Archers have never had more choices in excellent arrow-launch options than in 2013. Although it’s nearly impossible to test every bow and crossbow in a head-to-head competition, the following models deserve your serious consideration. Some are field tested while others are ripe with full-draw potential. Check these out:

thCAD1V7K2Hoyt Carbon Element: Neither a Yellowstone elk nor an African kudu was a match for the power of the 2012 Carbon Element. Set at 60# and 27-inch draw length, it shot completely through an elk at 40 yards and downed a huge kudu within 100 yards. Light, well balanced, quiet, and smooth drawing, the bow performed flawlessly. This year, Hoyt adds an AirShox system to dampen vibration, even though the 2012 model was already quiet. Powered by an RKT Cam & ½, the new G3 is compact and ideal for tight spots in ground blinds and tree stands, while the Carbon Matrix is 35 inches axle-to-axle if you prefer a longer draw. MSRP $1399;


TenPoint: Wyoming allows crossbows in all archery seasons, a chance to try a horizontal format in places usually reserved for vertical bows. Heavier than most compounds and not quite as agile in tight places, it appears that TenPoint was videotaping my experience. For 2013 they’ve introduced the new Vapor, which is lighter, more compact, and more maneuverable. A genuine powerhouse, it shoots a 22-inch, 420-grain arrow at 360 FPS, enough kinetic energy for a Cape buffalo double. The ACUdraw is a very cool feature which allows you to cock the bow precisely with a crank that stores in the handle. This is a top-of-the-line bow that comes in a complete package and performs accordingly. MSRP $1,919;

Creed_Camo_3-4_2Mathews: Continuing the reputation as one of the world’s best single-cam bows, Mathews continues the tradition with the Creed, featuring the new SimPlex Cam. Lightweight and compact, it has a host of features that can make a critical difference on the 3-D range or at the moment of truth. Just 30 inches axle-to-axle, the draw weight ranges from 50–70 pounds with an 80 percent let-off. The Creed comes with a patented Monkey Tail string silencer and when combined with Harmonic Stabilizer Lite creates a very quiet release. MSRP $999. Shoot one at your local pro shop and check out


Barnett Vengeance: Crossbows are the hottest items in archery (and hunting) today, and no wonder. They offer an easy crossover from the firearm side to a bow that shoots much like a rifle. More importantly, crossbows deliver devastating kinetic energy and extreme accuracy without requiring the brute force of a weightlifter. The Barnett Vengeance is the first crossbow to combine a lightweight CarbonLite Riser with reverse-draw technology. In this radical new reverse-draw configuration, the limb pockets are moved closer to the trigger assembly and the limbs face forward on the bow, shifting the center of gravity closer to the shooter’s body. This drastically reduces the weight at the front of the crossbow, which is essential for a well-balanced shot. Aside from a great shooting bow, it looks awesome! MSRP $899 for a complete kit;

CamoLimbsaver Proton: Quiet Flexibility captures this new bow in a nutshell. Limbsaver has been the industry standard for vibration dampening and silencing for a decade. The new Proton has all the silencing features you would expect plus seven distinct setting options, allowing you to adjust the bow to your best shooting skills, in the garage or in the field, without risking a re-tune. Each parallel limb comes standard with a Broadband Limbsaver, a unique device that tames vibration and noise upon release. The Dual Track Cam System applies equal cable-load to both sides of the cam for a perfect alignment and zero cam lean. IBO rated between 330 and 335 FPS, you get silent speed. MSRP $999: