It is that time of the year again folks. Many of the various bow companies have debuted their new lineups for 2004 and there are quite a few new bows to play with at your local archery shop. One of these companies, Hoyt, usually introduces their lineup around the middle of October with bows in the dealers"ô hands by the first week of November. This year was no different. Hoyt continues to refine their lineup with a few new bows this year. Continuing in the normal Hoyt tradition these bows features Hoyt"ôs "úTEC"Ě riser and split limb design. One of these new bows is geared towards the bowhunter who prefers a short axle-to-axle length bow and has been dubbed the "úVipertec"Ě. It takes the place of the now defunct Havoctec of previous years both in terms of overall size and specifications. For those of you who are familiar with Hoyt bows or who have read my reviews before feel free to skip some of the component descriptions and move right into the general comments section.
Hoyt utilizes their trademark "úTEC"Ě (Total Engineering Concept) riser on each of the bows in their 2004 lineup. This riser design is in a bridge support structure type shape. Its goal is to provide a structurally stronger riser while yet being able to reduce mass weight, noise and dissipate vibration. It accomplishes this by channeling some of the vibration away from hand via the support "úbrace"Ě on the rear of the riser. Hoyt originally started implementing this design back in 1996 with their Alphatec bow. Since then at least one or two bows in their lineup have always featured the TEC riser structure. The only change to the riser design of the Vipertec is that it appears the riser has been lengthened significantly to increase the amount of usable sight window. This has always been a problem with more of the traditional style short axle-to-axle length bows. Hoyt has definitely overcome this issue with the new Vipertec design.
Hoyt also utilizes a dual side plate grip design on all of their bows. The riser itself serves as part of the grip but is insulated with a small rubber pad to keep your hand warmer on cold days. The rubber pad replaces the felt material that was used in previous years. Each of the side plates is constructed of wood and fits comfortably into a precut slot on each side of the grip area. The overall circumference of the grip seems to be of equal size to previous years though the grip angle feels notably more comfortable in my hand.
The Vipertec is equipped with Hoyt"ôs new XT1000 limbs. The XT1000 limbs are five layer, laminated, carbon/glass limbs. The edges of the limbs are left unpainted as to expose a visual representation of their composition. Though the XT1000 limbs appear to be straight limbs they are actually recurve-(prebent) limbs that straighten when pressure is applied during construction of the bow. This design helps store and release more energy evenly throughout the limb (uniform stress distribution) thus creating faster arrow speeds.
The XT1000 limbs differ from the XT2000 in length only. The XT2000 limbs are approximately 14 inches in length while the XT1000 limbs are slightly shorter at 13 inches. Each XT1000 limb is a full ¬ĺ inches wide. That coupled with a ¬ĺ inch space between limbs results in a full width of 2.25 inches. This provides excellent torsional and lateral stability"¶. in other words"¶the limbs greatly resist bending to the left or to the right. This helps to improve accuracy and consistency. The XT1000 limbs are only available on two of Hoyt"ôs current models the Vipertec and the Xtec. I believe this to be because both the Vipertec and Xtec feature longer risers and in order to keep the axle-to-axle length relatively short a shorter limb mounted at a sharper angle needs to be utilized.
The Limb pockets
Hoyt continues to use the dual locking limb pocket system on most of their high end hunting bows. It features a locking bolt on either side of the riser to insure exceptional fit and consistency. Both of the limb pockets and the bow"ôs cam system are all covered in a bronze finish, which Hoyt refers to as autumn brown. The limb pockets have only been slightly refined this year in overall size and shape more for aesthetics than any practical purpose that I am aware of.
Cable Guard Rod and Slide
Hoyt is again utilizing a carbon cable guard rod on all of their hunting bows. It appears to me to be extremely short on the Vipertec probably due to the small amount of actual cable slide travel caused by the long riser/short limb design.
The cable slide itself continues to be the upgrade that Hoyt started on all of the 2003 model year bows and is of a Teflon material. Judging from past experience the new design is a significant upgrade from the stock slide that was previously used on their bows. I had personally experienced excessive wear on the cable/string as well as on the cable guard itself in past years.
