Hurteau and I were just discussing the results of our 2013 Bow Test. We can’t divulge the results here, as they’ll appear in the August and September issues of the magazine. But I can reveal this much: PSE, one of the country’s top bowmakers, will not be thrilled about where their flagship bow, the DNA, finished in our rankings. Truth be known, I’m not jumping for joy either; I feel the DNA should have finished higher.
And that’s fine. We had a panel of four testers, and when you have a panel, you’ll have some disagreement. It was, I believe, the most thorough and fair test we’ve ever done; it was full of lively discussion, whole-hearted agreement, and some good-natured arguing. I wouldn’t change a thing about the process, but the results–no surprise–didn’t perfectly reflect my own opinions.
As for the PSE DNA, none of us particularly liked its utter lack of valley, but two of the testers absolutely clobbered the bow for it. At full draw, the DNA feels like it’s pulling your string arm forward, like it wants to launch the arrow before you’re ready. To shoot it well, they argued, you have to really concentrate on staying against the back, but that’s not where you want your focus when you’ve got a big buck under your stand.
It’s a compelling argument, but I think they’re wrong.
And the proof was in the downrange target. Everyone shot this bow well. One of the testers who dropped the bow for its lack of valley was pounding 1-inch groups at 40 yards with it. Indeed, I’d argue that the DNA makes you a better shot because the bow demands that you shoot perfect form. The proper way to shoot a compound is to “break it apart,” pushing away with your bow arm and pulling back with your release hand. The DNA forces you to do that; otherwise it will jump forward on you. And when you’ve got a bow that’s pleasant to shoot in other aspects–the DNA has superb balance, a mild draw cycle for a speed bow, is dead in the hand, and has a wonderful grip–that short valley actually improves accuracy. It was also our fastest bow.
I understand where part of the team is coming from because I used to hate a short valley, too. Then a friend (an excellent shot and competitive 3-D shooter) convinced me to shoot a PSE EVO for three weeks last summer. “Just give it a chance,” Tom said, “and I bet you’ll shoot very well once that short valley feels normal to you.” He was absolutely right. I ended up shooting the EVO so wonderfully that I hunted with it last fall, and used it to kill one of my nicest whitetails.
Here’s what that experience taught me: A bow with a long valley may be more comfortable to shoot, but it also allows you to creep ahead, and that can destroy accuracy. Plus, a bow with a long valley will almost certainly be slower because of its less-aggressive cams. I’m far from a speed freak, but I’ve learned that 30 fps can improve accuracy and allow me to shoot a heavier arrow, which results in better penetration. You–like many, many bowhunters, including some very experience ones–may think you hate a short valley. But if you want to shoot better, I suggest you try one.