|IA July 2005
Bow Report Easier to Read Complete Report (above)
By Bill Krenz
Bowhunters have long been fascinated by short, light hunting bows.
By 1995, the average compound length had shrunk to less than forty inches. Today, it seems to be hovering between
thirty-three and thirty-six inches. The three-decade progression to shorter and shorter compound bows is well
What is also well known is the history of indignation and alarm that has sounded as compounds bows have shrunk.
Old-liners, clinging to convention, have routinely condemned every shortening step along the way. I remember when
compound lengths first dipped into the low-forties. That seems long ago now, but back then detractors roared that
such “short” compounds could never be shot accurately. Bowhunters bought those bows and loved them anyway.
The exact same thing happened when compounds plunged with abandon below the forty-inch mark and then the thirty-
five inch mark. The howls of protest and righteous anger sounded loud and clear. “Those bows can’t be accurate.”
Yet the march continued and bows did go shorter. And deer, bears, elk and more all continued to fall.
I recently tested a radical new compound hunting bow called the Liberty I. Remarkably, the Liberty I measures just
over twenty inches axle to axle. Yes, you read that right––twenty inches! It also weighs a scant 2.3 pounds, making it
the shortest, lightest adult compound bow available at this time. In fact, it’s over a foot shorter and nearly two pounds
lighter than most of today’s compound hunting bows.
Initial reactions to the Liberty I are boringly predictable. I’ve shown my Liberty I sample to a variety of bowhunters. The
first reaction is typically one of disbelief. “Is this for real?” The second reaction is one of unbridled fascination. It’s hard
to get the Liberty I out of their hands. Sometime after that, the old biases pop predictably up. “It can’t shoot all that
well. It’s definitely cool, but isn’t it too short?”
The Liberty I is an amazing bow. It’s space-age, high-tech and unquestionably far out. Its axle-to-axle length is a good
eight inches shorter than the length of my normal hunting arrows. Yet, surprisingly, the Liberty I shoots amazingly well.
I must admit that I was surprised at just how fast and accurate the Liberty I performs. But on top of all that, the Liberty I
is just plain cool.
One friend called it the coolest bow he’d ever shot. That sums up the Liberty I better than more words ever could.
KEY SELLING POINTS
At just 20.5 inches axle-to-axle, the Liberty I is a compound bow venturing off into uncharted but exciting territory.
Think about just how short that is. It’s the length of three dollar bills and two quarters laid end to end. It’s five four-inch
vanes. It’s just a bit taller than a LaCrosse rubber boot. It’s compact with a capital “C.” It’s bold to the point of being
almost electrifying. Hang one up in any archery shop in the country and I guarantee it will be the topic of conversation.
“My intent was to create a very small, lightweight hunting package,” says Howard Winther, the bow’s designer and
manufacturer. “I wanted a bow that I could hook onto my backpack and not even feel it as I hiked along. I was looking
for a bow that would fit into the corner of my car truck and carry anywhere.”
The heart of the Liberty I design is its phantom shoot-through riser. The riser and limb pockets combined only
measure a bit over four inches in height. From profile, it’s almost as if a riser doesn’t exist. When you get behind the
bow to shoot it, however, the true nature of the Liberty I’s riser emerges and a generous 2.5-inch wide shoot-through
gap becomes evident. That gap is artfully curved and ruggedly designed.
By almost totally eliminating the length and mass of a conventional compound bow riser, the Liberty I is rendered
astonishingly short and amazingly light in weight. On my scale, the Liberty I weighed just 2.3 pounds. Blend 20.5
inches in length with 2.3 pounds and you have a compound bow that carries like no full-power compound bow you
have ever picked up. Strap it onto your daypack (or maybe even put it inside a bigger pack), hook it to your belt or
just carry it in your hand. The Liberty I rides like it’s not there.
Balanced Split-Cam Design
Perfectly complementing the bow’s shoot-through riser design is its split cam design. In effect, each skeletonized cam
is over an inch wide. That extra width creates a balanced spread between the bow’s two sets of cables that is over 1.5
inches wide at the bow’s center. An arrow is nocked and shot between those sets of metal cable, as well as between
the bow’s limbs and through the bow’s riser. It’s a riser-limb-eccentric system with excellent balance.
Erogometric Angled Cushion Grip
To keep the inside cable set from hitting your bow arm, The Liberty I features a well-shaped grip that’s angled at a
pleasing twenty-nine degrees. That angle moves your bow arm out, as well as comfortably positioning your bow hand.
