Field Evaluation: BowTech 2008 101st Airborne By Dave Conrad
Jan 12, 2008 - 2:13:46 PM
The 2008 BOWTECH 101st Airborne:
The military theme bows have been established at BowTech Archery for quite a few years now and the 2008 models do not disappoint in the naming scheme. The General, 82nd and 101st Airborne are the latest and newest breed of bows developed for this archery season whether it be hunting or competition.
The General continues to expand on last years hugely successful Center Pivot limb and CenterTac Binary Cam technologies. The Airborne models boast the third generation of the popular Binary Cams and refine it to produce speed without sacrificing smooth performance. The 82nd is a speed burner with speeds up to 350 fps while the 101st offers a generous 7.25" brace height while still attaining speeds of 340 fps. (
For more go to: BowTech Archery)
The 101st Airborne Division was activated on August 15, 1942. It is an air assault division of the United States Army and nicknamed the "Screaming Eagles". It is so forth named because the divisions badge is an American Eagle that will crush its enemies by falling upon them like a thunderbolt from the skies. The thunderbolt reminds me of the arrows being launched from the 101st.
101st Airborne Riser: The first recognizable attraction on this beauty is the always present sleek lines and contours of a Bowtech riser. The reflex design attributes to the beauty but also the speed with a reflex measurement of 3 1/8". The 101st riser is forged from lightweight yet strong 6061 T6 Aluminum then fully machined. BowTech's research shows that this process makes for a stronger design in the molecular structure. "It preserves the grain strength of the original alloy making the finished riser stronger and more resilient."
The riser's wide arrow shelf incorporates a flanged upward leading edge. This allows for an oversized sight window. Lower rest holes combined with a thumb groove directly underneath the shelf allows the archers hand to be closer to the arrow shaft. These advancements reduce vertical torque thereby creating greater feel and accuracy. The grip is constructed of laminate wood and consists of two side plates. Three other grip options are available which include a one piece, laser or a heated grip.
New for 2008 BowTech has introduced the InVelvet finish on the riser and limbs. It is an armor coating that is more resilient than other finishes while at the same time incorporating noise dampening properties.
Grip Options: The one piece laminate grip is made from a long lasting wood polymar to insure years of service. The leading manufacturer of handgun laser sights, Crimson Trace, engineered the LaserGrip sight. This exclusive two piece grip design for BowTech utilizes an ergonomic activation system. As the bow is drawn a switch located at the rear of the bow is pressure activated. The ergonomics of the grip holds the same lines as the one piece so they can be interchange without loss of feel. HotPursuit is BowTech's answer to the cold winter hunts. It is powered by a nine volt battery which averages around 5 hours of 40 to 50 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. Wow, I could have used that on several of my hunts over the years in the cold Ohio temperatures.
Limbs and Limb Pockets: Pivoting limb pockets with zero tolerance are a crucial part of accuracy. Any "slop" can result in inconsistency which truly affect a bows performance. The GC 67 glass construction of the 101st 13 inch limbs are matched and sculptured perfectly to their pockets. This is accomplished with a slight taper in the limb pockets that conform to the shape of the limbs. Ten pound bow increments are adjustable through tightening the bolts and the 101st Airborne is available in 50-60 or 60-70 draw weight options.
Cable Guard: New for 2008, BowTech has utilized a Roller Guard type cable guard. A roller guard can aid in minimizing cable damage due to reduced friction. Reduced friction from the roller guard also allows higher arrow speeds while reducing noise and vibration. Present on the end of the roller guard is also another first for Bowtech in the Shortstop. The ShortStop is a reversed flange or U shaped grommet which captures the bowstring absorbing string vibration and oscillation. No need for string suppressor or any other string silencers. Since there is no added weight on the string expect a few more feet per second.
Eccentrics: Expect an even smoother draw cycle with the third generation Binary Cam system. The Binary Cam system ties or enslaves the cams together allowing them to function as a single unit. No more trying to stabilize each cam by the opposing limb. By tying them together the archer's shot is more consistent and efficient resulting in higher accuracy shot after shot. The smooth draw cycle begins with needle bearings rotating on stainless steel axles. It continues throughout the draw cycle because the cams are machined so the center of mass is as close to the axle as possible which in turn minimize shock and vibration upon release.
