The 2011 Bows are Here… Pick the Right One!

By Dustin DeCrooDecember 15, 20106 Comments

LAST UPDATED: May 8th, 2015

The 2011 bows have arrived and if you’re like me, you’re always excited to see what our favorite companies are putting on the shelves. The 2011 line-up is as impressive as it has ever been and it is up to us to choose the one fits the best. Selecting a bow that fits both our body and our application will help make us the best shooters we can be. Axle-to-axle length, brace height, draw weight, draw length and mass weight are a few of the first items that need to be considered for a proper fit.

These are a few of the new Z7 Series for 2011 from Mathews!

The first step in determining which bow is best for anyone, is to determine what the primary use of the bow will be. For instance, will it be used predominantly out of a tree stand or will it spend more time being packed around on spot and stalk type hunts? Do you want a longer bow that is more stable and forgiving or something shorter that is more compact and easier to pack around?

Hoyt’s Carbon Element and the CRX 32 are only a couple of the additions for 2011!

Next, the draw length must be correct and the draw weight should be comfortable. I’m amazed on a regular basis at how many people attempt to draw more weight than they should or how their draw length is a complete misfit. It is a very common misconception that a 65 or 70 pound draw weight is required to kill most big game animals in North America. In reality 50 or 55 pounds is sufficient to kill even large animals like elk or moose. If you cannot draw your bow straight back without having to aim at the sky or “sky draw,” you are attempting to draw too much weight. With a proper draw length, the anchor point of the string (D-loop or the corner of the string) should sit at the corner of your mouth and the end of your nose should touch the string between the anchor point and the peep sight (if you use one)… all this with your bow arm slightly bent. I see lots of people with the string on the side of their face and sometimes all the way back to their ear, both are examples of a draw length that is too long. Make sure that both your draw length and weight are correct and your shooting will only get better.

After you determine your draw length and weight, it’s time to consider how you like a bow to feel. Do you like a very light weight bow, or something a little heavier? Perhaps you prefer a hard wall at full draw as opposed to a spongy wall when you are at full draw. Smooth draw or maybe a bit more aggressive draw cycle? Sometimes the only way to figure out what “feel” you like is to shoot several different bows on the market.

Now that you have a properly fitting draw length and weight, know what you’ll use your bow for and you know how you want your bow to feel… it is time to make sure that you understand what specifications to look at that will accommodate your needs and preferences.

Axle-to-axle length (commonly referred to as ATA or axle length) is the distance between the axels in the middle of each cam. Generally speaking the longer the ATA distance, the more forgiving a bow can be. A long ATA is also beneficial to shooters with long draw lengths because it has a larger string angle at full draw which will prevent nock pinch. A long ATA is also beneficial to finger shooters that do not use a release. Short ATA’s lengths are generally more light weight and less obtrusive in a tree stand. A short ATA may be something like 31” or less, while a long ATA might be 35” or longer. The new Mathews Z7 Extreme sports a 28” ATA length and their Z7 has a mid-length 32” ATA. Most all bow manufacturers have something that will fit the needs of every shooter.

The z7extreme from Mathews is a compact bow with a short axle-to-axle length of 28 inches but a forgiving brace height of 7 3/8″.

Brace height is probably the most overlooked spec on any bow, specifically for new shooters. The brace height is measured from the string (at rest) to the center of the riser or the inside of the grip. A long brace height like the 8 ¾” on the Mathews Z9 generally produces a little less speed but is much more forgiving to poor form or an unsteady release. On the contrary, a 6 ¾” brace height like that of Hoyt’s Alphaburner produces much more speed but will most likely be less forgiving. Most people opt for a happy medium with sometime like the Bowtech Destroyer 340 or Mathews z7 which both have a 7” brace height.

Hoyt’s Alphaburner

The z9 from Mathews has a long brace height for smooth shooting and is great for archers with long draw lengths.

The IBO speed is often times the first spec that bowhunters notice. The IBO speed is a “bottom line” speed that levels the playing field in speed calculation. IBO speed is calculated by shooting a 300 grain arrow out of a bow with a 70lb draw weight and 30” draw length. Speed is important but regardless of how fast a bow is, an animal will always hear the bow go off before the arrow arrives. The speed of sound is 1,126 FPS and the fastest bows on the market can only safely sling an arrow slightly over 350FPS.

Back in the 2011 lineup for Bowtech the proven Bowtech Destroyer 340 is a complete package!

Finally, one of the specifications that I pay much attention to, is the mass weight of the bow. For the type of hunting I do, I prefer a light weight bow something that is under four pounds (bare bow weight) whereas lots of tree stand hunters prefer a heavier (often times more steady) bow. Don’t forget that the weight of your bow can be doubled by the time all the accessories are in place.

Pick a bow that fits and you’ll be sure to shoot better and be more successful in your bowhunting adventures!!!

Dustin DeCroo
Hunting Guide at Big Horn Outfitters
Dustin is a professional hunting guide and owner of Big Horn Outfitters in Buffalo, Wyoming where he lives with his wife and 2 children.
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