Article by Keith Dunlap – January 11, 2011
Edited by Stanley Holtsclaw – April 12, 2017

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Barnett has been producing quality crossbows for over 50 years now, and they have sold over 1 million crossbows to date…backing up their claim to be the “real industry leader of quality crossbow manufacturing and engineering”. Barnett has been a pioneer in the bowhunting industry, with inventions like the Commando “self-cocking” crossbow, the first compound crossbow…the Demon, and their patented quick detach front end on their crossbows.

They have put a lot of time and resources into developing quality bows that are built for the hunt. Barnett has also provided quality youth bows for many years, and their latest addition is the focus of this review.

In this field evaluation, my daughter Sarah and I will evaluate the Barnett “Vortex”; a versatile youth compound bow that has everything needed to get your youngster started in the sport of archery and bowhunting. This youth archery bow will also grow with the young archer. Draw weights are adjustable from 16 lbs to 45 lbs and will provide the young hunting enthusiast an opportunity to learn and hunt in the woods. Adjustable draw modules are included for a quick and easy draw length change without a bow press.

The new Vortex youth bow from Barnett

– Barnett Vortex Basics –

We’ll begin with the basics of the Vortex…including a look at the features and accessories included with the package. The Vortex is a youth compound bow that comes complete with everything the young person needs to get started in archery and bowhunting, and to grow with the bow. Included with the bow were a basic plastic arrow rest, 2-piece three-arrow quiver, three arrows, and a 3-pin fiber optic bow sight.

The package also included the 5 cam modules required for draw length adjustments between 21-27 inches in half inch increments. Allen keys are included for the adjustments and setup. The package for the Vortex can be used as a case as the bow simply snaps into locking posts on the packaging (see figure 1).

The draw weight on the Vortex is adjustable from 16-45 lbs based upon the combination of module used and string position (positive, neutral, negative). Changing the draw length modules does not require a bow press; however, changing the string position + or – on the cams does require a bow press. You can fine tune the Vortex to fit your young person by adjusting the string position on the cams. When putting the string on the “+” post on the cam, a ½ inch of draw length and 2.5 lbs of draw weight is added to the Vortex. When putting the string on the “-“ position, a ½ inch of draw length and 2.5 lbs of draw weight is removed. Both cams must be on the same post or the bow will be off a ½ inch either way.

The shape of the grip on the Vortex is molded into the riser and there are no plastic or wood pieces on the grip. It has a good feel to it and seems just right to fit the size of younger hands as they progress through the early hunting age. There is no silencing equipment found on the Vortex, but I would recommend adding string and limb silencers for hunting situations. The Vortex has a one piece aluminum riser with split composite limbs. Dual cams provide a smooth draw with 60-70% let-off.

– Initial Setup –

The Vortex came complete with all accessories needed for your youth to get started in our great sport of archery. I added a kisser button, string D-loop and installed the rest, sight and quiver that came with the Vortex bow. My daughter wanted pink arrows, so the natural choice was the “Pink Arrow” 25/45 by Victory Arrows, the Official Arrow of the Pink Arrow Project. The Pink Arrow Project is about archers helping archers to fight cancer and is headed up by Mary Hale. You can read more about this project at Pink Arrow Project.

New Pink Arrows from Victory and the Pink Arrow Project

Sarah also used the official broadhead of the Pink Arrow Project, the pink 3-blade 100 grain Innerloc model 3600 head from Sullivan Archery. These fixed-blade heads have a new blade alignment technology worth a look.

I performed the usual initial setup to ensure that the nocking point and rest were properly adjusted and I tuned the center shot using my Easy Eye Laser Eze-Center Gauge. Next, the Vortex was paper tuned and ready for my daughter Sarah to put the bow to the test.

Vortex has all the accessories needed to get started

– Testing –

My evaluation began with a thorough visual examination of the Vortex for any workmanship quality issues or defects. Upon inspection, I found no visible defects. The eccentrics moved freely when pressure was removed from the strings and cables. All parts fit together perfectly, nothing was loose and the bow and each of its components were mechanically sound.

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the Vortex considering its price point and when compared to other starter bows on the market. The quality is far superior to anything for youth that I have seen at this price level. Sometimes you might just get more than you pay for and this seems to be the case with the Vortex youth bow.

– Shooting –

We began with the basics for Sarah, as she is just starting in our great sport. We practiced form and function first (and eliminating the fear a seven year old feels when she first shoots a bow). Once we had the Vortex adjusted to Sarah for draw length, draw weight and sighting in…she began shooting the bow repeatedly from a distance of 10 yards.

We eventually, over time, worked our way out to 30 yards. This step took quite some time, which was expected but she eventually became comfortable and accurate at the longer yardages. Over all, Sarah became comfortable with the Vortex quickly and was shooting for accuracy within the first weeks of practice. We concentrated on repetition and form for several weeks in preparation for hunting for the first time. During our practice Sarah used the Vortex the entire time and became quite good with the bow. I was able to gradually adjust her draw weight up until she could comfortably shoot the poundage necessary to successfully harvest a deer with this bow, provided the opportunity presented itself.

The Vortex performed very well for Sarah throughout our time of shooting. The adjustability features made it easy to start her at low poundage and then work up to hunting poundage (45 lbs is the min. poundage required for hunting in Pennsylvania). We found the Vortex to shoot accurately, provided Sarah did her part and remained consistent.

The bow was quiet, but I would recommend adding Limb Savers and String Silencers for hunting situations to make the Vortex all the more quiet. At one point during the testing, Sarah made the comment to me…”This new bow is easy to shoot”. This made it much easier to teach Sarah the basics of archery shooting because she had confidence that she could do it and do it well. The Vortex enabled her to start out slowly, but grow into hunting situations with the bow. I only wish that the Vortex was available to me when I purchased youth bows for my two sons’ years ago. I spent considerably more money for their bows and did not really get any more for my money. In fact, the Vortex has more adjustment in it than either of my sons’ youth bows had.

Easy draw length adjustment using modules

The Vortex is an excellent youth starter bow at great value for the price. Sarah loved this bow. She loved the way it looked and thought it was comfortable to shoot. Importantly, she just had a great time learning to shoot with the Vortex. The adjustability features on the Vortex made it easy to fit the bow to her needs, but will also grow with her as she grows. We were all looking forward to her first hunt and unfortunately we were not successful at taking a deer with the Vortex this year, but we look forward to next season when Sarah will again try her archery skills on the whitetail using her new Vortex bow.

Sarah takes aim with her new Vortex

Pros: great value, easy to adjust, room to grow

Cons: accessories could be upgraded for improved shooter consistency

– Specifications –

  • Available in RH only
  • Mass weight: 2.3 lbs.
  • Draw weights: 16-45 pounds peak
  • Draw lengths: 21-27 inches (1/2 inch increments)
  • Axle-to-axle length: 27.5 inches
  • Brace height: 7.25 lbs
  • Let-off: 60-70%
  • String: 51” 16-strands BCY B-500
  • Cable: 32” BCY DynaFlite 97
  • Finish: Camo
  • Street Price: $99.99 [check availability and current pricing @Amazon]

Don’t forget to check out more posts by Keith Dunlap, or to learn more about Barnett Youth Archery and the products they offer – shop current Barnett products on Amazon, visit online, or check our sister site,, for more Bow related links.