind Mathews
just what separates the new Creed XS
from the other bows in the Mathews lineup, Matt McPherson simply stated, 'œIt'™s the perfect balance of performance and power. The Creed XS features a silky smooth and efficient draw cycle, dependable accuracy, forgiveness, and pass-through power.' This is all true, and even more impressive when you consider the XS measures only 28" between axles.
Through a combination of the Simplex Single Cam Technology, Gridlock riser, and a 7.5" brace height, the XS offers Mathews-level accuracy while still achieving IBO speeds up to 321 fps. This bow is available in a number of finish options, weighs only 3.8 lbs., and is offered in peak draw weights of 50 lbs., 60 lbs., and 70 lbs. Draw lengths range from 26" — 30" with ½" increments available.