Best New Bowhunting Gear from the 2020 Archery Trade Show
Get your first look at the year’s best bows, crossbows, broadheads, and much more
We say it every year: How much more new bowhunting stuff can they really make? And then, how much of it do we really need? Every year, the Archery Trade Association Show answers both questions: A bunch. And all of it. The doors to the show opened today, and there before us were aisles and aisles of new gear. New bows and crossbows, sure, but there’s also a variety of other things big and small that are both innovative and useful. So we’re roaming in search of the hottest new bowhunting products for 2020. We’ll be updating this story as we go, so if you want to know which bow or broadhead or trail cams you absolutely have to have, be sure to check in.
Sig Sauer BDX Crossbow System
Sig has taken their ground-breaking BDX technology from the riflescope world and adapted it to crossbows. What the system does is pair your crossbow and scope with your rangefinder and give you exact, illuminated holdover dots out to 125 yards. Punch your arrow weight, speed, scope-rail height, and sight-in distance (say, 20 yards) into the app, and the program does the rest by automatically displaying the aiming point for the ranged distance, thanks to 75 built-in LEDs in the crosshair. Unlike most crossbow scopes, you can increase magnification on this one without affecting the gapping of the holdover points. If long-range crossbow shooting is your thing, this looks to be a promising setup. It’s available as a package accessory on new Mission SUB crossbows, but it will work with about any crossbow you’d like to use it with. $830 for scope and rangefinder combo; sigsauer.com —Will Brantley
Gearhead Archery The Disrupter
I known that these funky-looking little bows have had a cult-like following for years, but I had never tried one before today. I’m glad I did, because they’re damn cool. The Disrupter is the newest in the Gearhead lineup, and it offers several out-of-the-box features, including an incredibly compact design, a shoot-through riser, and slider grip with interchangeable panels, all at an affordable price. I shot the 20-inch version, which is just neat, but the 24-incher is a little easier to shoot and the brand’s top-selling size. A 30-inch model is available, too. $750; gearheadarchery.com —W.B.
Maybe you think there’s not another way to arrange three blades around a ferrule and call it a new broadhead, but you’d be mistaken. The broadhead market is a tough one—especially for a new company—but a model that promises to do a better job is always interesting. The Annihilator is a one-piece, cut-on-contact design made of 4140 alloy steel and available in 100-, 125-, and 150-grain versions. Unlike most designs, this broadhead has no vents in the blades, but according to the company the back-scoop wedge design induces drag in just the right places for optimal flight stabilization. Though cutting diameter is small (.910 inches for the 100-grainer), the broadhead is designed to displace tissue and punch holes for heavy blood trails. The jury’s still out for me because I haven’t shot it—but I want to. $55-$57 for three; annihilatorbroadheads.com —W.B.
Barnett Hyperflite EVO
This radical new crossbow is made for precision, long-range shooting. Pick it up, and you notice that it’s heavy, but that’s by design. Look a little closer and you realize that while it has both limbs and cams, they’re not connected. The cams are mounted to the riser, which the company says eliminates cam lean and torque. The cables are then connected to and flex the limbs, independently of the cams. It’s a fascinating design. The bow has a crank-cocking mechanism that’s easy to use, and I was busting Lifesavers with it on the range (which, admittedly, was only 10 yards long). It has a light, TriggerTech trigger and shoots Barnett’s micro-diameter HyperFlite arrows to a blazing 420 fps. I’m excited to see what it’ll do at longer ranges. $1,600; barnettcrossbows.com —W.B.
