Elite Archery’s bows are known, above all else, to be smooth. Like sharp knife through hot butter smooth.
When you take a look at the draw-force curve of Elite bows, which is an objective way to measure a bow’s draw cycle and explain how a bow “feels” during the draw process, you will find that Elite’s cam system sets itself apart from the competition by reaching peak weight later in the draw cycle, staying at peak weight for a shorter period throughout the draw cycle, and offering a generous “dwell zone” at the end of the draw cycle. This, “dwell zone,” as Elite likes to call it, means that you can relax a little bit at full-draw; and even if you don’t let the string creep forward slightly, the cams do not abruptly engage and quickly rip the string forward from your anchor point.
These characteristics aren’t new. Not for Elite, anyway. What is new, is that Elite has continued to refine their cam system in a way that offerers these smooth-drawing, easy-shooting benefits, while at the same time maximizing the energy efficiency of the cam system for downrange speed. Elite’s flagship bow series for 2016, the Elite Impulse, is smooth, shootable and fast.
Specs on the Elite Impulse
The Impulse is offered in two models — the Impulse 31 and the Impulse 34 — each named for their axle-to-axle length measurements. One of the ways that Elite is generating maximum speed out of the Impulse is that they’ve set the brace height to 6”, which is shorter than the flagship Elite bows of years past.
Before we dive into my experiences with the Impulse that I’ve been shooting for several months now, let’s cover the additional specifications of the Elite Impulse.
The Impulse 31 is, as we’ve mentioned, 31” axle-to-axle with a 6” brace height. It offers an IBO rating of 343. The Impulse 31 is offered in half-inch draw lengths from 26–30”, using a mod-based system in the cam. The weight of the Impulse 31 is 4.2lbs.
The “big brother” in the series, the Impulse 34, is 34” axle-to-axle, with a 6” brace height that brings speeds of 340 IBO, and is offered in half-inch draw lengths from 27–31”. The larger Impulse is scantly heavier, weighing-in at 4.4lbs. Both models are available in left- and right-hand options with peak draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, and 80lbs.
The Impulse 31 and 34 are offered in Elite’s Ninja Black, Realtree Xtra, Realtree Max–1, Realtree APS (Snow Camo), as well as in KUIU’s Verde and Vias camouflage patterns. The Impulse 34, which has additional appeal for target shooters, is offered in Elite’s high-anodized target finishes in colors of Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, or Titanium.
Now that we have the nitty-gritty covered, let’s talk about what really matters — how the Impulse performs.
A True Test
As I type these words, my Impulse 34 is below me — in the belly of a Bombardier CRJ900 jet. I’m flying home from Idaho, where I was participating in an extreme archery event called The Northwest Mountain Challenge. I have been testing the Impulse 34 for several months, but this event was certainly the crescendo of my evaluation for this review. It is one thing to evaluate a bow by standing indoors on a line, walking the trail of a local 3D shoot, or maybe sitting in a tree stand or ground blind. It is another thing altogether to put a bow through an event like The Northwest Mountain Challenge.
There were several courses at the event. The most grueling was the “Pure Elevation” course, which took place at the top of the mountain in Tamarack, Idaho, where participants had to cover over 4 miles to shoot 15 targets while dealing with an altitude change of over 1,500’. The shot distances on that course ranged from 23 yards to 84 yards, and not a single one of them was over flat ground. In fact, shooting up or down slopes in excess of 30-degrees was much more common. If a bow has a weakness, it will become apparent while shooting a course like this. (The same can be said for any weaknesses of the person pulling the string as well.)
We’ve talked about speed, but an IBO rating is nothing more than a number on paper until a bow proves itself in the field. Speed translates to energy for hunting, which is obviously a huge advantage for us bowhunters.
The speed of the Elite Impulse has allowed me to shoot heavier hunting arrows without sacrificing a flat-shooting trajectory. The combination of a heavier arrow that’s moving at a good pace is a deadly combination on game.
A faster arrow is also beneficial for both bowhunters and target archers when it comes to long shots, and mis-judged yardages. An 80-yard, downhill shot on an elk target at The Northwest Mountain Challenge was tough, but I noticed that the speed of the Impulse was helpful in keeping my arrows in the scoring ring. Being off by “a little bit” is normally magnified on an exponential scale for extremely long shots, but the speed of the Impulse helps moderate what could otherwise be a big miss at longer distances.
Bows with shorter brace heights are often considered less forgiving. And while the Impulse’s 6” brace height isn’t short when compared to some of today’s speed bows, it is shorter than the 7” brace height that is average among a wide cross-section of modern compounds. In fact, I have always been someone that personally considered a 7” brace to be ideal. But shooting the Impulse in the tough conditions of my recent mountain adventure has made me rethink the capabilities and supposedly unforgiving characteristics of the 6” brace height.
Forgiveness matters when things aren’t perfect — when your form isn’t flawless, your stance isn’t square, your grip entirely free from torque, etc. A forgiving bow will allow some margin for error and won’t magnify imperfections. The demands of the Northwest Mountain Challenge courses don’t allow perfection from those shooting it, and thus, a bow’s forgiveness is tested. I was genuinely surprised at how forgiving the Impulse was in spite of my imperfections.
Far From Fragile
One area where it is easy to critique Elite is the mass weight of the Impulse 34. Weighing in at 4.4lbs (4.2lbs for the Impulse 31), it isn’t a light bow by any means. But I tend to believe that Elite has carefully and strategically designed the Impulse with performance in mind, not the scale.
I will say this about the Impulse, it is an incredibly tough bow. When a group of us decided to run the 4-mile, off-trail, Pure Elevation course one morning, I was the clumsy one that made a mis-step at a creek crossing and proceeded to lose my balance (and all appearances of gracefulness) as my body went flying one direction and my bow went flying another. I landed on a jagged pile of rocks, as did my bow, before it continued to tumble end-over-end for another few yards. It was a brutal fall that left me with a minor injury. The bow fared much better as it came away with little more than a scratch. I inspected the Impulse, expecting to see a cracked limb or a damaged cam, but there was no sign of either. I nervously drew the bow back on the next target, and proceeded to land my arrow right in the 10-ring on the black bear that stood 53-yards away. If 4.4lbs is what it takes to build a bow that tough, I’ll happily lug 4.4lbs up and down any mountain.
(This Isn’t) The End
I received the Impulse on the premise of using it for this review. And I’d be lying if I said that I was planning on doing anything other than shooting it for this review and then promptly moving on to another bow. On paper, the Impulse wasn’t what I was looking for in a bow. I value accuracy, forgiveness, and easy shooting far more than I value the speed of an IBO rating on paper. But after shooting the Impulse for the past several months, it has won me over and I’ll be hanging onto it. I thought the end of this review would be the end of my experience with the Impulse, but it isn’t that easy to set this bow down.
See more on the complete line of bows from Elite Archery at www.elitearchery.com.