Experience? What a Strange Name.
2014 Bowtech Experience, Lessons Learned and Applied
|Bowtech Experience Ready-to-Hunt Package Camo Bowtech Experience Black Ops Ready-to-Hunt Package|
|THE OLD DAYS: We've been selling Bowtech Bows since the year 2000. Early bows like the Extreme Solo, the Mighty Mite and the Black Knight 2 immediately captured the market's attention. In an era when even the fastest bows struggled to break the 300 fps barrier, Bowtech was actually slinging arrows into the mid-340's. Kevin Strother's original cam designs were beastly - and everything about the bows just oozed with raw aggression: the cycles were harsh, the risers were highly reflexed, the limbs came preloaded to the Oh my God setting and even the aesthetics seemed menacing. The early Bowtech bows were top notch quality too, but few would have called them smooth - or quiet - or forgiving. But, boy oh boy, were they fast!|
|BOWTECH BLAST-OFF: Many young shooters and adrenaline types immediately defected their old brands to ride the Bowtech freight train. And for a while, if you weren't shooting a Bowtech - you were just shooting slow. In short order, Bowtech literally dominated the speed-bow market, growing from an enthusiastic start-up into a major bow company in just a few quick seasons. As an early business partner, we were thrilled with their success - our success. Bowtech bows filled our display racks and customers simply loved them ... or hated them.|
|THE COMPETITION: While Bowtech clearly had the advantage regarding performance, all that power came at the price of stealth and comfort. Market favorites like the Mathews Q2 and the Hoyt VorTec easily bested the Bowtech bows when it came to noise and vibration control - and they were far more comfortable to draw and shoot. As a result, many experienced bowhunters weren't so eager to accept the trade-offs and stuck to their trusted brands. This touched-off a long and mind-numbing debate about speed vs. stealth. The forums bickered on-and-on about it for years. We can only imagine how many threads were entitled "Mathews vs. Bowtech" during that era. We stopped reading after the first hundred or so. Ultimately, it all came down to preference. Some shooters valued power and performance - some shooters valued smooth and quiet shooting manners.|
|MAYBE SPEED BOWS ARE JUST NOISY: As you might imagine, Bowtech was acutely aware of this chink in their armor. But at the time, little could be done about it. A 340 fps bow simply couldn't be made to shoot as smoothly and quietly as a 300 fps bow - no matter how many Limb Savers you pasted on the limbs. Efficiencies simply weren't high enough to make residual vibration negligible. Only a certain percentage of the bow's energy could be successfully transferred into the arrow - the rest went to creating noise, vibration, and forward limb thrust (hand-shock). The more energy a bow stored, the more energy it ultimately expressed as noise, vibration, and hand-shock. It was a simple correlation. Faster bows generally had more shock - slower bows generally had less. Since Bowtech was betting the farm on performance bows, this was a real problem.
UNIVERSAL JACK-HAMMERS: To be fair, since all high-output compound bows of that era shared the same design flaw (more on that in a moment), they all generated hideous amounts of hand-shock, to one degree or another. Even the bows that were considered "smooth" back then would be considered unsalable jack-hammers today. Calling any bow smooth and low-recoil in those days was a matter of perspective and contrast (and sometimes deception). In reality, they were all terrible. But at the time, there were no technologies available to correct the problems. So Bowtech started inventing them.
|UGLY DUCKLING TO A SWAN: In 2002, we got our first look into the future with the introduction of the Bowtech Patriot. The Patriot was ... well ... different. It was framed with a long ugly riser - with a stabilizer mount that jutted out awkwardly - and it had these short little limbs. Very strange. The limbs angled back toward the shooter, and at full draw they were almost parallel with each other. What were they thinking? Bows should be shaped like a "D", with upright limbs and short risers, right? We weren't so sure about the Patriot at first. But when we shot it, we noticed that something was definitely missing ... most of the hand-shock. The Patriot didn't jump from your hand like most bows. It really didn't kick much at all. The limbs didn't thrust forward in that familiar violent jerk - it was greatly subdued compared to Bowtech's other bows. Noise and vibration were also greatly reduced. And in spite of the bow's moderate draw cycle and fairly tall 7.25" brace height, it was still cranking 320 fps - well ahead of the curve in 2002. Clearly Bowtech was on to something.|
|SOMEONE GOT AN "A" IN PHYSICS CLASS: On a standard D-shaped bow, the limbs spring forward (away from the shooter) when you fire the bow. Since the limbs are hard-mounted to the bow's riser, the inertia of the limbs drag the riser forward too - which the shooter feels in the grip as an abrupt jerk. This is commonly described as hand-shock, and the faster a bow shoots - the more hand-shock you generate. But Bowtech's solution literally changed the whole game - the whole market. By orienting the limbs so they flexed up and down in a vertical motion, rather than back and forth in a horizontal motion, the net effect on the riser was neutralized. The top limb sprang up when fired- the bottom limb sprang down when fired - and the riser wasn't tugged forward. The opposing forces seemed to cancel one another. Finally we had a solution for hand-shock that treated the cause, rather than the symptom.|
