The Latest Offering from Mathews Could Be It's Best Ever by Bow & Arrow's Steve Flores
The Latest Offering from Mathews Could Be It's Best Ever by Bow & Arrow's Steve FloresMarch 10, 2010 - Joel
On paper, the new flagship bow out of Sparta, Wisconsin
looks very similar to last year’s model, the Reezen 7.0. For a
bow launching arrows at a scorching 335 fps, the Reezen
7.0 was insanely accurate. However, some shooters couldn’t
get accustomed to its “unfamiliar” draw-cycle and felt it was a
departure from the shooting experience synonymous with Mathews bows of the past. In all fairness, though, that kind of speed had to come from somewhere. And while many were willing to sacrifice a little “drawing comfort” for such a fast and accurate setup, others weren’t so eager to concede. Alas, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Or can you?
While reviewing the Z7 specs and comparing them to that of its
predecessor, the Reezen 7.0, I noticed that the numbers were nearly the same in many aspects. Honestly, I couldn’t help but think that the shooting experience between the two would likewise be similar. However, in typical Mathews fashion, one shot was all it took for my expectations to go flying out the proverbial window. When thebowstring jumped forward, I quickly realized that 2010 had
ushered in something special.
A BOLD NEW LOOK
The last time Mathews made a major cosmetic change to its bow
line was in 2007, with the introduction of the Drenalin. However,
don’t make the mistake of assuming that this year’s modifications
were developed solely from an appearance standpoint. Yes, the new look is fresh, but it also results in a unique and unexpected shooting experience.
The first of many changes you will notice when you see the Z7
is the new riser cutouts. Incorporating what Mathews calls Grid
Lock Technology, the riser has been made structurally stronger,
while at the same time lighter, due primarily to the cutout pattern. This design ultimately makes the riser more torsion-ridged and stiffer, which will lead to a more accurately shooting bow, simply because it tends to flex less during the shot.
An additional feature that is sure to catch the eye is the bridgedstyle Roller Guard arm. Gone is the thick, straight arm from last year. In its place is a more streamline, curved structure with a swept-back look, sporting the same style cutouts found in the riser. Still, all of that isn’t what makes this new roller-guard design so special. The exciting thing is…wait a minute…I’m getting ahead of myself.
Other notable changes in appearance can be found in the red
highlights that accent different areas of the bow. These include a portion of the single-cam, one roller-guard wheel, part of the arrow shelf, and the Harmonic Damper rubber found
at both ends of the riser. Also, the familiar Mathews logo found on previous limbs has been replaced with a smaller, rounder logo. All of this adds up to a very attractive bow built with the tight, flawless craftsmanship that you’ve come to expect from Mathews. The bow really is a work of art.
HEAR NO EVIL
Historically speaking, shooting a blazing-fast setup usually meant that you had to sacrifice something in the way of bow noise. In a game that often puts you within spitting distance of your quarry, noise is a bad thing. Fast bows tend to be somewhat louder because things are moving and happening at an accelerated rate.
There is much more energy being produced and transferred throughout the entire bow and everything attached to it. Throw in some lightweight arrows (to maximize speed), and more of that energy will find its way back into the bow with the potential to produce more gamespooking noise. Consequently, bowhunters must often choose a balancing point between speed and a quiet shot. Amazingly, though, thanks to a multitude of sound-squashing features, the super-fast Z7 doesn’t force you to make that choice.
New for 2010 are the aptly named Monkey Tails. While these tiny string and cable accessories may be
reminiscent of previous efforts to squelch bow noise, they are indeed different. For starters, you can virtually eliminate all string/cable noise and vibration at the cost of only 1-2 fps in arrow speed! Second, they are easily attached by looping around
the string and back through themselves as opposed to being installed like the old “cat whiskers” of yesterday.
In total, there are four Monkey Tails adorning the new Z7. And when combined with the Dead End String Stop, String Suppressors, and Harmonic Damper, noise and vibration are virtually eliminated. If they aren’t, the Parallel Limbs, which, by design, eradicate vibration and noise by launching themselves in vertically opposite directions of one another, as well as the Harmonic Stabilizer, which abolishes over 75 percent of residual (post shot) vibration, will definitely get the job done.
