It doesn't matter how much technology changes, how much faster today's bows shoot, or how forgiving they become. If you ask me which bow was my favorite, my answer would have to be my first, a Martin Lynx Magnum.
My fondness for the name Martin Archery simply comes with the memory of that first bow. It had a silver magnesium riser and shiny black limbs. It was difficult to pull the old, modified cams, and I would have been happy to get 200 fps out of the bow, which seems ridiculous in today's 300-plus feet-per-second market. But that was typical of all bows back then.
The bow's shiny colors lasted one season before I threw away the camo limb covers, peeled off the camo tape and headed out to collect a handful of leaves and limbs that would be the stencils for the new "permanent" camo paint job.
It's hard to think of one specific trait that has defined Martin Archery over the years. The main reason, is that Martin has never stood on any one single trait or been known for innovating any one advancement, or focusing on a single design. Instead, Martin Archery has been a full service company. As a result, Martin has withstood the test of time and features some of the finest traditional and compound bows around.
As with most things, you never get a second chance to make a first impression and the first impression of the Martin Cougar III was nothing short of spectacular. I pulled the bow out of the box and just stared at it for a second. The bow's riser has a serpentine shape that sets it apart from other bows on the market both in looks and more importantly, in the field.
There are some great bows out there that I simply shoot consistently without modifying or changing out the grip to an after market model. Martin definitely falls into this category. The grip on the Cougar III is a flat low-wristed design with a one-piece rubber plate that covers both sides and the belly of the grip. My hand went perfectly into position and did not slip, no matter where I placed the pressure. At the NFAA National 3-D in Redding, California, I tried a Cougar III while in a downpour that kept most hovering under cover and got the same result--a solid, no-slip grip.
The Cougar III is offered in four different configurations to fit individual archer's needs. The Cougar III Elite measures 42 inches between the axles, has a 6 1/4-inch brace height and is rated at 308 fps. The Cougar III Straight tapes out at 40 1/8 inches, features a 6 5/8-inch brace height and shoots 306 fps. The Cougar III Magnum that I reviewed for this test measures 36 1/5 inches, has a middle-of-the-road 6 7/8-inch brace height and tops out at 310 fps IBO. The shortest configuration of the Cougar III is the SE model. It measures 32 inches, has a forgiving 75„8-inch brace height and an IBO speed of 295 fps.
While other variations of the Cougar III are available with different cams, the Cougar III Magnum is limited to the Fuzion Cam. The performance-enhancing features of the new Fuzion Cam overshadow other single-cam designs. The Fuzion Cam features draw-length modules that can be adjusted over the entire range of lengths without affecting the draw weight. The draw length modules come standard with 75 percent letoff, but are also offered with 65 percent letoff.
The Cougar III Magnum uses Martin's 14-inch straight glass composite limbs. These limbs are shorter than Martin's other limbs, but offer greater speed, maneuverability and performance. The strings and cables are made from Brownell's Ultra-Cam material. This makes the string faster than other materials and when combined with the shorter, faster Magnum limbs, account for much of the reason that the Cougar III Magnum is the fastest bow in the Martin line.
Single-cam bows have to be shot off the wall with very little to no valley to be consistent. When I drew the Cougar III back, the Fuzion came to a hard wall, but allowed me to relax into the shot without worrying that I was going to collapse. The first few shots were quiet with Martin's Vibration Escape Modules soaking up all but a slight vibration. After I added an active stabilizer and some string silencers, the bow was as silent as it was quiet.