BOW TEST: Affordable Compound

BEAUTIFUL is not a word one is apt to use in
describing the latest of Allen compound bows, the
Sharpshooter. ln fact, “plain” might be much more
accurate. But this bow was not intended to dazzle us with
its swirls of highly glossed maple or brilliant heat-cured
color, all of which make any bow much more appealing to
the eye, but doubtfully adds anything to bow performance.
The Allen Sharpshooter, as its manufacturers readily
admit, is a utility bow: an inexpensive yet highly functional
compound that offers the archer new to bowhunting the
opportunity to try hunting with a compound at an
affordable price, and still get the performance he requires if
he is to remain in bowhunting. Allen offers the bow as a
possible answer to the great monster: inflation.
Just how good that answer might be and how much
performance the Sharpshooter could provide was a question
we wanted to answer for ourselves, and we eagerly awaited
the arrival of the Sharpshooter at our BOW & ARROW

First, we would consider physical makeup. Removed
from its packing box, we were immediately aware of two
major characteristics of the Sharpshooter -~ it was a
two-wheeler, and it was light, weighing less than three
pounds total (two pounds fifteen ounces to be exact). lt
was also black, from limb tip to tip, the only color variation
being in the two hanger brackets, cast of lightweight
aluminum, the four silver—colored S-hooks used to attach
the cables and bowstring and the gray cables, themselves.
From the instructions that accompanied the bow, we also
learned that the black textured vinyl finish of the riser
actually covered a wood handle of hard maple; limbs are of
all-glass lamination. It didn’t take but a quick glance to
notice something else about those glass limbs A they were
extremely thin, measuring 5/16—inch deep, l3/16-inch wide.
Available in draw length of 27-29 and 29-31 inches, and in
draw weights of either fifty or sixty pounds, our test bow
arrived at 29-31 inches and fifty pounds. lt also arrived
with a cable guard, included with each Sharpshooter.
Without the guard fletch clearance was non-existent. With it
the clearance was said to measure three-eighths-inch. We
would see, but first we had to mount the cable guard, a
process that required little more than an electric drill and a
screwdriver, plus the understanding of some unique

“Measure the vertical distance from your anchor point
to the center of your eye,” the instructions began, going on
to explain that this measurement would serve to position
the cable guard to your specific needs. We would have to
admit to some doubts about the effectiveness of the
system, but were pleasantly surprised to learn less than
fifteen minutes later that the system had worked well,
indeed. We came up with a three-quarter—inch measured
clearance between the shaft and the cables, more than
enough to handle any arrow we might choose to shoot.
Incidentally, Allen has included an integral sight into the
cable guard, allowing for placement of up to four sight pins,
all included in the package, and is a product of S&N
Machine in Sapulpa,Oklahoma.
Also included with the Sharpshooter is a Hoyt Flex—rest.
mounted to the riser before shipping. There was little else
that had to be done to the bow before shooting, other than
the addition of a string nocking point which, again. took
little effort or expense.

We began our actual testing by flinging some arrows at
unmarked distances, looking for flight characteristics more
than anything else. Throughout our testing we would use
the portable forty-eight-inch Promat, a durable yet
convenient target mat that features a woven backstop and
self-sealing screens. During the testing we would also be
using six different shaft materials: Easton’s XX75s, sized
1816; Dougherty Naturals, also made by Easton. but sized
2016; Gordon’s Graphlex, a fiberglass/carbon combination;
the lightweight Lamiglas; the newer Gilmore fiberglass; and
the traditional cedar shafts.
An initial round of two arrows of each type gave
excellent flight with all arrows. but nearly every arrow had
entered the Promat nock-high, lt appeared we’d set my
nocking point too high. A quick adjustment and the
problem was solved.

lt was time to do a little speed testing using a device
known as an Arrometer, manufactured by Micro Motion,
Incorporated. The Arrometer measures speed in feet per
second (fps) and allows for individual length adjustments
for each arrow to within one-tenth inch. We would be
shooting six arrows of each shaft material, half of which
would be fletched with vanes, the other half with feathers.
All feathers and vanes were of the same size and
manufacture to assure comparative consistency.
We began with the Easton 1816 GameGetters, measuring
31.1 inches from knock tip to point. With vanes we reached
speeds of 187.42 fps; with feathers the speed increased to
191.92 fps. For the Dougherty Natural, the speeds were
considerably less, due to the increase in arrow weight
between the two shafts. The average weight for the Easton
had been 426.9 grains; for the Dougherty it averaged
492.87 grains, or about fifteen percent heavier. The
Dougherty Naturals registered an average speed of 177.25
fps when fletched with vanes; 180.33 fps with feathers.
Gordon’s Graphlex arrow is a little lighter than the
Natural, weighing an average 486.27 grains, and thus
showed an increased average speed of 179.25 fps with
vanes, 183.67 with feathers. For the wood arrow speeds
reached 176 fps when vaned; 180.42 with feathers; and for
the heaviest arrow shaft, the Gilmore, speeds registered
168.75 fps with vanes; 172.42 fps with feathers. With vanes
the Gilmores had averaged 542.1 grains, far heavier than
any of the other arrow materials.

The lightweight arrow among the bunch — the Lamiglas
showed the expected greatest arrow speed, reaching
188.5 fps on the average with vanes, 192.0 fps with
feathers. Total speed variations between the slowest and
fastest arrow was but less than 20 fps and, as previously
mentioned, all arrows flew very well, coming as close to our
target destination as we could hope they might.

Because there are as many bowhunters who consider
penetration as the prime capability of a bow as there are
those who swear by speed, we next turned our attention to
penetration abilities of the Sharpshooter. Once again we
used a familiar target: Ethafoam, a two—pound density
polyethylene that is both strong and durable. By combining
four thicknesses of the Ethafoam, each 2% inches thick, we
were able to obtain measurable penetration from each shaft
material without total penetration of any. Those who
bemoaned the speed reading from the Gilmore shaft can
take heart in the comparable penetration capabilities. The
Gilmores penetrated an average of 2.145 inches. In
comparison, the lightweight, faster Lamiglas measured an
average 0.156 inch. Just how these capabilities would
effect actual bowhunting could only be determined by
bowhunting. Unfortunately someone had alerted the only
legal game available, and we could find nothing save a lizard
to shoot toward, and who would eat a lizard?

Consequently, the true test of the Sharpshooter in the
field, against rabbit or deer, will have to wait until another
time. But we’d shot the bow enough to know that it did
shoot well. Speed was sufficient, it was certainly simple to
set-up and shoot, and it was inexpensive. And in today’s
current economic situation, perhaps that is really the name
of the game. <—<<

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