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Hunting Bows: Best Crop Ever?

Hunting Bows: Best Crop Ever?

If you've put off getting a new bow because you've been waiting for major technological advances, it's time to start shopping.

By Bill Winke

The ultimate compound bow for whitetail hunting would have several redeeming qualities:

First, it would be quiet. Otherwise, you increase the risk of having a deer jump the string, and you lessen the chance of being able to get off a second shot, if one were to be needed.

Second, the bow would be at least reasonably fast. When you load it down with mid-weight arrows, you want to unleash enough energy to fully penetrate a deer's chest cavity, even if the shot is taken from above the animal.

Third, it would be forgiving. As we all know, awkward shots are common as a bowhunter twists and leans to find a clear lane to his target.

And finally, the bow would be maintenance free. After all, we archery hunters generally benefit from long seasons. If you hunt every morning before work or even every weekend, you'll soon log a lot of miles, and your bow will bounce through a lot of branches going up and down dozens of trees. When that trophy buck finally steps out in range, the last thing you want to have to worry about is whether or not something on your bow has changed since you last shot it.

I'm happy to report that this year's crop of great new hunting bows fulfills all of these requirements and does it with flare. The craftsmanship and quality have never been better, and each year's designs evolve and improve. Here's what you can expect to find in your archery shop this summer:


Hoyt RazorTec

The new Cam & 1/2 system is found on every bow in Hoyt's 2003 catalog. This is essentially a two-cam system in which the cams are tied together to eliminate any possibility that they will go out of time. The cable from the top cam wraps around an element on the bottom cam, rather than attaching directly to the axle as it would in a typical two-cam setup. The cams can't go out of time, because they can't turn independently.

The RazorTec has an axle-to-axle length of 33 inches, a brace height of 7 1/4 inches and an IBO speed of 310 fps with the Cam & 1/2.

The SuperTec is the fastest bow Hoyt has ever made. It has all the same features as the RazorTec (Tec-series riser, XT 2000 wide split limbs, narrow grip), but it features the more aggressive Spiral Cam & 1/2 and sports an IBO speed rating of 330 fps. The 36-inch bow has a 6-inch brace height.

All Hoyt bows still feature the stiff and quiet Tec series riser. I hunted with one of these bows last fall and was very impressed.

Mathews LX

For 2003, Mathews has come out with the new LX and has redesigned the Conquest 3, a longtime favorite. The new V-Lock Zero Tolerance Limb System forces the limbs into wedge-shaped pockets to ensure they remain perfectly aligned for years of super-accurate shooting.

The LX features the new pocket and the new HP Single Cam. This cam draws very smoothly and produces fast arrow flight. The bow is 35 inches long, has a 6 5/8-inch brace height and produces an IBO speed of 315 fps.

I've shot the Conquest 2 quite a bit and can vouch for its accuracy and quiet performance. For 2003, the bow has received another upgrade. The third generation of this great shooter includes the same V-Lock limb pockets found on the LX to completely stabilize the limbs for precision accuracy and arrow flight over the course of a long hunting season. At 41 inches of axle-to-axle length, this is the longest bow in the Mathews line.

Parker EZ-Draw 33

If you don't like the feel of today's aggressive speed cams, the super-smooth EZ-Draw 33 is a good alternative. It has a single-cam system with a soft-cam feel. Visually, the bow is very attractive; the idler, cam and grip are all film-dipped in Superflauge camouflage. Not surprisingly, the EZ-Draw 33 is 33 inches in length. It produces an IBO speed of 290 fps with a brace height of 7 1/4 inches.

Parker also has entered the growing crossbow market, offering a pair of them in its Safari line. The Safari-Magnum has a synthetic camo stock, while the Safari-Classic has a laminated wood stock; otherwise, these two lightweight models are identical.

Both have high-performance limbs that produce enhanced bolt speed at draw weights of 125 or even 100 pounds. Such draw weights result in easier cocking, an attractive feature for disabled hunters and those small in stature. There's also the option of a 150-pound draw weight, which generates bolt speed of 320-plus fps.

These crossbows also have the new Parker trigger system, for a smoother pull and less trigger travel than conventional crossbow triggers, as well as a new Speed-Track system for reduced string wear. Both models are available in right- or left-hand versions.

The Safari-Magnum and Safari-Classic can be purchased with Parker's Outfitter package: a Red Dot scope with mounts, four carbon bolts and a quiver.

PSE Primos STL

The new Primos STL from Precision Shooting Equipment has a new single-cam, the Centerfire One-Cam. It's moderately aggressive and produces an IBO speed rating of 305 fps, despite the bow's 7 3/4-inch brace height. The Primos STL is a stable 38 inches long.

The Nitro, which has been a very popular bow for PSE, was recently upgraded to include the pivoting Trimline limb pockets that positively support the limbs throughout the bow's draw-weight adjustment range. The Nitro also has an optional new two-cam system called the Maxis-Plus Twin-Cam.

Not only is this new cam smooth but its design also produces less string tension as the string comes back to its pre-draw position, resulting in a quieter bow.

You can choose either the Maxis-Plus or the Centerfire One-Cam. The Nitro produces an IBO speed rating of 315 fps with the Centerfire and 308 fps with the Maxis-Plus. (Either way, the Nitro is one of the fastest bows on the market.) Both configurations produce a brace height in the 6- to 6 1/4-inch range.

Archery Research AR-37

AR bows, which utilize PSE technology, offer the features modern bowhunters seek, including parallel limbs for recoil-free shooting, a fast single-cam system and stylish design.

The AR-31 is new bow has parallel limb design for almost zero recoil, and a high 8 1/2-inch brace height makes it very forgiving. It's 31 inches long and produces an IBO speed rating of 301 fps with AR's Ram Cam single-cam system.

The AR-34 has a less abrupt limb angle in the riser, producing a greater axle-to-axle length and a higher brace height. The length is 34 inches, brace height is 8 inches, and IBO speed rating is 309 fps.

The AR-37 is 37 inches long. It has the same limbs and same length riser as the AR-31 and AR-34, but the limb pockets are less angled. The more traditional limb angles produce a lower brace height of 7 inches and a higher IBO speed of 312 fps.

The selection of hunting bows available for 2003 is the best ever. In fact, they're so thoughtfully designed and so well made that they're the first generation in several years to be markedly better across the board. So if you've been thinking of upgrading to a new bow for your hunting, this would be a good year to take action on that plan.


Hoyt USA



Archery Research

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