You don’t have to be a detective to realize I am an archery fanatic. And, hey! I was doing it long before Merida, Legolas and Robin Longstride popularized it. With a single bow and a handful of arrows, a clever man can feed himself for years. A bow is safe. No one ever accidentally shot themselves with a bow they took for unloaded. They don’t overshoot and send arrows down miles past their target. They don’t disturb the forest’s peace and quiet. They are swift and humane, in skilled hands.
So, with all that in mind, and aware that my own archery endeavors have inspired others to take up the art and craft of the bent stick, I thought I’d offer a review of some bows I have used over the years, and later on, some advice on becoming an expert traditional archer.
The Bear Kodiak Magnum is a heavily recurved, very short and well built bow, a mere 52″ long. Mine–the one I used for this review, has a 60 lb draw weight.
This is the second time I’ve owned a Bear Kodiak Magnum recurve bow. My first one, I bought used. It was already very old: as best I can figure about 30 years. It was rated for 55 lbs and still drawing 50 at it’s rated 28″ draw. And it was light, fast and easy to handle anywhere. In fact, like I’ve told friends who shoot those ultra-small, itty-bitty, surprisingly heavy compound wheely bows–it was easier to manage than a compound bow. Sure, there is no let off on the draw, but you can pull effectively at more angles, not just directly off the shoulder. And it’s more versatile. You can pull full draw for big game and less draw for small game, if you’re worried about arrow pass through. I often take partridges with my bow and only pull it about a third of the way so the arrows don’t shoot through and get lost in the forest.
It is a magnificent bow, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I got it last night and put 50 shots through it this morning. It was pouring snow and the wind was whipping at my wooded mountaintop homestead. It shot sweet as butterscotch pudding.
I think I noticed some other small differences from the older version of the Magnum (it’s been around 50 years since the original Magnums were made), and I would call them improvements. The arrow shelf is now crowned, and I am almost certain (don’t quote me on this) that my old Magnum’s shelf was flat. I think the grip is narrower now, and the shelf is more centered, too. I like that–more of a longbow feel. My old Magnum’s grip felt broader in my hand and when I would switch from my longbow to it, I would tend to miss to the left with the Magnum due to the offset. However, with the new Magnum I did not experience any need to adjust the horizontal. I did have to raise it a bit higher (as compared to the slightly faster Tomahawk longbow) to accommodate arrow arc, but only at 30 yards did that become noticeable. The Magnum is a little slower than my longbow, but barely. It makes up for it with its convenient size.
This bow will go everywhere with me. On my regular treks into the woods, hunting, foraying for mushrooms and wild edible plants, and teaching courses on woodscraft. This bow is going to be my new nearly constant companion.
Final thoughts: This bow is a work of art, in appearance and performance! Worth every penny and durable.