By Zach Bowhay

As a boy I grew up loving archery. My dad ran an archery shop out of our home for many years. To this day, I can almost smell the acetone my dad used to clean off arrow shafts to be fletched and waiting like a kid at Christmas to open boxes of new gear to put on the walls of the shop. In short, my strange obsession with archery and bowhunting is not new. While on my trip to the ATA show this year, I had two goals to write about: 1) Pick one setup with a quality bow and great accessories that would work for any bowhunter, but at the same time wouldn’t break the bank – just good gear at a reasonable price; and 2) Pick a great setup for the gear junkie like me – a great bow with some tough, high-end accessories with great features. Both setups would have to be able to handle anything a hard-hunting western bowhunter would throw at it, whether it’s someone who just wants a simple yet effective bow or a guy like me who likes to endlessly tinker and tune! Here are my picks for the 2013 season.

A Setup for the Bowhunting Gear Junkie

BowTech Experience – MSRP $999


While most bow companies release their new bows between October and December, BowTech has held off releasing their flagship bow until ATA for the last few years.The “unveiling” is quite a production and generates a lot of buzz. At first look, I was more than impressed. My personal preference is a bow with a 32”-35” axle-to-axle and a 7” brace height. The Experience is right in my wheelhouse, with a 32” axle-to-axle and a 7”brace. I’ve shot shorter bows with a smaller brace height, but I just feel more stable with “more bow” in my hand. Also, the 7” brace height is more forgiving, and in hunting situations (when our form is often compromised due to awkward shot positions and steep angles), a more forgiving bow is just better. At 335 fps, the Experience is five fps slower than last year’s Insanity CPX, which is to be expected with the longer brace height. However, 5 fps will hardly be noticeable and is a worthy trade-off for the added forgiveness. The handle on the Experience feels slimmer than past models. In my experience, a slim handle generally means better shooting due to the fact it’s more difficult to torque a slimmer handle. Another great feature that BowTech has on their bows the last couple years is their flex guard. It not only has a great roller guard, but the cable guard also actually flexes toward the bow as the arrow is drawn. This drastically reduces torque on the riser at full draw and reduces lateral nock travel, making tuning much easier. Couple these features with the popular binary cams and center pivot design and they couldn’t help but hit another home run. If you’re in the market for a new bow, I’d recommend a trip to your local BowTech dealer.

Black Gold Custom Bow Sight – MSRP $199 and up


Everyone has their own idea of what makes up the perfect bowsight, and after talking with guys at Black Gold, I realized they have something for everyone. Personally, I love a three or four-pin sliderfor western hunting. It also has to have2ndand 3rd axis adjustment, bright pins and be mountain tough.The thing I like the best about Black Gold is their custom shop. You can mix and match any of their sights and customize everything you want, from different bases and sight heads clear down to the size and color of individual pins. I love the idea of not having to pick a sight “as is”, but instead having a sight built to my exact preferences. They have it down to an art and it’s easy to get exactly what you

Trophy Taker SmackDown Pro Fall-Away Arrow Rest – MSRP $130


The SmackDownPro actually shipped to many shops last year, but ATA was the first time I got my hands on one. Trophy Taker was a pioneer in the fall-away rest market and were the first ones to bring a “quality” fall-away to the industry. Since then, many other companies have brought good rests to the market, yet Trophy Taker has remained a force to be reckoned with. The reason is their all-metal, simple, effective design. The SmackDownPro sticks to these standards, yet it’s a limb-driven design popular today in the archery world. This rest has a streamlined full containment ring with a rubber flap that you put your arrow through when loading the rest, instead of the bristle gate design on the 2012 model. The launcher spans the whole width of the containment ring, so if your arrow is anywhere inside that ring, it has to be picked up when the bow is drawn. The limb-driven design means that the rest cord is tight when the bow is let down, and as you draw, the cord has slack. When fired, the cord slams the launcher down and doesn’t allow the rest to bounce back up – an occasional problem on some fall-away rests. There are many configurations of the rest, so look on their website to see all options.

TightSpotQuiver – MSRP $163


For years I’ve been a two-piece quiver guy. There just wasn’t a one-piece quiver on the market that was quiet enough or that didn’t hang out a mile off the side of your bow and throw it off balance. Then a couple years ago I was at my local pro shop and saw the TightSpot quiver and fell in love. Not only is the quiver tight to the bow, but it also has many other great features. This quiver has some great features, such as adjustability for different diameter arrows and being able to put the quiver at any angle to meet your personal needs. It’s also very lightweight and quiet. When I visited the TightSpot booth at ATA, I thought this product couldn’t get any better, but I was wrong. They have now solved my only issue I’ve had with their quiver (and frankly every quiver I’ve ever owned). They completely did away with foam inserts. It now has a new slotted rubber insert designed to accept all different heads. Another huge benefit is that your broadheads aren’t being dulled every time you push or pull your tips from the foam. The TightSpot quiver is jam-packed with important features that solve manyproblems with bow-mounted quivers.

B-Stinger Pro Hunter Stabilizer – MSRP $75-$100


When I first saw the B-Stinger, I wasn’t real hip on the looks, but once I put it on a bow and tried it, I was sold. Back when I shot indoor archery a lot, using three-foot stabilizers was the norm, because it put weight out in front of the bow and made for more stable aiming. The B-Stinger accomplishes the same thing, but in lengths suitable for hunting (8”,10”,and 12”). The bar itself is ultra-lightweight, rigid, and fairly simple. At the end of the bar you can attach either 2,4,8, or 11-oz. weights. Bygetting that much weight out away from your bow, you’re more stable at full draw, and it also really soaks up the recoil. Of all the accessories I tried and looked at while at ATA, this is a real standout.