“What would be the best road to go to for a young scholar that wants to get into archery on the compound side, specifically competitive shooting? Budget is a concern “
This is the question sent to my site a few weeks ago, and the answer was quick and simple… Until I actually thought about it…
I wanted to respond to get a Specialist (I am a Bowtech guy, so I don’t really know the other brand options) but then I realized that the Draw Length might actually be a problem (and the specialist isn’t as expensive as some of the other brand target bows, but it’s not cheap either!)
So time to experiment!
2. Minimum Draw Length
3. Total Bow Weight
A fourth problem was flexibility but the Bowtech bows are generally very adjustable, so I wasn’t too worried about that part.
So first things first..
The total poundage of the bow and arrow speed wasn’t super critical because 60lbs and 300fps is kinda the upper limit to what you are allowed to shoot (depending on the style of competition you will be entering) which left just about every modern bow still on the list.
The budget was critical. As a school sport, archery is going to be expensive. Period! You can go second hand on equipment, and although a rest or a sight shouldn’t be a problem, a second hand bow is something I will always remain weary of, unless you know the bow was cared for… This is not an item you buy from a random stranger on the classifieds. A bad decision here doesn’t just cost money, physical injury is a very real possibility! Anyhoo… Price wise, a few bows drop out of the options (including the specialist)
Next up was Draw Length… The Specialist (even second hand) has a problem… Minimum draw length is 26” – in fact, a few bows fall off the line here, and depending on how tall they are when they start out, the choices are limited.
Lastly, the total bow weight is a definite concern. My Bow clocks in quite a bit over 8lbs… That is about 4kg to hold steady in the air… That is a lot while holding about 20lbs holding weight on full draw. I am 6’2 and over 100kg and I get tired after a day of shooting.
So carbon fibre it is… Or is it?
Enter the new Bowtech Fuel…
It’s a hectically adjustable compound bow, with Draw Length adjustment from 18” to 30” and poundage from 14lbs to 70lbs (typically, starting out would mean poundages of 35lbs to 55lbs, so that’s good)
It has Binary Cams, which simply means the top and bottom cam is synced and works as mirrors of each other, although not the overdrive system (which can adjust cam lean) but not too worried about that because the young archers are still flexible and doesn’t have years of bad habits to get rid of.
It has a 7” brace height… Of no consequence here, but it has a 31,5” ATA (axle to axle) height. This slightly extra length helps in stabilizing the bow, and is about an inch longer than the Carbon Knight or Carbon Rose, so bonus there.
Best of all, it’s only 90gr heavier than a carbon riser bow! That is seriously light! And also about 30% cheaper than the Cheapest Carbon riser bow…
Choice made… So there we have it: Bowtech Fuel
Next up… Pimping the ride!
I asked the guys at Archer’s Edge (my pro shop) to set one up for me on my draw length and at about 50lbs Draw weight. And started contemplating the options.
Best bet is to buy the bow bare, no RAK kit… You save a bit and will most probably not use it in any case (mounted quiver, rest and 3-pin sight) Anything you buy extra to pimp the bow, can simply be transferred to a new bow later on, so don’t be afraid to spend some money here, it won’t be wasted and will keep a pretty decent second hand value, should you decide to sell it.
First up, Arrow Rest: Basic three prong Octane. Fairly cheap, but needs to be replaced soonish. It’s the weakest point of the setup simply because wear on the brushes from shooting a few times a week will cause errors in the long run, but for a start, and getting you in the game, it will work and give you some time to decide on what kind of Arrow Rest you want to use in the future.
Next up: Sight
Now there are plenty of second hand or new target sights out on the market, I had access to a CBE TEK Hybrid (three pin) which is actually not a bad starting out point.
The TEK Hybrid sight allows for quick yardage adjustment (up and down) as well as a quick windage adjustment (left and right) you really need both, and need them to be easily and quickly adjustable during competitions to fine tune your setup. The CBE didn’t have a lens, however, but I didn’t feel this would be a problem for now. It’s a good solid sight that will do the trick and if I wanted to, I could change the scope housing for one that does take a lens,no problem.
Lastly, I needed to get a solid sight picture, so stabilisers were needed. Now, I’m a fairly tall bloke, so I added a 30” stab in front with 1oz weight on the tip (the longer the stab, the less weight you need for the same effect) behind that, I added a fivics offset mount with short Soma sidebar and 4oz
Bow complete at a just over 5lbs in total weight! Combined with the 85% let-off on full draw, this bow was a breeze to hold solid!
I had to actually shoot the bow to get a realistic idea of how it could handle itself on the competitive line, so I entered an indoor event and left my Specialist in the bag, and just shot this one.
Now… To be fair to the bow. Any bow is going to have quirks you need to get used to, and this one is no different. Anything bad? Nope, but it’s not what I was used to so I had to severely adjust how I handle the bow.
First round was terrible…
The bow was just too light for me! I was all over the show, and found that the huge let off made shooting with the back tension difficult. Keep in mind that my release was set up to hold 22 pounds now I was holding less than 7 pounds, so getting consistency was difficult. Holding the bow was fine, but the release just didn’t want to let go. Again, not the bow’s fault…
So round one (10 ends) completed. Not my worst score, but definitely not a good score!
Quick change in the break. Added 3oz of extra weight on the nose and switched releases to my trusty Scott Exxus Thumb Release. What a change! Even with just 3oz extra weight, the bow settled down, and two ends in, I have zero’d the sights, and started having fun. Shot a full score end or two and generally started hitting the X consistently.
Ended up picking up almost 30 points from the first round. Lovely!
Get to know your equipment!
As for the bow and my setup? It wasn’t perfectly set-up, but is very quickly settled into it and started enjoying the bow. If I spend a few more days with it, I bet I would end up with a great, light and competitive bow.
My 562gr indoor arrows reached a respectable 210fps (51lbs DW) which is all you need, and with a poundage adjustment and accurate sight setup, and I wouldn’t have problems going up to a full 90m FITA distance (although cubs and juniors only shoot to 70m so even less of a problem) as I got 247fps with my 400gr Carbon Express Medallion Pro’s
What would I change? Get a scope and a lens, different arrow rest, maybe a limb driver, and add another ounce or two of weight at the bottom of the bow (side by side where the quiver would mount)
From there? Nothing much. Just go out and shoot and have fun!
The bow is way too light for me for heavy wind conditions, but as an entry level, target bow solution that cost less to put together than a bare Bowtech Specialist, I think it works!
Thank you to Archer’s Edge for supplying the Bow and Sight for this review. Please contact them directly if you are interested in this setup!
Text and Images ©Sean Nel