Choosing a Bow and Arrow Setup: My Current Gear

Who doesn’t like to nerd out once in a while about archery gear?

While by no means an expert, I’ve tried a few different combinations of bows, sights, rests, stabilizers, releases, and arrows over the years, and I can at least comment on what I use now and why I like it. If you are new to archery and bowhunting, check out my Introduction to Archery post for some background information on some of the terminology you will encounter.

My bow setup and arrow selection.
My bow setup and arrow setup.

Currently, here’s how my setup looks:

Bow: 2013 Hoyt Charger
Sight: Trophy Ridge React-One
Rest: Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro
Stabilizer: Beestinger Sport Hunter Xtreme 
Release: Scott Samurai
Arrows: Easton Axis 400
Strings: Custom from Kevin Nugent
Broadheads: Muzzy MX-3

A couple notes on this configuration and how I got here.

I used to shoot a 3-pin sight, and I was hearing a lot about single pin sights and how much people liked them (less light interference, less distraction in the sight housing, personal preference for horizontal or vertical sight pins, etc.). When I heard about Trophy Ridge’s React sights, I was just intrigued. The React-One is their single pin version of their React sights. The deal is that you sight in at 20 yards, and then any other distance from 30-100. Once you have two distances dialed, the sight does the rest and automatically sights in from 20-100 yards. I just thought this was cool and wanted to try it. I haven’t looked back from the single pin sight. I love it. I found that I prefer a vertical pin to a horizontal one. Even though I won’t be using any sight markers past 30 yards for whitetail hunting, it’s great to be able to practice at longer distances, and this sight makes that really easy. It’s also fully metal and tool-less, which means things can be adjusted quickly and easily.

One thing I really like about the Trophy Taker rest is its full metal construction. The thing is a workhorse; everything about it is super tight, smooth, and durable. The full capture housing is great, and the actual fork of the rest goes from wall to wall of the full capture housing, meaning that no matter where your arrow is when you draw the bow, the rest will pick it up. The actual rest is covered in a great felt piece, and the housing is rubber, so it’s quiet!

The only real drawback of the React-One sight for me is that it weighs close to a pound, and most of this weight is on one side of the bow. I found I was having a bit of wobble at full draw, so I wanted to try a longer stabilizer to bring some more weight out front, and it worked like a charm. My groups instantly improved. Even though shooting an 8.5″ stabilizer at 7.18 oz added overall weight to the bow, the problem was never holding the physical weight of the bow up, so it helped. I would have probably benefitted even more from putting the stabilizer on a slight offset to the opposite side as the sight, but I didn’t get that this time around. In any case, I’m really pleased with how much steadier I feel now.

The Scott release is pretty straight-forward: adjustable nylon strap, dual caliper. My only requirement here was that I upgrade to a release with a buckle. I was tired of climbing into a treestand and realizing I had to rip that velcro strap open; I felt like I might as well get on a megaphone and announce myself to the entire forest. Having said that, I learned the value in investing in a quality release. I used to go by the mindset that a release just needed to release the string, and beyond that, it didn’t matter too much. I noticed an instant positive difference in the trigger sensitivity in this release.

I’m going to save a discussion about arrow selection for another post, because I love to talk about arrows, and I don’t think they get enough of their own attention – it’s far too often just narrowed down to concerns over how fast the arrows go. But basically, I wanted a good hunting arrow – one with some weight.

I posted in some archery forums asking for recommendations on strings, and the answer was overwhelmingly to get strings from Kevin Nugent, from right here in Ontario. My note here is pretty simple: great guy, great products. I recommend him to everyone now.

We could go on forever about broadhead selection. My choice is simply because when I started bowhunting, someone recommended Muzzy, and I’ve stuck with them. I recognize there are plenty of great ones out there, and I’ll get around to trying more as I get more opportunities to hunt.

So anyway, there’s my setup in a nutshell. Most of the changes I’ve made over the years have been out of simple curiosity and a desire for exploration. I just like trying new things to see what works for me and what feels good. I think that’s the most important thing when choosing equipment. Look around and do research. Read everything you can find about different gear options and ask people what they like and don’t like, and why. Just remember that everyone has their own opinion and there isn’t a right and wrong answer for your own setup, you need to find out what works for you. This current configuration has brought it all together for me, and I feel totally confident with all the pieces that make it up. I’m excited every single time I open my case to take it out, and I enjoy every single shot I take. At some point I’m sure I’ll switch something out for a new piece, but I’m not in any rush right now!

Of course…those new Xpedition Xcentric bows look pretty cool…

As an update to this post, I purchased the new Prime Rize in January 2016, and you can check out my thoughts on this bow here.

Full draw.

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