Bummin’ around, shootin’ arrows…

Posted: October 29, 2011 in Archery, Articles, Unfocused Rambling

This morning, in a chilly, almost-raining atmosphere, I took my Bowtech Black Knight 2 out for a few shots. I don’t shoot it all that much, as a rule, because I know that it needs new strings and cables before I put much mileage on it. That, and I have so many toys to play with that I can’t get to all of them that often. Also, the rubber tubing that makes sure that the peep sight on the sting turns in the right way snapped a while ago, and I haven’t fixed it. All that aside, I thought I’d put a few shots through the old beast and see how it did.

It turns out that, because the rubber tubing pulled the peep into the right orientation so many times, it’s staying that way even without it. I actually don’t like the tubing thing much, and when I get the bow restrung, I going with the Fletcher Tru-Peep style, that has no strings. The BK2 is not a bow that you shoot for a protracted period of time. It’s sort of like that badass rifle that you sight in, shoot a few times to practice, then go kill something big with. The BK2 was not designed for the target archer, or the 3D course guy. It’s too stringent to shoot. It’s accurate, sure, but you don’t want to shoot it for a 70 shot round. You’d be hurtin’ bad by the time 50 came along, unless you eat nails and spit tacks. The most I’ve ever shot it was probably 36 arrows at a stretch, and I was feeling it by then.

Today, I just shot 8 arrows. One quiver-full. That said, it was enough to get acquainted with the feel of the bow, and to make sure that it was still shooting right on. It has come to my attention that I am not ideally suited for a 29 inch draw bow. I like 30″ with a D-loop, and 30.5 would probably feel better with direct string release. The BK2, though it’s a little cramped up at 29, is still pretty comfortable. I can easily get my eye behind the peep and get a good sight picture. Even with the old strings and the ailing peep, the BK2 put everything where I wanted it to go. When I have the bow restrung, I might reach out and see if anyone has the 30″ cams for one hanging around. I’ll certainly have a D-loop put on, as well. That’ll make it a little easier to shoot for a long draw guy like me, even if the long cams aren’t to be found.

After putting the BK2 away, I took out the Diamond Outlaw to give it a spin. I hadn’t really done a back to back test yet, and was interested how things would feel. The Outlaw, for one thing, is much easier to draw and hold. Some of it’s the lower draw weight, some has to do with the cam profile, and some if it’s just that it is fitted to me a little better. It’s hard to believe that the Outlaw comes within around 4 lbs of KE of the BK2, as it stands. This is a single cam, 7 inch brace height, mid-priced bow that gives up at least 7 or 8 pounds of draw weight to the BK, which has a 5.75 inch brace, binary cams, and was the fire breathing monster of its day (04-06, or so). Bows have become more efficient and faster. Do they all live up to their hype? No. I’m sure that over half of the IBO claims are best case, downhill with a tailwind and a little wishful thinking numbers. I don’t know if the Outlaw could get to its IBO, but I can tell you that, with a heavy arrow, it can come within a half a pound of its best-case kinetic energy number, and I’ll take that.

So…what happened? How did the two compare? The Outlaw had a much firmer back wall, and seemed easy to draw and hold. If I had to shoot a lot of shots, the Outlaw would win, easily. If the two bows were tuned to the same weight, perhaps that would be a less significant issue, but as it stands, the Outlaw has the advantage. The Outlaw also feels very light and small comparatively. Both bows are smooth, quiet, and have no hand shock. Both bows are accurate. I shot the nock off of another of my arrows today (arrow was not injured other than that) with the Outlaw. It seems that I can’t shoot the darned thing without arrow carnage happening. What I came away with was that the bows of yesteryear were very capable, but that the new ones are getting more power out of less draw, and are doing it in such a way that it is easier and more reasonable to get a lethal, accurate, and easy-to-shoot compound. I’ll have to give you guys another comparo when I get the BK fully safe and tuned up, which will probably happen in the spring, I’m thinking.

