Das Dalaa Recurve 50#@28" 62"
I came across a new term recently, well a word and a rather fun one. Neotrads - Recent converts from wheels that are instant traditional archery experts! Also known to get into lengthy squabbles on how to go about reinventing the wheel! I'm not sure about that definition and certainly not one which would be particularly relevant here in the UK where most people's route into archery would be more traditional than via compound bows. However it is a rather good word to describe a style of bow which I see increasingly out at shoots, particularly in my class, Hunting tackle. While a majority of people will be shooting traditional recurve bows a growing number have realised that the class rules allow for a number of elements more likely seen on a target bow, namely an elevated rest and plunger button. Takedown bows are allowed and there is no mention of adjustable draw weight or tiller adjustment so pretty much anything goes in that regard. Most have gone down the target recurve route and just left the sights and carbon arrows at home however there are more and more Neotrad bows around. These bows are nothing new but offer an alternative now that those extra few points could make all the difference.
I was introduced to the Das Dalaa via the Masters of the Barebow series, the Dalaa was developed by David A Soza (DAS) to take all the great innovations in archery and package them up in to a more traditional hunting bow. It would be fair to say that the bow is rather divisive in the traditional world, although that really shouldn't detract from a style which is as justified as any other.
The first thing to note about the Dalaa is that it's all about the tuneability, packed with a ton of features to turn it in to the bow you want it to be. The most obvious place to start is to mention the limb fitting, it is a proprietary fitting which looks very much like ILF but has the addition of a thumb screw in the back of the riser to hold the limb firmly in place. Like ILF the limbs can be taken off with no additional tools, something those with some take down bows would welcome with open arms given that a majority of traditional bows need a hex key to attach limbs. The limb weight is adjustable by +/-5% from the marked weight and also adjustable for tiller, this means it's easy to tune the bow to your needs and shooting 3 fingers under can be accommodated without any additional messing around from the bowyer. The limbs themselves are rather understated, we tested the Lost Camo version which in all honesty I wasn't that keen on, although they also come in black and a new-for-2014 Woodland Hunter version. Limbs are available with a wood or carbon foam core and a range of lengths from 58" all the way up to 68", we had a 62" carbon core limb for testing.
There are also three riser options meaning that you can build a totally "custom" bow. Riser lengths are 15", 17" and 21" - all rather short when compared to their target cousins, which in all honesty is where the DNA of this bow is firmly rooted. It is made from 6061-T6 aircraft Aluminium alloy, this makes for a light riser with exceptional strength which means no flex in the riser at all. Just so you know 6061-T6 was used on the Pioneer Plaque and so if it was good enough to be sent out in to space it's clearly good enough to be used here. The riser as standard is cut 3/18" past centre, however it also comes with an adjustable side plate, this is effectively a bolt covered with velcro which fits in to the button bushing but can be moved in and out to increase the tuning potential. This is great if you want to shoot off the shelf as many traditional archers may want to but also get the instant tuneability. The shelf is also a little different to what you may normally see as it is radiused (curved to you and me), the theory being there is less contact with the shelf and allowing a cleaner and less frictious shoot.
Normally a paragraph devoted to a riser is more than enough around here, however there is plenty more going on. As mentioned when talking about the adjustable side plate there are bushings for a plunger and plenty of room to fit a standard elevated rest. For me the additional tuning ability this affords is critical if you want to get the best out of your arrows. Out front there is also a fitting for a stabiliser and also bushings for sights if you would like to use one. If that wasn't enough in terms of holes there are more to add fishing reels, bow quivers and pretty much anything else you fancy, all aided by additional riser brackets available separately. You can take a tour of the alphabet with the A Bracket, E bracket and universal SRF. You might have noticed we have talked about the riser for a while and not yet mentioned the grip, well as you will now be expecting that also comes in a blistering array of options, extra low, low, standard, high, 2.0 standard and 2.0 low. The 2.0 version of the grips have the heel reduced which according to the manufacturer make you feel as if you are behind the bow instead of at the side, utterly bizarre but there you go. So far this has been a bit of a show and tell without much opinion, there has been a lot going on in all honesty, so finally a bit of opinion, the grip is excellent as the dual poly material really does live up to the billing of working in all weathers and sweaty palms. I'd go as far to say it's the best grip I have ever used on a bow and certainly one that breeds a lot of confidence.