We’ve tested more than our share of scent-control tools over the years, and nothing has performed better than ozone-based products. Ozonic’s new Orion is the latest in their popular line, and while it isn’t cheap, it does offer a number of significant upgrades. The fist is improved battery life—10 hours in “standard” mode, 8 hours in “XL” mode, and 6 hours in “Hyperboost” mode. The new Hyperboost mode emits 25 percent more ozone, which could make a difference during uncertain winds or when multiple deer noses threaten to bust you. Ozonics also redesigned the rubber overmold grip for easier handling, and the Orion is compatible with other Ozonics accessories. Comes with a one-year warranty. $500; www.ozonicshunting.com/default/orion —Scott Bestul
Down&Out Panel Blind by Hawk
The big story with Down&Out’s newest ground blind is patented BlindFold technology, which allows the structure to be assembled in less than five minutes. It’s also built to withstand snow and other harsh weather. Each of the blind’s six-panel folding sides are secured to a robust, powder-coated aluminum frame that’s built like a tank and yet still lightweight. Five of the six sides have a 13×25-inch vertical window and a 23×14-inch horizontal window to accommodate shots from both vertical and horizontal bows. The windows operate on a silent elastic cord-and-clip system, and the oversized door panel is fitted with a magnetic closure. No tools are required for blind assembly, and once set, the blind can be left in the elements for extended periods without any worry of damage. $999; www.downandoutblinds.com —Jace Bauserman
Spot Hogg Tuff Guy Release
Known for producing rugged, high-quality products that are made to last, Spot Hogg is giving index-finger-release fans something new to get excited about. Dubbed the Tuff Guy, this single, closed-jaw model has zero creep and no travel, which should help boost your accuracy. Plus, trigger tension is fully adjustable, from light to heavy settings. The rigid connector is also adjustable and allows the release to securely lock back out of the way when not in use. Strap options include a black leather buckle, a BOA system strap, or a Realtree leather buckle. Starts at $120; spot-hogg.com —J.B.
Easton 6.5 Match Grade Carbon Arrow
Given the rifle shooting world’s love for all things 6.5, you can’t blame Easton for working that number into this product’s name. It’s just smart marketing, and this is one really good 6.5mm, +/-.001-inch Match Grade carbon arrow. The foundation of the shaft is Easton’s proprietary ACU-Carbon Uniform Spine manufacturing process, which uses a single-die, continuous-fed system to provide more consistent deflection and exact weight tolerances. For the shooter, this means arrows will have the same point-of-impact from one arrow to the next. Working with matched 6.5mm inserts and nocks, which further enhance accuracy and stability, you can count on more 12-ring shots and perfect double-lung hits. The 6.5 Match Grade is available in spine sizes of 300, 340, 400, and 500, and with premium Bully vanes. $75 per dozen; eastonarchery.com —J.B.
SEVR 21-Inch HD Target
SEVR, now a top-tier player in the world of mechanical broadheads, has brought out a wholly different offering for 2020—it’s first foam archery target. The HD is a tough, poured-foam, cube-style target, and it’s one of the most well-thought-out models I’ve seen. Measuring 21x17x13 inches, the target provides shooters plenty of surface area. Integrated tie-down channels allow multiple HDs to be strapped together, creating an extra-large, range-style target. The rear face sports a molded 1-inch grid pattern for precise sighting-in of bows and crossbows. A free arrow puller comes with each target. $170; www.sevrbroadheads.com —J.B.
Bushnell Prime 1300 Rangefinder
You’ve just gotten all settled in your morning bow stand, and you’re ready to start ranging trees and such to nail down yardages before legal shooting light and the buck of a lifetime comes. But you can’t, because when you look through your rangefinder, you can’t see squat. If that’s you, go and check out Bushnell’s new Prime 1300 Rangefinder. It has all-glass, fully-multi-coated optics and a larger objective lens to let you see and range trees, stumps, and critters right against the very edges of daylight. Bushnell says the unit is two times brighter than the leading competitor. I can’t confirm that, but I did use the unit all fall, and it definitely extended the time around dawn and dust when I could see and range objects compared with other units I’ve used. (And I’ve used a bunch.) The Prime can range reflective objects out to 1,300 yards, trees to 800, and deer to 600. It has Angle Range Compensation for true horizontal distance; Brush, Bullseye, and Scan modes; Bushnell’s excellent EXO Barrier that repels water and fog; and a pretty darn friendly price to boot. (Also available in a 1,700-yard version.) $170; bushnell.com —Dave Hurteau
HHA Tetra Max Bow Sight
HHA’s new flagship Tetra Max doesn’t come cheap, but it is loaded with the high-quality features and adjustability that serious archers demand. Top shooters need a dead-accurate sight tape to make precise shots, and the Tetra Max offers that. It allows for minute vertical adjustments to fine tune your 20-yard mark. Another great feature is the interchangeable sight wheels. More and more archers want to shoot their hunting rig for 3D and target archery, and with the Tetra Max, they can set up target wheels to match each scenario. For even more customization, the magnified yardage indicator needle can quickly be swapped out for a brass needle. The housing has a brighter, integrated scope housing alignment ring with a built-in scope level. The Tetra Max is available with a 1-⅝- or 1-¾-inch adjustable rheostat housing, as well as .019 or .010 size pins. $380; www.hhasports.com —J.B.
