I once interviewed a lucky bowhunter who had just arrowed the state-record whitetail buck. I don't remember all the details of the hunt, but I do remember the hunter killed the deer with a compound bow that was more than 20 years old. It was a classic, if not outright antique!
When I expressed my surprise at the age of his rig, the hunter told me there was nothing wrong with the bow so he saw no need for an upgrade. There was no denying his old bow could get the job done. But by the same logic, I could argue a 1985 Plymouth Reliant K would get me to work just fine, though I'm not sure how many days in a row and whether it's what I'd want my co-workers to see as I roll into the parking lot.
Embracing modern bow technology will make you a better bowhunter, whether you are just getting started in the sport or about to set a new state record. I put together these high-performance hunting rigs that I know are worthy of your consideration.
Hoyt | Carbon Spyder ZT30
When it comes to an all-around, high-performance hunting rig, Carbon Spyder
is hard to beat.
I've used the original Carbon Spyder with great success, and for 2015 the company has taken this line to an even higher level by adding a new, flexible cable-guard system that nearly eliminates — you guessed it — torque. The ZT30 measures 30 inches between axles, weighs a nice 3.6 pounds, and has a 332 fps rating.
It's also very adjustable, with a draw-length range of 24-30 inches.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 327],499
Martin | Lithium LTD
stands for Living the Dream. If you like fast Martin bows, you will be living the dream because this is the fastest they've ever made, boasting a 345 fps speed rating.
Martin has been around for a while, and that's reflected in the upgrades to the their technology. The limbs, for example, are seventh-generation split-limb designs. There are some very new technologies on it as well, like the new Ghost 2.0 cam system.
Give it some versatility points too: it goes from a 26- to 30-inch draw length, available 50-, 60- or 70-pound peak draw and with excellent 15 pounds of downward adjustability.
Matthews | No-Cam HTR
Mathews combined the silky smooth draw of an old-fashioned wheel bow and the high-powered performance of a modern hunting rig in its all-new No Cam HTR
This innovative bow is powered by new NO CAM ST Technology that uses two circular, concentric string tracks that allow the bowstring to travel at a constant distance from the center of rotation throughout the draw cycle.
It's designed to eliminate uncomfortable draw-cycle transitions and provide straight, level nock travel for maximum accuracy. The system generates IBO speed ratings up to 330 fps. The NO CAM HTR weighs 4.3 pounds, measures 32 inches between the axles and adjusts for draw lengths from 24-30 inches.
Expert shooters will like the fact that let-off — the amount of weight you hold at full draw — can be customized at 65, 75 or 85 percent.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 327],099
Prime | Ion
I really dig shorter axle-to-axle bows that are light and easy to maneuver in the field. Prime's Ion
certainly fits that bill, with a 31-inch axle-to-axle length and 3.9-pound mass weight.
Prime's unique PCXL Parallel Cam technology does a great job of balancing the system and produces a speed rating of 330 fps. The Ion also has an adjustable let-off up to 85 percent.
You'll also see a newly designed riser (the part between the limbs) that has a new, comfortable Ghost Grip. The Ion has a 7 1/4-inch brace height (the distance between the string at rest and the riser) and accommodates draw lengths from 26-30 inches.
PSE | Dream Season Decree
Lots of bowhunters like shooting super-fast bows. And PSE likes making them. The new Dream Season Decree
generates blistering arrow speeds up to 355 fps.
That's great, but speed often makes a bow less comfortable to draw and less accurate if you're not committed to practice.
Still, I found the Decree smooth-drawing and forgiving. Draw lengths from 24-30 inches, draw weights of 50, 60, 65 and 70 pounds, and lots of proven PSE technology.
APA Innovations | King Cobra TF
APA doesn't get as much attention as some other bow makers, but the Canadian company's unique rigs are worth a closer look. Their new King Cobra TF
is advertised as the world's fastest, most adjustable dual-cam bow.
That could be. It's recorded arrow speeds to 370 fps. The difference is the bow's limb technology that lets the forked section and the main limbs flex to distribute the load between two separate working areas.
It also has user-friendly features, like a built-in carrying handle, a riser that's easy to hang, a cam-lock system for in-the-field repairs and a riser-integrated tool center.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 327],049
Bear Archery | Arena
Bowhunters need speed. But they also need forgiveness. You want power, but if you are imperfect in form, an errant arrow is quite ineffective.
Bear's Arena 30
gives a little of both. Bear's cam system produces a very smooth draw that I really like. Its hinge guard seriously reduces lateral torque, which kills accuracy.
It's a 30-inch bow, from axle to axle, and is rated for a solid 340 fps. This is also quite adjustable, going from a 25- to 30-inch draw length. That makes it appropriate for shooters from kids and women to those guys who have the gorilla arms and wide wingspans.
Bowtech | Prodigy
Some bowhunters seek out maximum speed and power. Others prefer an effortless draw cycle. And many seek a middle ground between those extremes. Here's one
bow that can move among all three.
By adjusting Power Discs on the cams, shooters move through Performance (maximum speed and power), Classic (hard-hitting but smooth) and Comfort (effortless draw) settings. And you don't have to visit a bow shop to do it! This is pretty revolutionary.
The PowerShift technology really is a lot like three bows in one. Other features are its light weight, at 4.2 pounds, and speed, at 343 fps. You can get it in several different camo styles, including the ultra-cool Kyrptek Highlander.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 327],099
Elite | Synergy
Elite Archery's latest bow, Synergy
,is all about shootability: it will draw smooth but also is a powerful bow.
What makes this bow different is the two-track cam system, which reduces torque, that nasty twisting action that throws things off center. I find these bows are extremely stable on target and forgiving while still producing plenty of power.
If you shoot 3D competitions, you should check out this bow.