Elk NetworkGear: Bows, Arrows and Accessories

Bugle - Featured Articles , Gear 101 | March 1, 2024

From the fastest and quietest bows on the market to essential archery accessories, Bugle Contributor Brad Fenson reviews his favorites for 2024.


Mathews Lift

Lightweight. Quiet. Fast. Those are the best ways to describe the Mathews Lift after the first shot. Such a conspicuous lack of vibration and noise makes you want to shoot again to see if it’s real. Features such as a skeletonized aluminum riser help keep the bow noticeably light in hand, barely 4 pounds. But that doesn’t compromise its strength, durability or performance. Mathews engineers changed the Resistance Phase Dampening (RPD) limbs and added a new axle assembly to cut weight while increasing the efficacy of the components working together. They also added a new SwitchWeight-X cam to the mix, producing a smooth, quiet draw that ends with a solid back wall. With 80 to 85% letoff, the bow is easy to hold at full draw for prolonged periods—something any elk hunter who’s waited for that bull to take one last step will appreciate. The high-performance components generate arrow speeds of over 340 fps.

A Bridge Lock Sight screw can be used with most dovetail mounts, reducing vibration and improving balance. Mathews developed a new MATCH bowstring to eliminate stretch, serving separation or peep rotation. Shot Sense is integrated into the riser to provide real-time shot analysis and data straight to an app on your phone. The Lift’s attention to detail ensures confidence that everything will remain in working order after heavy use.

I have always preferred stability in a bow and chose the 33-inch model with a 6.5-inch brace height, which makes the Lift easy to shoot with consistent results. Mathews also offers a 29-inch model with a 6-inch brace height. The Lift is available in draw weights of 55, 60, 65, 70, 75 and 80 pounds, with draw lengths of 26 to 31.5 inches.

Go to mathewsinc.com to learn more.


Hoyt Carbon RX-8

Hoyt introduced its first carbon-riser bow in 2010, the Carbon Matrix, and the speed that the company has continued to improve an already impressive design is hard to comprehend. The newest Carbon RX-8 is a showstopper—quiet, stable and easy to shoot with a smooth draw cycle that’s a testament to its well-engineered components. A paltry 4 pounds, this bow’s carbon riser provides greater strength-to-weight than conventional aluminum and stays warm to the touch in cold weather. Easy to tune and make adjustments, it took me only three arrows to have the bow dialed in to shoot with deadly accuracy on the range.

Hoyt made the limbs wider and shorter while integrating a new cam system that maintains more energy farther into the draw cycle, producing speeds of over 340 fps. The engineering upgrade made the bow so smooth and quiet that it allowed Hoyt to remove additional shock absorbers, further trimming ounces.

The bow is customizable with modular adjustable draw lengths from 25 to 28 inches on the No. 2 cam, and 28 to 30 inches on the No. 3 cam. Draw stops are now built right into the draw length module so that they don’t need to be moved separately and have larger, flat faces. There is one stop on the top cam and two on the bottom, with one on either side of the cam. The extra stops and larger surfaces help create a solid back wall. The new rest mount attaches solidly with Hoyt Ultrarest from QAD. It also includes an adjustable grip, Hoyt’s inline accessory system, specialized strings, stabilizer and integrated kickstand.

The RX-8 has an ATA speed rating of 342 fps, brace height of 6 1/8 inches, draw length of 25 to 30 inches, and draw weight of 40 to 80 pounds. Axle-to-axle, the bow is 30 inches.

Learn more at hoyt.com.


Bow Spider

I have used a Bow Spider for two seasons and now consider it essential gear. It worked so well carrying my compound bow in the field, I ordered the newest model to tote my crossbow.