Back to the Outlaw for a few moments. I’ve read alot about, and experienced for myself, the old New Bow Syndrome, wherein you get something, and it is the most awesome thing ever, in the universe, for a little while. You only see the good things, never the bad, and it’s the best purchase ever. I’m sure the we all get this a little bit, if only because of that old confirmation bias that they talk about. You want to feel like you made a good decision, and that your money was well spent. Down the road a while, when the rose colored glasses come off, though…that’s when you really know what you have. Well, I’ve shot enough bows, and I’ve spent enough time with the Outlaw of late to feel that I can make an objective commentary. That said, your mileage may vary. The outlaw is a good looking, quiet, smooth shooting bow that is capable of very good to excellent accuracy, at least out to the range that I am able to test at present. It comes with serviceable accessories in the R.A.K. package, and I don’t find that any of them make me “need” to replace them, at least until they have some wear, or I get big eyes for another product. The bow kicks out enough energy to confidently hunt anything on this continent, and would probably put an arrow though a deer without even having it slow down. I actually put an arrow all the way through a Maxima bag target today and into my backstop down to the wood. That’s serious. Is the Outlaw as smooth as the smoothest, as fast as the fastest? No.  It’s not the Prime Centriod or the PSE Omen Pro. I slaver over both bows, but they’re twice as expensive as the Outlaw. They are not “twice the bow”. Buyer’s remorse? I have none. I’d recommend the model and the brand to anyone.


And on to my next thing. I have to give, seriously, big props to the Salt Lake Area Sportsman’s Warehouse. I love going in there. It’s a man’s place to go. I tend to haunt the archery counter, as you may imagine, and I’ve nearly always been treated well there. I bought the Outlaw there, and they took the time to get it tuned up well before I left the store. They’ve always let me shoot a bow if I asked, and I often ask. Today, they did yeoman’s service, seriously, and I won’t forget it when it comes time to buy another bow, gun, knife, etc..

So, then, here’s the story. I’d read some things about the Martin Onza III, and wanted to take a gander at it. I knew that Sportsman’s had one, so I had that in the back of my mind. The archery counter guy gladly let me “see the bow with my hands” and then let me take it back to the shooting lane and check it out with no arguments. My thoughts: It’s loud! It has some hand shock (really just reverb, but still, it’s not “dead in the hand”, like all the other modern bows I’ve shot. It feels kind of heavy. The bow was tuned to 60#, and for that weight, it felt sort of stiff. I would say that the Outlaw was smoother, by far. At 62#, the Outlaw felt much lighter and friendlier. I was just not that impressed. I’m sure the Onza III would be a good bow, and do all that needed doing, but it just didn’t grab me at all.  At the behest of the archery counter guy, Bobby, I believe, I tried the Martin Silencer. It was also loud. It “felt” fast, but the draw also felt very stiff and said, “I’m a speed bow, chump,” in loud terms. It was a nice looking bow, and felt much more svelte than that Onza, but I wasn’t moved.

I also shot the PSE Bowmadness XS. It felt smooth, was quiet, and had that solid, quality vibe about it, but was set at such a short draw length that I couldn’t make any further qualitative judgments. That said, the technician took a few shots with it and Robin Hood’ed an arrow on shot two, so I’ll say that the bow might be darned accurate. Keep in mind, folks, that these are all current year bows. The 2012 bows aren’t in yet.

Finally, I shot a Martin Jaguar recurve. When we located the right arrows for the task, it turned out to shoot pretty darned nice. I’m not totally sold on the metal-riser recurve idea, but it was definitely smoother out to a long draw like mine that the PSE Kingfisher, as well as being lighter. That said, I’ve heard that this model has some limb-explosion issues, and I’d be a little wary of bringing one home. All together, I think that I prefer my Blackhawk, For one, it’s just way prettier. And it’s already mine, which makes it free. I think, should I come to the point of “needing” a takedown recurve, I’ll probably stick with the all wood design.

