Bob Lee Signature Elite 62" 55#@28"
When it comes to American bow hunting there are many names which roll off the tongue, Fred Bear with his legendary hunting ability who's name lives on with his line of bows, Howard Hill who's skill was caught on many a film reel and Ben Pearson for his famed bows and broad heads. One name which is as legendary and still as relevant today as it was in the 1950's when he started making his Wing bows is Bob Lee. A true behemoth in the world of bow making Bob Lee has been consistently producing and innovating bow technology for over half a century. In fact so innovative was he that he was the first bowyer to produce a three piece take down bow, coming up with the idea as he had to travel around the country due to the success of Wing bows and wanted an easier way to take a bow with him. It was his vision against the wisdom of more established bowyers which resulted in the Presentation II, the first laminated 3pc bow ever mass produced, first made in 1963. It seems fitting then that our first taste of Bob Lee bows is a 3pc take down bow, the Signature Elite.
Bob Lee bows are rather distinctive looking, the riser is long at 19" and therefore on the 62" bow the limbs are rather shorter than normal. The length and size of the riser, which is a real solid block of wood, makes the bow heavier in the hand than most bows, however bear in mind that I'm used to tiny traditional bows, anybody from a target background wouldn't find this an issue at all. I mentioned the wood, it is a rather wonderfull looking piece of Bubinga, also know as African Rose Wood and looks great in the flesh. One of the distinctive features of the Bob Lee, which makes them instantly recognisable is the double limb bolts. Unlike other limb fittings which tend to use a single bolt and then locator pins the Bob Lee uses two bolts to perform both functions. You do see this on a handfull of other bows but this is unmistakeably a Bob Lee trademark.
The limbs are longbow in style however as you can see from the pictures of the bow strung and unstrung there is a lot of reflex/deflex in the bow and this gives the limbs a very distinctive hybrid profile when strung. While this is not unique it's a style you do not see often and the limbs start to bend back mid way along the limb as opposed to closer to the tips that would normally been seen on some of the more traditional reflex/deflex bows. The limbs are maple core and glass, at least as far as I can tell as I had trouble finding the Elite version of the bow on the website.The glass is clear and the limbs have a Bubinga veneer. The limbs are wide but the tips taper off and are thin where the string sits, however they look solid as they are built up with layers of Micarta.
I took the bow out for a test drive at the weekend, setting up a small 3D course and a target so I could give it a really good go. The bow is smooth to draw, personally to me it felt like the 55# marked but a few others had a draw and remarked that it felt to them much lighter. I think this may have something to do with the hybrid style as my draw is an inch or two longer than theirs and I was possibly getting back to where the raw power was. Regardless it was nice to draw and felt very nice in the hand, this one came with a rubber grip which normally I wouldn't go for but it meant things were stable and held firm. For the last year I have been shooting almost exclusively 3D and I haven't used any sort of traditional ring target, so after a few shots at 3D's I decided to go back a fair distance. When you are lucky enough to shoot as many bows as I do you get a natural feel for what a bow is going to do, all that experience is stored up in the head and you can draw on that when you pick up a new bow, it seems to work because the first three were all bang in the middle of the gold, then three more and so it went on and it wasn't until about the 15th shot that I dropped one low and to the left in the red, but that was me as I was getting carried away and it slipped off the fingers too early.
Either I had become the worlds best archer over the last 6 months or the Bob Lee was a fantastic bow, let's for now assume the later. Personally I prefer a long bow (American not English although I'm well versed in the arts of Yew) but while the limb profile was not recurve the shot felt very much that way to me. With a recurve I tend to find an initial rush and then a slowing down of the limb, with a longbow style it's all rush and then an instant stop, especially with a heavier limb, of course this all happens in fraction of a second but it is noticeable when you try and feel the shot. I can only assume the heavy reflex is the reason this bow feels somewhat like a recurve and possibly why it was so consistent as it took some of that forgiving nature of a recurve limb.
For me this would be an ideal bow for somebody looking to get in to a more longbow style but retain the essential elements of recurve, the riser, the shot and the limbs owe a lot to the recurve style and the bow seems to be all the better for it. This is my first experience of Bob Lee's bows, I'm pretty sure it won't be the last.
Features & Design
Classic 50's styling, you could say this recreates that style, where as in fact it was the trend setter.
Totally stable and accurate, might not be the fastest bow in the world but it was no slouch either.
Value for Money
On the mid to higher end of the scale but seriously well made and will last a life time. This is the slightly more expensive Elite version, if it shot as well the "base"version would be an excellent choice.
Great looks with a style of it's own and a great mid point between longbow and recurve.