Summer is a time for fun activities outdoors with family and friends. From fishing to golfing, there’s never a shortage of choices when one of my kids (boys ages 13 and 15) asks, “Dad, what should we do today?” And I’ll be honest: Preparing for the upcoming bowhunting season when the temps are topping 90 degrees isn’t always No. 1 on my priority list.

That said, opening day of whitetail archery season here in the Midwest is only 2 months away, and I can’t afford to delay my preparation if I want to be confident in the treestand or ground blind. I don’t shoot a ton of arrows during summer, but I certainly send enough carbon downrange to ensure my gear is ready and able come deer season.

Short and Sweet: Mathews TRIAX

Mathews TRIAX

John Schaffer adjusts the Schaffer XV arrow rest on the author’s new Mathews TRIAX.

Like many of you, I divide my in-the-field time between treestands and ground blinds, but I’m guessing I spend more hours on the ground than many bowhunters. I like to ambush South Dakota river-bottom bucks by sitting in natural blinds built on the sides of steep hills. I also like to surprise public land Wisconsin whitetails by hunkering down in wet buck-brush swamps that dot the state’s hardwood forests. No matter where I’m sitting, on the ground or in a tree, I prefer a bow that isn’t too long. However, a comfortable shooting experience is mandatory, too. Thankfully, I found that the TRIAX from Mathews satisfies both requirements.

You can click here to read a detailed review of this topnotch bow by Bowhunting World Editor-in-Chief Jace Bauserman. I’ll provide my favorite quote from his field test: “When it comes to felt vibration, you can forget about it. There is none. This bow was built for the bowhunting woods. It’s quiet and compact.”

With these thoughts in mind, I drove to Schaffer Performance Archery in Burnsville, Minnesota, to check out the TRIAX. Shop owner John Schaffer, whom I’ve trusted setting up my bows for nearly 20 years, was there to shake my hand and offer assistance.

Mathews TRIAX

A few of the Mathews bows on display at Schaffer Performance Archery in Burnsville, MN.

“Have you shot the new TRIAX?” John asked as he pulled one with a 27.5-inch draw off his wall of bows. When I shook my head “no,” he smiled and said, “Okay then, this will be fun. I like seeing the reaction of guys like you who draw and fire a TRIAX for the first time.”

John remembered that I don’t pull a lot of weight (54 pounds to be exact), so he set the poundage appropriately and then handed the bow and three arrows to me. “Aim for the center of that close target,” he directed. “Don’t worry about where the arrows go at this point. Just get a feel for the bow.”

As I nocked an arrow, I could see John out of the corner of my eye. He was sort of covering his mouth with his hand so I couldn’t see him grinning. The scene was kind of like a father on Christmas morning as he watches his son unwrap a special gift.

Let me pause here for a bit of bow backstory: I’ve test-driven many compounds through the years and owned models from a handful of companies. Flagship compounds from the top manufacturers are simply outstanding, and one of my go-to brands for the past 15 years has been Mathews. Off the top of my head, I’ve killed whitetails with the following models: Q2XL, Icon, Switchback, Drenalin and Z7. Last year I used the Z7, which has been one of my favorite bows since its introduction in late-fall 2009, to tag a fine South Dakota whitetail. I’ve always loved the buttery-smooth feel of Mathews bows from draw and hold through release.

Mathews TRIAX

John Schaffer paper tuning the author’s TRIAX to ensure exceptional arrow flight.

As I inched back the string on the TRIAX, I felt that familiar glide to the rollover. It was even smoother than my Z7. As I settled into full draw, I loved the hard back wall. And the bow fit me perfectly; my Z7 draws 27.5 inches, and the 27.5-inch TRIAX is an identical twin in terms of draw length.

Hooking my index finger over the trigger of my tried-and-true Scott Little Goose mechanical release, I let the sight pin float on the bull’s-eye and then pulled through the shot with my back muscles. “Incredible” is the only word to describe the fire-sequence feeling of the TRIAX. The arrow simply disappeared into the target, leaving my bow hand to wonder what just happened.

After shooting arrows two and three, I turned to face John Schaffer. “Well?” is all he asked, again trying to shield his grin.

“As I’ve said with every previous Mathews bow I’ve owned, I’m amazed that they can improve year after year. I stuck with my Z7 for so long because it felt so good to shoot. But this TRIAX will spend a lot of time in my hands this fall. It’s crazy-good.”

Mathews TRIAX

Mathews TRIAX in Optifade Subalpine.

Two Schaffer customers before leaving the shop with their new Mathews bows. The author (left) chose the TRIAX, while the other bowhunter went with the Z3.

Author’s Note

Stay tuned to Bowhunting World for follow-up online articles detailing my choices in rest, sight, stabilizer, arrows and quiver. This TRIAX is a tack-driver, and I’m super excited for opening day 2018. I’ll keep you posted as my prep for the upcoming deer season continues.

And FYI: The TRIAX is available in five camo finishes, as well as two solid colors (stone and black); I chose Optifade Subalpine. It looks as good as it shoots.


What’s New in Archery Gear:

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ARCHERY REVIEW: TRU-FIRE SEAR BACK TENSION RELEASE