Late each year as fall gives way to winter the big names in archery begin releasing the details of their upcoming bow lineup. With much anticipation bowhunters across the world take to the Internet to get a glimpse of next year's offerings, often speculating about the new innovations that will soon be available for their shooting pleasure. Much of that chatter and anticipation always surrounds the new bow lineup from industry leader Mathews. Since the early 1990's Mathews has introduced dozens of technologies that have changed the face of archery as we know it and kept archers everywhere scrambling to find out what's new from year to year.
In 2010 Mathews introduced the Z7, which featured a myriad of new technologies and eventually became their best selling bow of all time. With the all-new Gridlock riser, reverse-assist roller guard and Z7 cam this bow has all the features a bowhunter could possibly ask for. So how did Mathews improve their lineup for 2011 you ask? The answer to that question is the Z7 Xtreme. A short axle-to-axle bow that is surprisingly agile, forgiving and a pure joy to shoot.
When my Z7 Xtreme Tactical showed up back in late February my first impression was that this is unquestionably the sharpest looking bow I've ever owned. Being the industry leader that they are, Mathews didn't want to just offer their customers another black bow. Instead they took it to a whole new level with a variety of accents that make this bow stand out. From the carbon fiber dipped limbs to the phantom gray anodized cam this bow is a flat out looker. Judging from the reaction it got while on display in our booth at both the Illinois and Wisconsin Deer classics there's no doubt it's a hit. But the important question is - how does it shoot?
The carbon-fiber dipped limbs give the Z7 Xtreme Tactical one of the sleakest looks of any bow on the market today.
Being just 28 inches from axle to axle, the Z7 Xtreme is one of the shortest hunting bows on the market today. For many years archers have shied away from shorter ATA bows as they tended to be less stable and less forgiving, making them harder to shoot. What many archers forget, however, is that was yesterday and this is today. Modern bows are infinitely more stable and forgiving than their counterparts of yesteryear and the Z7 Xtreme is a testament to that. Thanks to parallel limb technology and long riser designs, today's short bows are extremely stable and pleasantly forgiving.
One of the reasons for the forgiving nature of this bow is the generous 7 3/8" brace height. Over the past several years many bowhunters have settled on a brace height of around 7 inches as the "sweet spot", if you will. Anything less than 7 inches is usually considered somewhat less forgiving and "speedy" while anything over 7 inches is often considered slow and forgiving. At just over that magical mark the Z7 Xtreme is certainly forgiving, but it is anything but slow. In fact, thanks to the smooth-drawing ZX cam this little rocket fires arrows at an impressive 330 fps IBO. Not bad!
As many archers have experienced over the years, single cam bows such as the Z7 Xtreme generally have a very smooth draw cycle. In fact, this is why many bowhunters prefer them over the many variations of the dual cam system that are on the market. Having owned two other single cam bows in my life I can tell you the ZX cam is extremely smooth on the draw and has a great valley. When the cam breaks over there isn't a noticable "thunk" or bump, but rather it slides right into full draw where, thanks to the 80% letoff, you feel like you can hold all day.
With accuracy like this there's no doubt the Z7 Xtreme is going to bring home the bacon (or venison) for more than a few bowhunters this fall.
Another great feature of this particular bow is the new Focus Grip. Unlike traditional grips that are flat on the surface, the Focus Grip has a patent-penting "Focus Ridge" down the center of the grip. This ridge allows you to make sure that you are aligning your hand correctly. Additionally, in the event of an uneven or torqued grip it allows the pressure to be focused on the center of the grip which minizes side to side torque. Having shot this bow for several months now I can say I really like this grip. Its very comfortable and allow me to achieve consistant hand placement to help my accuracy.
The Focus Grip combed with Gridlock riser and Reverse Assist Roller Guard make the Z7 Xtreme one of the most techologically advanced hunting bows ever made.
The proof is in the pudding!
Of course many bowhunters have asked the question "Why shoot such a short bow?". Personally I think the answer to that question is simple - maneuverability! Anyone who has bowhunted for any length of time can atest to the fact that bowhunting is a game of inches. In many cases those few inches can mean the difference between success and failure. The Z7 Xtreme's compact size allows you to maneuver this bow easier while in a ground blind, while sneaking through brush, or while trying to squeeze around branches to make a shot. Much of my hunting philosophy is based around maximizing the opportunities that present themselves to me, and I feel the Z7 Xtreme allows me to do just that.
A great view of the Gridlock riser - one of the many innovations Mathews has introduced to the archery industry.
If you're in the market for a new bow, I would highly recommend you visit your local Mathews dealer to shoot one of these bows and make the decision for yourself. I have a very good feeling you won't be disappointed!
Hopefully this is the last thing a big buck sees come October....