Review: Bowtech Fanatic

You may have read my “first impressions” of this bow here, and pretty much all of what I mentioned there is still valid.

I haven’t had a chance to put this bow to the test in a competition, but I did kit it with all my own gear (Fivics Stabs, weights and Sureloc IconX 550 sight) and put more than a few arrows through it on a 50yd target, using a WA size 80 target face.

First things first. Lets look at the tech specs:

It comes in draw weights of 40lbs to 70lbs and is about half a pound heavier than the Specialist, clocking in at 4.6lbs Mass Weight.

Let-off is up to 75% and uses the Fanatic Draw Stop (not surprisingly, this is the only bow that uses this draw stop). The Draw Length is from 26-31” which leaves shorter ladies, especially, out of the loop for this bow.

It has a slightly shorter Axle-to-Axle length of 36.5” and a slightly bigger Brace Height than the specialist at 7,75” which combined gives a slightly lower IBO speed rating, but to be fair… this is a spot shooter, and dropping a few FPS when getting the arrow to a target is not really a problem given that most competition formats have a poundage or speed limit in any case.

Let me start at the top and work myself down.

New Cams – The cams are slightly different in design and I suspect that the angle of the cams have changed a bit as well because the draw cycle feels quite a bit different. The Specialist started soft and worked itself up to a little jump over a valley right before you hit the wall. Some archers removed this valley by increasing the holding weight (draw stop at different position than draw length module) but the Fanatic works the other way round.

It starts pretty hard, and then remains in a pretty smooth linear draw all the way to the wall. This might differ for longer and shorter Draw lengths as different parts of the cam is used, but the difference wont be that much. I like the draw cycle a lot. It took a while to get used to, but once there, the specialist felt odd. Some like it, some didn’t… I think it’s a peculiarity of this bow (like any bow has it’s “things”) and you get used to it quickly.

Once the bow is drawn, the new Fanatic Draw Stops come into play. This is pretty solid and allows you to change your draw stop settings to L, M, H settings (65%-75% let-off) through a triangular stop with two pins on each side. This makes for an effective “wide” draw stop on a side, and seems to work well… if you can get them to align.

The previous method was simple. tighten a draw stop bolt in the right hole and its done. Now you have to get the two points of the stop to line up and hit the string at the same time. This could be a major hassle, but in truth, if you have access to a Hooter shooter or similar device, it’s quite simple. loosen the draw stop, pull the bow back on the Hooter shooter, and the draw stops will centre themselves on the string. Now simply tighten them and let down the bow. Tighten them decently with the bow relaxed, test, and you should be good to go.

To answer some internet questions: Yes, you can draw “through” the drawstop. It’s stopping point is a string that can move, it will always be possible, but the with of the device makes it more solid. Not as solid as a limbstop, but pretty solid. As always, the effect reduces as your poundage goes up.

Onto the limbs… MUCH BETTER finish than the specialist. Off course, we haven’t had them in the sun and rain for a year yet, so who really knows, but the look the business. Split limbs and full of energy. I don’t really like split limbs, but at least the ability to do cam lean with the Overdrive cams negates any mino flaws or differences there might be in two limbs, so I am pretty confident that these will work. If you have played with a Mathews TRG you will know how much a split limb can flex the cam, and they still seem to shoot straight, so maybe it’s just a matter of me needing to get over myself and shoot the thing!

As we go onto the riser, I will answer two questions:

1. Yes you can remove the shoot through “cage” and no, it doesn’t seem to do much to overall stability, although I do suspect we lose some rigidity in the riser when under tension at draw. I would need to mount my laser on it to tell the difference, but that is for another day because it would be utterly daft to remove the cage.

Why, you may ask? because the way it was made seems to me to be a cost saving feature. by using thinner pieces of metal to build the riser out of, they could save money (maybe trying to get past a patent have been part of the thought process, but I doubt it). So what does the thin metal blocks have to do with it? Well, everything. It means that the riser without a “cage” has only half an arrow shelf, so no place for your fingers to stop. The bow will simply slide through your hand, unless you can hold all the weight with your thumb.

Some people do not like the two contact points where the cage is bolted to the riser, but it seems to fit my hand pretty well, and I think most people will tape up their bow grips in any case, so I doubt this will be a major issue.

The second Question is about balance.

The riser is a completely different balance than the specialist. Out of the box, it will sit exactly upright in your hand without lean in any direction. hang it on the D-loop and it has the smallest weight bias to the bottom of the bow… so much so that if you have a light sight on your bow, it might balance perfect on the loop.

Which means it wants a completely different weight setup on the stabs and side rods than the specialist. My Specialist setup was 5:6 to the back with weight on the riser (bottom). The Fanatic didn’t like this configuration. quick shifting the weights around at a thumbsuck looks closer to a 1:2 weigh distribution (favouring the back) with no weights on the bow. I’m going to have to spend some time on that though before I commit. Obviously, how you weight your bow will be different, and the take-away here is simply that you should be ready, it will most probably be much different from anything you are shooting right now.

Side by Side comparison of the New Bowtech Fanatic vs the older Bowtech Specialist Target Bow
Side by Side comparison of the New Bowtech Fanatic vs the older Bowtech Specialist Target Bow

That’s about it for the bow.

In use, I have found that the bow can be quite forgiving. It seems to settle back quickly if you get shoved by the wind, and when I tried to torque the bow, the shots stayed pretty close to where I wanted them to go. Bubbling the bow in the wind has a completely different effect than the specialist, so I will need to learn how to bubble and how much. This is normal for any new bow, I think.

One thing that is markedly different… Punching my STAN JustX release generally results in a high 6 ring shot. I tried punching a few shots to see what it does, and generally it stayed about the right height, but went to the right of the target. I don’t think I should read too much into this, because I don’t have a perfect setup yet, but my general feel is that you “may” be able to get away with a bad form release just a little bit more. PLEASE NOTE!! This  is purely a gut feel observation, and I cannot prove or replicate this in any way. I would be interested to read other people’s feelings on this as the bows get into people’s hands and reviews start to surface.

Conclusion?

I like the bow. I really do. It’s not a Wunderkind of a bow that will make you shoot instantly better, but even in the short while I could spend with the bow, I felt that there are things that this bow seem to deliver on. Mostly, It’s not things I had problems with on my Specialist, and going back to my specialist, they still don’t bug me. But I like them on the fanatic.

The bow draws like a lighter Draw Weight bow, and we ave seen this trend on almost all the new bows since the release of the RPM360. I like the new draw cycle. I like the New Draw Stops. I like how it balances, even though I don’t have a perfect setup yet. I like at how crisp it feels… And above all I like that I could shoot 58’s and 59’s without a perfect setup. My gut feel is that I will shoot the Fanatic closer to 60lbs than my current 55lbs and at 29” instead of my current 29.25”

My very first shot on 50yds was an almost dead centre X – unfortunately that means nothing, because you still need to be able to repeat that another 71 times, but my Gut Feel remains that people are going to quickly lift scores with this bow.


Images Copyright Sean Nel and Bowtech
Text Copyright Sean Nel

Thank you to Redge Grant and Archer’s Edge for supplying the bow for review. If you would like to try out the bow or want more information on the bow, please contact them for assistance!