A bow in hand can cause muscle fatigue you don’t notice until you try to shoot. The Bow Spider’s design is simple yet effective, attaching your bow to a belt, backpack, optics harness or even your vehicle’s headrest. A small aluminum post bolts onto to your riser, with a knob that drops swiftly into a gravity-locking system on the hub to keep your bow secure but easily retrievable. Additional hubs can be purchased as a wall mount for safe storage at home. The Bow Spider kit includes a receiver, aluminum post with rubber scratch guard, Load Lifter Straps, belt, and hardware for easy assembly. This system is great for any bowhunter or competitive archer. The Bow Spider comes in green, tan, or black with RMEF branding options.

Learn more at bowspider.com.


Cabela’s BlackOut All Weather 2 Bow Case

The first time I picked up the BlackOut All Weather 2 Series compound bow case, I knew it was the extra protection needed for my fine-tuned hunting tool. Made by Plano, the case weighs 18 pounds and is constructed of a heavy, impact- and shock-resistant poly material. You can sit or stand on the case without any give or flexing. The case is well thought out, with durable, lockable dual-stage latches. Molded, lockable tabs add to security and help keep the unit waterproof and dustproof. A Dri-Loc seal is insurance against any moisture. Inside the case, the high-density foam has perforations that allow you to customize the cut-out to be an exact fit for your bow and accessories. The case provides enough room for an arrow case or quiver without crowding your bow. Hook and loop straps keep gear securely in place for extra protection. Measuring 43 inches long, 19 inches wide and 7-1/2 inches high, the Blackout will accommodate most compound bows.

Go to cabelas.com to learn more.


TenPoint TRX 515

The new TenPoint TRX 515 is a case-in-point for the breakneck pace at which crossbows are advancing. It’s lightweight, compact, extremely fast, accurate and loaded with new technologies. A twin-riser reduces riser flex by 70% or more. The stable platform means tight groups downrange. Lightweight designs such as the new Zero-Trac Barrel remove a pound of weight off the crossbow without compromising speed—it shoots an honest 515 fps or more. The new premium crossbow measures 29 inches in length and just 6 inches wide when cocked. A hand-built TriggerTech Trigger has zero creep and breaks noticeably clean. Safety remains paramount, and the bow is equipped with the trigger’s Dry-Fire-Preventor (DFP) and trigger block safety. It is hard not to notice the absence of a rail, eliminating arrow friction. Arrows lock into place with a specialized rest, with the front of the shaft resting on two spring-loaded ball bearings and a top-mounted retention brush. An elongated bridge adds strength and accuracy to the scope mount. A new ACUslide Maxx cocks or de-cocks the bow effortlessly with 7.2 pounds of pressure. The reverse-limb crossbow has a 16-inch powerstroke, which is longer with less draw weight for a quiet shot. The TRX 515 is sold as a package with a premium scope, quiver, arrows, ACUslide Maxx, bubble level and bow hook, making it ready to hunt.

Learn more at tenpointcrossbows.com.


Easton 4MM FMJ

I am a big fan of Easton’s Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) arrows, which benefit from a small-diameter carbon shaft wrapped in aluminum for better penetration and less wind shear in the volatile weather of the mountains. I have taken dozens of animals with accurate, clean pass-through shots and for elk, I like the 4MM FMJ, a micro-diameter arrow that will perform at longer ranges thanks to less drag, increasing velocity. The foundation is the carbon core, with a full metal jacket to add the weight and kinetic energy, enhancing accuracy and easing extraction from foam targets. The arrows include pre-installed nocks and an 8/32 outsert for increased front-of-center, better flight, easy tuning and enhanced durability, and they include pre-installed nocks. Elk hunters can choose from spine ratings: 250, 300, 340 and 400. These premium hunting arrows are compatible with standard-thread 8-32 broadheads and field points and have a straightness tolerance within .002 of an inch.

Go to eastonarchery.com to find out more.


