Some time back, Jennifer and I decided that we wanted to get into hunting. The family farm has seen its share of critters, and it seems to have an ebb and flow on dominant species. The deer were very heavy for some time, but the deer have always been there. The coyote population grew and the deer population predictably shrunk. Then the hogs came through and ran off the coyotes and largely ran off the deer. The hogs disappeared when we started seeing lion tracks. When the food source for the big cats dwindled, they moved on. Judging from the prints we saw, I would say it was a mother cougar and two nearly grown cubs. Now that the cats are gone, a few coyotes have moved back, and the deer population is growing again. Additionally, the property is populated with ducks, dove, quail, bobcats, and raccoons. One thing in the Oklahoma hunting guidelines that always torqued me the wrong way is that I could go out for two weeks with my rifle to shoot deer, and Christmas weekend; but those archers had over three months to hunt deer and other animals! If you can’t beat them, join them, right? So, I started shopping for a bow.
There are two gun shops in town that i frequent that have archery shops in them. The one focuses on Hoyt and Matthews and the other carries quite an array of bows, mostly PSE. The latter has all the latest, flashiest, whiz-bang crossbows on display, including PSE’s Tac 15 and Horton’s Fury. Each of these shops was able to show me a range of compound bows with varying degrees of aluminum, carbon fiber, and other composites in their construction. I liked this new sport already. One thing none of the salesmen could explain to me though, is what made the $800 bow one bit better than the $300 bow. I asked them in those exact words, “What makes the $800 bow better than the $300 bow?” One explained that a carbon fiber bow didn’t get cold like an aluminum bow does, so it’s more comfortable to your hand in the cold. One of them even chocked it up to basic physical ergonomics. I’m sorry, but I can adjust to any of that.
That’s about when I started discussing this with Wai. He and I became friends when he started commenting on my blog several years ago, and he is an archery wiz. I asked him what the difference was between a $300 PSE and an $800 Hoyt. He explained to me that the more expensive bow was assembled with more durable components to tighter tolerances. This I understand. He further explained that the Hoyt wasn’t really up to the quality standards that the price commands, and that I should look at BowTech for my purchase. He told me that although they are a newer brand, the BowTech products are the best you can get, and their prices are surprisingly competitive. Aforementioned bow shop number two carries BowTech, so I gave them another visit. In BowTech’s catalog, they picture their bows in beautiful black or raspberry finishes. At the shop, they had Mossy Oak camouflage. I asked about black and was told that it is about an $80 up-charge and they would have to order it in.
I promptly purchased a BowTech Assassin in Mossy Oak camouflage, which is a complete package, including a quiver, arrow rest, silencers, wrist sling, string stop, shocks, brake pads , curb feelers, flux capacitor, and all that other stuff. The price was a cool $600 and came to around $700 after arrows, release, and tax. Once upon a time, before the internet knew me, I worked for Autozone. When they started carrying snacks, chocolate was shipped in a box that was lined in 1.5-inch styrene. I hoarded those styrene sheets, knowing that they would come in handy one day. Approximately 14-inches of styrene put together with packing tape makes a dandy archery target. You can stick a Shoot-N-C on the face, and it’s about perfect. Especially when you’ve just spent $700 on a bow package, it hurts less to cheap out on a target.
When you shoot a bow everyday, you will split arrows. Drop it off to once a week, and you’re lucky to make a 3-inch group at 20-yards. Ask me how I know. People talk about gun shooting as being a perishable skill. And it is! But, its perishability pales in comparison to archery. Getting good at archery is somewhat startling as well. One quickly learns that the support hand doesn’t need to be clamped onto the grip. Think precision riflery. The support hand just needs to be there. Keep your elbow pointed out rather than down on your support side so you don’t hack into your forearm with the bowstring, letting off around sixty pounds of force. If you make this mistake twice in two consecutive days, your arm will look like you stole it from a zombie. Ask me how I know that as well. The draw hand needs to come back to the jaw bone. If you can index your hand to your face the same way each time, much the better. The fuzz of the peep should frame the ring around the front pins. Pay attention to the level in the front sight, but don’t crank the bow over with your support hand. Focus on the front pin and place it on the dot on your target. Mind your breathing and focus. Slowly as you can stand it, press the trigger on your release on the exhale when your front pin is in line with your target and the bow is perfectly level. Follow through for a solid two-count: “One one-thousand, two one-thousand.” Now, lower your bow so you can draw your next arrow and repeat the process on a different dot on the target so you don’t start splitting arrows. Before long, you’ll be making a sub-5-inch group at 50-yards, plenty good enough to kill any big game out there.
