Black Widow PCH 3 47#@28"
It's the oddest thing with Widows, they seem to evoke strong emotions one way or the other, I can't imagine anyone not instantly being taken with their very strong and striking looks but there are those out there for whom a Black Widow bow will not flick any switches. This little PCH will be no different, you will either love it or hate it, the additional fact that it is shorter than a standard bow will probably alienate those haters even further.... for my part just looking at it is enough for me to want it, it's always been that way for me with Black Widow bows and I know several archers that just can't stop buying them.
The motto at Archers-Review is always that we should have an open mind and let he bows do the talking, in this instance I must be totally upfront with you all and explain that I first saw this bow almost a year ago, a friend bought it and I only had 3 arrows from it at the time, it was enough for me to want it and covet it.. I told him that if ever the bow should come up for sale that I should have first shout on it.
Several weeks ago I got the call, isn't it always at the wrong time that something you desire comes up for sale ?, at the time I didn't have any spare cash for a bow, but a little haggling and the raiding of all the piggy banks finally had the bow in my filthy grasp.
Now it's one thing to admire something and rave about it and it's quite another to stump up the readies, this I feel will help me get some perspective on the bow.... after all... "what the hell did I just buy " on the strength of 3 arrows almost a year ago ???
First up lets take a look at the stats, it's only 58" inches tall, that's a lot shorter than any bows I own and certainly shorter than those I would normally choose to shoot, you hear all that stuff about finger pinch, instability and short bows being twitchy and prone to stacking so it will be interesting to see how this bow handles. 47# @ 28" is a very nice weight, plenty of control but hopefully some useful power.
I have probably mentioned it before when reviewing a Widow, but, they do come with probably he best little manual around, that, coupled with their terrific DVD will put you in control of your bow even if you are new to archery and don't know too much or an old hand.
As with all Widows the limbs are wide ( in fact if you take a look at the DVD you will see a limb being stepped on and pulled all the way back until it touches itself.... the wrong way ! It suffers no harm at all, what you need to avoid ( as with all bows ) is a twist sideways.) and the shape is unmistakably Widow, even if it were in colours that the BW people don't use you would tell instantly that it was from the same stable. the riser is just 14", I have other bows with 14" risers so that in itself isn't too unusual, as always it is layers of red/black glass which produces that unmistakeable BW pin striping. The sight widow is 3"and the shelf is pretty heavily radiused.. which I like and it is cut 1/8" past centre. Past centre bows have a huge advantage in terms of tuning because you can alter the strike plate thickness to tune the bow as well as tuning the arrow. It weights in at 3#.
You will feel instant weight, because of it's deeply de-flexed design and (relatively) high brace height as soon as you put tension on the string you have power, it is smooth to draw but you do feel that you have quite a lot of that 47# at 6" of draw** and it just pulls out to full draw with no drama, no stress and seemingly little effort. Whilst tuning I found that 8 3/4" on brace height worked beautifully for me, which is right at the top of the recommended height.
** I decided to check this later and found that at 6" of draw it weighed in at 25#, at 12" I got 34# and at full draw 19 1/4"" - I had 47# - with all theses figures you have to add the 8 3/4" at brace.. the point I was trying to make was that the draw is smooth and, so smooth that it is difficult to tell exactly when the weight comes in..
If you pluck the string guitar fashion you will feel nothing, no buzz or zong, fuzz or vibration, it's just a flat "thud" as the string returns to rest, of course the 4 silencers put paid to any zizz or noise but I have a feeling that even without them this would be a solid - no vibration - bow. I didn't bother to test that because I simply love those spider silencers, similarly I think you could gain a few fps by taking them off - I won't for the very same reason... they look wonderful !
