2014 Best Bows Of The ATA

Giving You This Average Hunter’s Best Bows Of The ATA 2014

I had the recent pleasure of attending the 2014 Archery Trade Association Show (ATA) in Nashville this past week which housed pretty much all the new archery and hunting items to hit the market this year.  This is the show where all the hunting manufacturers are trying to show their new products to all the retail stores and sales reps and get those contracts signed.  That means everything is there to test out.

One of my goals for going to this show was to try out all the new 2014 bows there and also shoot some older models.  I can’t remember the last time I purchased a brand new bow mainly because I have not been a fan of the direction bow manufacturers have gone these last several years.  There was a time when you could draw back a bow and hold it forever while doing backflips.  I can’t do that myself but it would be cool to see, but you get my point.  When I draw a bow back up in a tree, I like to be able to hold it, swing around the tree, re-position myself and do everything while still having the bow in full draw if needed.  With the target bow dead stop setup all the bow manufacturers went to years ago, you can’t do that.  So personally I was never happy with anything new to the market.  Until this year.

The Disclaimer

First off, I should add a short disclaimer.  I do not shoot for, work for, staff on or even own any of the bows on this list.  I don’t even own a bow that the manufacturer was at the show which kinda disappointed me.   None of these manufacturers have influenced this list what so ever.  I will never tell anyone to purchase a certain bow but only to try them all.  This list is based on my personal shooting style and may not agree with most.  I am a hunter, not a tournament shooter.  I prefer a bow that I enjoy shooting and don’t care if I can shoot a dime at 80 yards.  I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time on each bow, so this review is quick.

The Tests

During this time, I was able to shoot 37 compound bows from 14 different manufacturers.  Some of the key items I was looking for were ease of draw, ease of hold, after shock and balance.  With ease of draw, I want a consistent draw with no humps in the middle and I don’t want a 70# bow that feels like 100# drawing it back.  The ease of hold should be just that.  I hate the hard wall with no valley.  The bows that try and rip your arm off if you move a hair don’t do me any good in the tree.  That’s fine for the tournament, not in the woods.  Too much shock on the shot just means noise to me.  I don’t want to have to add a bunch of rubber whatever all over the bow to keep it quiet.  Then there is the fall forward after the shot.  I never did understand that.  I know a lot of shooters force that because they think its right.  To me it just means they are gripping the bow to tight and squeezing on the shot.  I want a bow that doesn’t move after the shot.  It should stay exactly where it was or fall backwards when I pulled the trigger or let loose of the string.

The Top List

#1

Martin Archery Nemesis Nitro

50-70 lbs
Draw Length:  20.5″-30.5″
Brace Height:  7″
Axle to Axle:  32″
Bow Weight:  3.8 lbs
MSRP  $899

My Review:  Simply draw this bow back and you are hooked.  I shot a 65# bow and it felt like a 40# on the draw.  Smooth and super easy to hold with a good wall to let you know your there but room to move around also for when you need to swing around in the stand.

#2

Martin Archery Alien Nitro

EASY TO TUNE AND SHOOT, THE ALIEN NITRO OFFERS A FORGIVING BRACE HEIGHT AT 7 INCHES, IT FEATURES THE SLEEKEST AND LEANEST RISER WE’VE EVER DESIGNED WHILE SHOOTING 335 FEET PER SECOND.

IBO Rating: 335 fps
Let Off:  80%
Draw Weight:  50-70 lbs
Draw Length:  20.5″ – 30.5″
Brace Height:  7″
Axle to Axle:  32″
Bow Weight:  3.5 lbs
MSRP  $849

My Review:  Similar to the Nemesis in everything except the draw.  Still very smooth on the draw with a lighter feel then most.  Excellent hold and the release was quiet and stable.

#3

Elite Energy 35

The Energy 35 is the ultimate bow for the all-around archer. It gives the hunter tournament-caliber accuracy without tournament bow length. It gives the shooter hunting bow maneuverability without sacrificing accuracy. It gives the all-season archer the opportunity to shoot one bow without compromise. Some call that impossible. We call it Energy 35! A new optimized Energy Cam System and more parallel limbs offer smoother, more efficient shooting. And, the all-new Riser Cage™ increases riser strength (by 30 %) and stiffness (by 19%) without added weight. In short, this is the world’s most “shootable” bow!

Specifications

IBO Rating:  335 fps
Let Off:  80%
Draw Weight:  40-70 lbs
Draw Length:  24.5″-31″
Brace Height: 7″
Axle to Axle:  35″
Bow Weight:  4.5 lbs
MSRP  $899

My Review:  Elite has been a major contender the last few years and they are only getting better.  The Energy 35 is a bow I would enjoy shooting all day.  Draw, shot and balance are smooth with a little play on the wall.

Bear Agenda 7

#4

Bear Agenda 7

Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it speed plus a forgiving 7″ brace make this bow as enjoyable as it is deadly! And it’s got a feature list as long as your arm: smooth H13 rotating-module cams matched to Max Pre-Load Quad Limbs, new stronger, lighter riser technology, advanced vibration and sound damping, tight Zero Tolerance limb / pocket fit, versatile 32″ length, and more. You get the idea. Now try the bow! Lots of draw weights and lengths, for righties and lefties. Here’s the “tech” behind the Agenda 7: High-precision Zero Tolerance Limb Pockets – The tightest, most precise limb-to-limb pocket fit yet achieved absorbs vibration and hand shock better than ever.

