First Impressions: NAW Editors' Favorite New Bows

First Impressions: NAW Editors' Favorite New Bows

My wife once suggested that, for all the care and attention I give to my archery equipment, it's a wonder I don't sleep with my bow.

Point taken, honey. But unless you're a serious bowhunter, it's difficult to understand just how "personal" the relationship between the hunter and his or her bow can be. So when it's time to pick out the next addition to your archery arsenal, it pays dividends to spend some time on the range with the likely candidates.

To be certain, in the pages of North American Whitetail alone, you're exposed to any number of advertisements exhorting a given manufacturer's latest bow as "revolutionary," "legendary," "extreme," "deadly" and, yes, even "epic." But unless the bow in question feels comfortable in the palm of your hand, draws without the aid of a power winch and shoots without rattling your wisdom teeth loose, these fancy adjectives are fairly worthless. When your hand is on your wallet, what really matters is how you feel about the bow, and it's virtually impossible to figure that out without first shooting several of them.

After all, you wouldn't buy a new pickup without taking it for a spin, and you probably wouldn't pay for a new pair of boots without sticking your foot in one first. Why would you buy a bow without picking it up, drawing it and slinging a few arrows?

For that reason alone, North American Whitetail Editor in Chief Gordon Whittington and I did just that with eight of the latest bows to hit the hunting market. The results are far from scientific evidence of which bow performs the best. In fact, what we hoped to accomplish was just the opposite. Rather than subject our bows to scientific conditions, measuring arrow speeds and decibel levels, we simply picked up these eight bows, examined them and shot them, just like we would have done if we'd walked into a bow shop looking for next season's killing machine.

To level the playing field, we took each of the bows to my local bow shop — The Huntin' Shack in Cartersville, Ga. — and asked owner P.J. Johnson to set up each of the bows to the same specifications.

Each of the bows was set with a 26.5-inch draw length and a 57-pound draw weight, and each was fitted with a nock loop and an Apache Carbon arrow rest from New Archery Products. We did not outfit the bows with sights, stabilizers or wrist slings, and we used a Scott Archery release to draw and shoot each bow.

Whittington and I shot each of the eight bows in random order in a series of "evaluations." First, we focused on the overall "comfort" level of the bow, paying particular attention to the grip, the balance and the weight of the bow. Second, we focused on the draw cycle of the bow. And third, we scrutinized each bow's performance upon and after the shot, looking for perceptible levels of hand-shock, vibration, noise and general stability. We used Carbon Express Maxima Hunter KV 350 arrows with 100-grain field tips and Blazer vanes.

The results are, essentially, our first impressions of eight solid compound new bows. That's it.

While our work with North American Whitetail and North American Whitetail TV affords us the opportunity to handle a wide array of archery equipment and spend quite a bit of time in the woods with bows in hand, Gordon and I have distinct tastes in bows, and it's likely that our preferences will be different from yours. For that reason, we're hopeful that this review will provide you with some solid information on eight new hunting rigs, but we encourage you to visit a few local bow shops, shoot each of these bows, and find out for yourself which one feels right for you.

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