Bow Report: Elite "Hunter"

February 14, 2013

Improving on its successful Z28, Elite Archery introduced the Hunter in 2011 and kept it in the 2012 line-up. Only very similar specifications, along with Elite’s commitment to shootability over raw speed, justify keeping the name, as everything else about this bow is brand-new, including the riser, plus the new binary H Cams and modules at the heart of the bow. The new binary cams preserve the full 80 percent letoff of their predecessors and are designed for less time spent at peak draw weight and a wider valley or, as Elite terms it, “an even larger dwell zone.”

All this creates the feel of an exceptionally smooth draw while producing speeds that are equal to and possibly slightly faster than speeds achieved on the original Hunter. The H cams are module-specific. Modules can be changed to adjust draw length without pressing the bow. The positive draw stops must be moved to correspond. These changes can affect the valley and the letoff, and Elite’s owner’s manual and website offer charts indicating the likely affect of any adjustment and how to compensate to achieve the desired letoff for each draw length. The website also offers a very helpful video showing how to synchronize cams should that become necessary, as well as how to make draw length adjustments using a draw board.

The draw cycle is only half the picture in producing a truly pleasant-shooting bow. While the newly designed cams make for a smooth draw cycle, the Barnsdale limbs on the 2013 Hunter are closer to true parallel, making an already-famously low-recoil bow even more so. Elite boasts that its bows are extremely quiet, in addition to being “dead-in-the-hand,” and our objective tests indicate that the Hunter is, in fact, a very quiet bow.

In terms of specifications, the Hunter went from a compact 313⁄4 inches to a slightly more compact 311⁄2 inches. I’m not sure if that difference is perceptible to any shooter, but the extra quarter-inch in brace height, from 71⁄2 to the 73⁄4 inches, of the new Hunter does make the bow even more forgiving. Mass weight at 4.3 pounds is slightly heavier, but still within most bowhunters’ comfort range.

A new feature on this year’s Hunter is the Winner’s Choice strings, which come standard. Elite is among the bow manufacturers who are very picky about strings. Because of the cams’ design, it’s important that any new or custom strings be served at no more than .001 inch diameter, at least for the end servings. A welcome new option for the hunter, and one that appears to be a trend among several manufacturers, is the 65-pound maximum draw weight. Many hunters shoot in the 60- to 65-pound range, and because compound bows operate at peak efficiency when close to their maximum, a 65-pound weight makes a lot of sense.

Elite has always been recognized for an outstanding fit and finish, and the new Hunter continues the tradition. In addition to a flawless appearance, each cam, module, cable rod, and suppressor rod on the Hunter for 2013 (along with the entire Elite line-up) features a coating of non-reflective Cerakote, a ceramic-based coating long used on premium firearms to provide scratch and corrosion protection as well as tighter tolerances, less friction, and even less noise.

Shooting The Bow

A technical video on Elite’s website offers simple, straightforward instructions for setting up its bows: Set the nock so the arrow aligns with the center of the Berger hole, or slightly above center, with center shot at between 7⁄8 and 15⁄16 inch. Adjust a drop-away rest to come to full vertical position in the last half-inch of the draw stroke. I found that my drop-away tended to contact the shelf, so I aligned the arrow slightly above the center of the Berger hole and used a level to square it to vertical. The bow shot well with excellent arrow flight, and no further adjustments were necessary.

I’m not certain there is such a thing as a bow that is “dead in the hand,” but the new Hunter comes closer to illustrating that phenomenon than do many other bows that make the claim. I found it to jump forward slightly in the hand at the shot, then tip forward slowly with no discernible vibration, let alone any hand shock. It’s a very quiet bow, consistent with Elite’s claims and my decibel meter.

Overall, the 2013 Elite Hunter is an excellent bow sure to appeal to bowhunters looking for a bow that is reasonably fast but exceptionally pleasant to shoot. It should cement Elite’s emerging status as a manufacturer of very shootable, high-quality bows.

Download the full report (PDF)