IBO Rating: 340fps
Let Off:  75%
Draw Weight:  50 – 70 lbs
Draw Length:  26.5″ – 31″
Brace Height:  7″
Axle to Axle:  32″
Bow Weight:  4 lbs
MSRP $$ $899.99

My Review:  Bear is really climbing the ladder quickly also and the new Agenda bows were a pleasure to shoot.  Low recoil and balance ranked up there with the top.

#5

Limbsaver Proton

IBO Rating:  335 fps
Let Off:  80%
Draw Weight: 50-70 lbs
Draw Length:
Brace Height:  7″
Axle to Axle:  32″
Bow Weight:  3.8 lbs
MSRP:  $800

My Review:  Limbsaver is known for making everything quiet and reducing vibrations.  It only makes sense that they produce a quiet bow with no shock.  Its a great shooting bow but did have a short hard wall.

#6

Hoyt FAKTOR 34

The game-changing Faktor series is available in three distinct configurations, each with a specific balance of performance features to fit your bow geometry preference. With 30 and 34 inch configurations for ideal fit, and a blazing fast Faktor Turbo configuration that launches arrows at 340 fps, all configurations feature the unbelievably slim and stable Faktor riser and all of the HOYT technology factors for success.

IBO Rating:  330fps
Let Off:
Draw Weight:  30-80 lbs
Draw Length:  26.5″ – 31″
Brace Height:  6.75
Axle to Axle: 34″
Bow Weight:  4 lbs
MSRP:  $949.99

My Review:  I was VERY impressed with HOYT this year.  I honestly have never been a fan because for me, they were always hard to hold.  Hoyt is starting to preload their draw with adding more weight up front at your strong point and removing the weight at the end.  Still no valley, but a lot easier to hold.

bowtech overdrive

#7

Bowtech Carbon Overdrive

The minimal weight of the Knight Riser combined with the unbelievable tunability of our OverDrive Binary cam system and industry leading FLX-Guard are now united in the Carbon OverDrive. The Carbon OverDrive stands out as the leading premium Carbon bow on the market today as it fires arrows down range at 342 fps.  Pick one up for yourself and see why the Carbon OverDrive is everything you have been looking for in a premium carbon bow.

IBO Rating:  342 fps
Let Off:  80%
Draw Weight:  50-70 lbs
Draw Length:  25″ – 30″
Brace Height:  6.5″
Axle to Axle:  31.5″
Bow Weight:  3.3 lbs
MSRP:  $999

My Review:  Bowtech claimed to have a preload on the draw but I didn’t notice any.  But it was still a smooth consistant draw.  Little hard to hold but quiet and shot felt good.

#8

G5 Prime Impact

The all-new Impact by Prime has combined accuracy with speed to give hunters and shooters the ultimate bow to take out this season. Whether it is hunters looking for more energy or shooters looking for a flatter shooting setup, the Impact will turn heads. The Impact features the all-new PCX cam and a forged 7000 series riser to provide a stable shooting platform. Along with the new ultra fit grip, the Impact will provide hunters and shooters maximum versatility this upcoming season.

IBO Rating:  340 fps
Let Off:  -
Draw Weight:  50-70
Draw Length:  26″-30″
Brace Height:  6.25″
Axle to Axle:  35″
Bow Weight:  4.5 lbs
MSRP:  $1,000

My Review:  G5 is another that is climbing the ladder very quickly and this year the Prime series making its mark with everyone.  Ranked well in all aspects of my review.

 

What’s Trending

This year the name of the game besides FAST was adjustability.  Pretty much all the dual cam bows came with the ability to make quick and easy adjustments from draw length to draw stop.  Which opens the doors to possibly changing how any of these bows shoot and handle for each individual shooter.

Standout Manufacturers

To me, nobody stood out more than Martin Archery.  With the history of the company over the last couple years almost to the point of not being with us anymore.  To reinventing themselves almost from scratch and basing there designs on comfort and bows that are simply a joy to shoot.  The other I was really impressed with was Hoyt.  I was very impressed with the draw style of there bows with the preload on front end.  It made a huge difference for me and it shows they are listening to some of the complaints of the past.

Complete List of Bows Tested

Elite Energy 35 Newbreed Genetics 33 Hoyt Faktor 34
Elite Energy 32 Newbreed Eclipse 35 Hoyt Turbo
Elite Tour Expedition Eccentric Hoyt Carbon
G5 Radical Youth Expedition XR76 Bowtech 360
G5 Quest Drive Expedition Exterra Bowtech Overdrive
G5 Quest Roque Limbsaver Photon PSE Full Throttle
G5 Prime 31 Martin Alien Nitro PSE DNA SP
G5 Prime 35 Martin Nemesis Nitro PSE Drive LT
G5 Prime 33 Alloy Ross Headhunter PSE Preen
Windchester Blindside Ross XD Bear Agenda 6
Winchester Blackhorse Darton DS4514 Bear Agenda 7
Strother Vital Darton 3914
Strother Rush Darton 3814

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