Martin ShadowCat Bow Review

Martin ShadowCat Bow Review

Martin has a long history of making bows that have been successful in both the target and hunting arenas. Their new ShadowCat looks to venture into both worlds with qualities designed to satisfy either side.

Martin's ShadowCat is loaded with features, including a long riser, CAT 1.5 cams, pivoting ROTO Cup limb pockets, STS Shock Terminator, integrated VEM Module damping accessories, 4X Laminated CoreFlex limbs and Stone Mountain string and cables.

Why the Long Riser?
It is no secret longer risers are generally reserved for tack-driving target bows. So, you have to ask yourself why the ShadowCat is available in camo. In short, the whole tack driving thing is something that not only wins tournaments but brings down trophies as well. Martin understands there are archers who are all about accuracy, and some of them shoot fingers rather than a release aid. The ShadowCat's modular riser measures nearly 33 inches long, giving the rig an overall axle-to-axle length of 41'‰1⁄2 inches, which is music to the finger shooter's ears.

Still, the CNC machined riser is not without its hunting qualities. You will find the Silent Arrow Shelf and two Vibration Escape Modules (VEM) seated into the riser. All of these accessories are made of a proprietary, semi-solid rubber designed to capture and eliminate vibration. Also fighting the battle against noise is an STS Shock Terminator string suppressor that is "cloaked" with the same Next G1 camo on the riser. A thin, integral grip is machined directly into the riser handle with rounded corners and a comfortable wrist position angle.

Limbs and Pockets
Martin calls on its tried and true Pivoting Roto Cup limb pocket system to handle the critical interface between riser and limb and reduce overall mass weight. ShadowCat limb pockets are extremely minimal in their construction, with little that resembles a traditional pocket. In fact, there is no actual pocket surrounding the end of the limbs.

It may be better to refer to this configuration as a limb containment or alignment system. The limb bolt passes through a large diameter counter sunk circular plate, washer, and limb before threading into a barrel nut, which is seated in one side of the riser's flared end. The other side of the flare is machined into a dished out, semi-circular structure that cradles Martin's Roto Cup.

Martin's Pivoting Roto Cups perfectly align the ShadowCat's multi-layered laminated limbs, which come to a parallel position at full draw. Vibration Escape Modules help dampen vibration.

The Roto Cup is aligned to the riser by, and pivots around, a hidden, precision polished steel pin that is pressed into the riser. Two polished steel pins then align the Roto Cup to the non-hinged portion of the limb. The system successfully controls the limbs without the extra material found in many pocket designs.

ShadowCat limbs measure approximately 13 inches long, are straight in form (not recurve) and solid in construction (not split/quad limb sets). Martin constructs the limbs with a multi-layer laminated CoreFlex glass system. Lamination is achieved with a combination of heat and compression. Limbs reach a parallel position at full draw and act in opposition to one another at the shot, effectively canceling out much of the leftover energy that tends to cause vibration and noise. This is a quality any bowhunter can appreciate.

Martin's CAT 1.5 cam system lets users easily change draw length, letoff and the feel of the back wall thanks to a modular design and adjustable draw stop.

Versatile Power Plant
Martin's CAT 1.5 cam system is easily adjustable in draw length, letoff and the "feel" of the valley/back wall. A single, multi-position module covers the entire 27-30-inch draw length range. No bow press is required to make changes -- simply remove a couple of screws, re-position the module and replace screws. An adjustable draw stop allows the valley and letoff to be fine-tuned.

The ShadowCat balances like no other bow I have tested this year. It is absolutely rock solid on the target. Where some bows seem to fight you every step of the way, the ShadowCat draws you right into the target.

The shot produced notable kick and average noise, both of which were significantly tamed by adding a quality stabilizer and string silencers.

The draw cycle was pleasant throughout, with a slight peak just before breaking over.

Editor's Note: Our standardized High Grade testing includes the use of the same equipment and test methods. All bows are tested with a draw length of 29 inches and a draw weight of 65 pounds.

Recommended for You

Treestands & Blinds

How Do You Get Up the Tree for Saddle Hunting?

Greg Staggs

These tools and tactics are what minimalist tree saddle hunters use to climb!

Treestands & Blinds

Where Do I Put My Feet When Tree Saddle Hunting?

Greg Staggs

Sit, stand or lean - this is what you'll need!

Bow Accessories

6 Ways to Make Your Bow Quieter

Darron McDougal

Is your bow setup a bit noisy? Try these tips to silence it.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

First Look: Mathews Vertix Bow

"Petersen's Bowhunting" editor Christian Berg and Mathews design engineer Mark Hayes talk the smooth, quiet and fast shooting qualities of the new flagship Vertix bow from the Wisconsin bowmaker.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

ATA Show

Top New Arrows for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our list of the best new hunting arrows from the 2019 ATA Show!


Summer Scouting Spectacular

Bill Winke - July 17, 2019

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm!

ATA Show

Best New Bow Sights for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our picks for the best new bow sights from the 2019 ATA Show!

See More Stories

More Bows


Bow Review: Mission Hype DTX

Jon E. Silks - April 27, 2018

Mission is all about creating bows that employ get-it-done technology and then backing that up...

ATA Show

5 New Package Bows for 2019

T.A. Harrison

Check out these complete bow packages to make selecting the right gear easier.


First Look: 2019 Mathews Vertix

Christian Berg - November 13, 2018

Editor Christian Berg gives you a first look at the brand new 2019 Mathews Vertix

See More Bows

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.