Okay fine, a trade show may not the best place to thoroughly test new bows. It’s noisy and you only get to shoot each model a handful of times before having to pass it off to the next person in line. But you can get back in line as many times as you want, and you can absolutely get a solid first look at every bow at the show.
And so we did. At this week’s ATA show in Louisville, Kentucky,
Bestul and I focused on the new flagship models for 2013. We shot, and
waited to shoot, and shot, and got in line again…until we had a firm
enough grasp of the new crop of compounds to share our first impressions
with you. Here they are, in alphabetical order by manufacturer:
Specs: 335 fps IBO; 32 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 7; 4.2 pounds
After playing the speed game—and playing it very well—for the last
couple of years, Bowtech has touched the brakes a little to offer
everyday hunters a smoother, easier shooting experience.
draw cycle. Excellent valley; you can relax a little at full draw
without the bow yanking your string hand forward--a critically important
feature for the average hunter in the field. Good back wall. Good
balance and feel. Fairly dead in the hand, but not perfectly so. Misses: A little loud—but only a little, and we were shooting a bare bow.
Specs: 330 fps IBO with smooth mod, 340 with speed mod; 33-1/2 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 7; 4.1 pounds
Elite doesn’t have one flagship bow but several in different
configurations at the same price level. After shooting the newest
models, we liked the Answer because it offered the best combination of
smoothness and speed.
smooth draw cycle (second only to the G5 Prime, see below). Very good
valley, much like the Bowtech. Good balance, good feel, good fit and
finish. Misses: A little louder than some, and the Answer jumps in your hand just a little at the shot.
Specs: 340 fps IBO; 35 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 6.25; 4.5 pounds
G5’s bows have been getting better every year—inching closer the
perennial top contenders. This year, based solely on these preliminary
tests, the Impact has cleared the bar. It should join the discussion for
best bow of 2013. The other version of the bow is the 30-inch Defy, but
we liked this one better. Hits: Smoothest
draw cycle of all the bows at the show. Nice valley; doesn’t want to
yank your string hand forward. Good back wall. Absolutely dead in the
hand, more so, I thought, than any other bow we shot. Misses: A tad heavy. It’s overpriced.
Specs: 330 fps IBO; 30 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 6.75; 3.8 pounds
bow is also available in a 34-inch version with a 340 IBO. Both shot
and felt very much the same. As you would expect from Hoyt, this is a
very well-built bow, featuring the company’s new Airshox Technology
designed to tame limb vibration and noise. Hits: Smooth draw cycle. Good feel and balance. Very little hand shock or vibration. Misses: Back wall is a tad mushy. A little louder than some.
Specs: 335 fps IBO; 35 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 7; 3.8 pounds
I’d like to be more generous here, but this bow just doesn’t compare
favorably to the others in this price range. The hard truth is that even
if you knocked $200 off the tag, you could still find as good or better
a bow for the money.
Hits: Good draw cycle and valley. Fairly dead in the hand. Decent balance. Misses: The loudest bow on this list. Fit and finish isn’t nearly as good as other similarly priced models.
Specs: 350 fps IBO; 32 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 6; 4 pounds
Oh how I despise the suddenly ubiquitous term “game-changer.” And yet
it seems apt for Bear’s new flagship. The Motive 6 is a pure speed bow,
the company’s first dual-cam model since maybe forever, and their best
shot at the top of the heap in years. Hits:
Bear’s fastest bow ever. Surprisingly smooth draw cycle for a speed
bow. Good back wall. Pretty darn smooth at the shot. Nice fit and
finish. Good feel and balance. Misses: The valley is a little steep, but that’s what you get with such a fast bow
PSE X-Force Dream Season DNA ($899)
Specs: 352 fps IBO; 31 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 6; 3.7 pounds
real contender for the top spot in 2013, this is PSE’s latest in a long
line of pure speed bows, and, at first blush at least, their best. If
you don’t like a speed bow, you won’t like this one. If you do, oh
Hits: Holy s**t, it’s fast. The
draw is surprisingly smooth—not easy—but smooth; it doesn’t roll over
with a clunk like some earlier PSE speed models do. It is shockingly,
insanely quiet for such a flame-thrower. Good balance and finish, as
always. Misses: The draw is smooth, but
demanding. (What would you expect?) The valley is steep. (Of course.) It
jumps just a tad at the shot—no big deal.
Specs: 345 fps IBO, 33-3/8 inches axle-to-axle, Brace Height 6-3/8, 4.25 pounds
If you’re not familiar with this company, you should get that way.
Strother is another bow maker that inches closer to industry’s top tier
with each new model. Like Elite, it offers several bows at the same
price level, of which we liked the new Rush XT. Hits:
Like many bows this year, the XT has a smooth draw cycle, but at the
end of that cycle it outshines the rest. This back wall is concrete,
titanium, diamond hard—the best of the bunch. Pretty smooth at the
shot—and fast. Misses: A little bit louder than some.
Written By: Dave Hurteau