by Kevin Reese
New Bows for 2016 Sure to Rock Your World
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- If you’re talking about a hotbed of archery innovation, the 2016 Archery Trade Show (ATA) did not disappoint.
While my previous article focused on a number of jaw-dropping opening day highlights, what would ATA show coverage be without talking about the bows themselves?
Beginning with BowTech Archery’s routine EPIC launch, this time of 9 compound bows and crossbows, there were many bows deserving of some accolades; in fact, picking only 5 became a tall order; I could have authored an entire book on 2016 bows alone. That said, I thought I would shift gears a little.
Aside from my favorite bow of the show, BowTech’s BT-X, I chose a handful of other great bow companies likely to lay dormant in the editorial and video shadows of big bow launches such as the Mathews Halon and Hoyt Defiant, including a carbon offering of the same model, amazing compound bows in their own rights. Take a look at 5 ATA Show bows sure to rock your world!
BowTech BT-X Bow
With the exception of what many regarded as a fairly forgettable 2015 launch, since the flagship Prodigy, and others, had launched previous to the ATA Show, BowTech has established itself as the launch KING of ATA Show events.
This year, BowTech reclaimed its ATA glory with its flagship, 4.2-lb. BT-X, as well as the 37.5” axle-to-axle Fanatic 2.0, complete with shoot-through riser. While the Fanatic 2.0 is a phenomenal bow, it’s the BowTech BT-X sweeping me off my feet at the 2016 ATA Show.
The BowTech BT-X capitalizes on last year’s technology by incorporating the “three bows in one” PowerShift technology present on the Prodigy along with other archer favorites like Center Pivot Extreme (CPX) and FLX Guard design to reduce torque and increase accuracy. This year, however, the BT-X also features BowTech’s revolutionary MicroSync Dial, a feature that had people paying attention; even a couple Hoyt Staff shooters who broke ranks, so to speak, to check out BowTech’s popular launch event. The BT-X’s Micro Sync Dial, takes adjustability and precision to new heights by allowing fine, 1/8” timing adjustments without a bow press! The BT-X also features a skeletal riser for lighter weight and improved balance. All elements combined, the BowTech BT-X a real show-stopper. The BT-X comes in 50, 60, 70 and 80-lb. options with two variations, a 28” and 31”, referring to draw lengths. The 28” comes standard with draw length adjustments between 25.5” – 28”, 6” brace height and an IBO speed of 333 fps, while the 31” version features draw length adjustability between 27” – 31”, 6.25” brace height and a blistering IBO rating of 350 fps. Both bows feature compact 31” axle-to-axle design perfect for stand, blind and spot-and-stalk hunting.
So, what did I like about the BT-X? It shot like a dream!
I appreciated the ridiculously comfortable draw cycle, vibration free shooting, slim yet comfortable grip, remarkable balance and blistering speed, even for my short 27” draw length. From draw length and draw cycle to micro adjustable cam timing, the BowTech BT-X is a grand slam. I also love BowTech’s return to the beautifully-crafted slim wood grip screaming “attention to detail.” What don’t I like?
I haven’t found anything of note, yet. Seriously, I’m in a honeymoon phase with the BT-X!
For tournament bow shootability, I have to give five stars to the Darton Vegas.
While Darton has been considered the cam-KING of the archery industry for decades, the company certainly deserves accolades for their premium competition bows. Both the Vegas and Vegas 3D are truly remarkable bows but considering comfort and balance for spot shooting, I felt a bit more at ease with the Vegas. Darton continues to make its greatest mark in cam design and the Vegas doesn’t disappoint in that regard; in fact, you would be hard-pressed to find fault with the Vegas series. The draw cycle was as smooth as butter with an excellent valley and solid back wall. From short guys like me to the guys who duck to walk through doorways, the Vegas, with draw length adjustability based on two let-off/draw-length module options, 65% and 80%, ranges from 25” clear up to 32.5”. Finally, there just might be a way to make everybody happy! One of the most forgiving bows available, the Vegas features a long, incredibly well balanced 38.5” axle-to-axle design and 8” brace height. Draw weights include 40, 50, 60 and 70 lbs.
For a target bow the Darton blazes a trail to tournament targets with an IBO speed range of 315 – 320 fps. Finding a more comfortable, balanced, forgiving shooting bow than the 4.6 lb. Vegas is going to be a tall order.
Tribe Kinetic Bow
Tribe Archery the subject of a lot of positive buzz at this year’s ATA Show showcased two amazing bows, the Kinetic and Halo Extreme.