POINT OF CONTACT
There is only one place where the shooter and the bow touch—the grip. For years, the populace of Mathews
Nation longed for a slimmer handle.
For 2010, they got what they wanted. The new Slim Fit Grip feels remarkably leaner than previous offerings. With a narrower throat and a lower heel design, there is less surface area to come into contact with the hand, thus minimizing the potential for the shooter to ruin the shot with hand torque. In all honesty, an extremely narrow grip initially feels fine to me. The problem is, after a while, I start to loose hand placement consistency and my shooting accuracy begins to suffer. I believe this new grip falls
somewhere right in the middle—not too fat and not to skinny; it strikes a perfect balance between feel and shootability.
WHAT MATTERS MOST
Ok, I understand that when it comes down to it only one thing really matters. How does it shoot? Well, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this bow really is something special. What makes it so special? Truthfully, that is a tough question to answer. But only because there are so many different features
that make this bow what it is—the smoothest, quietest, most efficient speed-bow Mathews has ever produced. Drawing back the Z7 I was pleasantly surprised by its draw cycle. Much of the smooth sensation can be attributed to the new Reverse Assist
Roller Guard. With this system, friction is drastically reduced because the cables are no longer positioned in front of the roller guard wheels—pressing tighter and tighter against them during the drawcycle. Instead, they now go behind the roller-guard
wheels, essentially lifting off of them during the draw-cycle. A special stop located behind the roller wheels prevents the cables from completely coming off. The result is a remarkably smooth drawing cam system that produces high arrow speed, which is something the Z7 has plenty of.
I also felt that an equally impressive quality of the draw cycle was the transition from peak pulling weight into the let-off phase; it felt seamless. No sudden drop, just a smooth pull straight into a solid back wall. At full draw, the Z7 held rocksolid, behaving much like a longer axle bow. In theory, a longer bow is more stable. Thus, my primary concern before testing the 30-inch Z7 was its longrange accuracy. Specifically, how it would stack up
against the tack-driving characteristics of the 32-inch Reezen from a year ago. It only took a few rounds to answer that question.
Despite the fact that I had shot very little before testing this bow (too busy hunting) and it was cold and windy outside, the Z7 proved to be an accurate shooter nonetheless, grouping arrows tighter than a banjo string at 20 and 30 yards. While that
was a good start, I knew the real test would come at longer distances. As an Eastern whitetail hunter, most of my bowshots occur at ranges of 30 yards or less. However, I routinely practice at twice that distance. Doing so builds confidence and improves
shooting form. I quickly found the Z7 to be a genuine confidence
builder. At 40 and 50 yards, theresults were the same—a nice, tight wad of arrows staring back at me from the target face. Smiles quickly ensued.
At the shot, the Z7 registered nothing back to my hand—nothing.
When the aforementioned features all work in unison, what you get is one of the deadest, most vibration-free bows you will ever shoot. Also, considering the energy and speed this bow produces, you would expect a little noise, right? Wrong! When the string snaps forward you feel nothing, and the only sound you hear is a dull thud, much like that of an arrow when it finds its mark.
You’re probably wondering why I chose to compare this bow to last year’s offering so often throughout my review. It’s simple: This bow is everything a lot of folks wanted the Reezen to be, and more. In my humble opinion, when you consider the smooth draw, quiet shot, deadin-the hand feel, inherent accuracy,
and outrageous efficiency that the Z7 produces, it is mind-boggling. Why? Because this bow accomplishes all of those things, and yet, it is only 3-fps slower than the Reezen 7.0! It
appears you can have your cake and eat it, too. This bow gives you everything you want and asks for nothing in return. Fast, silent and easy to draw, without sacrificing a thing. The Z7 is the total package. It will definitely exceed your expectations. Matt McPherson says this bow, along with the Reezen, has demonstrated the highest efficiency ratings of any single-cam bow in his 40 years of designing compounds.