I shot a few bows at this year’s ATA show.  Here’s what I think about them.
 

There is a popular internet based gun writer who is often accused of, “Never meeting a gun he didn’t like.”  I enjoy reading his work, but also think it odd that all the guns written about are good and perform flawlessly.  In his defense he notes that he never chooses “junk” to write about.  Well, I have to echo that sentiment here.  There are many bow manufacturer’s present at ATA.  I probably shoot samples from less than half of them.  Now, just because they don’t appear below doesn’t mean they are junk.  Rather, I’m simply not interested in shooting one for my bowhunting pursuits.  I was sorry to not see Athens Archery at the show as I really liked their 2011 offerings.  Honestly, though, there are so many good bows out there these days that choosing one is an almost mind boggling process.

Also, unless something is egregiously wrong (as was the case with major noise and vibration in a company’s 2011 Flag Ship offering) simply shooting the bows not properly set up or tuned to draw or poundage preferences in the lanes offers a pretty small snap shot of what it has to offer.  Additionally, I in general dislike it when manufacturers represent their bows’ speeds in IBO.  First, I don’t believe the average archer has a 30” draw length.  Second, I don’t believe a light 350 grain arrow is appropriate for the average bowhunter.

Above:  Hoyt Rampage XT. 

Hoyt Rampage XT

  • 32” axle to axle
  • 7” brace height
  • 4 lbs
  • 323 FPS (ATA)
  • Available in draw lengths from 24.5” to 30”
  • Available in draw weights from 30-80 lbs
  • Features include the In-Line Roller Guard, XTS Pro Arc Limb System and the Fuel Cam.
  • General comments:  I shot the cast riser Rampage XT in a 25”, 60 lb configuration.  Fit and finish were good.  I didn’t know if I’d like the Pro-Fit Custom Grip, but it was fine.  There was a small amount of vibration at the shot, but very small.  Noise was minimal.  It rolled forward nicely on the shot which will help balance out a sight and attached quiver when set up for hunting.  Since I usually shoot 68-70 lbs it was difficult to get a feel for the cam upon drawing.  I like this bow.  As an everyday, ordinary bowhunter I’m not afraid to depend on a “value line” bow like the Rampage XT for all my pursuits.

Above: Hoyt’s Carbon Element.  

Hoyt Carbon Element

  • 32” axle to axle
  • 6 ¾” brace height
  • 3.6 lbs
  • 330 FPS (ATA)
  • Available in draw lengths from 24.5” to 30”
  • Available in draw weights from 30-80 lbs
  • Features include the In-Line Roller Guard, XTS Pro Arc Limb System, the RKT Cam and a whole lot more.
  • General comments:  I shot the carbon riser Carbon Element in 26.5”, 60 lb configuration.  It is a beautiful bow although I’m not convinced the four-tenths of a pound reduction over many other bows on the market is worth the premium pricing.   The Pro-Fit Custom Grip was “squishy” on the bottom end which I did not like.  As with the Rampage XT there was very little noise at the shot, but slightly more felt vibration.  The Carbon Element also rolled forward nicely at the shot.  Again, draw cycle was hard to judge as the bow was set 8-10 lbs less than my normal draw weight.  The Carbon Element is a Flag Ship offering from one of archery’s premier bow manufacturers.

Above:  The Bowtech Assassin. 

Bowtech Assassin 

    • 30 5/8” axle to axle
    • 7” brace height
    • 3.8 lbs
    • 333 FPS (IBO)
    • Available in draw lengths from 26” to 30”
    • Available in draw weights from 50-70 lbs
    • Features include Octane Strings, Rotating Modules for easy draw length adjustment and Ready Aim Kill (R.A.K.) accessory package.
    • General comments:  The lane was pretty chaotic so I did not get the specs for draw length and weight that I shot the Assassin in.  This is not a new offering from Bowtech and I have spent a little time shooting one while helping Outdoors Buddy Seth pick out a new bow for the 2011 season.  The plastic overlay grip with a slight back-radius was ok with a bit of traction.  The draw cycle is not objectionable and I believe it to be a fairly smooth shooting bow.  Having previously shot Octane Strings on a Bowtech SWAT I’ll say that they are of good quality which prevents the need to swap out them out on a brand new bow.  I’d like to see the R.A.K. accessory package offered as an option rather than automatically included, though.  I like this bow and once again point out that I’m not afraid to rely on a price point bow for all my bowhunting pursuits, but prefer higher quality accessories than those offered in the package.  Bowtech is not known for their customer service and they often take quite a beating on the popular archery forums.

Above:  The Bowtech Insanity

Bowtech Insanity CPX 

  • 32” axle to axle
  • 6” brace height
  • 4.3 lbs
  • 355 FPS (IBO)
  • Available in draw length from 25.5” to 30”
  • Available in draw weights from 50-80 lbs
  • Features include Octane Strings, OverDrive Binary Cams, FLX Guard, 7-layer limbs and more.
  • General comments:  Again, the lane was pretty chaotic so I did not get the specs for draw length and weight that I shot the Assassin in.  The draw cycle was smooth and the bow sat dead in my hand at the shot with very little vibration.  The grip is simply the riser itself, my favorite kind of grip, with the corners cut off at 45 degree angles on the two back edges.  Laminate scales adorn the riser on each side of the grip.  Again, Bowtech is not known for their customer service often taking quite a beating on the popular archery forums.

Above:  The Elite Hunter. 

Elite Hunter 

  • 31 ¾” axle to axle
  • 7 1/2” brace height
  • 3.9 lbs
  • 319 – 323 FPS (IBO)
  • Available in draw length from 25” to 30”
  • Available in draw weights from 40-80 lbs
  • Features include the ESX or Tour Cams adjusted by mods depending on draw length.
  • General comments:  I shot the Hunter in a 26.5”, but unspecified draw weight.  Like the Bowtech Assassin the Hunter is not a new-to-2012 offering.  I chose it for its generous-by-today’s-standards brace height and its availability in my draw length of 26.5”.  Elite turns out a beautifully fit and finished bow.  At 319-323 FPS IBO the Hunter is not a barn burner, but a dependable, forgivable bow for pursuing your game of choice.  I do like the draw cycle on the Hunter and would be happy to shoot this bow more.  It did nothing at the shot but sit in my hand.  The grip was my favorite of all bows shot, simply the nicely radiused riser itself with scales on either side.  Elite is known for their customer service and lifetime warranty. 

Well, that’s it. My short snippets on a few bows I’d likely be willing to shoot while pursuing critters in the field.  Do you have any comments on the bows in this post?

happy hunting, dv

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