UNJ 2008 Youth Bow Review
Now that the 2008 Michigan Bow Season is done I'll go over the basics on our youth bow review and see what the kids had to say.
Our youth bow review started from requests sent in by our listeners and readers (you). In the spring, as the show started getting more involved in prepping our equipment and ourselves for the upcoming Michigan Fall Deer season, we started getting a lot of questions on how to chose a bow for kids. We realized that when we grew up we had to "grow into" our dad's old bow because there really wasn't any choices out there for kids (beyond the old Meijers "Chiefs" bow...more like a rubber band on a stick).
Forcing a young boy or girl to struggle drawing back an oversized bow can be more damaging than most adults would imagine. When our kids have so many easy distractions such as GameBoys and Nintendos, "Texting" and TV, why try to introduce them to Archery in such a way as to discourage them from going for a second try? Today, you don't have to. Most Bow manufacturers now produce youth and small frame sized bows that not only look like "Dad's" bow but actually shoot better than the bows we grew up with. Don't think, even for a minute, that these youth bows are too small and under powered to hunt deer sized game with... That ol' Bear Whitetail Hunter II that I grew up with, weighed close to 7 lbs, draw weight of 55 lbs, shot arrows at around 155 fps... Our crop of youth bows, which weighed in around 4 lbs or less, set at 35 lbs draw weight, are shooting modern carbon fiber arrows at 170 fps + !! Sure wish I had that kind of bow when I was growing up! In addition, and very important for a parent, all of these bows come with the ability to upgrade them to higher draw weights by simply swapping out the limbs. If you bought your youth one of these bows in say, the 20 - 29 lb package and after 4 or 5 months they've not only outgrown their shoes but their bow as well... buy new shoes but the bow can stay! For around $50 (depending on which company) you can order a new set of bow limbs in the next poundage stage. So, instead of having to drop another $300+ on a new bow, you're only spending around $50 and they're good to go (at least until they out grow that limb set!). Most of the models we reviewed had limb upgrades all the way to 50lbs and one, to 60 lbs. You now have a spare set of limbs incase you have another youngster on the way or more options if you decide to sell the bow later on. Most bow shops, if you bought the bow from them, will swap the limbs for free or very little cost. Your strings and cables stay the same, the cams stay the same and your sights and rests don't need adjustments beyond the change from higher velocities.
In addition to the limb programs, one of the key features of these bows is their adjustability for draw length. With the dual cam bows, most range from 18" to 28" and the single cam bow we test was 22" - 26" . Adjustments were made by moving one or two screws on each cam to a new location. No bow press needed. In sixty seconds you can change one of these bows to go from your 8 year old pulling 19" to your 12 year old pulling 24". The most complicated adjustment we found was one bow required adjusting a cable plate on the cam... added about 10 seconds to our work.
Now, details on the bows we reviewed:
We were fortunate enough that Gander Mountain, Bowtech and PSE gave us several different styles of bows to review. We tested the Parker BuckShot, the BowTech Equilizer, the Diamond Edge, the Browning Micro Adrenaline, and the Browning Micro Eclipse. All of the bows were set up with Hostage Pro capture rests, with the exception of the Parker Buckshot which was set up with a Whisker Biscuit rest. These styles of rests are not only easy to use and tune but provide a higher level of safety for the young shooter.
The next bow we tested from Bowtech/Diamond was the Equalizer. While this is part of our youth bow testing, you might call this more of a small frame shooting bow instead. This is a top line professional level bow that is designed for the smaller framed shooter with the ability to easily adjust draw length with the purchase of additional draw length modules. This is the only bow in our review that requires an additional purchase to change draw length. However, with that said, if you're a short draw shooter, this is a serious bow to look at. It is more designed for the intermediate and above shooter but is blistering fast for such a short draw. Axle to axle is 33 1/4" with a 7 1/4" brace height. Draw length modules are available from 24" to 27 1/2" and draw weight limb packages at 29, 40, 50 and 60 lbs.
The Equalizer is no longer in the product line. The Diamond Razor Edge
is their only offering that can start out at 29 lbs.
From PSE / Browning, we next tested the Browning Micro Eclipse. The Micro Eclipse is Browning's Single Cam youth offering. For those who prefer shooting a single cam, you can't go wrong with this bow. With an axle to axle length of 32", a brace height of 6 1/4"and weighing in at only 2 1/2 lbs, this bow is light, easy to shoot and fast. While it is limited in draw length adjustment to only 5 inches, via a removable module (see pic), it's an excellent choice for the single cam preference.
NOTE: The Micro
Eclipse is no longer offered in the product line.
Our next bow from PSE / Browning is the Browning Micro Adrenaline. One
thing to note is that while this was bow posted the slowest speed at our
hunting required 35lb it was set at only 19". When tested at the max
draw length, it was the second fasted bow in the test between the Edge,
the Eclipse and the Adrenaline. (see table below) The Adrenaline comes
in a 31" axle to axle length, a forgiving 7 1/4" brace height, 70% let off
and a comfortable 3.4 lbs in weight (without accessories). The limb
upgrade choice is only $45 which will take this bow from a 40lb limb
package to a 50lb limb. For approximately $270, this is a very
effective setup for any shooter.
One of the biggest things we've discovered in testing all these different, quality bows...just like our own bows, our children now have a choice. They can now try out different models and find a bow that fits them and they're excited to shoot. All of the bows we tested are bows we would recommend. We were not disappointed in any of them, they all shoot well and are great for getting the kids going and growing with them. They now have different choices in the style and performance characteristics just like our own bows. Get out there with your kids, they'll never look back!
Copyright 2009 Michael Adams