I love — and even prefer — shooting flagship bows with top-end accessories.
But I'll confess that during many seasons in my life these high-end compound bows have been out of my financial reach. I'm a poor working stiff just like most people out there; I've got a mortgage, insurance payments and all the other trappings of modern living.
So in that spirit, here are some affordable compound bows — each costs less than $600 fully setup. That means a bow and all the accessories necessary to shoot it. Each setup has what it takes to bring down big game cleanly...and to keep your wallet from hurting too badly.
Bear Archery Authority
has reinvented itself in recent years, which means new technologies and big bang for your buck. Nowhere is this truer than in the company's mid-priced models. The all-new Authority brings together many Bear technologies. It includes a silky-smooth, 80-percent let-off, EZ3 single-cam system with comfortable draw cycle and let-off and dual sealed bearings delivering the goods at an impressive 315 fps. It holds energy-efficient Bear Flared Quad Limbs found on many higher-priced models, producing parallel-limb geometry for quiet, shock-free shooting. These are held by Zero Tolerance limb pockets for further silence and vibration elimination.
The Authority includes Dual String Suppressors, aluminum-alloy riser, torque-free grip and Realtree APG finish. It weighs only 4 pounds, includes quick 6 ¾-inch brace height and maneuverable 31-inch axle-to-axle measurement. It's offered in peak draw weights of 50, 60 or 70 pounds, and draw lengths from 24 ½ to 31 ½ inches, making it a perfect choice for adults and youth or female shooters.
The RTH (Ready To Hunt) Authority package includes Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit arrow rest, TR 5-pin fiber-optic sight, TR Ridge Quiver, stabilizer and braided sling, and factory-installed peep and string/D-loop.
400 bow only; $
is an important source of bowhunting goods for many archers around the nation, especially those situated far from ready pro shops. Cabela's has been affordably outfitting outdoorsmen for decades. The brand-new Instigator by BowTech
was designed specifically to get the next generation of bowhunters into the game quickly. This affordable, ready-to-shoot outfit is perfect for smaller-framed shooters like women and teens interested in experiencing some big-game action, or even adult bowhunters with draw lengths less than 29 inches.
It offers a draw-weight range of 30 to 65 pounds and draw-lengths span from 23 to 29 inches — all in a single bow. Such latitude makes it the perfect package for youth archers who out-grow their tennis shoes on a monthly basis.
The 31-inch axle-to-axle bow includes a smooth-pulling, 80-percent let-off, single-cam system and forgiving, 7-inch brace height that easily produces IBO arrow speeds of up to 300 fps. The Instigator weighs only 4.4 pounds rigged to hunt.
The complete package includes a 3-pin Apex fiber-optic sight, Octane Hostage XL full-capture arrow rest, Octane Deadlock Lite 5-arrow quiver, five-inch Octane stabilizer and comfort wrist sling, factory-installed alloy peep sight and string/D-loop. Both left- and right-hand shooters can take advantages of this outfit, and the bow is finished in Realtree APG
Diamond Archery Core
Diamond Archery by BowTech
— it could be fairly said — provides last year's cutting-edge BowTech technology at a more affordable price this year. Diamond Archery's Core
was introduced last year, but due to popular demand has remained in the 2014 lineup. The Core is a R.A.K. Equipped (Ready. Aim. Kill.) bow that stands out due to a smooth disposition combined with a fast demeanor, producing 313 fps IBO speeds without a harsh or bumpy draw cycle. In short, the Core offers a highly-dependable, sweet-shooting and hard-hitting bow for the bowhunter on a budget, offered ready to shoot right out of the box.
The Core weighs only 3.2 pounds and includes easy-to-handle 31-inch axle-to-axle specs. The 7.25-inch brace height makes it relatively forgiving, to make the best of those shots taken under pressure. A single bow is capable of accommodating draw lengths from 25 to 30 inches and draw weights from 25 to 30 inches. In this respect the Core is another great bow for growing bowhunters, women and adults alike. Rotating modules make adjustments fast and easy.
R.A.K. Equipped accessories include an Octane DeadLock Lite 5-arrow quiver, 3-pin Apex fiber-optic sight, Octane 5-inch Ultra-Lite Stabilizer and Comfort Wrist Sling, Octane Hijack Arrow Rest for full-containment security, alloy peep and BCY string/D-loop.
