As I mentioned in Part 1 of this two-part series, my assignment at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) trade show in Indianapolis, Ind., this month was to shoot new compound bows from virtually all the major manufacturers, then choose the best bow from each and give you a brief overview. I have listed the manufacturers alphabetically, not necessarily in the order in which I personally liked one bow over another. Here's the last 8 in my top 15 compound bows of the year.
Hoyt CRX Series: I love Hoyt hunting bows, and have shot different makes and models a lot over the past 30 years. The new CRX series (CRX 32 and CRX 35) is based on what the company's engineers call the "sleekest, leanest TEC Lite riser ever." They also feature XTS Pro Arc limbs and the efficient Fuel Cam, which together produce a fast, quiet and forgiving bow. The difference is overall length, the 32 being 32-inches axle-to-axle, and the 35 being 35-inches long. IBO speeds are 323 and 318 fps, respectively. Top features include Hoyt's In-Line Roller Guard, StealthShot String Dampener and the same offset stabilizer found on the high tech—and very expensive—Carbon Element bows that is designed to counterbalance attached accessories like a bow quiver. These bows are hot stuff. The suggested retail price is $799.99.
Limbsaver Proton: Best known for its superb vibration dampening products, Limbsaver also builds some very fine hunting bows. This year's new 32 ½-inch Proton is just one example. It features a reflexed riser-which helps make it very shootable-and a new cam system that moves the cable string track to the other side of the cam, which pretty much eliminates cam lean and torque. It also has the only precisely adjustable draw weight system with the unique Posi-Lock technology that permits limb weight adjustments in exact 2-pound increments. The Proton has a 7-inch brace height, weighs in at 3.8 pounds and has an IBO speed rating of 330 fps. And as you might expect from a company that specializes in noise reduction, vibration and noise are essentially nonexistent. The suggested retail price is $749.99.
Martin Archery Firecat 400: Gale Martin was one of archery's true pioneers, and Martin Archery continues that tradition today with such cool hunting bows as the 32-inch Firecat 400. With a 7-inch brace height and IBO speed of 335 fps, it is an excellent choice for serious bowhunting. Here are two very cool yet subtle features unique to some new-for-2011 Martin compounds: First, the Torque Reducing Cable Guard (TRG) lets cables move naturally as the bow is drawn, then moves them out of the way when the string is released-which pretty much eliminates cam lean and torque. The String Oscillation Suppressor (SOS) is designed with a bracket that holds string dampening material loosely, which permits it to move at the shot for better vibration absorption. The suggested retail price is $599.99.
Mathews Z7 Xtreme: Though they do not exhibit at the ATA show, no report would be complete without featuring Mathews Archery. Last year's Z7 bow was so successful that this year they are offering a few variations on that theme, of which the new Z7 Xtreme appears to be the best of the bunch. It features the unique Grid Lock Riser, parallel limb design, Reverse Assist Roller Guard, SlimFit Inline Grip, Zebra Barracuda bowstring and Mathews string suppressors. It is only 28-inches axle-to-axle and weighs less than 4 pounds, which would normally make it tricky to shoot, but the 7 3/8-inch brace height helps solve that dilemma. IBO speed rating is 330 fps. The other bows in this family include the eZ7, Z7 magnum and Z9. You really need to shoot one at your local dealer to understand what all the fuss is about. The suggested retail price is $899.
Mission Archery Craze: If you are looking for the ultimate in adjustability, no other bow on the market can touch the Craze. Say what? How about a bow that has a draw length adjustment between 19-30 inches and draw weight adjustment from 15-70 pounds-without changing limbs or cams? Or a bow press? Are you kidding me?? It's 28-inches axle-to-axle and has a 7 ½-inch brace height and can reach IBO speeds of 308 fps. This bow is good for young or beginning bowhunters who are learning to shoot and will grow into their bow as they do. And with a suggested retail price of $299, you have to give it a look. I have shot one, and this thing is no toy.
New Breed Archery Split Limb Genetix: A young, innovative company, New Breed Archery's 33 ½-inch split limb Genetix bow really caught my eye. It has a 7-inch brace height, mass weight of just 3.8 pounds and an IBO speed rating of right at 340 fps. It features the company's Bow Rattler String Suppressor and Vapor Trail VTX bowstring and cables and two-track Bionix Cam System. The bow has a firm wall at the back end, which makes it simple to draw and shoot both easily and accurately.
PSE Bowmadness XL: Precision Shooting Equipment has several really cool new bows this year, but the 36-inch long Bowmadness XL stood out from the rest. This single-cam hunting bow has an IBO speed rating of 340 fps, and when you shoot it you notice that it is very quick but also very quiet and lacks much vibration. It has a 6-inch brace height, 75 percent let-off, and features PSE's unique Posi-Lock inner cam module that makes changing draw length as quick and easy as it can possibly be. The other thing I like about this bow is its suggested retail price of $699.99, making it a couple hundred bucks less than many other high-end hunting bows.
Winchester Archery Quicksilver 34: The Winchester name on bows? Absolutely! And the new split limb Quicksilver 34 produces an IBO speed rating of 343 fps in a very shootable package. The 34-inch bow features a 7-inch brace height, patent-pending Accu-Speed Technology (AST) eccentrics and a true 2-Track system that allows the premium Stone Mountain rigging to positively synchronize one cam to the other. It also has a compression-forged and machined aluminum riser and a mass weight of 3.9 pounds.