|VERTICAL FORCE TECHNOLOGY = PARALLEL LIMBS: The next season, Bowtech introduced several models to specifically showcase this new architecture (Patriot VFT, Extreme VFT, Samson VFT) and dubbed it Vertical Force Technology. Unfortunately, the Patriot's strange geometry had caught the attention of the enemy camps in 2002. Several competing manufacturers swooped in to lay their claims on the parallel limb concept for 2003, and by 2004/2005 the parallel limb craze spread industry wide. Limb angles kept coming down, and hand-shock, as we knew it, was becoming a thing of the past. Limb Savers and dangly anti-vibration gadgets began gathering dust on the shelves. The parallel limb bows just didn't need them. And best of all, these parallel limb bows seemed to be more efficient. Average bow speeds jumped ten fps across the market. More of the energy seemed to be making it into the arrows - which made sense.|
|MORE TECHNOLOGIES EMERGE: The 2003 Bowtech Extreme VFT was shooting 333 fps on a 6-5/8" brace height - ridiculous fast for the day. Vibration issues had been vastly improved ... but Bowtech wasn't satisfied. Over the next decade, Bowtech engineers repeatedly stunned the industry with a stream of innovations: Binary Cams, Center Pivot Limbs, Flexguard Roller Guards, integrated Dampeners and String Stops, Carbon Core Limbs, etc. Every season the Bowtech bows got more and more refined. As the technologies developed, we began to see that Bowtech was capable of much more than just speed.
BETTER AND BETTER EVERY YEAR: The 328 fps 2005 Allegiance VFT blew us all away. Even quieter and smoother than the Extreme VFT, the Allegiance is still a highly regarded bow even today. But it wasn't quite perfect. The 320 fps Tribute of 2006 was even smoother than that, and the 325 fps Center-Pivot Guardian of 2007 barely made a sound. Whatever advantages Mathews and Hoyt might have had over Bowtech's early fire-breathers, those advantages had been nullified. Bowtech's technologies were coming together. There was just no point in trying to argue that Bowtech bows were second to anything else. Bows like the Guardian and General were (at least) as quiet, smooth, shock-free, and forgiving as anything Mathews and Hoyt had rolled out in that era. Even their loyal fan-boys knew it. Bowtech was taking the lead.
|THE NATIVES GROW RESTLESS: During the pursuit to earn the admiration of the smooth and quiet crowd, Bowtech's young and rowdy followers were growing restless. It seemed those 340 and 350 fps bows had been placed on the back-burner. The truth was, Bowtech was trying to apply what they had learned in order to build the ultimate speed bow. Of course, that's still the proverbial unicorn of the industry. Nobody has ever been able to build an absolutely smokin' fast 350 fps bow that's smooth to draw, quiet, shock-free, and forgiving to shoot. There's always a trade-off - always a sacrifice somewhere - particularly with the draw cycle. If you want to store enough energy to blast into the 350's at IBO, a soft draw cycle just isn't going to cut it. If you can't get that much energy in - you certainly can't get that much energy out. Even with fantastic overall efficiencies, the draw cycle still has to be aggressive to get there. Nevertheless, Bowtech took a shot at it in 2008 with the 82nd Airborne - a brutal 350 fps screamer. And it was good - darn good - but it still felt like a twitchy speed bow. Bowtech's critics scoffed on command.|
|GOING! GOING! GOING!: The subdued flagships of 2009, the Admiral and the Captain, again punctuated Bowtech's dedication to building smooth, quiet, and recoil-free bows, but in 2010, Bowtech nearly hit one over the fence with the remarkable Destroyer 350. A dramatic improvement over the 82nd Airborne, the Destroyer 350 was strangely quiet for a 350 fps speed bow. The bow made a distinctive sound - like a tennis racquet lightly striking a ball - but the sound was surprisingly faint. Recoil and vibration were negligible and the bow looked fabulous. For speed bow fans, it was a winner. Unfortunately, the draw cycle was still pretty aggressive. You certainly knew you were shooting a speed bow. But the Destroyer 350 was dangerously close to ideal. Bowtech was literally getting down to picking nits.|
|PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: The only thing left to do was to build a speed bow with the Overdrive Binary Cams AND the Center Pivot riser. Sure enough ... in 2012 we got the Insanity CPX. Bowtech had clearly put all their cards on the table. Every technology in the arsenal - every lesson learned - over a decade of research and development all seemed to come to fruition in this one bow. With an outright maniacal 355 IBO Speed, the Insanity CPX seemed to ooze with the same raw ferocity as the original Bowtech bows a decade ago, but Bowtech had added a decade of wisdom, dignity, and refinement. The Insanity CPX may be the finest speed bow ever produced. No shock - no vibration - incredible stability - and less noise than you make turning off a bedroom light switch. Customers went bananas. In 2012, we sold a ton of them. To say that the Bowtech Insanity CPX was the "big-gun" around here would be an understatement.
