In the past the idea that 70 pounds could hunt anywhere in the world kept me from shooting an 80 pound model. Also, ten years ago 80 pound bows were much less popular and had a reputation for being inaccurate. As bows have progressed 80 setups have become much more reliable, here are a few things to consider when buying an eighty pound bow.
I recently purchased a Hoyt Pro Defiant 34 with a draw weight of 70-80 pounds. Because many shops do not carry 80 pound models, I was not able to shoot the bow before I bought it.
Theory behind Buying an 80 pound bow
I wanted something with more punch to hunt bigger game like elk. The issue with buying a 70 pound bow that shoots as fast as an 80 pound bow is that the 70 pound model likely gives up specs that make the bow forgiving. Most 70 pound bows that shoot around 350 fps are going to have short brace heights, rougher draw cycles, and deeper valleys. With my 80 pound pro defiant, I still have a 7 inch brace height, 34 inch axle to axle, and a smooth draw cycle.
I don’t think there is an 80 pound bow that will ever feel like less weight than a 70 pound bow. I believe my Hoyt is smoother than my 70 pound Quest, but I still need to exert more energy to pull the bow back. It’s just more weight. I am not sure how strong you should be to shoot an eighty pound bow, but I can say that I almost never become tired from shooting my 70 pound bow. Jared and Max can draw my bow with relative ease as well, if you can pull your 70 pound bow without lifting your front arm or throwing your back out, you can probably shoot an eighty pound bow.
Even if you don’t think you’re that strong you can always start with your bow at 70 pounds and slowly build it up to eighty. Cameron Hanes has a good pull workout here for increasing your draw weight that I do a time or two a week. However, the best option is to shoot your bow daily.
Setting it on 70 pounds
John Dudley talks about setting a bow on it’s maximum draw for the best performance. But, also says this isn’t as big of a factor with new bows. Jerry Newman, professional hunter and trapper in New Zealand, shoots his seventy pound bow at sixty pounds in order for the limbs of his bow to last longer. If you want your bow to hold up for a long time, consider buying an eighty pound bow and setting it at seventy, the stronger limbs won’t get shot out nearly as quickly.
I will likely dial my bow back after the season to shoot with a little less effort and for longer periods of time. But overall I don’t regret buying an eighty pound model bow. It is not so demanding that I don’t enjoy shooting it for the thirty minutes as I currently do. Good Luck. Harrison
Mid-Season Update: I have shot two deer in the past week, a doe and a buck, with my Hoyt and it has made light work of both deer. It broke through the offside shoulder of the doe. I shot the buck at around 34 degrees outside at 3pm on a full day sit. It was still easy to draw my bow seated and make a double lung shot.