There are few tools more essential to a bowhunter than a bow. It seems quite obvious, right? It’s simple, you can’t bow hunt without a bow. But with that said, the simple stuff stops there. When it comes to choosing a bow, things can be about as clear as the Mississippi River after a flood. There are long bows, short bows, fast and slow. Bows in camo, pink or black. Single cams, dual cams and gizmos galore. It seems that these days shopping for a bow can be almost as confusing as understanding what my girlfriend is thinking! Luckily though, there are plenty of resources online and in print to help us get the down low on the latest and greatest bows being released each year.
Today, I’d like to add to that resource by sharing some thoughts on my bow of choice for the 2012 season. I received a Bear Archery Anarchy bow to test last year, and now after using it for a full season I’m ready to share my review. If you’re a “skip to the good stuff” type, here’s the Cliff Notes version. I found the Anarchy to be a great looking, super smooth, very forgiving bow that I would recommend to any avid bowhunter. If you’re interested in details though, read on!
I first got my hands on the Anarchy this spring and within moments of opening the box I was impressed. This bow, in my opinion, is a deadly good looking weapon. Icy cold black, mixed with perfectly placed metallic accents and curves that could kill. In my initial “First Impressions” article this spring, I commented “If a bow could kill a buck with looks, I’d say the Anarchy would have as good a shot as any.” The all black “Shadow Series” finish on my bow, in combination with the unique arching string suppressors and the legendary Bear logo make this a specimen to behold. The Anarchy passed the initial look and feel test with flying colors, so it was time to take it out for a spin.
Before we dive into how the Anarchy performed though, lets talk specs. The Anarchy was Bear’s flagship bow for 2012 and for good reason. This bow, in my opinion, has it all. Speed, silence, accuracy, and forgiveness.
That last trait is key for the Anarchy. Forgiveness. With a uniquely long axle to axle length of 35.25″ and a 7.25″ brace height, the Anarchy is a perfect model of forgiveness in a bow. But what does that mean? Forgiveness in a bow really speaks to the ability of a bow to make up for slight imperfections in a human’s shooting form or execution.
Axle to axle length is the distance between the axles located at the end of each limb of an undrawn bow. A longer axle to axle length results in a bow that is more stable to hold. The brace height of a bow is the distance from the string of a bow to the pivot point of the grip on the riser. In simpler terms, its the distance from the sting to the grip. The larger this distance is, the less time an arrow will spend on the string upon release before losing contact with the string. The less time the arrow is touching the string, equals less time for the arrow to be effected by any flaws in your shooting form. That all said, with a long axle to axle and a generous brace height, you’ve got a bow that screams shootability. Impressively though, the Anarchy doesn’t need to give up much in the way of speed to achieve this high level of forgiveness. This bow isn’t a screamer compared to some of today’s super high speed models, but the 330 fps IBO speed rating is certainly a respectable number.
As interesting or as impressive as these numbers are, they don’t mean anything unless they can live up to the hype in the real world. So over the past few months I’ve been putting these claims to the test. Is the Anarchy especially forgiving and shootable? Was the speed adequate? Is it comfortable to use in the back yard or in a treestand? I soon found the answer to all of these and more.
Back Yard Performance
My initial tests with the Anarchy were in my back yard, slinging CX arrows at my 3D and block targets this summer. Upon first grabbing the bow, I noticed how surprisingly light it was – especially considering it’s relatively long 35.5″ ATA length. At 3.8 pounds, the Anarchy was quite comfortable to pick up and hold right out of the box. I then set up my new Bear with a Trophy Ridge 3 Pin Cypher sight, a Revolution Drop Away rest and a Shockstop stabilizer. Even after loading the bow down with accessories, I still found it comfortable.
From there the next thing I noticed was the draw cycle. Talk about a smooth criminal. The Anarchy’s draw is smooth like butter. Smooth like a Barry White song. Smooth like we all wanted to be at highschool dances, but could never quite pull off.
