One of the great parts of this business is the conversations that we get to have. We learn so much from our customers, and we are constantly immersed in our passion.
A customer recently asked my Dad, Tom, about a particular bow. I thought that his response was worthy of a blog post, because there is some good information here, but more than anything, it is an interesting read.
Everybody has an opinion of what they are looking for in a bow. Here is a short outline of Tom's opinions.
Excerpt from Tom Clum's Email:
I have been thinking about your question about bows since I saw your first email this morning. Here are MY opinions.
There are a very large number of really good bowyers out there now that are putting out beautiful and great shooting bows.
Most all of the knowledgeable bowyers know how to make a fast bow. They add more reflex, they push the handle back, etc. BUT, most of the attributes that make a the bow fast, make it loud. Too much reflex and handle setback makes the bow unstable, and exaggerates your mistakes (not forgiving).
They know how to make a bow quiet. They deflex the riser, have little or no string contact with the limbs, etc. BUT the bow is slow.
The great bows are a blend that keeps the bow snappy, fairly quiet, and forgiving.
I like short bows, longbows, and physically light bows, but I can't shoot these types of bows at long distance with consistency. Darn, there are always tradeoffs.
I have short bows for niche situations, like when I know things are going to be tight (when I am in a ground blind and will have short shots). But I now mostly shoot a 62" bow, with a "kinda" heavy riser, I am a short guy with a 28" draw. I can really put them in there at long distance with this kind of hunting recurve.
Some bowyers really focus on one aspect of a bow i.e. quiet or fast, and there is a market for the guy who will buy based on one aspect. But to get a bow that is whisper quiet, super fast, and very forgiving, is in my opinion an impossible order. You can however get a high percentage of each of these attributes in the best bows.
My first dis-qualification for a bow is probably grip. You just cannot have a grip where your hand slides to the side, or a grip that "makes" you squeeze in order to keep it straight. For me the bow grip has to be fairly flat so that I can line it up on the life line of my palm quickly and in the same spot every time. It will just sit there without me having to hold onto it.
I had Ben Graham grind a flat spot on my Hummingbird when I went to see him a couple years ago. I immediately shot this bow with improved accuracy. The Hummingbird Kingfisher recurve is an example of a bow that combines a bunch of great features. It is NOT like the Tree's bow in that it has a heavy riser, but it is like it in regards to speed and performance. I have Keith Chastain finishing a bow for me right now, and he has instructions to call me so that I can go over to his place to finalize the shape of the grip. I have Mike Beckwith (Hawk Bows) making a set of limbs for me now for the riser that my boy's gave to me for Christmas. Mike has the best grip in the business.
If you want the best performance (speed) out of a longbow, get an A&H. As you know, Larry Hannify is a fine gentleman and builds a fine bow that will outshoot anything around, as far as speed. If your form is great, these bows will make you better, but if you torque with your bow hand, they may exaggerate your mistakes. I can get perfect hand placement on his take down bows every time. I would shoot them, but I shoot my recurves (with more mass weight in the riser) better at distance.
I do think that a guy has to find that match for himself and I think that this is true if only because of the variety of size in human beings. I am short and hunt big animals, so I might look at speed a little more that a guy with a 30" draw. A big guy might focus more on a quiet bow, because he has no worries about speed. As far as arrow speed goes, an inch of draw length is equivalent to 10 lbs of draw weight, and I can prove it on a chronograph.
The Denver area is the only place that a guy might be able to shoot ten different types of custom bows right next to each other anytime of the year (how is that for an un-disguised advertisement).
At one time we just happened to have about ten different custom bows of almost identical weight. We found it very interesting that among those bows, there was not more than five feet per second difference between them all. All were big name bows, including our local guys, and all except for one used conventional materials. The only design that I can prove that equates to measurably increased arrow speed is the ACS limb design, like in the A&H bows.
Well there you have it. I have just confused the issue, and not given you any kind of definitive answer. And, opinions are like belly buttons.
I still enjoy the discussion.