Archery Trade Association Show Danie Geel
This annual show in Indianapolis is the biggest of its kind. In 2018, 659 exhibitors showed off their goods in an exhibit space covering 52 800 square feet.
The number of products and brands on show was overwhelming – I haven’t even heard of some of the bow manufacturers that were there. While many of the new products are practical and handy some are not and we saw stuff that would definitely not be suitable for the African market.
However, there were products that stood out for me and here is a short summery of some of them: THE GARMIN XERO BOWSIGHT
This incredible piece of equipment was one of the main attractions at the show. The Xero A1 and A1i sights are autoranging bowsights that automatically measure the distance to a target and provide a precise, virtual lighted sight-pin for the shot.
These sights make the use of a rangefinder redundant as they range the distance and then automatically adjust the sightpin for that distance. It weighs almost nothing and does not disturb the balance or feel of the bow. This smart sight also won’t adjust the virtual sight-pin for a distance that you have not used before. Let’s say your maximum distance when practicing was 50m, then the sight will only range and make adjustments to the sight-pin for 50m.
The A1i has extra features, such as Garmin’s Laser Locate. This function saves the location when you take a shot – to help you return to the spot if necessary.
The Garmin Xero Bowsight is something that all spot-andstalk hunters would find useful.
THE NEW RAVIN R20 CROSSBOW
With the slogan “Meet your next rifle” this company makes quite a bold statement, however the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or should I say cross- bow? With Ravin’s HeliCoil technology, groups measuring three inches at 100 yards are possible. It is incredible accuracy from a crossbow and the product is something I am definitely going to field test this year. Capable of launching arrows up to 430fps, this compact crossbow is extremely lethal.
Those who regularly hunt in bushveld conditions where 100m is a long shot (and people who are tired of going through the schlep of trying to license a firearm) should look at this crossbow. Remember that no licenses are required to own and use crossbows.
RAVEN IN-ARROW TRACKING SYSTEM:
The Raven Recovery System is designed to ethically recover game and is the first in-arrow, long-range tracking system. It consists of a transmitter fitted to the arrow that allows the bow hunter to “follow” and recover the arrow at distances up to 7km. It will not only help you to recover your arrow but also the game you have shot.
This lightweight system works with a battery that will last for 24 hours. I think this can be a game changer for game farms as well as serious bow hunters that go after hippo and crocodile. Normally these animals retreat to deeper water after being hit and the tracking system will thus make recovery much easier. In my opinion this will also make hunting buffalo with a bow much safer, especially if the hunter’s first shot was a bad one and the arrow is still stuck in the animal. Knowing where that animal is will give the hunter/PH an advantage to deliver the coup de grâce.
NEW COMPOUND BOWS
The leading brands such as Hoyt, Elite, Bear and Mathews, just to name a few, had their 2018 line-ups ready for everyone to test at the show. It is incredible how the bow manufacturers just keep on improving their bows each year.
For me the biggest surprise was to shoot the new Ritual from Elite Archery. This bow was a lot of fun to shoot! The draw cycle is very smooth and overall it just performed above my expectations. In my opinion this is a perfect bow for the hunter who doesn’t get time to shoot on a daily or even a weekly basis. My dad, for example, would love this bow as he only starts practicing a few weeks before a hunt.
Hoyt Archery on the other »
» hand is well known for their incredible carbon bows. In my opinion they are the market leaders. This year’s REDWRX line-up is no different – these bows are extremely well engineered and there is a distinctive difference in “feel” between them and other bows made from aluminium.
RAMBO ELECTRIC BIKES
This fat-tire electricallly driven bicycle is something I wish we had in SA. This will make commuting from the lodge to the hide or even the spot where you want to hunt quieter and more efficient. These bikes are currently doing very well in the US, but unfortunately no South African company is importing them yet.
NEW ARCHERY PRODUCTS’ POP-UP BLIND
NAP’s new Mantis Ground Blind is one of the best designed pop ups I have seen so far. The asymmetrical design of this ground blind along with a peaked roof and exclusive camo design, specifically for ground blind use, provides the ultimate concealment.
This lightweight blind will make it easier to “brush in” and I think it will be very stable in windy conditions. I have heard many stories of blinds collapsing or breaking during windy or rainy weather. The sturdy Mantis can take a lot of weight (from water) and endure a lot of abuse from the wind.
IQ Archery also launched a bowsight with a build-in rangefinder. It works like a charm and spot-and-stalk hunters will also find it useful. It is well built but a little on the heavy side. This is luckily easily fixable by using a heavy stabilizer on your bow.
Tactacam has been on the market for a couple of years, and have made significant improvements to the quality of their products. This camera can be used on bows, crossbows or rifles. It’s a lightweight unit that comes with a variety of mounts, enabling hunters to use these cameras on different weapons as well as in different locations on each weapon.
The 4th version has a 5x zoom and captures the footage in Ultra-HD at 2.7K at 30fps and 1 080p at 60fps. Fitted with only one operating button, this is a user-friendly product.
The AccuBow is an awesome training device. It helps building form and strength in the comfort of your own home. The company launched the world’s first augmented reality archery training app during the show. The app enables you to ‘shoot’ an arrow at a target and even an animal (when set to “hunting mode”). The app makes it more realistic and a lot of fun – a group of friends together will quickly get competitive with it.
The AccuBow is something that will help women and even young children to build archeryspecific muscles that will help to increase their ability to draw high poundage bows. It is a very handy training device.
CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
In addition to the bows and bow accessories, clothing brands such as Under Armour Hunt, Sitka, Nomad and Realtree had big booths at the show and it is amazing to see that they are still capable of coming up with new products every year.
Companies that manufacture and/or distribute broadheads displayed their wares as well. My favourites are the Muzzy Trocar Hybrid Titanium (I personally have hunted a lot of animals with this broadhead’s predecessor) as well as G5’s Deadmeat Broadhead.
Stealth Cam from GSM Outdoor also came up with amazing new trail cameras which will be available in the RSA very soon. The best part of the trail camera industry is that prices are coming down. Stealth Cam by GSM Outdoors is a wellpriced product.
On the accessories side of things, companies such as Spot Hogg, Scott, Axcel, TruFire and Carter brought a lot of new and exciting products to the table that will also soon be available in South Africa.
Meeting some of my role models and heroes was a big privilege – guys such as Adam Greentree, Cameron Hanes and John Dudley. Meeting Jim Shockey and talking about his adventures was surreal, he’s truly a living legend (and yes, I did take a picture with his daughter, Eva). The guys from the Bone Collectors are super nice. The list just goes on and on...
Attending the 2018 ATA show was a real eye-opener for me. It made me realize that archery and bow hunting have a lot of potential to grow in South Africa. We are sitting in the middle of one of the world’s prime hunting areas, something I think we take for granted at times. All of the people whom I have met have an African visit on their bucket lists.
If you haven’t tried bow hunting yet, give it a shot. We have top-class shops in South Africa that will be more than willing to assist. If compounds or traditional bows do not excite you, try out a crossbow. Taking up archery and/or bow hunting is an exciting journey – I still learn new things every day and I really love the struggle to be successful on a hunt.
Be careful though, bow hunting is very addictive...
The Garmin Xero Bowsight. The new Ravin R20 Crossbow. IQ Bowsights – Rangefinder sight.
Tactacam. Rambo Electric Bike. AccuBow.
New Archery Products’ pop-up blind.