When it comes to outdoors gear, bow-hunting gear in particular, I’m slow to change. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’m also very picky about the gear I choose to start off with. Some might say that I obsess over all the fine details. I know that when it comes to the details, I do things differently than many people. I set my bows up differently than most people. At 6’ tall, with a 73” wingspan, I shoot a comparatively short 27.5” draw length bow. I have buddies, shorter than me, who shoot 30-32” draw length bows. I couldn’t do it, and don’t understand how they do it. Drawing a bow and aiming down from a tree stand, with winter hunting clothing on, I wouldn’t be able to comfortably shoot a long draw length. I anchor my draw in the same place whether shooting a long bow or a compound, right in the corner of my mouth. It’s always in the same spot. A longer draw length would have me at full wingspan, and anchoring behind my ear. Not conducive to hunting efficiency. I don’t like things attached to my bow either and I have a completely unique, trouble free way of setting a rear sight on my string. I have another unique way of carrying arrows. Everything has to be silent, scent free, compact and invisible. All of my many idiosyncrasies are borne of experience and in most cases, trial and error.
I’ve been bow hunting for 40 years, and I made my own way from the start. In the beginning there were lots of errors. My dad wasn’t a hunter, and in fact, when I started, I didn’t even know anyone else who bow hunted. As a little kid, my grandfather had given me a “lemonwood” longbow, which got me hooked. Compound bows were new, and still pretty crude when I was a teenager. My first compound bow was basically a heavy wood and fiberglass recurve, with the tips cut off and wheels attached where the “re-curved” tips had been. The cables were actual metal cables. I was 13 at the time, so didn’t really know much about making the right selections, and there weren’t many options anyway. I struggled with that bow for years as I learned my craft but it forced me to be good at everything that lead up to a shot, because it wasn’t easy to be accurate and consistent and I needed a deer to get really close. After many failed hunts, I actually took my first 4-5 deer with that bow. Because of the commitment that was required to be good with that bow, I was slow to change. It was only when my buddies, who had gotten into hunting and bought newer bows, started referring to my bow as the “Panda” that I was compelled to upgrade. Never mind that my bow had a considerable lead in terms of deer taken. Magic marker “check” marks on the belly of the bow told the tale and none of my buddies had as many. In terms of hasty changes, the story was similar with my second and third and fourth compound bows too. Bows got progressively better. I perfected my “process” and preferences and I took a lot of deer. With success, my reluctance to change was only reinforced.
With compound bows, technology and innovation drive the industry. I keep up with the innovations, I shoot new bows and I weigh the value proposition of each technological advance. Some ideas are disregarded, some have been adopted. Some ideas have proven to be worth their weight in gold. Finger shooting was still the norm when I bought my first compound. Releases, crude as they were at the time were a major advance. Then came fiber optic sights and plastic fletching and then carbon arrows. Then string loops and fall-away arrow rests and a whole number of design improvements that made bows better. Cams, light weight risers, composite limbs, parallel limbs etc. One major improvement was the Mathews Solo Cam technology, at the time it was a game changer.
For the last 10 years, I’ve been shooting the same bow and it has accounted for dozens of animals in that time. It has been, in my opinion, the perfect bow. The bow in question is my beloved Mathews Drenalin. It still uses a version of the Solo-Cam system that Mathews developed. It’s slim, it’s light, it’s fast and accurate. For the last 10 years you couldn’t convince me to change to another bow………until now.
I took delivery of a new 2018 Mathews Triax a short time ago and to put it mildly, I’m blow away! I didn’t think it was possible but the Triax is a huge improvement over any other bow that I’ve tried recently. There are a number of reasons why.
The Triax is remarkably smooth and quiet, while providing blistering speed and somewhat surprising accuracy. My Chrono read 341 FPS with my Carbon Express hunting arrows. That’s very fast! At 28”, axle to axle, the Triax is a full 6 “ shorter than my “old” Mathews bow. In the past, super-fast, short bows were to be held in suspicion due to their somewhat “twitchy” tendencies. With the Triax, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not sure if I’m more impressed with the smoothness and speed, or the consistent accuracy. In all three categories there seems to be a paradigm shift.
Don’t shoot all your arrows at the same bullseye when practicing with the Triax. You’ll ruin arrows fast. On the other hand if you love to show off arrows that you’ve “Robin-Hooded”, have at it. Shoot 6 arrows to the same point of aim and you’ll likely have three “trophies” for the wall, and 6 destroyed arrows. It’s that easy to drive tacks with this bow.
I like my hunting bows to be pretty “clean” in terms of “bolt-ons”, as such I don’t typically use a bow mounted quiver, I use the smallest, lightest sights that meet my needs and if possible I prefer to not use a stabilizer. I do use a small stabilizer on my Drenalin because it helps in accuracy and smoothness, slightly. With the Triax, I’m impressed that an ancillary stabilizer seems unnecessary. The Triax features harmonic dampers that Mathews has made famous and used to great effect. A new spin on the idea is in the riser design of the Triax. The lower riser incorporates a bit of a “protuberance” that houses the largest damper, out in front of the bow. It’s really at the forward most point of the bow. It’s seems to replace any need for an additional stabilizer, at least for my rig. Why add weight if it’s not needed, I say. It’s a small thing but at 8,000+ ft. of elevation, mountain hunting, every ounce counts. Like other Mathews bows, additional, smaller harmonic dampers are placed throughout the assembly to good effect as well. Good use of carbon fiber ads to the bow’s performance too.
One of the best features of the Triax is its length, or more accurately its “shortness”. My old bow is short-ish, but the Triax is a big improvement. It’s a full 6” shorter. Practicing from a ladder stand lashed to tree next to my barn, the compact Triax felt more maneuverable and handy than any bow I’ve ever shot from an elevated position.
With a 6 year old that begs to go hunting with me, on an almost daily basis now, more hunting from a pop-up blind is in my future. I’ve never been seen a better design for hunting from a pop-up or box blind, than the Triax….period! Shooting from a seated or kneeling position is no problem. I could even comfortably shoot while sitting flat on the ground. The 28” axle to axle length compares to some crossbows. I can’t think of a better compact package for scrambling up and down mountains…or through thick North woods cedar swamps either.
With most choices, there are usually compromises to be considered. In the past, ultra-short, or ultra-fast bows meant a compromise somewhere. Maybe it was accuracy or consistency or tune-ability. Not anymore. The perfected dual “Crosscentric Cam” and 3-D Damping, 6” brace height and 85% let-off featured in the Triax made for the easiest bow tuning I’ve ever done, and as I’ve said the consistency and accuracy are unparalleled. I really just lined up the string to my sight pins and arrow, adjusted the fall-away rest, set a nock point to attach a string loop and I was done. I don’t really care about paper shooting a rig usually. I only care that my field points AND broadheads shoot to the same point of impact and are both accurate at all distances for my sight pins, typically 70 yards. An arrow that “kicks” one way or the other is pretty evident and won’t be accurate with broadheads, so you’ll recognize a problem right away. Having said all of that, for the hell of it, I paper shot the bow….nothing exciting, just little round holes each with three equal length slices from my fletching.
I must’ve muttered “wow” to myself a dozen times in the first couple of shooting sessions. Set at 70 lbs, the draw cycle seems effortless and especially ergonomic and the back wall is rock solid. The stability at full draw is notable too. At 4.4 lbs, the Triax, feels lighter, but motionless somehow. It doesn’t flitter about at full draw. At the release of the arrow the sensation is like a precision rifle shot, but without any recoil or sound. Kind of like shooting a suppressed match grade 22 LR.
Like other Mathews bows, the Triax is available with a number of custom options to allow you to personalize your bow. Various camos and colors are available for limbs and risers. A huge variety of colors can be picked for strings, cables and dampers too. A whole list can be created from the Mathews cool “Bow Builder” page. www.mathewsinc.com
My bows are tools for serious hunting duty, so I ordered my bow with comparatively “boring” basic black and olive dampers, cables and string, and with “subalpine” digital style camo, because I like to believe I’m invisible in the woods. A Mathews branded QAD fall away rest was included in the order, complete with a Mathews harmonic damper built in. The entire rig works like butter!! Like suppressed, precision butter, if that were a thing.
Mathews is the undisputed leader in archery and bow hunting because they innovate at a rate, and to a level far beyond any other bow company, in my humble opinion. They have been raising the bar, virtually every year since they arrived on the scene, going back to the early McPherson days. The build quality, fit and finish, and performance of Mathews bows never disappoints.
I truly can’t imagine that I’ll want, or find something better than the Triax, in the next ten years, but I’m sure Mathews will keep me tempted. Who knows what the next break-through will be.
I can’t wait to put the first check mark, in silver “Sharpie”, on the belly of a Triax limb, to signify the first “Big buck down”.
Review by Brandon Vaughan – Brandon@backcountrylife.net
Brandon Vaughan has over 40 years of personal and professional experience in a broad array of hunting and fishing disciplines, from Alaska to Belize. Past professional experience includes working as a professional guide in Alaska and around the Great Lakes region. In addition to hunting and fishing throughout the lower 48, Canada and Central America, Brandon has been an Orvis Endorsed Fly-fishing guide, a fly-fishing and fly-tying instructor, a hunting guide and shooting instructor.