MagView B1 Binocular Adapter

Smartphones have changed how we hunt, with online maps, moon phase information and instant uploads of trail camera images. Phone cameras are outstanding, allowing hunters to record what they see and not rely on other devices. MagView offers a quick, easy, high-resolution image with your favorite binoculars or spotting scope. The MagView system sets up easily with a metal adapter that fastens onto the eyepiece of your optic with a retaining screw. A magnet strip fastens to the back of your phone (or phone case) to hold it securely against your optic. The phone’s camera will align with the eyepiece on the binocular or spotting scope and can be adjusted to produce a clear full-screen image. Photos and videos are captured and managed in a free app. MagView systems are available for specific diameter eyepieces.

Visit magviewgear.com to learn more.


Morrell Targets BIG High Roller

The Morell Target BIG High Roller puts an archery range in your backyard. The red targets look like dice and are easily seen at different ranges. The lifespan of the self-healing foam is incredible. I added a BIG High Roller to my range half a decade ago, and it still stops arrows. It has six faces to shoot at to help spread out the wear and tear. The solid target is pliable and can stop arrows exceeding 500 fps. The foam density makes for one-handed, easy arrow removal. The target works for field points, mechanical blades and fixed blade broadheads. It measures 16x16x16 inches, is weatherproof and comes with a carrying handle.

Go to morrelltargets.com.


KUIU Hard Case 50X14i  

KUIU teamed up with SKB to build a hard case for bows or firearms that is versatile and provides peace-of-mind protection. The waterproof, shockproof and dustproof case includes an ambient pressure equalization valve. It even floats if it should happen to end up in the water. The case provides extra storage for clothes, optics and other essential gear with high-density foam to partition internal storage without extra weight, making it ideal for trips with weight restrictions. Handle, wheels, padlock holes, carpet lining and trigger release latch system round out the features.

Visit kuiu.com to learn more.



Barnett Hyper Raptor 410

When I picked up the Raptor 410 it looked and felt like a high-tech hunting crossbow that is extremely compact, lightweight and easy to shoot. It didn’t disappoint, shooting extremely accurately right out of the box. The design makes the crossbow easy to maneuver at 7 ¼ inches axle-to-axle when cocked. It is fast and uses small .204 diameter HyperFlite arrows. The Crank Cocking Device makes the 205-pound draw weight easy and safe to manage. A 14-inch power stroke, molded limbs, Pivoting Limb Pockets and self-timing cams provide sufficient energy to shoot arrows at 410 fps with 142-foot pounds of energy. The forward-draw limbs are designed to reduce up-front weight and vibration. The crossbow is sold as a package with a 3-pound trigger, adjustable length of pull, step-through riser scope, and a quiver.

Go to barnettcrossbows.com.



Grim Reaper Pro Series 3-Blade Broadhead

 Broadhead simplicity provides peace of mind, and a mechanical head without O-rings, clips or extra gizmos means less to worry about when an elk steps out. The Pro Series 3-Blade mechanical broadhead will leave a distinct blood trail with a 1 ⅜-inch cut diameter and a “Snap Cut” design. The 40-degree angle of the blades and cut-on-contact tip increase penetration and stability on impact—and the likelihood of pass-through. The Pro Series 3 Blade head comes in 100 or 125 grains, the latter of which should appeal to elk hunters wanting more weight for better penetration.

Learn more at grimreaperbroadheads.com.


SEVR Titanium 1.5 Broadhead

I have taken over two dozen animals with SEVR broadheads. I am convinced they provide an advantage. The mechanical heads have blades that fold into the ferrule and use acceleration, wind and travel speeds to keep it closed, while an O-ring provides added security. The rear-deploying blades open on impact and lock in place, providing an immediate slap-cut. But the unique design also allows the deployed blades to pivot back and forth in the ferrule to steer around bone as they cut without changing trajectory. I prefer the Ti 1.5 for elk hunting, as the smaller diameter provides superior penetration with a titanium tip. The features I love most are field-point accuracy and included lock-screw to keep the blades from deploying, allowing me to practice with the heads I intend to have in my quiver. Shoot it, remove the lock screw, put on an O-ring, and go hunt.

Got to sevrbroadheads.com.