I know, speed isn’t everything. But how can we not show you the fastest-rated bow on the show floor? In a year when IBO speeds seem to be backing off, generally, the MX-15 stands out at a rated 360 fps. (We’ll want to test that, of course, but for now, IBO is all we have to go on.) Plus, the bow’s new Hybrid Duel Stop (HDS) cam lets you choose a limb stop, a cable stop, or combination of both to get the back wall just right for your shooting style. Draw length is also adjustable in ½-inch increments without a bow press thanks to a new modification. But here’s the most important bit: Despite the gaudy IBO rating, the MX-15′s draw cycle is surprisingly manageable. All the oomph is up front and then the cycle eases off into the valley. The MX-15 measures 32 ¾ inches axle to axle, has a 5-inch brace height, and weighs 4.2 pounds. If you like a longer brace height, there’s also a 6-inch version that’s a little easier to manage and still tops out at 352 fps. $1,199; xpeditionarchery.com —D.H.
Spypoint’s new Cell-Link can turn any conventional trail camera that uses an SD card into a cellular camera that works with Spypoint’s mobile app. The system uses a cable to plug into the SD card port in your camera, and when the camera takes a photo, the Cell-Link is activated, storing the image and data on a micro SD card and then sending it to you. Various data plans are available and economical (like, $10 a month for unlimited photos), and it works with either Verizon or AT&T service. The Cell-Link system costs about $60 and requires its own power source (AA or Lithium batteries), so buying a Spypoint cellular camera is still the cheaper way to go—but if you already have a bunch of conventional trail cameras on hand and would like to make a few of them cellular capable, this is a pretty sweet option. spypoint.com/en —W.B.
Hawke Nature Trek Spotting Scope
Most of the time when I need a spotting scope I don’t have it, because it’s heavy and I’ve left it in the truck or at camp. That’s where I see Hawke’s new Nature Trek coming in handy. This 9-27×56 scope is light—I’d guess it right around 2 pounds—and small enough to be carried comfortably in a daypack alongside a lightweight tripod. It’s nitrogen-purged, water and fog-proof, and easy to use. Do I expect it to compete with a full-sized, high-end spotter? Of course not. But at this size for that price, it suddenly becomes a serious hunting tool—that hunters can actually carry—for the elk woods and eastern beanfields alike. $219; us.hawkeoptics.com —W.B.
Mystery Ranch Pop-up 38
I can usually manage to walk around the ATA floor, appreciate cool stuff for what it is, and then move along without adding it to my personal shopping list. There’s a job to do, after all. But I kind of want this pack. Mystery Ranch makes high-end, functional stuff, and this pack is a good example. Within seconds, the Pop-up system converts the day pack into a load-hauling pack that can carry 80 pounds. But because the frame is made from telescoping trekking pole technology, the whole thing weighs just 5.3 pounds. The day pack is the perfect size for spiking out for a couple days with a volume of 2,746 cubic inches, and all the pockets and buckles are in the right places. $350; mysteryranch.com —W.B.
Summit Ledge XT
Summit’s lock-on stands have undergone a makeover for the better this year. The Ledge XT is a big, comfortable hang-on with a contoured mesh backrest and seat and a folding foot rest atop a 30×24-inch platform. I’ve come to really appreciate a mega-sized, lock-on stand during all-day rut hunts, and this looks to be a good one. It has dual securing, Quick-attach straps so it’s easy to hang and not apt to wiggle once locked down. It’s lightweight for the size, too, at 23 pounds—and at that price, you don’t have to pick between a comfortable stand and an affordable stand. $110; summitstands.com —W.B.
Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit V
Trophy Ridge calls the Whisker Biscuit “the world’s most popular arrow rest.” I can’t verify that, but it’s also pretty hard to argue with. The Whisker Biscuit vs. Fall-Away debate has been raging nonstop for at least a decade and maybe two, and you still see that familiar, round, bristly capture rest on one heck of a lot of hunting bows. It’s simple and it works. It’s an icon. And for the first time ever, it’s been radically changed—with a new look and a new V-Notch that automatically centers the arrow and has fewer points of contact for reduced resistance. The V-Max, shown, has an all-aluminum construction, rubber arrow guides for silent loading, and micro windage and elevation adjustments. Starts at $50; trophyridge.com —D.H.
Shikar Climbing Sticks and Scout Platform
There are plenty of good lightweight climbing sticks on the market built to serve mobile bowhunters. These from Out on a Limb are purpose-built for saddle hunters (though they’ll work fine for treestands, too), and they won an award for innovation at the ATA’s New Product Showcase. The Shikar sticks are lightweight at just 24 ounces each, and the steps and mounting brackets rotate so that you can both stack them flat for transport and mount them on crooked trees. You can also swap your top step out with the Scout climbing stick platform, which weighs just 8 ounces and provides a minimalist perch for your feet. The Shikar sticks are American made and have a 300-pound weight rating. Buy them individually to get as few or as many as you need. $90 (per stick); $70 (Scout Platform); outonalimbmfg.com —W.B.
Tethrd Saddle Starter Kit
This booth was hopping every time I walked by, and for good reason—saddle hunting is all the rage with a new generation of minimalist bowhunters, particularly those trekking deep into public land. Tree saddles are nothing new, of course—I have an old one that I never liked—but Tethrd’s Mantis system is a far cry from that old thing. I tried it out (or tried it on?) in their booth, and it’s both secure and comfortable. I won’t be retiring my hang-ons or climbing stands next fall, but I am going to give saddle hunting another chance because there are situations where it obviously has advantages. The Mantis system is available in a starter kit that includes a saddle (different sizes are available), tether, lineman belt, and an optional Predator platform. $315; tethrdnation.com —W.B.
SpyHigh Camera Mounting System
Do you need this to mount a trail camera high in a tree? Nope. Is it engineering overkill? Probably. But this new system is flat-out ingenious, and the folks at SpyHigh have thought of everything. With two extension poles, a drill driver, and some universal attachments and brackets, this SpyHigh system lets you hang any camera way up there—to spook fewer deer or thwart thieves—and take it down, all without leaving the ground. How do you aim a camera that’s up over your head? Simple, the rig comes with a laser pointer too. And you get a saw blade for trimming brush. Check out the video here to see exactly how it works. $225 for the complete system; spyhighmounts.com —D.H.
Elite’s new low-cost, highly-adjustable bow is perfect for kids and beginners—but it ain’t no toy. And that’s a big deal. The problem I’ve seen with many of these inexpensive grow-with-you-bows is that they’re cheaply made; their plastic parts wear down, and because they are very lightweight and their risers aren’t rigid enough the manage torque, they can be hard to shoot well. A mushy back wall often adds to the problem. The new Ember, on the other hand, is rock solid. There’s hardly a piece of plastic on the entire bow—riser, limb pockets, cams, and mods are all made of aluminum, plus you get a Winner’s Choice string and integrated limb stops for a harder back wall. Draw length is adjustable from 15 to 29 inches and draw weight is as well, from 10 to 60 pounds. Specs are 31-1/4 inches axle-to-axle, 6-1/4-inch brace height, 3.6 pounds, and up to 310 IBO. I shot this little bugger on the range and didn’t want to put it down. If you’re looking for a first bow for yourself or someone else, you really can’t go wrong with the Ember. $499; elitearchery.com —D.H.