Which Bow is Right For You?June 8, 2014 - Muley Crazy’s Zac Griffith
Bow hunting and especially bows have improved dramatically over the last few decades. Bows are lighter-weight, faster, quieter, and smoother than ever before. There are several awesome manufacturers out there and selecting a bow can seem over-whelming. I want to make a point early that despite the vast options, that there’s no “perfect bow” that will make you a better hunter. Your practice, tuning, experimentation, knowledge and experience will make you shoot any bow better. Archery is a very hands-on skill that requires a tremendous amount of practice and effort. No bow will compensate for your lack of ability. Find one you like and shoot that thing until you become one!
Some Factors of Selecting a Bow
Speed has become the ultimate bragging right in archery. Manufacturers are skimming metal off of bows to decrease cam-drag and speed up performance. Speed is important and really helps one understand the amount of energy the bow is capable of producing. The top-tier bows will range from 320 fps-350 fps. Just realize that those ratings are set as a general comparison and your hunting set-up will likely differ dramatically. Anything over 300 fps is screaming fast and beyond adequate for hunting situations.
A major downside of a lighter, faster bow is noise. Realize that bows are nowhere near the speed of sound. No matter how fast an arrow, that animal will hear any potential noise before the arrow gets there. Speed ratings are a general comparison based on a light arrow with standard draw lengths and poundage. As a hunter, you will want to build a set-up with a heavier arrow that will increase efficiency and kinetic energy but also quiet that bow down. String suppressors, stabilizers, dampening devices etc. all assist in the reduction of noise your bow makes. I recommend that you shoot the heaviest, stiffest arrow (that will tune) out of your bow that will still provide a relatively fast speed of around 300 fps.
Bow weight is another tool manufacturers have aggressively pursued. Weight is always marketed as “bare bow” and does not accurately portray the real hunting set-up you will work with. Don’t get too hung up on weight. The first thing I do with my bow is add a pound of arrows and another of stabilizers, back-bars, and weights to balance out my shot. My bow weighs 8 lbs loaded and is nothing you can’t handle with simple practice. Set your bow up the way that feels best and yields the greatest results on the range. An ounce here or there will have no effect on your stamina if you grow accustomed to your set-up.
As a hunter, a smaller more compact bow is ideal. It fits easier in your pack, causes less drag and hang-ups in brush and most importantly is easier to maneuver on stalks. History has revealed an evolution in bow design that has lengthened risers and made limbs more and more parallel. This makes the bow shorter in overall length. Bows are so well designed now that short axle-to-axle set-ups are just as forgiving and smooth as longer bows. Again, don’t spend too much time on this because manufacturers have tweaked all of their top-end bows to fall right around 28-33” in length. An inch +/- isn’t going to affect you much.
Brace height is basically the length from the string to your grip. The shorter the brace height, the closer the string rests to your hand. Historically short brace heights are harder to draw back (longer distance) and yield higher energy and speed because the length the string travels is increased. Short brace heights have been known to be less forgiving and tougher to shoot. If you’re an experienced shooter brace height is not as important because form and technical flaws in your shooting are probably already minimized. Newer shooters typically gravitate to longer brace height bows that are often more accurate because they’re not as “jumpy,” “hot,” or “aggressive.” This is a factor you need to talk to a professional about and make a purchase decision that will benefit you most.
I’ve covered a lot of basic terminology and factors in bow selection. With this understanding, I urge you to go to your local shop, shoot their bows, talk to their pros, learn and be open to their input. Everything I know about bows was acquired from Daniel Willet, a good friend of mine and co-owner of Arizona Archery Club. Willet has explained the “ins and outs” of archery but always ends up with questions like: “How does it feel?” “Do you like the way it shoots?” “Is that more natural?” etc. There are many paths to a good hunting set-up and I assure you that your local shop has your best interest in mind.
Enter the shop with an open mind. Willet says he sees guys come in every day wanting a specific bow that they have never even shot before. Recommendations from friends are a great starting point, but before you spend thousands of dollars and countless hours practicing, check out a number of options. Shoot what works best for you. A good pro shop like Arizona Archery Club will ask questions and listen to your input, and guide you through the process!
With that being said, I want to showcase two of the best selling bows of 2014. Mathews, Inc. has been a major partner of Muley Crazy Magazine from the beginning. In fact, Ryan has harvested several giant mule deer with his Mathews bows. I recently joined the Mathews team and want to express that the quality, craftsmanship, designs and overall feel in the Mathews line is unbeatable. They’re known for their accuracy and quality and are by far the largest bow manufacturer in the world.
Mathews Creed XS
The first bow I want to talk about is the Creed XS. This is a single cam bow that is making a ton of noise in the industry. It’s extremely lightweight, smooth and forgiving. Its short axle-to-axle length of 28” is ideal for hunting. It’s a fast bow that is as quiet as anything out there. It has a relatively long brace height and is very easy and fun to shoot. I recommend this bow to anyone that want to start hunting or improve of their current set-up.
Mathews Chill R
This is the best-built dual cam bow on the market. It is extremely fast, but engineered to have almost zero-hand shock. For the speed it delivers, with its low weight, this bow shoots like a dream. Its AVS DYAD cam system produces and ultra-smooth, crisp draw cycle. It’s a touch longer than the Creed XS but not overboard for a bigger hunter.
Now is the time to get a bow, make adjustments, and fine-tune your game! You will be unstoppable in August if you commit now!
As seen in Muley Crazy’s May/ June issue.
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