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Vertix/Traverse/SR6 – My Turn! #archery

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So I had the chance to shoot the Vertix, Traverse and SR6 at a shop today. These three bows seem to be the hot bows to compare this year and I was very much looking forward to it.
I’m known for not being a fanboy of any brand and jumping around from brand to brand. The last time I hunted with the same brand two years in a row was a number of years ago when I hunted with a DNA and then picked up the DNA SP the next year for the smoother draw.

That said I have to admit to everyone the bias I did have coming into this year and it was that I really wanted Mathews to address the issues I’ve had with their bows (haven’t owned a Mathews since the Switchback). I feel like Mathews is a “cool” brand and I know they’ve done a lot for archery and I really wanted to own a Mathews. I was also somewhat biased against Bowtech simply because I own 2 Realm X bows (bow of the year last year by a long shot IMO – although not the top seller as Mathews will pretty much always claim that title due to their incredible distribution, marketing and brand following – largely irrational but as a brand you want irrational loyalty) and I both, didn’t think Bowtech could do any better than the Realm X the following year, and I tend to like to change brands as noted above.

The only reason Bowtech was on my radar at all this year is due to the feedback we’ve seen here on the SR6 – a bow I actually commented on here when I first saw pics of it and said with those cams the draw cycle has to be awful. But then when we weren’t hearing that was the case I was surprised and figured I have to at least shoot it.

So I go into the shop which is a HUGE Mathews pusher – by a long shot their number one brand and the brand they push heavily. But Bowtech is their number 2 brand. They carry PSE as well but didn’t have the evokes in – they seemed in no hurry as they said they have a hard time moving PSE’s despite admitting that the evolve cam is a great cam system. When I told the guy the 3 bows I wanted to shoot he says “this is THE bow” and hands me the SR6. I more than a bit surprised by him making this comment. He said I’m a Mathews shooter but I have to tell you the SR6 blows the 2 Mathews bows out of the water. Hmmm, I tell myself to ignore this comment, however surprising it may be, as it is counter to my bias coming into this and I really wanted to like one of the Mathews bows better. Either way, I say I’m shooting them all and keeping my mind open.

Vertix – So I shoot this bow first at 70 pounds and 27” which actually felt almost just right – maybe a hair short so it’s probably running a bit long – my exact ideal is 27.75”. We put it on scale but not draw board and it’s right on 70 (point something). No bows went on a draw board. So I go to shoot the bow – wow, is the bow stiff on the draw cycle and not what I would consider smooth. Not horrible but not smooth. It’s very stiff up front and gets even stiffer late in the cycle – what I would call an extended hump (not a sharp hump) in the rear portion of the cycle before going into a valley that is not overly deep but comfortable enough. On the shot the bow is very quiet and dead in the hands as you would expect it to be. The balance of this bow is very nice and WAY better than any of the Halon series bows. The grip is excellent – they got the angle right for a change (grip angle on Halons and Triax was way too low and finally even Mathews realizes that fact). It felt very similar on the angle to my Realm X which is perfect – it just felt slightly more rounded mainly noticeable on the palm side. Mass weight certainly feels a bit heavy but not terrible as the bow balances really well. Overall I like most everything about the bow other than the draw cycle which I frankly did not like at all (way worse than my Realm X but it’s in comfort) and it could stand to go on a little diet.

Traverse – I was able to shoot the Traverse only at 70# (I also shot Vertix at 60# – more on that in a bit) but at my 27.5” DL. Again, it felt about a ¼” long so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are both running ½” long as many Mathews seem to. Grip is a ditto on the Vertix – very nice. With this bow I felt the balance wasn’t quite as good as the Vertix. It felt slightly top heavy and off balance which was even more noticeable on the shot where the top limb came back at me a bit (whereas the Vertix just sits there). I wouldn’t make too much of this because it’s slight and once rigged up with stabs etc. you won’t notice it but there was clearly a diff between it and the Vertix. However, the draw cycle was better than the Vertix. Again, it was stiff up front and all the way through but the extended hump I describe, while there still, wasn’t quite as stiff to get through as it was on the Vertix. On the shot there was absolutely more feedback than there was on the Vertix. Again, not bad by any stretch but clearly more. I would say the hold at full draw was super solid with this bow – maybe the best of the 3 by a little. At the end of the day, a better draw cycle and hold than the Vertix and you feel the mass weight with both the Vertix and the Traverse but moreso with the Traverse as it’s slightly heavier but mainly due to the balance not being quite as good plus it just feels longer and bulkier which it is.

