OK, we admit it. The name “Winchester” evokes a legend that is hard to live up to, so when we saw a new bow company by that name we were prepared for something that was all hat and no cattle. Wrong. Well-known bow designer Richard Batdorf hit the ground running at Winchester and helped develop bows that look great, feel great, and shoot great. For its debut at the ATA show, Winchester arrived with no less than six brand-spanking-new compound bows. Winchester’s flagship bow is the Quicksilver, available in 34- and 31-inch lengths axle-to-axle. As you might expect from a flagship model, the Quicksilver comes with all Winchester’s newly developed technology, some of which is common to all Winchester’s bows. All the bows feature stainless steel hardware for confidence when hunting in less-than-ideal weather. The risers on all the bows feature directional venting, holes in the riser that direct vibration to the stainless steel stabilizer bushing, resulting in a more effective stabilizer that allows the use of smaller and lighter stabilizers. Speedsters—Winchester’s speed nocks—are carefully positioned on the strings of all Winchester’s bows to eke out maximum speeds, and all Winchester bows boast Stabil-Lock Limb Pockets, creating maximum stability for limbs with minimum weight.
The Quicksilver 34-inch reaches an impressive top speed of 343 fps with a generous 7-inch brace height a mass weight of 3.9 pounds, and letoff ranging from 55 to 80 percent. Available draw weights are 50, 60, and 70 pounds, and draw lengths run from 27 to 30 inches. Specs on the more compact Quicksilver 31 are similar, but with an even more generous 7.25-inch brace height, mass weight of 3.8 pounds, and a slightly slower but still-impressive speed of 335 fps. Both these bows showcase Winchester’s AST Cams, which are largely responsible for the speeds, smooth draw cycle, and extremely low noise level these bows achieve. With the kind of rock-hard back wall more and more bowhunters prefer, these cams offer adjustable letoff and draw length in half-inch increments. Standard for the Quicksilvers (and optional on all the other bows) is a selection of three different grips. Both Quicksilver models retail for just under $800.
Bowhunters willing to shave off a little speed for something even smoother-shooting and more forgiving will want to look at the Vaquero or the Tracker. Draw weights and lengths are identical to the Quicksilver bows, and both offer brace heights of 7.25 inches. Weights are right around 4 pounds for both, while the Vaquero chronographs at 317 fps, the Tracker at 310 fps. Both these bows employ the ARC Cam, designed to maximize a smooth draw. In common with the AST Cam, the ARC Cam offers the same adjustability features and the same rock-solid back end. The Vaquero retails for $650, the Tracker for $500. For extra value, the Tracker is also available in a ready-to-shoot package including a metal 5-pin sight, an arrow rest, a 4-arrow quiver, a sling, and a peepsight for an extra $100.
Winchester’s other cam system, the Rider Cam, is found on the Thunderbolt and the Destiny. The Rider Cam is all about a full 11 inches of adjustability to accommodate growing archers, though it achieves more-than-adequate hunting speeds of up to 290 fps. As far as we can tell, these two bows are identical but for available finishes. Both are at 31.5 inches axle-to-axle with 7.4-inch brace heights, and both weigh in at a super-light weight of 2.56 pounds, a super-wide draw length range of 17 to 28 inches, and draw weight range of 15 to 52 pounds. These are serious, good-looking bows that are obviously designed to appeal to any young or smaller-frame hunter in the case of the Thunderbolt, available in a Next G-1 Vista camo pattern, or to women in particular for the Destiny, available in Realtree Hardwoods Pink. Each bow carries a retail price of $300, and each is available in a ready-to-shoot package including a 3-pin fiber-optic sight, arrow rest, 4-arrow quiver, sling, and peep sight for an additional $50. www.winchesterarchery.com