The Eccentric system
Hoyt totally revamped their choice of eccentric systems last year. In previous years Hoyt offered a good selection of both single and dual cam designs. Now Hoyt only offers three cam systems and only on certain model bows. Hoyt"ôs Cam and a Half system is of a hybrid design utilizing one main bowstring, a return string and a single cable.
The Cam and a Half system utilizes a rotating draw length adjustment module similar to both the Command Cams Plus and the Versacam of previous years A bow press is not required to adjust the draw length on most bows and each module covers a draw length range of approximately 2.5 inches. Most of the early "údealer package"Ě bows found in pro shops during this time of year cover the 27.5 to 30 inch range, which would represent what a majority of archers utilize.
The Cam and a half system is available in two different percentage of let off choices"¶..65% and 75%. To obtain the different percentages of let off one must use different draw length adjustment modules. Both modules cover the same draw length range but under different percentages of let off.
Hoyt also uses sealed stainless steel ball bearings in both the top and bottom cams. This is done to provide less friction and requires no additional lubrication. The timing marks on both eccentrics allow the archer to monitor any rotational movement due to string creep. Speaking of strings, Hoyt is continuing to use Brownell"ôs D75 string material on their bows. The Diamondback braided serving material is also still being used as well.
Odds and Ends
- Hoyt continues to use the Realtree High Definition Hardwoods Green camo pattern.
- The customary Sims Stealth split limbsavers and new Kevlar reinforced Sims String Leeches are also factory installed on the bow prior to shipping.
- The Vipertec is available in peak draw weights that range from 40 to 80 pounds and draw lengths that range from 24 to 30 inches.
I was at somewhat of a loss this year as to what Hoyt was going to introduce. I felt that they would have a difficult time improving on what I felt was an excellent hunting bow design in the Razortec. I can honestly say that I was truly mistaken. Hoyt took the next logical step forward in beginning to incorporate more of a parallel limb design into some of their 2004 bows. I have found this design from other companies to offer superiority in regard to low levels of recoil and vibration. It generally accomplishes this by releasing excess energy away from the shooters hand and the center of the bow itself. Add this design to the already low-recoil-low vibration design of the TEC riser and you have something truly impressive. This bow exhibits no recoil whatsoever even at a 30-inch draw length with a 74 lb draw weight and with a 430-grain arrow. The bow sits there and absolutely does not move in your hand. This may be one characteristic that the Vipertec has over the Razortec in my opinion. Though the Razortec had low levels of both of these characteristics as well, it does not compare in my opinion to what the Vipertec is capable of. It truly has to be shot to be understood.
Overall specifications of the bow are as follows:
- 32 inch axle to axle length
- 7 1/2 inch brace height
- 3.75 lb mass weight
- 300 fps listed IBO speed
These specifications are very close to the previous year Havoctec design both in terms of physical dimensions and advertised speed rating though I definitely think that the new riser and limb design help to improve the overall balance of the bow considerably. It seems to sit relatively evenly in my hand when at rest with maybe the slightest bit of front-tilt depending in large part on the individual shooter"ôs choice of grip position.
Upon receiving the bow I inspected it thoroughly. The paint scheme prints very well on the bow though I did notice one or two areas that do not seem to blend well with the overall pattern of the bow. At first I believe them to be areas lacking paint entirely but now believe them to be slight blemishes in the paint scheme itself as I can find no discernible tactile edge to areas.
The paint scheme coupled with the riser/limb design and bronze eccentrics on such a short axle-to-axle length bow definitely make it a head turner. In my opinion it is arguably one of the most physically attractive bows on the market. I could find no "úslop"Ě in either the limb pocket area or around either of the eccentrics. The bow appears to be very solid and well designed with a very high attention to detail.