The other great thing about the Dalaa is the amount of after market options you can purchase. With so many bells and whistles there are a ton of bolts, thumbscrews and various other accoutrements but fear not you can purchase a spare set which includes pretty much anything that might go missing. Not that it would, you understand, but with so many things to twist and turn it's only logical we might drop one down the back of the sofa at some point. One thing I didn't mention is that while the limb fitting is proprietary you can also purchase a conversion kit to turn the bow into ILF, but not only that, there are also different bushings for Border too. Regardless if you ignore all the additional options and just stick to the riser, limb and grip combinations it comes out to 1620 different configurations, which is truly mind boggling to say the least.
Having spent the last hour throwing information at you it's more than likely you will have started to nod off so I will stop with all the technical chat and get down to the important business of how the bow shoots. Once the bow is put together and strung it's time to get it in the hand, as I mentioned the grip is excellent and the bow sits very nicely, it is however a little heavier than most traditional archers will be used to. I have possibly mentioned the bows vital statistics but to sum up this review version was a recurve with 17" riser and 62" carbon core limbs, I didn't mention it also comes in longbow and no that's not included in the previously mentioned 1620 combinations. The draw from the carbon limbs is very smooth, there is weight early in the draw but things smooth out quickly and are consistent throughout the critical 20 to 30 inch range, things increase again past 30 but certainly not to excessive stacking levels. On release (and after a little tune up) there is a very satisfying feel to the shot, no vibration and certainly no hand shock. The feeling is one of stability helped in part by the slightly heavier riser. Often people refer to these reviews to get an idea of bracing height ranges, the manual states 7-3/4" to 8 1/2" and I found it to be best closer to the top end at a shade over 8". I also found the nock position to be a little lower than it might normally need to be at around 1/8".
The bow really is a pleasure to shoot, it normally takes me a while to get in to a bow, but not so in the case of the Dalaa, it was shooting straight and hard off the bat. The limbs are reasonably wide and there seemed to be little to no lateral twisting as everything was straight down the middle. During the first test I used nice heavy wooden arrows, I tend to do this as it will generally make for a nicer initial impression and also give an indication of the speed in relative terms, the Dalaa worked wonderfully with them and I was getting great groupings once I had got used to the speed of the bow. After the first half of the course I switched to some Easton Bloodlines, the Dalaa really stood out at this point as when things get a little light, noise and vibration can increase, however here everything continued to be a relatively noise and vibration free experience.
I really like the compactness of the bow, in this incarnation it felt very controllable but also very stable to shoot. The shorter a bow gets the more it seems it needs to be tamed, however the Das has been built with a medium bow length in mind, I say medium that is of course is relative as it would very much be on the shorter side when it comes to a target bow.
Personally I much prefer straight limb bows, be they American flat bows or English longbows however the Das really does get me thinking, it shoots so well and in a package which is so tuneable it's hard not to be seriously impressed with its technical ability while maintaining a sense of simpleness. This is to all intents and purposes a target style bow yet it's relatively short riser and understated appearance, no funky graphics here, means that it retains that essential element a traditional bow exudes, a feeling that when shooting one it is just an extension of you as an archer rather than a piece of mechanical equipment. Maybe there really was something in that quote about you feeling behind the bow.
For me this bow sits in a nice place in the market, fully tuneable and adjustable without the target looks. One of the great things is the ability to add or remove whatever you need, including new limbs as these can be purchased just as easily as a full bow, which in all honesty isn't something the competition in the same bracket can do. It is in a slightly higher price range, although not eye-wateringly so at around $100 more than the similarly tuneable Hoyt Tiburon and Win and Win RXC17. I really would recommend this bow over the competition if, and it's a reasonably big if, you think you might want to swap out the limbs easily.
Features & Design
Packed with features, it could do with a little more in the looks department but this is a case of form over function
Excellent preformance and a solid bow. The grip and adjustable limbs are particular plus points.
Value for Money
Not by any means cheap, however considering the quality and what you get for the money it stacks up against the competition even if it is slightly more expensive. The fact you can purchase replacement limbs easily means this might ultimately be a better b
An excellent bow which owes much to its target cousins. If you want a bow which is totally customisable but still with a nod to the traditional this may well be the one.