SR6 – Problem here is they only had the 60# demo bow. He had it at 28” and pulling just shy of 60 set on comfort so I went ahead and shot it. When I drew the bow I was like “what the….”? It was childs play compared to the Mathews bows – felt like I was drawing a kids bow at 40# or something. I seriously couldn’t believe how easy it was. So I do some shooting. Grip is of course excellent – same as my Realm X. The mass weight of the bow feels noticeably lighter than the 2 Mathews bows – partly because it is lighter and partly because it’s very well balanced – best of the 3 IMO. At full draw the bow locks in and holds really, really well. At full draw it feels more secure and locked in than the other 2 and holds really, really well but I’d give the hold edge to the Traverse by a smidge, followed by the SR6 followed by the Vertix but all 3 are really good in this category. On the shot the bow feels very good. There is a small amount of feedback and it doesn’t quite measure up to the Vertix but I’d say it wasn’t much different than the Traverse and I’d also say it’s clearly more dead in the hand and vibe free than my Realm X bows are bare bow. In any case, the overall hold, valley, shot and feedback experience was very positive.

So now I’m thinking yeah, but this is hardly a fair comparison to the Vertix given it was at 70# and since they can change mods on the Vertix I have them put it to 60# at 28” so it’s apples to apples with the SR6. Folks, I’m sorry to say there was still no comparison on the draw cycle. While now certainly easier at 60 than it was 70, the Vertix is still noticeably stiffer through the cycle and the extended hump is there whereas the SR6 feels like it gets easier after this initial (like first couple of inches) of stiffness. So then I’m thinking yeah, but what about in performance so I have them flip the discs over to shoot performance on the SR6. Shockingly, the difference between performance and comfort is barely noticeable (have heard that here from others but didn’t believe it frankly) and even in performance the SR6 draws WAY, WAY better than the Vertix.

Unfortunately my going in “bias” on what I was hoping to like got blown up. I’m actually rather confused about how Bowtech pulled off what they have with the SR6. Now, keep in mind I haven’t yet shot it at 70# but I can’t imagine the draw cycle somehow changes that much other than feeling the additional weight. I just don’t know what to say. If this bow consistently has that kind of draw cycle and actually puts out speeds anywhere close to what they claim (note that I didn’t have the opportunity to run any of these through a chrono) they have pulled off a near miracle, surpassed the evolve cam in that regard (which was mentioned by Bucksnbass I think – and I frankly didn’t think could be done as I thought the evolve cam was the king on that front) and have may once again have the bow of the year (at a new higher level) this year. Yes, Mathews will again likely outsell the SR6 and every other bow brand out there but if my experience is representative I honestly don’t know how anyone could pick one of the Mathews bows over the SR6 other than an “irrational” commitment to owning a Mathews. My “bias” almost had me there before I shot these bows but “rational thought” controls my decision making so heavily that it typically overrules any emotional bias or preconceived notions I have coming in. Now, as I’ve stated before, the experience could be very different between these bows and materially different draw lengths such as those shooting around 30" DL. I can’t speak to how that comparison would be but anything in the neighborhood of my DL, well, the difference is quite clear.

Dang, this just screws everything up. I will likely sell one of my Realm X bows to fund a new bow (too boring having 2 of the same I’ve decided). One of them is staying as I love the bow but I would like to add something different to the stable. At this point I have no choice but to put the SR6 in the lead and risk the dreadful thought of hunting with the same brand twice in a row and giving people ammo to claim I’ve lost my agnosticism to bow brands. At the end of the day though, I like to shoot what I think is the best bow for me that year and have to admit based on today’s experience that Bowtech has hit the ball out of the park in a way I didn’t think they possibly could this year. I will say that the Traverse could be a good 3D bow if you bowed down 10# as the draw cycle would be more manageable and it does hold nicely and would likely shoot very well once fully rigged up. But for hunting purposes and your full draw weight there really is no contest between these 3. I wouldn’t even want to hunt with the Vertix after having shot it which, again, is very disappointing as I was hoping it would be my new addition this year. I wonder if the first year out with this new switchweight module thing (which is a cool idea) Mathews hasn’t quite nailed the draw cycles and we might see improvements (or maybe even a whole new cam system) in the coming year or so. I don’t know but I don’t think they quite got it right with the Vertix.

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