The BowTech Assassin knows its job. It is reliable enough that I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do with it for maintenance or upkeep. The bow shop set up the draw weight and draw length for me. I readjusted the draw length by about a half inch or so, and adjusted the weight by a few pounds since then. I’ve fine-tuned the sights probably twice in the last six months. I’ve waxed the string. I’ve shot the snot out of this bow. In figuring out what the heck I was doing, I broke or lost half a dozen arrows. The second half dozen has lasted three times as long and all of those latter arrows are still intact. Unlike most compound bows from the competition, the Assassin package comes with all of the peripherals you need to start shooting. You would expect the accessories to be cheapo junk that you would want to upgrade from, like the accessory pack that comes with a Sprinfield XD (does anyone really use that holster or mag loader?), but the extras that come with the Assassin are all name-brand, industry-leading, top-quality products that do the job right. From my experience, BowTech is like the Nissan of compound bows.
The Assassin is light. It is an aluminum construction with carbon fiber and composite fittings, but at less than four pounds it’s a lot lighter than it looks. I’m looking forward to dragging it around the woods with me in just a couple of weeks, as it’s lighter than any rifle I’m likely to do the same with. It’s extremely compact, especially considering the amount of power that it puts downrange. I’m torn on whether or not I want to get a shoulder sling for it, or simply carry it in my hand in the field. I do need to get a case to transport it in, but everything that I’ve found had been ridiculously oversized.
People talk about a bow’s recoil, but I’m probably not the one to talk about such things. In the world of guns, I’m a recoil masochist. A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunist to shoot a Ruger LCR in .357 Magnum. This is Jennifer’s Nana’s first gun, and she brought along a box of .38 Special. I scrambled for my own box of 158-grain, .357 Magnum and eagerly shot off several cylinders of the stuff. I really can’t speak objectively on the recoil of a bow. Even so, follow through is intuitive and uninterrupted shooting the Assassin. I find that if I relax into The Zone as I do for precision rifle shooting, the string will yank my hand forward and yank me back into reality unceremoniously.
This bow delivers power. BowTech boasts that their products produce more speed than their competitors’ products and at ten pounds less draw weight. Having little to no experience with these things, and having no access to a chronograph, I can’t confirm or deny this claim. I can, however, tell you that this bow will deliver a carbon arrow through the hood of a car, through a stocade fence, and still clear ten yards before sticking into the dirt. Judging from the penetration I’ve seen in wood, steel, styrene, and straw, I’m confident that this bow will deliver broadheads into the heart of the biggest game Oklahoma has to offer, piercing flesh and bone along the way.
I can’t express how pleased I am with my purchase. This bow has just delivered and been flawless since I purchased it. It has not yet taken life, but deer archery season starts on October 1. To that end, October 1 marks the start of deer archery, Fall turkey archery, and rabbit seasons – all of which have been sighted at the family farm. I should probably pick up some small game heads to compliment my broadheads when I’m in the field with it. I have slacked off a bit from my daily practice, and my groups are showing it. With less than two weeks until October, I should probably fix that. In fact, I believe I’ll go shoot some right now. I would highly recommend BowTech’s products even after my limited experience. Also, they back their bows with a lifetime warranty, should anything go wrong.
**FCC disclosure – I paid full price for my BowTech Assassin and everything that came with it, and didn’t get any discount, despite the fact that my sister-in-law works at that store. BowTech didn’t approach me for a review, nor did they compensate me in any way for the review. It’s just a really kick-@$$ product that I wanted to share with my readers. Thanks and have a nice day.