The 20-Year Itch: Hunting With Mathews Bows Then and Now

By Brodie SwisherDecember 27, 2020
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I bought my first Mathews bow back in 2000. It was a risky move considering I had just gotten married, lived in a small apartment with my beautiful bride, and didn’t make a ton of money working two jobs. But, when my tax return money came through that spring, I got the itch to spend at least a chunk of it on a new bow. I had been shooting entry-level bows to that point in my bowhunting career, but was really wanting to step things up and buy the best of the best.

My first Mathews, the Q2, bought in 2000 on the left, and my 2020 bow, the Mathews VXR, on the right.

There’s a special kind of excitement that comes with any bow purchase. This one was no different. I still remember how long that work day seemed to be as I counted down the hours to quitting time and the opportunity to drive to the local archery shop to find my next bow.

Here's a few of the first deer I killed with my Mathews Q2, 20 years ago. I returned to the same creek, with the same bow, for the 2020 season for an old-school reunion hunt.

When I first walked through the door of Shelby Forest Archery in Memphis, Tennessee, I was greeted by warm smiles and the sweet smell of arrow glue and epoxy. It’s a smell that, even to this day, snaps me right back to my first days in the archery shop.  

I honestly had my sights set on a PSE Durango when I walked through the door, but then the employee asked me if I had ever considered a Mathews. “I’ve never heard of Mathews!”  I replied. The staffer went on to pull one from the shelf and go through his pitch. But what got me was when he pulled out two bare Mathews risers from behind the counter. One had what the company called, Harmonic Dampeners, built into the riser – the other riser did not.

A doe taken with the 2020 Mathews VXR.

One at a time, he threw the risers on the concrete shop floor. The difference in the two blew my mind. The one without dampeners made an awful amount of noise as it banged and clanged its way to a stop on the floor. The riser with dampeners was muffled and restrained in noise.

“I’ll take the Mathews,” I said to the shop owner, as I reached for my wallet.

I paid $550 for that flagship Mathews Q2. It was the best of the best those days. I hit the woods that fall with a new bow in hand and a renewed passion to take my bowhunting game to the next level. I went on to kill my fair share of deer, turkey, predators and squirrels with the Q2 on hunts from Florida to Washington State and plenty of stops in between.

Some of my all-time favorite hunts have taken place with the Mathews Q2 in hand.

Years later, when I finally upgraded to a newer Mathews bow, I sold the Q2 to my buddy, Hunter Norwick. Hunter had come up through our bowhunter camps as a youngster and always stood out as a stone cold killer with a bow in hand. He went on to punch his share of tags for deer and turkeys over the next decade with the bow.

However, with the thought of a 20-year reunion hunt in mind, I reached out to Hunter to see if he still had the bow. Having recently killed his biggest buck yet with the Q2, he was somewhat reluctant to give it up. But when I offered to trade him a much-newer Mathews Triax for the old Q2, he was ready to make a deal.

Making the trade. A lot of years had passed since I last laid hands on my first Mathews bow.

I started out the 2020 Tennessee bow season with the Q2 in hand for an old-school reunion hunt along the same creek I had killed deer with it 20 years ago. One morning, in the first few days of the season, I kayaked in on some public ground in search of an opportunity to drop the string on the Q2 one more time.

I hadn’t been in the stand more than an hour when several does came slipping up the trail behind me. It was the opportunity I had been hoping for. I grabbed the old bow from the peg and twisted around for the shot. The doe kicked like a mule at the shot and ran just 50 yards before crashing in a briar thicket.

The opportunity to drop the string on an unsuspecting deer never gets old to me, but I honestly think I was as excited about that doe as I was the first one 20 years ago.

It felt good to slide my hand into that weathered and worn wooden grip one more time. I thanked God for the opportunity before lowering the Q2 to the ground and making the short walk to put a tag on my prize.

Scratching the 20-year itch with my Mathews Q2 in the 2020 hunting season.

Watch my 20-year reunion hunt with the Mathews Q2 go down in the  video below…

For the rest of 2020, I’ve been shooting the Mathews VXR. It’s short, sweet, and as accurate as any bow I’ve ever laid hands on. I killed an old Kentucky velvet buck with it in the early season, as well as a truckload of does over the last few months. 

It’s one of those bows you swear you’ll never get rid of. In fact, I think I just might keep it – hung up in the office, right next to my old Q2.

My 2020 Kentucky buck taken with the Mathews VXR.

Mathews Q2 vs. Mathews VXR

Advancements in technology have allowed bow manufacturers to make bows shorter, faster, and free of hand shock at the shot. But you’ll be hard pressed to ever find a bow that draws as slick and smooth as the Mathews Q2 from 20 years ago.

For a side by side comparison, here’s a look at how things have changed over the last 20 years.

Mathews Q2 vs. Mathews VXR

Mathews Q2                                                           Mathews VXR

Axle to Axle – 34”                                                   Axle to Axle – 28”

Speed – 308 FPS                                                    Speed – 344 FPS

Draw Length – 23” – 30”                                     Draw Length – 25.5” – 30”

Draw Weights – 40 – 70                                      Draw Weight – 60, 65, 70, 75

Brace Height – 7 1/2”                                           Brace Height – 6”

Bow Weight  – 4 lbs.                                              Bow Weight – 4.44 lbs.

Let-Off – 70%                                                          Let-Off – 80% or 85%

Price – $550                                                             Price – $1099

Mathews has been  at the forefront of compound bow technology for decades now. The performance these bows deliver can be seen in the woods and on the tournament trail season after season. If you’ve never laid hands on a Mathews bow, you honestly don’t know what you’re missing.

Be sure to check out all the latest from Mathews, including the all-new Mathews V3, at your local Mathews dealer, or online at www.mathewsinc.com

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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