Shooting the bow
I shot the Vipertec bare bow initially with just an arrow rest and the proper string accessories installed. With my particular setup (provided later) the bow had no vibration during the shot and was extremely quiet overall. As mentioned, there was no noticeable recoil to the bow. I found this surprising considering the large amount of energy that my setups typically generate out of any given bow. The noise level was only secondary to recoil in terms of the lack there of. This could arguably be within the top 3 or 4 quietest bows I have ever had the privilege of shooting.
Vibration levels were also low probably the result of the combination of Sims products and the TEC riser design. Individually, both have a significant impact on vibration for any bow but together they work quite well at dissipating it entirely.
Accuracy levels were on par with what I can typically expect to shoot from any of the short bows on the market. I was able to put together some respectably sized groups at the local shop"ôs 20 yard indoor range though they tended to open up gradually after I approached the 40 yard target distance at the local club. Of course, I did not have a stabilizer installed at the time. The added weight as well as its placement probably would have helped slightly in regard to increasing accuracy levels.
Speed testing results
I finally had the opportunity to shoot the bow through the chronograph on a few occasions with my normal setup. That setup includes a 70 lb draw weight, 30-inch draw length and a 430-grain Beman ICS 340 carbon arrow. Other than the factory-installed string leeches and a simple string loop I had nothing else installed on the bowstring. I proceeded to shoot 4, 3 shot groups through the chronograph in relatively short succession. Averages were then tabulated within those groups and I obtained the following results. The 430-grain Beman shot between 274-275 fps repeatedly. This is my hunting arrow, which generates roughly 72 ft. lbs of KE. This is on par with many of the traditional single cam design bows that I have shot in past years"¶.Hoyt Havoc Versacam, Fred Bear Epic Extreme, Parker Ultralite 31, SD Rhino 31, etc.. The major difference being that the Cam and a Half draw force curve has a smoother overall feel to it in comparison to that of the typical perimeter weighted cam designs.
My nitpicks with this bow are few. First off would be the overall weight of the bow. Though advertised at 3.75 lbs the bow actually felt much lighter in my hands. Almost on par with that of the Parker Ultralite 31 that I had owned a year or so ago. This made it slightly more difficult for me to maintain the accuracy levels that I have become accustom to over recent months when shooting a slightly longer (1.5 inches) and heavier bow. I believe the longer TEC riser coupled with the shorter, parallel limbs helps somewhat as I think the Havoctec was even less stable in this regard but it is not enough to totally offset the negative aspect of a bow with these diminutive dimensions.
Second, though I mentioned it earlier, the blemish in the paint scheme was also large enough to be noticed relatively easily and therefore deserves to be revisited in this section. Though it does not affect the functionality of the bow I would expect tighter quality control from a company such as Hoyt. It was only evident in one location but that one location was on a very visible part of the riser.
I like this little bow. It is ideal for those looking for a short, lightweight package filled with quite a bit of attention to detail in regard to just about every component. Hoyt definitely did not take any shortcuts when designing this little wonder. However, after having it for a little over a month I am left feeling a bit let down. I think the longer riser-more parallel limbs are a step in the right direction. I also think that the relatively smooth draw of the Cam and a Half system is very desirable for bowhunters. But, as much as the next person I would have expected to see a bit more speed from the bow. We have been hovering around that 300 fps mark for several years now. I think the point I am trying to make is that there is a significant difference between today"ôs bows and the bows from five years ago. Today"ôs bows are quieter with less vibration and recoil but also offer smoother draw cycles with very comparable speeds. We, as individual shooters, can easily overlook this small but simple fact. Even I get caught up in the speed craze now and again without remembering how we were able to get where we are today.
In concluding, I think the Vipertec to be another step forward towards Hoyt"ôs ultimate hunting bow. About the only improvements I would like to see is a slightly longer axle-to-axle length coupled with a slightly more aggressive cam style. Not too aggressive mind you but enough to squeak a few more ft. lbs more of kinetic energy out of the bow without sacrificing any bit of a flat trajectory. Lastly, and my only real complaint, what happened to the 31 inch draw length offering on all the short bows???