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Bow Review: Mathews Image

A youth bow with flagship bow features.

Bow Review: Mathews Image

The new Mathews Image is a low-poundage bow designed to provide a “flagship bow” shooting experience in a rig designed with up-and-coming bowhunters in mind.

Mathews caters to a wide range of archers by offering bows with different specs and configurations; however, the company never forsakes its mission or values to get there.

All bows, regardless of intended audience, are built with the same Mathews commitment to quality and performance. The workmanship is apparent, whether you're picking up a Phase 4, V3X, Prima or the subject of this review, the Image. This new rig covers a generous draw-length range but is aimed at providing a high-end bow experience in the low draw weight category, making it a perfect choice for the up-and-coming bowhunter.

Specialized Riser

Mathews outfits the Image with a dedicated version of its popular Extended Bridge Riser that features the Bridge-Lock Stabilizer mounting through-channel in its structure. It is located immediately below the standard threaded stabilizer mounting position and creates a direct connection to the riser’s core, which is intended to significantly increase stiffness and enhance integration. Mathews Bridge-Lock Stabilizers have detents spaced out every half-inch along the bar and a stackable weight system at the end of the bar to make adjustment of your rig’s balance quick and simple.

The riser also includes another riser channel that accepts Bridge-Lock Sights and the dovetail bar of many popular sights on the market. This brings the sight mount in direct contact with, and in the center of, the riser, eliminating the need for a side-mount bracket and opens up the outside of the riser’s sight window when coupled with the built-in Integrate dovetail arrow rest mount on the back of the riser. Mathews also employs its 3D Damping Technology designed to decrease vibration in three axes from the point of the grip. Using the Nano 740 Harmonic Damper positioned at extended distances in all three axes, it works to reduce post-shot vibration and noise while its extended forward position adds balance at full draw. The Engage Grip produces a neutral wrist position, offers comfort and, most importantly, encourages consistency in hand position.

Energy Management

The Image features the Crosscentric Cam system combining a smooth-drawing, perfectly circular profile on one half of the cam and a performance-generating, aggressive profile on the other half. Advanced Vectoring System (AVS) Technology employs two small discs on each cam, mounted offset to the axle. Anchored to the ends of the harness cable, the discs rotate non-concentrically during the draw cycle, shifting the force vector to store more energy on the front end of the draw and increase letoff on the back side.

Further, Mathews’ unique SwitchWeight Technology allows the shooter to select peak draw weight, in 5-pound increments, through the module. Modules also dictate letoffs of 80 or 85 percent and draw lengths, in half-inch increments, from 25.5-30 inches. The Image has an advertised IBO speed rating of 335 fps on a 6-inch brace height.

The Mathews Stay Afield System (S.A.S.) uses two posts on each cam, one set closest to the string and the other closest to the cables, that work with the flo-orange servicing cable to allow your bow to be pressed enough to do string and cable work in the field.

A set of split limbs made from industry standard Gordon Glass material are heavily pre-loaded and sit at a past-parallel position at rest. Parallel and past-parallel limb positions at full draw are known to produce less shock, vibration and noise as compared to more upright limb angles. Pockets, which maintain consistent contact with the limbs during the draw-weight adjustment process, are machined from aluminum and black anodized.

Range Notes

With all the Mathews technology loaded into the Image, along with a physical weight of 4-plus pounds, it isn’t surprising this bow barely reports much of anything in terms of shock, vibration or noise at the shot.

Because this is a bow aimed more at young or smaller-framed archers, we tested performance with the bow set at a 25.5-inch draw length and 45-pound draw weight. As such, it was hard to judge the draw cycle and feel of the bow at full draw, since it was several inches shorter than my normal draw length and 20 pounds lighter than my draw weight. However, you can see in the draw-force curve that the Image does indeed offer a smooth draw.

The Engage Grip is comfortable and functional, allowing my hand to return to the same position every shot. As we have come to expect from any Mathews bow, the Image was flawless in workmanship, fit and finish.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Mathews Archery, 608-269-2728;
  • Model: Image
  • Riser: Reflex, Extended Bridge
  • Grip: Engage, molded composite
  • Limbs: Resistance Phase Damping, Split
  • Draw Weights: 40, 43, 47 and 50 pounds peak
  • Draw Lengths: 25.5-30 inches, in half-inch increments; modular
  • Cam System: Crosscentric Cam with SwitchWeight Technology
  • Letoff: 80 or 85 percent, adjustable; 83.2 percent (as tested)
  • String: Zebra, BCY 452X blend, 62.625 inches
  • Cables (x2): Zebra, BCY 452X, 30.0625 inches
  • Brace Height: 6 inches
  • Axle-to-Axle Length: 29 inches
  • Weight: 4.27 pounds (advertised), 4.37 pounds (tested)
  • Finish: Realtree Edge, plus seven additional camo and solid-color options.
  • Advertised IBO Speed: 335 fps
  • MSRP: $1,299
  • Comments: The full flagship bow experience in a low draw-weight package.
Editor's Note: All of our Bow Tests are conducted using the same standardized procedures and professionally calibrated testing equipment. The Image is a low-poundage bow and was tested with a 25.5-inch draw length and 45-pound draw weight.

Speed & Energy

  • Arrow Speed: 232.33 fps (350-grain arrow), 219 fps (400-grain arrow)
  • Kinectic Energy: 41.95 ft./lbs. (350-grain arrow), 42.61 ft./lbs. (400-grain arrow)
  • Dynamic Efficiency: 82.93% (350-grain arrow), 84.24% (400-grain arrow)
  • Shot Noise: 84.83 dBA (350-grain arrow), 84.4 dBA (400-grain arrow)

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