My personal favorite between the two for all-around shootability, inclusive of comfort, balance, noise and speed, was the Kinetic. This bow is INSANE and aptly named considering the potential output of kinetic energy from a bow launching arrows at heart-pounding 335 – 338 fps. At 32” axle-to-axle, the Kinetic is just about the perfect size for stand, blind and spot-and-stalk hunting, as well as trekking through the thick stuff. At just 3.9 lbs., with a rugged 6061-T6 machined aluminum riser and Aggressor Cam system, the incredibly well balanced Kinetic delivers phenomenal (and quite forgiving) shootability, including a rock solid back wall from both the 6” and 7” brace height models, as well as ultra-lightweight carry for long hauls. The Kinetic is available with 50, 60 or 70-lb. limbs and includes a silencer package, string stop, comfortable competition grip and premium pre-stretched strings.
No matter how you slice it, or which broadhead you use to do it, the Tribe Kinetic is truly a bow worthy of high praises!
Prime Rize Bow
The Prime Rize does exactly that, rises to the occasion to unseat the Prime Rival as the company’s new banner waving bow.
Known for rugged durability, top-shelf quality and precision accuracy, Prime’s new offering doesn’t stray at all; in fact, it’s truly better than any bow they have produced in the past… and with an 82x aluminum riser, it’s tougher, too. The 82x riser doesn’t stop at world-class durability, the rock steady rigidity also means dead-in-your-hand shooting even without dampeners! Prime Rize’s design and technological advances, including truly innovative and performance driven parallel PCXL cams and a Flexis FlexShock Damper combine to deliver uncompromising shootability, including an ultra-smooth draw cycle that only becomes slightly aggressive near the back, perfect you’ll-know-it-when-you’re-there back wall, and phenomenal let-off. Although the valley feels shorter and shallower than my preference, in and of itself, I can’t necessarily call that a flaw since many shooters prefer such a valley. Truly, the Prime Rize showcases a bow company that just might be in its prime! What’s not to like about the Prime Rize.
So getting straight to the point, I can’t think of anything that would keep people from keeping the Prime Rize in their short list of premium bow choices. The only thing the Prime Rize doesn’t have is any broken promises. It’s what Prime says it is… and more.
Obsession Defcon 6
I’ve never been a speed freak but if there is a bow out there with the potential to change my mind, it’s the Defcon 6.
This take-no-prisoners bow is pure insanity somehow roped into the first pure speed bow I’ve found that honestly shoots like the premium bows serious bowhunters crave – those of us not as impressed with jaw-dropping velocity as we are a perfect combination of comfort, noise, forgiveness and overall shootability; let’s face it, today’s bows top-shelf compounds all put out some serious heat. But, here’s the real deal.
Obsession has found an incredibly unique recipe for what just might be the one bow in 2016 that finds common ground between speed freaks and comfort-minded archers. With an ultra-smooth draw cycle that only seems to get somewhat aggressive at the back, phenomenal 80% let-off and dead-in-your hands shooting cycle, the Defcon 6 is a bow to be reckoned with when closing in on your top premium bow choices. To borrow my 13-year-old’s words, “this thing is legit!” Admittedly, I was surprised that, at the shot, I essentially felt no hand shock considering the lightweight, aggressive riser design; this attribute speaks volumes for research and development for a bow reaching a lightning quick IBO speed of 360 fps. Getting up close and personal with the Defcon 6 lent credence to Obsession’s mantra, “Change or get left behind.”
Let’s face it, when you combine a riser designed for lightweight performance and rugged durability, Fusion Cams with PerFX DS System for vibration-free, dual-track, ultra-smooth drawing, and quiet, comfortable overall shootability, you have a combination that people at every level take very seriously. While the draw cycle and subsequent hold was quite comfortable I did feel as though it could creep on me if I were to allow it.
Still, many prefer this experience at the back of the draw cycle and the back wall itself was exactly how I like it, solid.
A Final Shot
So, why didn’t I jump into the Mathews Halon or Hoyt Defiant? How long would you like this article to be? The truth is, everyone else is already writing about those bows; there’s no shortage of info out there for either manufacturer.
The same can be said for other heavy hitters. The BowTech BT-X was my favorite of the 2016 bows, no question about it; however, I wanted to give serious credit where it was due for other bows I was certain would not receive nearly the appropriate amount of editorial given that so many are sharing two cents and then some about the industry giants absent from this write-up. At the end of the day, the takeaway is this – when you’re talking about premium bows, every one of these companies know exactly what they are doing. They push the envelopes of innovation, performance, accuracy, comfort and dependability, and deliver BIG at all levels. The old adage rings true here, “You get what you pay for.” Not a premium bow on the floor under delivered. Sure there were certain attributes of various bows I preferred more than others but when it comes down to it the deciding factor is comfort. I often compare buying a bow to looking for a new pair of boots.
Fit and comfort need to be there right out of the gate.