This little bow makes no bones about what it is.... it is an out and out hunting recurve, all the features are designed with the hunter in mind, that's not to say it won't do everything else too. But with so many bows in the BW line up this bow can afford to be a little uncompromising. Take that 3 inch widow for instance, it's short... the PMA has a 5" window and the PSA a 4" window, so if that's what you like they have it covered. Upon first shooting it having bought it I found the window to be very short indeed, not being used to it I found it really jumped out at me and holding the bow upright I found myself trying to look through the base of the top limb. Grabbing some arrows which should be close for my draw I took a few shots and found them a little stiff, actually what I had forgotten was that this bow is cut just 1/8" past, whereas the bow that these arrows were made for was 3/16" past, I couldn't be bothered to go back to the workshop and grab more so continued with what I had, instead canting the bow slightly... bingo... the arrows straightened up and the window moved slightly over to the right, I had clear vision and a very comfortable shooting position. In years past this is exactly the style I used to shoot my English Longbows and it is very natural, most recently I have been shooting bows which perform very well held vertically and this return to what I feel is my more "natural" style of shooting endeared the bow to me instantly and I stopped fretting about the small window. If you shoot vertically you may or may not get on with a short 3" window so either test shoot one or think hard if this particular BW model is the one you want, If you are OK with canting the bow or that is your natural style then you won't have an issue.
The finish is a "frost" matt, designed to be un-reflective, it does make the bow less shiny and gives it an almost "worn in" look right out of the box. In terms of raw power, there are faster bows, but this bow isn't really looking to be the fastest bow on the block, it shoots hard none the less and in it's class as a top 'o' the line bow we are only ever talking about a few fps anyway. I expected it to constantly remind me it was a short bow but it felt as solid as any 68" bow, I didn't detect any finger pinch even when I was concentrating on just the feel of my fingers on the string... there is no shock or vibration AT ALL. At the start I asked myself some questions about this bow - is it stacky ?.. absolutely not...IS it as accurate as a longer bow ? definately...Twitchy ?.. not in the least...
There are 4 lengths available from 54" to 60" in 2" increments and according to BW this 58" is just the right size for draws from 26" to 30", my 28" comes bang in the middle of that....It shoots consistently with either light or heavy arrows and is a positive joy to shoot. I think black Widow Bows have probably the most loyal fanbase of any bow manufacturer and I can certainly understand why folks develop such brand loyalty.
Having shot other Black Widow bows I can certainly say that this PCH shoots as well as any of the other versions and although this is supposed to be a purists hunting bow I am more than happy to shoot it in any other capacity. I actually don't care how fast it is, I don't care if the silencers sap a little speed and with this bow for some strange reason I don't care how much the arrows weigh, it has beautiful manners and you just know that if you miss it isn't anything to do with the bow, so much fun is it.. that I am almost tempted to say I don't really care if I miss... but that would be untrue ! purely out of interest I shall take it to the chrono station.... 28" off finger, 12 shots with each weight, the top and bottom 2 results discarded and the rest averaged450gn 9.57gn/# 174fps500gn 10.64gn/# 169fps535gn 11.38gn/# 164 fps560gn 11.91gn/# 161ps
These figures are certainly not the definitive speed for this bow.. I have no doubt I could play with several things to make more speed, first spend a bit more time tuning the brace down, remove some if not all of the silencers, BW bows are quiet anyway.. if I wanted to, a smaller string would get me some more speed. So all in all I figure a significant speed increase could be expected, however , I really don't care, this bow shoots so lovely I am happy to shoot it as is ( at least until next week when I am sure I won't be able to help myself and I will have to see how much faster I can get it to shoot )
Features & Design
They get me every time, when ever I see a BW I am drawn as a moth to a flame, the design is stunning, they look super cool and it's cut past. Shortness didn't both me one iota and the performance didn't seem to suffer either.
This all depends how you measure it, is it stable ? - yes... is it smooth ? - yes... is it quiet with no shock or noise ? - yes... is it as fast as other high performance bow in this class ? - faster than some , slower than others, with a bow this smooth
Value for Money
It's a top end bow under a thousand dollars, I know that's a lot of money but there are other bows out there that will cost you more and plenty that cost the same - the value for money thing is hard to quantify. There are so many ways you could dispose o
I love this Widow, for me it's a keeper, a joy to shoot... and when I can't shoot it I can look at it........