I shot the Liberty I without an armguard and never experienced a problem.
The Liberty I sports an aggressive eccentric system that delivers surprising arrow speed. See the Real Performance
chart. Because of its ultra-short length, string angle at full draw is acute with the Liberty I. That means that a D-loop is
a must and a special peep is also needed. I used a camo cord D-Loop tied in place and an index-finger caliper
release with excellent results. I also used a tethered peep sight designed specifically for the Liberty I and available
from Liberty Archery. That special peep sight is available in three hole-sizes.
Because of the nature of the bow, Liberty Archery suggests that a total-containment arrow rest or a total-containment
drop-away rest be used with the Liberty I. I used a standard Whisker Biscuit arrow rest and it worked perfectly. Built
into the front of my sample Liberty I was a Vital Bow Gear three-pin fiber optic sight. It’s a light, tough sight that works
like a charm with the Liberty I. A bowquiver-mounting bracket is also cleverly integrated into the bow’s diminutive riser.
The acute full-draw string angle took a bit of getting used to as it related to my usual anchor point, but in short order I
was drilling softball-sized groups at 40 yards on a windy day. The Liberty I shoots.
CLOSING THE SALE
This ultra-short, ultra-light hunting bow really is cool, and I’d present it to customers just that way. The Liberty I
measures an ultra-short 20.5 inches axle to axle and weighs just a bit over two pounds. Hand it to most customers and
they’ll immediately recognize the handling and carrying benefits. It’s also a bow that shoots with surprising speed and
|As the gigantic bull stared over his shoulder towards us at 40
yards, the hunter buried his arrow through the ribs on the
quartering shot, stopping the broadhead on the off-side shoulder’
s hide- almost 4 feet of cutting. The bull made very short yardage
across the prairie and died. Conservatively the bull weighed
between 1750 and 1900 pounds. Brad had killed the second
largest buffalo bull any of my hunters had ever taken.
When Howard Winther initially came up with the idea of
developing a bow compact enough to be easily carried at all times
in the corner of his car trunk, the task was met by his Engineering
experience. Confident enough in his ability to meet the
expectations of bow hunters, he sent out 30 complimentary units
to bow shops around the world and took their feedback to polish
up any challenges the L1 may have had in design. Having now
taken care of every concern expressed, Howard sent me a retail
bow to put through my extensive field test. The results were not
only interestingly stunning; the actual shooting was simply a
pleasure. Here is how I found the L-1 to be in my Field Test.
The 2.3-pound mass weight of the bow was amazingly. Yet,
despite preconceptions, the short ‘axle-to-axle’, large dynamic
cam swing, and the lack of ballast in the hand produced no
problems- which one might easily have expected in the shooting
this tiny package. No torque, no surge, and almost perfectly
comfortable in the hand- almost. My personal peccadillo is "any"
feel in a bow riser, and upon the shot I had a very slight sensation
of vibration in my palm. I screwed on a short Sims Limb-Saver
stabilizer into the mounting hole and the L-1 became an extension
of my arm. Simply dead-calm. As is suggested, I held my arrows in
a belt quiver, minimum weight being one of the prime reasons the
Liberty 1 was developed- this despite the fact there is a bracket
on the riser for the attachment of a bow mounted quiver. I found
the bracket unnecessary, yet was obviously included for those
hunters who just can’t get beyond the bow/quiver joinery.
|Field Test Report by Frank "Medicine Wolf" Springer as
reported in Western Outdoor News, and Oregon
COMPACT DEATH- LIBERTY ONE FIELD TEST
When my hunter, Brad Mandarich told me he had a ‘special bow’
that he hoped to kill his buffalo with, I was unconcerned- until he
pulled it out of his backpack. Yes, out of a backpack! Axle to axle-
the 20-1/2 inch Liberty 1 bow from Liberty Archery of Santa Clara,
California, at first glance appeared ludicrous, and I thought his
request might have been a bit of a joke. Despite 51 years of
experience with ‘longer’ bow hunting, I slid back into my guides
boots, put my somewhat jaded attitude aside, and requested to
see his ‘pre-hunt’ target shoot. Brad pushed a standard length
carbon shaft through the arrowrest, and drew back the ‘L-1’. I
winced as the limbs arced back to a tip-to-tip spread of 14 inches.
