I’m not a speed nut. Never have been. In my bowhunting mind, it makes zero sense to sacrifice any part of the accuracy equation to gain a few feet per second. However, I will gladly take speed as long as that speed doesn’t rob me of stacking arrows in the 10-ring at extended distances. The problem: I’ve found only a handful of flamethrowers that boast this unique combination.

Bear Escape

Bear Escape

As hard as I argued with Bear’s Jason Pickerill to send me the manufacturer’s 7-inch brace height, 330 fps BR33, he resisted. “Just let me send you the Escape,” Pickerill kept saying. “I know how you feel about speed bows, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” Reluctantly, I agreed.

The Escape did give my heart a little pitter-pat when I pulled it from its Bear-branded cardboard home. Why wouldn’t it? It’s a sexy little bow. Measuring 32 inches axle to axle, it provides that “compact from the get-go” look, and the Shadow camo perfectly accented the orange and black strings and cables. Oh, and did I mention the Max Pre-Load Quad Limbs and Bear-branded (nice touch) Zero-Tolerance Limb Pockets give it that classic Bear flair? Yep, fit and finish on this bow are just about perfect.

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The new H15 Hybrid Cams are draw-length adjustable without the need of a bow press, so after removing the top and bottom set screws, shifting the cam module to the appropriate 29-inch draw-length setting and adjusting the removable (I recommend leaving them on) draw stops, I was ready to press the bow.

Both the top and bottom bolts that run down through the Zero-Tolerance limb pockets proved easily accessible and turned (must go three turns out) without any chatter or creating that metal-on-metal burning smell. (I hate that smell.) Pressing the bow, because of the rig’s past-parallel limbs, must be done carefully. Traditional-style presses that use rollers to apply pressure to the mid-section of the bow will cause damage. A press like my Last Chance Archery EZ Deluxe Press has fingers designed to go over and press only the last 2 inches (and it’s not even quite 2 inches) of the limbs. Given that we’re covering some Bear don’t-dos, it’s equally as important not to place limb-dampening devices any more than 2 inches from the limb pockets.

The bow pressed easily, and, after installing my rest and peep sight (which I’m pleased to say has yet to rotate – a big Bear improvement), I was ready to go. My first shot through paper wasn’t a bullet-hole tear, but I didn’t care. What I did care about was the lack of vibration and hand shock the bow produced at the shot. Was there some? Yes. It’s hard to hit 350 fps without a little noise-and-shake, but in the case of the Escape, it’s very minimal.

After a handful of arrows, I was satisfied with my paper tuning and walked immediately to my backyard range. My first shot at a distance of 10 yards was high, but, boy, did it feel fast. And it felt fast with a 404-grain arrow set at a draw weight of 65 pounds. After getting my pins dialed out to 40 yards at my home range, I set up the chronograph. My average three-arrow speed (404-grain arrows) was 311 fps. No, not 350 fps, but understand that Bear is making the 350 fps claim with the bow set at 70 pounds, at its maximum draw-length range and with an arrow much lighter than those I was testing my rig with. I was, to say the least, impressed with the Escape’s speed.

The bow’s draw-cycle is a bit stiff at first (even at 65 pounds), but transition to letoff is generally smooth. The draw stops engage the top outside limb and bottom outside limb to create a rock-solid back wall. I did notice that if I allowed myself to relax too much, the cams were itching to press the bow into action, but I didn’t have to keep that break-a-sweat-and-shake full draw hold I’ve had to do with lesser speed bows.

Jace Bauserman's Report Card for the Bear Escape

Jace Bauserman’s Report Card for the Bear Escape

Given that the Escape measures only 32 inches axle to axle, I was impressed with the bow’s balance. I credit much of this balance to the sturdy yet airy 7075 aluminum riser. At the shot, as I mentioned earlier, there is a minimal amount of noise and hand shock, but nothing too serious. Just what do I mean when I say “not too serious”? I prefer to shoot without a wrist sling. I only use a wrist sling when I feel I’m shooting a bow that will jump from my loose grip at the shot. I needed no wrist sling with the Escape.

As for its accuracy, well, you’ll just have to test drive one. I will say, though, that I harvested four critters with the rig this fall. Yep, I shot four arrows and took down four great animals, including two whitetail bucks. One was at a distance of 38 yards and the other was tailing a hot doe at 50 yards. Both bucks expired in sight. When it comes to accuracy, the Escape passed my worry-about-speed-bow accuracy test with flying colors.

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