TRUE TO THE BREED: In every measurable way, the Insanity CPX is far superior to any of its esteemed predecessors. It's almost a sacrilege to just label it a speed-bow like the others. Yet, one element of its family roots remain - the same fundamental ingredient that makes a speed bow feel like a speed bow ... aggression. With a 6" brace height and a powerstroke optimized for maximum energy storage, the Insanity CPX is what it is. It will never feel - or shoot - like a soft cycle bow. No matter how beautifully the bow performs, no matter how refined its appointments, the Insanity is a speed bow.
|Perhaps it's bitter irony that a bow like the distinguished Insanity CPX can still get booed by the same guys that heckled the original Black Knight over a decade ago. But make no mistake, Bowtech has the unicorn by the tail. The Insanity CPX was arguably the best compound bow sold on the market in 2012, and it's as close to being the ideal bow as we've ever seen.
The only question left to ask ... what would Bowtech do next?
|SECRET MISSION: We visited the Bowtech factory in the fall of 2012 to find the answer to that very question. At that time, the bow name Experience had barely been spoken aloud - most factory personnel hadn't even been briefed. We were there to exchange ideas about sales and marketing strategies for 2013, so after passing through security and several stick a needle in your eye type non-disclosure agreements - Bowtech let us in on the details. The new bow? The Experience. Pretty cool name - quirky maybe. We looked at the spec sheet. We have to admit, the Bowtech Experience seemed almost ordinary on paper ... 335 fps, 7" brace height, 32" axle-to-axle, 4.2 lb.. It looked like a nice bow. Sure. We started politely tossing the usual word-plays and slogans around the room ... "Experience the Difference", "Experience the Best", "A Whole New Experience", etc. To be honest, the whole affair seemed a little anticlimactic. Perhaps we were expecting the Ultra-Insanity 2 @ 370 fps or something. It wasn't quite making sense yet.|
|INTANGIBLES: But when we shot the Experience, we started to get it. The Experience shares much with the Insanity CPX, but the Experience is regal and polished in a way the Insanity is not. The draw cycle is notably modified. It's smoother - more gradual in the transitions with a comfortable 1/8"-3/16" valley at full draw. The let-off arrives naturally, unhurried. The peg touches down in a rather expected and instinctive way. There's no need to jerk or rush through your routine. At full draw the bow is patient and settled. Everything is somehow calm, controlled, and rhythmic. The grip is spot-on ergonomically, and the bow feels remarkably stable and confident. It's more like handling a very fine instrument than a compound bow.
SOME THINGS YOU DON'T MEASURE: Clearly the Experience project wasn't just another mission to go faster - but to harmonize everything Bowtech had learned into one bow. The measurable machine attributes are just incidental to the intangible and subtle distinctions on this bow. And when you fire the bow, the lack of drama is almost alarming. There's almost no feedback. The bow barely gestures. All you hear is the sound of the air whipping through your fletchings and the click of your release. As many evaluators have noted, the Experience feels less like a machine, and more like a natural extension of your arm. Pardon the wordplay here, but you really do have to experience it to believe it.
THE NAME, WHAT IT MEANS: The name Experience seemed almost whimsical to us at first, but we now have an idea why Bowtech chose this name. It took Bowtech over a decade to finally build this bow - more than a decade of experimentation, development, and hard-earned innovation has been devoted to this pursuit. We can't say for sure what's in the hearts of other men, but we consider the people at Bowtech to be good friends. We suspect the Experience name, for them, is about their history - about the difficult journey - and about the thoughtful dedication it takes to finally build an impeccable bow like this. Perhaps the name simply honors the Experience of achieving something remarkable.
|WHAT WILL CUSTOMERS THINK? Of course, we were concerned about how the bow would be received? Would customers see the Experience as a step forward or backward? The Insanity CPX set the bar so high, we were worried. The night after the Experience's reveal at the ATA Show, we skimmed through the forum chatter on our phones. As expected, some people didn't get it and had already rushed to judgment, "So, Bowtech's new bow is slower this year. Duh! Why would I want that?" In all fairness, spec-browsers are at a particular disadvantage with this bow, since the bow's specifications do little to reveal how special this bow is. As many have said, you have to shoot this bow to really understand why it's unique. Nevertheless, it seemed clear from the first night that the Experience wasn't likely to appeal to the blood-n-guts adrenaline buyers ... but then it occurred to us, maybe it wasn't supposed to.|
AMBASSADOR SALUTE: The Experience probably won't suit the rowdy adrenaline types - because, frankly, it wasn't built for them. Sure, 335 fps is still pretty darn fast, but if you want pure muscle, the Insanity CPX still broils-up the best burnout. The Experience wasn't built for hot-rodders. The Experience was built for the ambassadors of our sport - for luxury connoisseurs. The Experience was built for the veterans of the craft who genuinely live and breathe bowhunting - for the guys who can tell the difference between very very good and truly excellent. This is not a bow for the tribal-tatted weekend warriors or the guys who open their bow cases two days before the hunt.
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