I can’t claim to have shot every bow and brand out there, but of those that I have, none have as smooth a draw as the Anarchy. Pulling back my Bear was almost effortless, and was in stark contrast to the past few bows I’ve hunted with. It was so different that it was almost unnerving, and it took me awhile to get used to the slow, steady, smooth draw that the Anarchy provides.
Upon reaching the back wall and holding, I noticed nothing alarming. It was a good hard back wall, yet I had enough give that I didn’t feel like the bow was going to rip my shoulder off if I let the string creep up just a little bit. Overall, good stuff.
Upon releasing my first arrow, I was again pleased. The bow was relatively quiet, and vibration seemed pretty limited. I have no scientific analysis here to share, by things felt right. And again, relative to bows I’ve shot in the past, the Anarchy continued to impress.
The results on the target were positive too. After sighting in my bow and shooting a few rounds, I quickly began grouping my arrows right where I wanted. This trend continued. Week after week after week. I shot my Anarchy almost daily all through the summer, and consistency was the name of the game. While I continued to hone my shooting form leading up to the season, the bow routinely did it’s job. As long as I played my part, the Anarchy was putting my arrows in the bullseye. I was very happy with how my new Bear was performing in the backyard, but it was time for the next test. Hunting season.
In The Field
As I’ve discussed above, the Anarchy has a relatively long axle to axle length compared to many of the popular bows today. And as noted already, this can be a positive when it comes to forgiveness. But I did have my concerns about how this might translate into the field, when maneuverability in the tree or blind becomes a factor. After a few hunts, my questions were answered. For me, the extra length was not an issue. I didn’t find a few extra inches of length to significantly intefere with how I regularly moved and maneuvered in the tree, especially given the low weight. But – I am a relatively big and tall guy. At 6’3 and with long arms, this bow is a great fit and very comfortable for use while hunting. But for a smaller person, I’m not sure what the experience would be. It’s something to consider. That said, I personally was immediately at home with my Anarchy in the treestand and I got to hunting.
My first in the field test with my Bear came on November 5th in Iowa. After several days of tough rut hunting, I had a Pope & Young caliber 10 pointer at 30 yards. It was a cold day, and I had been in the stand for 9 hours already but I was able to draw back quite easily and with near perfect silence. I settled into my anchor point and steadied my hand. With a soft mouth bleat I stopped the buck, and squeezed the trigger on my release. In a split second the Carbon Express arrow was on it’s way and before I knew it, the broadhead sliced through both lungs of the buck. 150 yards later my biggest buck to date hit the ground. My Anarchy lost it’s deer hunting virginity and it did so with flying colors! More recently I was able to test the Anarchy on a pair of late season does, and once again the bow passed the test. These late season hunts in frigid weather again helped me realize how much I appreciate the smooth draw of this bow. Even in the icy temperatures, I was able to easily draw back and hold my bow in the moments that mattered the most. Over the course of three months hunting and several hundred hours in the treestand, I never once was disappointed in my Anarchy. It was a joy to use, and the bow simply got the job done.
On paper, in my backyard or in a treestand. No matter where I put the Bear Anarchy to the test, I found that it passed with high marks. If I had to sum up the Anarchy in two words it would be smooth and shootable. I found this bow to be one of the smoothest I’ve ever drawn, and this really paid off when it came to actual hunting situations. On top of that, given the longer axle to axle length and brace height, I found the Anarchy to be especially forgiving and shootable. These factors helped a bowhunter with average shooting skills like me, have a better than average hunting season in which I killed my best buck to date, and arrowed two does that ran no more than 20 yards from where I shot them.
The Anarchy may not be for everyone, as it’s a little longer than most other popular bows today. But outside of that, I have a hard time finding serious downsides to this bow. I’m not a super engineer or an especially analytical guy that can dive into the nitty gritty numbers, measurements and analyses of a bow to determine it’s worth or rating. But I can tell you, from the perspective of an average guy who loves to hunt, this is quite simply a great bow to shoot and hunt with.
For more information on the Bear Archery Anarchy, visit BearArchery.com .