When I think of Hoyt
most especially I think in terms of flagship models like the revolutionary Carbon Matrix. Hoyt has long stood as an industry leader in cutting-edge technology. What might remain less evident to the average bowhunter is that Hoyt is also a great place to shop for a feature-packed budget bow. At our $600 cut-off, Hoyt's new Ignite
stands as a shining example. It holds many of the performance technologies that have made Hoyt one of the industry's leading brands, but at a price half that of the company's top models.
Like many other bows in this lineup, the Ignite accommodates a wide variety of bowhunters, the special Cam & ½ system allows draw-length adjustments from 19 to 30 inches, and draw weights from 15 to 70 pounds. This makes it perfect for beginning youth and woman archers, as well as full-sized men. It also includes past-parallel, wide-base split limbs that are stable on release and designed to minimize shot vibrations and noise. The low-torque grip is a product of Hoyt's ultra-strong bridge riser, with Tech Riser limb support holding machined-aluminum pivoting pockets that better spread the load while at full draw for less torque while also further taming vibrations and noise.
The compact 28-inch axle-to-axle unit includes a highly-forgiving 8-inch brace for those more interested in shootability than raw speed, though it does send arrows downrange at a respectable 300 fps IBO. And the Ignite weighs only 3.6 pounds out of the box. The standard Ignite package includes Fuse's Profire 3-pin fiber-optic sight, Fuse Vector 4-arrow quiver and Whisker Biscuit total-containment arrow rest. Add a peep and string/D-loop and you're ready to hit the range or field.
499 (bow only) $
599 (complete package)
Like BowTech's Diamond Archery, Mission
was created as a more affordable avenue for Mathews technology. Mission has emerged as a powerhouse of its own by providing feature-packed hunting bows more customers can afford. The Mission Ballistic
is a perfect example. It includes an Advanced Vectoring Cam System (synchronized dual-cam) known for a smooth draw cycle and impressive speed.
The Ballistic is comfortable in the hand, quiet, fast and deadly accurate. Its highly-efficient modular, 80-percent let-off AVS cam system offers a balanced combination of adjustability and performance in a single bow, allowing beginning or expert archers to adjust from draw lengths of from 26 to 30 inches (modules also available in half-inch increments) and draw weights from 50 to 70 pounds without the need for a bow press. Bowhunting silence is accentuated via factory-installed Dead End string stop (which also promotes more positive and consistent nock separation) and String Grubs to minimize string-drop vibrations.
This 30.5-inch axle-to-axle, 4.18-pound bow is capable of IBO arrow speeds of up to 330 fps — velocity right up there with much pricey bows — thanks in part to a 7-inch brace height. Mission's Basic Kit includes Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit arrow rest, Bohning black Lynx Quiver and Copper John Saxon 3-pin fiber-wrapped sight (upgrades are available for more).
499 (bow only), $
599 (complete with Basic Accessory Kit)
PSE RTS Surge
Long known as a company offering a good deal, PSE's new RTS Surge
had its work cut out for it from the get-go, replacing the long popular and battle-proven Brute. The Surge upstages its predecessor by being lighter, faster and more adjustable than the Brute via a stable and lightweight split-limb system and hard-hitting single-cam drive train, setting a new standard for economical performance.
The 4.3-pound Surge includes a String Stop for quieter shots and increased accuracy potential through more positive nock separation after release. The machined-aluminum riser, pivoting limb pockets and wider-base split limbs assure a more stable launch platform. The 75 percent let-off, single-cam system allows draw-length adjustments from 19.5 to 30 inches in a single bow and propels arrows to speeds of from 312 to 320 fps IBO. The 7.25-inch brace and 32.5-inch axle-to-axle provide excellent forgiveness for easier shooting. It's offered in peak draw weights of 50, 60 and 70 pounds, and covered in black, Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camouflage or Skullworks graphics finishes.
The RTS (Ready To Hunt) package includes a 3-pin fiber-wrapped Gemini sight, Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit arrow rest, Flexxtech 2 dampening-rubber stabilizer, PSE Neoprene wrist sling, factory-installed peep and string/D-loop.