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.
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.
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.
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.