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Longbows have been used for centuries but it’s only recently that they’ve become popular among archers and hunters/survivalists enamoured with the idea of emulating the warriors of ancient times. While the wheel and pulley market is overcrowded with ready-to-shoot kits of questionable quality, the craftsmanship required to produce a decent longbow is such that only few manufacturers can keep the highest standards without raising the production cost significantly. Bear Archery is definitely among those.
In this review, we’ve taken a close look at the Bear Archery Montana, an American longbow of outstanding quality and great popularity among recreational archers as well as experienced professionals.
|AMO length (inches)||64|
|Draw weight (lbs)||30,3540,45,50,55,60|
|Materials used||“Future wood”, maple, fibergrass, leather|
|Bow string||D97 Flemish|
The Montana longbow was first introduced by Bear in the late 90’s, and has since become very popular because of its attractive design and smooth performance. This bow was personally designed by one of Fred Bear’s long-time bowyers, Grant Neil Byce II. The Montana features a slightly reflexed design, tapered limb lamination and slim tips for great stability and speed. Let’s examine its features in more detail.
Materials and design
The Bear Archery Montana makes a killer first impression with its attractive traditional look.
The riser is made out of black Dymondwood maple, radiused and cut-on-center. The limbs overlaid with clear white maple, featuring overlaid high strength black fiberglass. It has reinforced, slimmer tips, handcrafted with layered black and white fiberglass which can handle high performance string materials.
The bow features a leather “shoot off the shelf” grip which feels very comfortable and gives the bow a special, traditional feel. However, as the grip is thin and made out of relatively cheap leather, some archers recommend to upgrade to a more robust and durable grip at some point.
The Bear Archery Montana longbow grip
The factory bow string is a D97 Flemish twist bow string, and the manufacturers recommend to set the a brace height a 7½” – 8½”. The string is of good quality, but many archers prefer replacing it with a 61″ of greater durability and performance such as the Dacron.
Pay attention to the measurements when you buy a new bow string, as some manufacturers will report a 61″ string length as AMO 64″, which is the length of the bow, not of the string.
The Bear Montana is available for both right and left-hand shooters and in 30,35,40, 45,50, 55, or 60lbs draw weight (45,50, or 55 for left handed bows) with 5lbs increments, to accommodate smaller-framed users. Some archers, however, might find difficult to draw the bow even at the lowest possible poundage. In this case it’s best starting out with a entry-level or youth longbow such as the Bear Titan, to gain the necessary practice and to let the body develop the muscle memory needed before moving on to the Montana. But as a general guideline, if your full draw length as an adult is less than 26″, you’re better off purchasing a smaller longbow, or else you might struggle drawing this one.
Firing the Bear Montana has been described as a “very satisfying experience”. The leather grip is very comfortable and allows you to shoot for extended periods of time without feeling fatigue in your hand or arms. There is also little to no handshock on this bow thanks to the reflex-deflex design, which contribute to great accuracy and a vibration-free performance.
Using a longbow might not be the easiest way to hunt, but it’s probably one of the most exciting and challenging. The Montana is a fast and powerful bow that can most certainly take down small or medium game. For best results, it is recommended a 40lbs draw weight and 400 grains arrows or heavier. This bow is also incredibly quiet so you won’t have to worry about making too much noise while you’re firing your best shot. Stealth features are very important in longbow hunting, as due to the reduced power compared to compound bows and crossbows, you’re going to be hunting much closer to the target. On the other hand, compound and crossbows are typically a lot noisier anyway.
- Fast and accurate bow
- checkComfortable and smooth shooting
- checkReflex design allows for little or no handshock
- checkEntry-level cost
- Replacement string length of 61″ recommended
- exclamationNot very beginner-friendly
Bear Montana Review: Conclusion and Rating
In conclusion, the Bear Montana longbow is a a perfect compromise between tradition of woodwork and modern shootability. The bow is fast and accurate, and has a smooth shooting feel and very little handshock. It can be used for practice, recreational and competitive archery, and even hunting if you’re up for a challenge. Its relatively low price makes it attractive for shooters looking to switch to traditional archery without sacrificing performance and hunting features.
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