by Neal McCullough
Every year the ATA Show fills our social media feeds and forums with loads of new companies and products. This time around, one product stood out from the rest, and I couldn’t wait to get more details about it. A few of our Bowhunting.com staff got their hands on a prototype camera arm made of carbon fiber that was, “insanely lightweight and had a unique shoulder mount with low cost bases,” and I knew I had to get my hands on it. After hearing about it and seeing a short clip on Facebook, I couldn’t wait to check it out. Now, six months later, I’ve finally got my hands on the new carbon camera arm from Fourth Arrow. Designed perfectly for a hunter who runs a small/mid-size camera, this camera kit is ideal for a self-filmer or mobile hunter. Let’s dive into the features of the Fourth Arrow Carbon Arm Kit.
Unboxing the Fourth Arrow Carbon Arm Kit
The Carbon Kit is shipped in three simple boxes including one carbon arm, one shoulder (with tool), and one base (with ratchet strap). The key facts of this arm:
- Arm Weight: 1 pound 3 ounces
- Full Kit Weight: 4 pounds 14 ounces
- Length of Arm: 30 inches
- Total Reach: 36 inches
- Rated for 6 pound Camera
- Full Kit Price $199
First Setup Thoughts
Getting this camera arm set up was a very straightforward experience. I was able to quickly put together the entire package in about 15 or 20 minutes and couldn’t wait to try out some of the unique features with this arm.
Unique Ball Joint
The shoulder mount ball joint on the Fourth Arrow camera arm is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a camera arm. I’ll admit I was skeptical this would securely mount the camera arm, but I was able to mount this shoulder in a variety of settings including a sharply angled tree. One thing I was surprised with was the quality and size of the shoulder; it’s heavy and sturdy without being cumbersome or bulky. The manufacturing of this was well done, and the arm itself feels like a quality piece of equipment that will last me well into my bowhunting career.
Weight & Packability
For my initial test, I weighed the setup components, and they effectively weighed as advertised. The individual component weight is interesting but I was most concerned with overall weight of what I pack out every time I make my way in and out of the stand. I have two types of setups that I will be carrying into the woods with me this fall.
Setup #1 – Established Stand Setup
For stands I’ve predetermined for the 2016 season (I currently have five of these), I will pre-setup all my bases on these trees.
Setup #2 – The Run and Gun
I do this type of hunting about 20% of the time – typically this will include carrying my Lone Wolf climber on my back (20 pounds) so packability and weight become extremely important components of this hunting approach. I packed up my full backpack to test this and found it helpful to pre-mount the shoulder into the base (one less thing to do in the tree).
The reasonable price point of the bases for this arm was one of the top reasons for buying into the camera setup. With each base costing me under $30, I could easily get all my setups ready to go without breaking the bank.
Fourth Arrow Fluid Head
For just under $80, you can purchase a fluid head direct from Fourth Arrow. Since I was upgrading my entire setup, I decided to give this a try. This fluid head was extremely well made and seems durable for all season. I’d expect this to easily last through several seasons of weather. The Fourth Arrow head attaches effortlessly to their arm, and the entire setup comes together for an unmatched filming experience.
Tool for Adjustments
While I found the adjustments to the head relatively easy, I’m also concerned this tool might fall out at some point during the hunt and make noise. Or even worse, get lost in the shuffle while being brought back and forth to the stand, leaving the arm unusable. I’ve solved this by purchasing an extra circle allen wrench that will be stored in my pack.
Various arms on the market extend over 40”. This Fourth Arrow Carbon Arm extends slightly less than that, but for me the 4” doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal. However, time will tell if this is an issue in the stand.
The “hard left” approaching deer is the worst case scenario for any right handed self-filmer. In 99% of our hunting setups, we put the camera at our right hip so we can hold our bow (in our left hand) and move and adjust the camera with our right. This tricky angle is extremely important to consider, and I found this camera arm does a decent job of covering 360 degrees around my stand setups. It’s tight, and slightly more reach could be helpful, but overall I was able to maneuver without issue.
Silence for Run-N-Gun
Overall the setup is relatively quiet, but given its metal, I’d suggest covering as much of the arm as possible with camo cloth tape. Additionally, I already switched the base ratchet for a silent buckle we had from our cabin. This makes it much easier to quietly secure the base to the tree.
Fourth Arrow Camera Kit Options
The carbon arm is the flagship arm provided by Fourth Arrow but they additionally offer two full kit options as well. The first is the “Stiff Arm” which, at a $159 price point, is the most economically effective of all the arms. This allows you access to the unique ball joint functionality associated with the carbon arm but has a slightly heavier, more reasonably priced arm. The Carbon & Stiff Arms share the same base system that allows for maximum flexibility in your setups. For hunters looking for a more professional, stronger arm, the “Stiff Arm Pro” is the option for you. Everything is upgraded in this kit including a stronger arm with a 20lb camera rating and better reinforced bases. For the serious hunter/filmer this is the option for you.
Fourth Arrow Extras
As I’ve already mentioned, additional accessories make the Fourth Arrow kit fully functional and ready for my 2016 hunting season. Extra Bases are a must and are sold individually ($30 each) or in 4-packs ($25 each). The Fourth Arrow fluid head is a commercial quality head that fits seamlessly on your camera arm. The head is much smaller than many heads you see, and this allows for reduced weight in the tree. The arm comes with flexibility for any fluid head you already own including ¼ inch or 3/8 inch servings.
What Others are Saying
“The Fourth Arm base and shoulder design is unlike anything on the camera arm market today. The almost infinite adjustability of the shoulder virtually eliminates the possibility of not being able to level your camera no matter what type of tree you’re in.”
“Having the ability to leave the base stationary in any given tree is perfect for maintaining a run and gun set up. Keeping the weight down was also a huge bonus in the new carbon arm. I instantly noticed a considerable difference once I made the switch.”
Final Thoughts – Does It Really Work?
For me, bowhunting is a highly analytical and precise process, and my gear and setup reflect that. I spend hours preparing, planning, and organizing the gear I use. This arm provides me a quiet, lightweight, high quality solution to not only capture the hunt on film but also achieve a successful hunt. Whether you are filming for TV, on a webshow pro-staff, or just filming for yourself, the Fourth Arrow camera arm kit is another great option to help you capture and create better content in your videos.
See the complete lineup from Fourth Arrow at: https://fourtharrowcameraarms.com/