by Harrison Hoegh
I am buying a new bow for the 2017 season. My quest rogue has served me well over the past four years, but the time has come to upgrade my bow. This blog is the first of three for my process in buying a bow.
The first of three steps is to search online to limit down my options based on specifications and reviews. The second blog will be on going to a bow shop to shoot the bows at a shop and describe what to look for so you end up with the right bow. The final of the three blogs will discuss how I outfit my bow.
Here is what I look for in a bow to limit down my options. I am going to walk you through my priority list of specs I look at.
What matters: Brace height, Axle to Axle, Let off
- Brace Height of at least 7”
The brace height on a bow is the distance between the riser and string. With a longer brace height your follow through matters less because the arrow leaves the string earlier. For many bows, PSE and mathews specifically, brace height is ignored for greater speeds. But be wary of speed with a low brace height that might just be too much bow. Professional target shooters will shoot with a lower brace height but their scenarios are much less diverse and their follow throughs perfect. All three of the bows I am looking at have brace heights of 7” or greater.
- Axle to Axle of at least 32”. I want a bow that is forgiving. On top of brace height, a bow that is taller axle to axle can dampen vibrations and rock less than a shorter bow. Some bows are made shorter for treestand hunting, but I know I will be hunting in open country more in the coming years, and I prefer to cut larger shooting lanes than to miss a deer because the bow was not stable. Also, a taller bow creates a steeper angle of the string which brings the string closer to your face. I have a 31” draw so a bow needs to be tall in order to bring the string close enough to my face that my nose touches it.
- Let off, speed, draw weight
I want let off 80% or below, and a draw weight of 80 pounds. If your let-off gets above 80% this can create a steeper valley that you slam into in the back of your draw. A draw weight of 80 pounds is my personal preference.
What Doesn’t matter: speed, weight, what it looks like, and who shoots it
- Speed. Speed is the most overrated feature on the market. Many reviews in magazines treat speed as a top contributor to a bow. Even outdoor life (who I think overvalue speed in their bow reviews) wrote that bows are close to reaching their max speeds in this article in 2014. A smooth bow that you can shoot many times or a stable bow that doesn’t vibrate and make you have a perfect follow through is better than speed. Many of the fastest bows on the market have sacrificed a lot to attain the crown of fastest bow. Bowtech is an example of a fast company with a brutal draw cycle.
- Weight. Hoyt was the first to introduce the carbon bow. In the past few years many other companies have begun to produce carbon bows. I am hesitant to buy a carbon bow for a few reasons. First of all, a heavier bow is going to be more stable than a light weight bow. Second, the stabilizers, arrows, and sights have been designed to balance an aluminum bow. I feel a carbon bow is likely to balance awkwardly with heavier parts. Third, if carbon is the best a few years from now everything will be carbon, and I can wait, I don’t need the newest feature on the market, I want what we know is reliable. Finally, a bow isn’t hard to carry because of it’s weight, it’s hard to carry because it’s a bow. It’s 30 inches long and you have to be careful not to bang the cams.
- Who shoots the bow
Watching someone on the outdoor channel shoot a moose with a Hoyt can make the defiant look pretty good. But I truly believe many of those hunters are good enough they could shoot animals with any bow.
It’s unrealistic for an entire group of hunters like the Primos or the Drury team to all shoot the same bow. Hunters prefer different bows and unless there is a sponsor backing what they are saying on TV, a few of those hunters would be carrying different brands. I’m not saying that every hunter on television is getting paid to say their bow is great, but I would say to ignore who is shooting which bow.
Many of my opinions come from books I have read. Joe Bell, Randy Ulmer, and Larry Wise are all good sources of information. I would recommend reading technical bowhunting and core archery before next season. Also, John Dudley on youtube is also a good source.
Here are three options with the specifications that I discussed.
Hoyt Defiant 34