What else did I look at? I looked at a Diamond Ice Man FLX from 2010. It was heavily discounted, and looked neat as all get-out, with it’s middle-braced, split-limb design. That said, it had been tested at the factory with IBO weight arrows, and had only managed 305 fps. I don’t know. It was still $599, bare bow, and I think there’s more to be had out there. I’m not altogether against the idea of trying to find a lightly-used Omen, just because those bows are so darned delicious. I’m hoping that, when the 2012 bows come out, some guy’s going to have bow fever for the next new hotness, and I’ll be able to swoop in. Not that I’d need it, but it would look hot on my signature in the Archery Talk forums…

After all this consumerism, I came home and shot my Christmas/Italy colored PVC bow. Damn, but I like that one. It shoots like a a champ, I tell you. I sometimes find that I need nothing other than that spray-painted length of plumbing pipe to get all my shooting needs taken care of.

Thus ends my aimless story for today. Have fun, folks, and shoot some arrows if you get the chance.

  1. Bob Tracy says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I think I’ll go shoot some arrows now. The Omen shoots my GT arrows at 374 grains up to 325 fps set at 65# making more than 87# KE. Pretty impressive for a 65# bow.

  2. Bob, that’s pretty darned good for a fully set up bow, according to the 3 grains/1 fps rule of thumb, that would put you at 342 IBO in a real world scenario. Not quite 366, but it’s hard to kick at 87 KE out of 65#. With the heavier Eastons, you were getting 292 and 90.1 KE. It’s sort of a push. I guess it would depend on what you wanted to do with the bow, as to which arrow you chose. 325, from all the reading I’ve done on AT lately, is still a very fast real world arrow speed, especially when you’re well above IBO weight.

    How does the Omen shoot with those GTs? At full length, I think you might be flirting with being underspined, unless you put very light tips on them (which, given the number of 75 grain points you have, you very well may have done).

    Remember when we were baffled by the somewhat slow speed that the BK2 was putting out with the big 2317s? I think I figured out why that was the case. I weighed a Vapor arrow the other day, and I think that we were overestimating how heavy they were. That was causing us to have a skewed understanding of the KE the bow was putting out. Whereas the big Eastons are 605 grains all together, the Vapors are only 462. I think you were working on the assumption that they were around 540 grains, and I got that idea, as well. Thus, I thought that going to the Eastons was only a modest weight increase. Turns out, it was a 143 grain bump, which accounts for the speed difference. If you calculate velocity upward from the 605 grain, assuming the bow’s at 78# or so right now (guess), that puts it at an IBO speed with a 390 grain arrow of 322 fps. At 29″, with a loaded (ancient) string, that’s still pretty amazing performance, I think. From your observed 302 speed with the Vapors, that 322 number checks out. The math works. Anyhow, that’s what’s going on from my end.

    • Further mathematical fiddling @ the BK2: if we had been right about the Vapors being 540 grains and going 302 fps, that would have put the BK2 with a loaded string, 29″ dl IBO of 349. Yeah, that doesn’t quite scan. Even if the 353 IBO numbers were “real world”, which they rarely are, exactly, “ideal” performance at 1 inch less (rule of thumb says you lose 10fps/inch) would put it at 343. You dream, you hope, you do the math…

  3. Bob Tracy says:

    I do have the 75 gr tips on the GTs. It’s a bit odd that they they are not flying proportionally as fast as the Eastons. It may be a function of length/spine that accounts for the difference. I was shooting 540 gr arrows from the BK2 at 302 fps, I guess they were Eastons and the bow was maxed out on draw weight as well as being newer. Probably close to 82# which would mean that IBO arrow weight would be 410 gr, a 130 gr difference calculates to about 43 fps added to the 10 fps for 29″ draw length making the “real world” optimum speed unreal when you consider the peep, nock and alignment tube. Actually I can only estimate the true draw weight I was achieving, It could have even been 85# or more. I was drawing those kinds of poundages back then.

    • Bob, I think that the GTs are going about the right speed, You’ll lose a little KE with a lighter arrow. That’s just a function of the added mechanical efficiency of a heavier arrow. I wouldn’t blame the carbons. The length, though, might leech a little energy, as some of the juice for the bow might be soaked up by arrow oscillation. Either way, the Omen is a bad mamma jamma.

      If the BK2 was hitting 302 at 85# with a 540 grain arrow, that adds up to a real world IBO of 340 and 109 KE, which means that it was all but just as efficient as the Omen. Perhaps the bow really responds to being bottomed out, and to high draw weight. I very well might experiment with this when I get it restrung and tuned up.

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