My trepidation rapidly dissolved as I observed the hunter quietly
shoot arrow after arrow into the X-ring on the laminated Block -
each 125gr. Broadhead cutting deeply and rocking the target with
more than necessary kinetic force.
Brad explained that he instantly fell in love with the bow when he
saw it while on Safari in South Africa, and purchased it. He also
related that he wanted to be the first to kill an American buffalo
with the L-1, which would be the largest animal killed with the bow
to date. In just hours that dream came true.
|As the field test was being conducted in the middle of winter, with the temperature hovering in the ‘teens’ I was
dressed in heavy coat. NO arm guard was necessary. The soft composite handle is set at 29 degrees from the riser
and coupled with the shoot-through cables to the quad-limbs, string interference was near impossible. This angle
provided a more natural ergonomic position for the elbow, which, coupled with the lightweight of the bow and
minimal ‘holding draw’, provided little arm fatigue over a long period of shooting. The 85% let-off reduced the 70
pound bow pull to just 10 pounds at full draw. Doubtless, the next big bull elk that holds up with his vital area behind
a tree is going to loose out in the waiting game over his eventual step into the clear. Holding the bow at full draw for
an incredibly long time was just "no sweat".
The two large cams roll over at the extreme end of the draw, and wind enough steel aircraft cable to easily provide
for my 29-inch arrow length. However, the compact bow necessitates an incredibly sharp string angle. For this
reason a string-loop and release is a must. If you try to pull the bow back with ‘fingers’ you will find a nasty pinch
when the cams roll over, and you will dry-fire this bow into rubble. NO FINGERS! As well, due to the same factors, a
totally encompassing arrow rest is necessary. Several are manufactured for "long" bows that will work well on the L-
1. The field test bow came with a Carolina Archery Whisker Biscuitä in place, and it worked beautifully.
Although I am not fond of peep options, due to most low-light factors, using this bow with one of the larger "hole"
peeps provided, and its fiber optic site, was actually quite acceptable; even in dark conditions.
Accuracy with this tiny killer was incomprehensible. Simply put, a bow this short shooting such tight groups, "out of
the box" was amazing. Across the board, when having a panel of some professional bow hunters shoot the L-1, their
comments on its release production were- "Cool". "Crazy", "Holy Cow"! Amazement 1 may more appropriately have
been the better choice for this bow’s name.
Noise? This bow produces volume like a Stealth Fighter. The game will only know this bow is in the woods when the
‘death’ begins. I don’t know if anyone makes a quieter hunting bow. With the standard production ‘jacks’ on the
cables, and a single Sims String Leech, the only whisper I could locate was from the retraction of rubber tube on the
Speed- possibly the most overrated maximum in a hunting bow- but I must admit it as a super selling point. Using a
ProChrono I shot the Liberty 1 while comparative shooting three of the fastest bows marketed. All have produced
stable speeds across the chronograph during moderate to hot weather; so a benchmark for these bows had been
previously established, finding them to produce speeds comparable to their advertised IBO ratings. Interestingly I
found across the board feet-per-second (fps) losses to be substantial during the cold weather field test. Averaged,
each bow shot 40 to 45-fps slower than during extensive hot weather shoots. Given this proven loss, the 265-fps +/-
1-fps readings for the Liberty 1showed the bow to be relative to its advertised 309 fps IBO. This test was done with
hunting-weight carbon shafts of seriously heavier mass than IBO standards. During my field test I found the Liberty
1 to produce somewhat less fps than the advertised "fastest bow manufactured" from the benchmark group- yet far
faster than the other test bows, and more than any hunter would need- even in far-below-freezing temperatures.
Handling the bow in brush, treestand, and ground blind was excellent. It is the only bow short enough so as not to
force the hunter to ‘ground seat’, kneel or scrunch up to keep from hitting the roof of any blind.
On my Field Test report card the Liberty 1 receives these grades-
A+ in shooting comfort. A+ in quietness. A in arrow speed. A+ in accuracy. The convenience of the small package,
both size and weight, will be a superior benefit under any hunting situation. I’ve already witnessed its effectiveness
on America’s largest animal. There is no doubt of how deadly it will be on anything else.
Contact Howard Winther and Liberty Archery at 408-983-1127 or visit his web site at- www.Libertyarchery.com
Think a good thought- Frank Medicine Wolf Springer
|Shoot for 20 days
before you decide
|Ultimate Survivalist Bow