Stealing Speed - Cabela's Stalker Extreme Carbon Arrow Review
After toying with the idea of changing to carbon arrows for several years, I finally decided to try them and see what the "real" benefits were.
Author: Frank Ross
|Author, Frank Ross readies another carbon release.|
After shooting a 3-D archery tournament, I feel like I should go to the police station and turn myself in for stealing speed. No, I'm not taking about street drugs. I'm talking about the kind of speed that makes an archer's head swim without chemicals.
I've been getting AARP applications for a couple of years and have reluctantly accepted that if I was going to get some speed, I'd have to steal it. As it turned out, getting the speed I longed for was so easy it probably is illegal.
Except for my early years shooting 70-pound traditional bows with cedar shafts, I've always shot aluminum arrows. Due to the negative effects of cumulative years spent in lethargy, I've had to accept a harsh dose of reality. The cold hard truth is I can't do what I could 20 years ago. Truth is, I can't do what I did 10 years ago. With the combination of my strength - or lack of it- I've had to back off my draw weight. Since the back-down, I've been struggling with everyone's nemesis in archery -judging distance.
It's not that I'm a total wimp. At 6' 1" and 190 pounds I am reasonably fit, but pounding a keyboard doesn't do much for the muscle tone in one's biceps. I pull 57 pounds comfortably and can do so for a full day's shooting of 40 targets. Problem is, with the weight of the arrows I was shooting, my chronographed speed was 220-fps.
After toying with the idea of changing to carbon arrows for several years, I finally decided to try them and see what the "real" benefits were. I'd read about carbon and carbon alloys, but the cost was always my concern as well as durability. I don't know about you, but I don't have a bottomless pit of money to replace arrows. However; after the initial investment, I think that carbon will pay for itself with the reduced number of bent arrows that don't have to be replaced.
In the cost arena there are several different price points, but I decided that if I was going to make the switch, I was going to buy high quality arrows. My concern was reaching a level of confidence in a shaft that they would handle the abuse of weekly practice and 3-D tournaments as well as hunting this fall.
Cost And ValueOne element of the decision, I was firmly convinced. I didn't want to waste my money. I wanted to make the right decision the first time. I had shot a tournament last month with aluminum arrows and scored well with an average 10-points on the 40-target shoot. Still, the pressure to accurately judge distance was constant. Misreading a target by a few yards cost me on several long shots.
|Carbon Stalker Extreme|
With a planned elk hunt in Colorado next month, I wanted to be more accurate with a higher percentage of my shots in a tighter proximity to the heart. For me, the only thing that would be more disappointing than not getting an elk would be wounding one and not recovering it.
After consulting with Cabela's product development specialist, Ron Nelson, and archery product specialist, Dave Krueger, I was sold on carbon. At that point, the only issue was which shaft. Their recommendation was the Cabela's Stalker Extreme. Nelson has been using carbon for several years, and coincidentally, his arrows were exactly the same length as mine so I had a ready source of side-by-side comparison of aluminum to carbon. He handed me an arrow I let it fly. Man, what a difference!
The difference in speed was enough to make a significant improvement downrange. Without changing my draw weight, my arrow speed jumped from 220- to 254-fps. The most important aspect of this dramatic increase in speed was that this shaft was a recommended weight for my setup. Ok, now we had speed, but how about kinetic energy? Nelson shoots at 300-fps with a 70-pound draw. The shaft he uses is the Game Tracker Carbon Express. Inch for inch of shaft, the express is 45 grains lighter than the Stalker Extreme. After further analysis, I decided to go with the Stalker Extreme, even though I would lose a little of that speed that I craved.
|Hitting the 12 ring consistantly is much easier with carbon.|
Most things in life are based on tradeoffs. With lighter arrows compared to heavier shafts, and increasing draw weight, more speed equals less energy on impact. For me, the compromise of gaining a little less speed, while maintaining the knockdown ability was a no brainer. After tooling up the Stalker Extreme shafts, my chronograph speed was still 242-fps -compared to the faster Carbon Express at 254-fps.
As you can see, selecting arrows is a pretty complicated process, and one that should not be taken lightly. Using a shaft that is too light can result in serious injury or even death. If you're not experienced in dealing with this issue, consult with someone who is. Another option would be the new Easton software, Shaft Selector 2000. This CD loads up in minutes, and if you have the answers to a few technical questions you'll get a shaft recommendation as well as kinetic energy calculations and trajectory data.
When you release the string on your bow, there is a tremendous amount of kinetic energy that is released and transferred to the shaft. If you've never seen Easton's video of an arrow leaving a rest, you can't imagine the gyrations that take place. Arrows bend dramatically and begin to whip back and forth as they travel toward their intended target. After watching this video, it's amazing that an arrow hits in the same area more than once. The quicker the shaft can recover from this stressful process, the more accurate your shots will be. One of the unique characteristics of carbon is its quick recovery time.
Another important benefit that I found from shooting carbon arrows is their resiliency. How many times have you put an aluminum shaft over your knee and attempted to take the bend out of it after whanging a tree or glancing off a target during practice? Carbon will flex, but it will not bend. It will also take most of those abusive missed shots without breaking.
In the final analysis, the carbon arrows I chose for both 3-D shooting and elk hunting are the Cabela's Stalker Extreme 55/70. The 55/70 distinction addresses the amount of draw weight they are designed to accommodate.
These arrows are made exclusively for Cabela's, by the leading carbon shaft manufacturer in the world. They have a micro-smooth surface finish that provides a quieter, smoother draw and is less abrasive on arrow rests and in targets. Added mass means you get better kinetic energy, a quieter bow, more stable flight, superb shaft-to-shaft weight consistency (± 1.5 grains within a dozen) as well as exceptional accuracy from shaft to shaft.
The kinetic energy question was also a concern of mine, since my mission in September is to take a bull elk. No, make that a big bull elk. In comparison to the aluminum shaft that I was using, the Stalker Extreme only loses about 5 foot-pounds of kinetic energy, but most importantly, it is still well into the upper range of the recommended kill range required for an elk.
Being somewhat of a "last minute Larry", by the time I bought the shafts, cut them, and glued in the inserts, it was late Friday night. We were leaving for the tournament at 5:30 A.M. the following day. I thought about taking some practice shots in the headlights of my truck, but opted to leave an hour early so that I would have time to set my pins on the practice range.
|Extraction can be a challenge when you shoot fast arrows.|
As it turned out, I only needed to set two pins, and that was done in a matter of 30 minutes. The only reason it took that long is because I couldn't believe how flat they were shooting. These shafts shoot so flat that I used my top pin for up to 25 yards and my second pin for 25 to 35 yards. For shots past 35 yards, I just cheated up a pinhead's width and whacked the 12 ring. Shot after shot, these carbons pounded the kill zone. I only missed two targets when the arrow flew high. I just went brain dead for a moment and forgot that I wasn't shooting my old shafts.
Now the only problem I have is getting the arrows out of the target. These Stalker Extreme shafts hit with such velocity that, without some sort of lubricant, it takes two men and a boy to pull one out of a target.
Looks like I'm going to have to get some soap, or hit the weight room after all. Soap sounds like a winner to me. I feel the need for slippery speed.
Colorado here I come!
If you're struggling with the decision of what arrow shaft to use with your set-up, Easton has an excellent tool to use. You can find it online at www.eastonarchery.com/products/shaft_selection.htm. The Easton, Shaft Selector software will guide you through a fairly simple process which will provide you with a number of shafts to choose from.
Check out the full selection of Broadheads at Cabela's.