Maxima Photon SD

Hunting with small-diameter arrows has proven to be a big advantage when shooting longer ranges, dealing with wind, or looking for increased penetration. The Maxima Photon has an inner diameter of .203 and is constructed of 30-ton carbon to maintain strength and increase accuracy. Tri-Spine Technology provides 360 degrees of spine consistency and accuracy at all ranges, allowing a launched arrow to recover faster after leaving the rest. The arrow flexes more in the center, adding to its fast recovery. An aluminum half-out insert comes with standard threads, and the back end of the arrow features a Bulldog nock collar and Launchpad nock. The Photon is a premium arrow laser checked for straightness to 1/10,000 of an inch. Available in a 300, 350 or 400 spine.

Visit feradyne.com to learn more.


Burris Oracle 2 Rangefinding Bow Sight

The first time I used a Burris rangefinding bow sight, I knew my archery life had changed forever. Draw the bow, find the target, press a button and have a precise aiming point with angle compensation. Burris continues to improve the sight, and the Oracle 2 reflects hunter feedback. The sight is easy to install and program for different arrows or broadheads. I set up two arrow profiles and switched back and forth depending on what I was hunting. The sight offers improved auto-brightness detection and manual brightness control, easy setup (micro-adjustments on LRF) instructed in the viewfinder, better waterproofing, and more accurate arrow drop calculations. The sight takes out the guesswork for shooting at different angles by automatically adjusting the point of aim and an electronic level helps accurate sighting and arrow placement. The rangefinder works out to 500 yards on reflective targets and 200 yards on animals. Not that anyone would shoot that far with a bow, but it can help you strategize your approach. The smart optic weighs 20 ounces and takes CR123 lithium batteries.

Go to burrisoptics.com.


ARXOS Series BowSight

 Arxos is a custom-dial sight that is lightweight, intuitive to see through and calibrates easily on the range for accuracy in the field. The scope arm attaches to the bow with a traditional dovetail or Picatinny attachment. The Mag, or sight housing, attaches to the arm and has a level in the top and standard fiber optic pins in either .010 or .019 sizes. A unique feature is a hood over the pins to adjust lighting to different conditions in the field. The sight adjustment occurs at the front of the scope arm, offering macro and micro windage adjustments for getting sighted. I like the simplicity and hold of the VOID dial used to adjust elevation by moving the sight up or down the elevation rail. When dialing farther distances, the Mag will move toward the riser, increasing the elevation adjustment. The Mag is oversized to allow for small adjustments within the sight for distance—no tool is required. A SwitchTape can be swapped, or the entire yardage ring can be changed for different arrow setups. MAGSWAP technology allows you to switch out the entire sight housing.

Learn more at dialedarchery.com.


Nockturnal Shift Nock with FIT Technology

Shooting a buck or bull quartering away means picturing where your arrow will exit on the far side. The first time I used a Nockturnal Shift Nock with FIT Technology on a deer, I knew my arrow hit the vitals after watching the red and green strobe light trace my arrow’s flight. The nock was easy to install and proved beneficial at both the range and while out hunting. The external on/off switch makes it easy to turn off the light at the end of a practice session, saving the lithium batteries that provide an impressive 20 hours of life. The LED lights are activated by a piston that turns on with the string release’s motion. The universal design fits a wide variety of inserts. Lights are available in red, green and red/green strobing. The Nockturnals are durable, waterproof and shockproof and weigh 25 grains.

Visit feradyne.com to learn more.



Scorpion Venom

Custom or otherwise, the price of new bow strings is a major investment, so I do all I can to protect them. I have used Scorpion Venom products for my bow strings for years, increasing their lifespan, reducing friction and maintaining color. Run the applicator up and down the string once or twice, and the string will remain flexible as the Polymeric Bowstring Fluid penetrates the core of the string. The fluid is odor-free and provides waterproofing. You can then use the Polymeric Wax. A String Cleanser and Pre-Lubricant Cleaner removes old wax and dirt. Allow products to dry for a few minutes before shooting your bow.

Go to scorpionvenom-archery.com.