Draw lengths are adjustable with a module change from 27.5 to 31.5 in half inch increments. Fine tuning of the draw length can be made in 1/16th of an inch setting by adjusting a draw stop post. Draw Length Modules come in either smooth or speed design. Smooth modules for which named gives the archer more comfort whereas the speed mod loads up a little more through the draw cycle giving increased speed up to 12 feet per second.
Let-off is adjustable as well from 65 to 80 percent by altering a draw stop post. BowTech recommends not moving the post more than 1/2 mark off the factory setting. The let-off adjustment may require a combination of draw length module and post change in order to fine tune the bow.
Cables and String: BowTech utilizes 22 strand 452x BCY material for both the string and cables. 452x is a blend of Dyneema and Vectran. Vectran is utilized for its no creep properties as well as its speed properties.
Finishes: For 2008 Bowtech utilizes their state of the art WaterDog Surface Technologies to apply the camo finish. The hydrographic film dipping process is available in a variety of finishes including Realtree Hardwoods Green HD, Realtree APG, Advantage Max-4, Mossy Oak Obsession, Mossy Oak Brush, Mossy Oak Treestand, Firestorm Gray, Testarozza and Cottonwood.
Now comes the meat of the evaluation and consists of putting the 101st Airborne to the test.
Overall Inspection: The bow has quite a few new enhancements compared to previous BowTech bows. The first thing you notice is the new cable Roller Guard system as well as the ShortStop string suppressor. With the addition of the ShortStop, Bowtech has eliminated any string suppressors on the string. This I am sure will aid in adding a few fps to overall arrow speed. The riser adds to the overall axle to axle length of 36.25", which is close to three inches longer than my current hunting bow (2006 Bowtech Allegiance). The longer riser also attributes to the mass weight of 4.2 pounds.
I am impressed with the new InVelvet finish. It has a different feel, like a rubber like but yet smooth feeling. The standard Realtree Hardwoods Green HD finish was flawless.
The new Binary cams system has a teardrop shape. The draw cycle comes up to poundage quickly and is held until let-off. The valley on the draw cycle has probably the best feel of any bow I can recall. It has the slightest creep which is what I prefer. Too much creep gives a spongy anchor and none what so ever tends to be a jerk surprise if you happen to let down or while trying to adjust for a shot. I like the solid wall of the post stop coming against the limb. I believe this is the best anchor type in the industry and quite a few manufacturers utilize it.
The fit and finish of the pivoting limb pockets are a well thought out design. The Limb is finished to the shape of the limb pocket and not just a straight cutoff. The elastic material between the limb pocket and riser has vibration absorbing qualities which attribute to the solid feeling upon release.
The riser has a very adequate sight window and I like the fact that the BowTech cuts a trough down through the center of the riser shelf. My arrow, which uses Duravane 4" fletchings clear the ShortStop by a sixteenth of an inch.
Each BowTech bow comes from the factory with a Birth Certificate attached. This certificate insures each bow is inspected and meets the requirements for that make and model. If it doesn't meet the standards then it doesn't leave the factory. My 101st came with a certificate stating 326 fps at 29" and 70 lbs with the speed modules. Adding another 10 fps for an additional inch in draw length should bring it to within the specs of 332-340 IBO. I chrono'd it shooting my hunting arrow, ACC 360, 28.50", 410 grains, at 308 fps. The test was done with a prong TM hunter style rest. I also plan to put a drop away rest on the 101st which may add a foot or two but is is plenty fast for my hunting setup.
Design - 10.0 Has a combination of leading edge technologies that scores very high. Binary Cams, VFT parallel limb design, InVelvet finish, large site window and shelf.
Fit/Finish - 9.5 BowTech's Waterdog hydrographic film dipping is one of the best in the industries. The new InVelvet finish feels great and is armor tough.
Price - 9.0 All the technology of engineering, production and with other cost such as marketing put the retail price at 829.00. A couple shops I have checked seem to be charging in the 770-775 dollar range.
Overall Rating - 9.5 of 10. I find this to be a superior bow and probably one of the best bows on the market for 2008. Quite frankly I find the 101st Airborne to be one of the best bows I have ever shot. The third generation of the Binary Cam has a very smooth and consistent draw cycle. The poundage comes up fast and is constant until you hit let-off. The valley is short and anchors into a very solid back wall. Upon release there is no jump and I attribute this to the well balance and vertical force technology of the parallel limbs. The bow is a little longer than my two previous hunting bows by about 3 inches but I do not believe that will be a problem when it comes to treestand hunting. Heck I remember when I was using bows over 40 inches and didn't have a problem.