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Sex Sells Most Things, but SPEED Sells Bows

Posted by Jason Meade on 2/2/2017
The era of the speed bow! One thing that can not be denied is that once the modern "speed" bow hit the market, it changed everything top to bottom. These new speeds were insane and no one could believe what was happening, but EVERYONE sure wanted to get a piece of that action.

Suddenly bows went from a 200 FPS ish average to a 280-320 FPS average, and this was on bows actually set up for hunting. This was crazy and it honestly still is a bit crazy to this day if you think about it. Taking a weapon that has been a tool of mankind for thousands of years and mastering it in such a way that it can launch an arrow at the speed of holy $#&* down range....Its crazy...but awesome!
cave bow
Unfortunately, there was a byproduct from all this speed though, and everyone was so amazed that they didn't realize the disturbance in the Force. All of that speed came at a cost.
The price of speed. We were now able to send arrows blistering through the air but in exchange we were left with a completely different overall experience of shooting. This is because in the dawn of the "speed bow era" every bow that was capable of actually achieving these wild speeds also had a very aggressive draw stroke. This was a product of the overall design and was largely due to the type of cam systems that had to be used in order to make these speeds possible.

This was when that very famous line in the dirt was first drawn. On this side of the line, SPEED and lots of it, and on that side of the line, COMFORT and accuracy. It became clear very early on that these new bows were harder to shoot. The draw stroke was more aggressive, the valleys were touchy, and they were hard to hold back very long at all. Put all of these things together and it makes pulling back a 70# bow at 65# feel like you were pulling back an 80# bow set at 95#. But people sure did love all that speed and they wanted more.
What good is speed if the bow sucks to shoot? Now that the idea of "fast equals hard to shoot" was clearly established, all the manufacturers decided to go all in and make these bows as fast as possible no matter what the cost. This led to some of the worst shooting bows to EVER hit the market. I wont go in to specifics because the exact bows are a matter of opinion but a couple stand out to me personally. One of which is the short live Air Raid by Bowtech.

I thought this bow looked cool so I gave it a chance and took it home with me to try out. I shot it three times and for the first time in my life I pulled a back muscle and hit the ground crying. I had this bow set on 60# and it was the hardest bow I have ever tried to pull back (and I have pulled back everything). This 60# bow felt like a 100# bow. It was so bad that I took it back to the shop and had it looked over to make sure nothing was wrong with it and go figure, it was perfectly fine. I still to this day have a pain in my back from shooting that bow and It was the last time I ever tried to turn a speed bow in to my personal bow....Until way later that is.
Which side were you on. In my opinion these new speed bows were too hard to shoot which makes them no fun to shoot, and I want to enjoy shooting my bow. It is something I like to do and I would rather shoot something a little slower as apposed to shooting something faster but is also back breaking hard to shoot.

These bows were advertised in such a way that people started to honestly believe that you couldn't kill a deer with anything less than 300 FPS. This led to new shooters getting a hold of a bow that was way too much for them and this would almost always end up in a dry fire or derailment. This is actually something that still happens a lot to this day and we understand why. It is easy to get lost in the marketing and become convinced that speed is the most important trait to look for in a bow.
Speed sells bows; sex sells everything else. As time went on, and more bows hit the market, it looked like this would be the path of modern compound bows from here on out. Fast but very hard to shoot.

This was fine for a lot of people but most of us still wanted something smooth and nice to shoot. Something that was still fast but not so fast that we have to sacrifice comfort to get it. There were still some bows on the market to fit this criteria but all the really nice high end bows were speed bows. Manufacturers had no interest in making a really nice high end bow that was not a speed bow for those price points. Why would they? They were selling those speed bows just fine and every one had excepted it by now. This is just how it is.
A new hope. We predicted it! We could read the writing on the walls and we knew that there was a huge slot in the market open for a manufacturer to walk in and make a big name for themselves by claiming it. The slot I am referring to is the fabled "balanced speed bow". Such a bow had been advertised falsely for years but everybody really wanted one. A bow that shot fast but was still ACTUALLY comfortable, accurate, and most of all fun to shoot. In my opinion, and I am not alone in this, I believe the first company to legitimately pull this off is Obsession and they did so with the Obsession Evolution.

good bow
The name Evolution was such a nice fit for this bow given the situation because in MY OPINION it changed the game again, at long last, it finally changed the rule that speed makes a bow harder to shoot. I had heard so much good about the Evolution for months before I actually got to shoot one. To the point where I figured that it would never live up to all the hype.

Then one day we finally got our stock of them and I got my first chance to shoot one of them. It was like a genie granted my wish for the perfect shooting bow. It shot great and it felt great but how fast was it? Spoiler Alert-VERY FAST. We finally had a mutant in our pro shop. A strange hybrid between the two realms of fast and smooth. It was a really interesting turning point.
Step it up or get out. The Evolution was followed up by several other bows that were all equally amazing in all the same ways and some were arguably a little nicer. They just kept getting better and for the first time since the "dawn of the speed bows" someone had actually managed to close that gap between fast and smooth. This forced every other company to step it up and focus on more than just speed.

In the years that followed we were given lots of awesome bows from a variety of manufactures that were both fast and smooth. This caused people to stop going for the back breaker fast bows and instead go for the smooth shooting fast bows. There is really no contest if you think about it.
fork in road
Excited for what's to come. At this stage of the game all major players in the market have either managed to make the transition or they are still in the process of making it. Things have changed a lot now and we are at the point where it takes more than just speed to move those bows. They have to be a little bit of everything good instead of just a lot of one thing.

I have to admit that I can not possibly say with 100% certainty that Obsession single handedly managed to change the market for the better but it at the very least helped move it forward. Each year brings more and more bows and I am excited to see what else will be heading our way in the years to come. All we can do now is just wait and see I guess. Maybe we will even eventually break that 400FPS mark without getting a hernia doing so...probably not.....but maybe. I guess we will just have to wait and see.