In the realm of traditional archery, few names resonate as powerfully as Bear Archery, renowned for its quality, craftsmanship, and dedication to the sport.
One of the esteemed offerings from their exquisite lineup is the Montana Long Bow, a blend of traditional aesthetics and modern technology, priced at $449.91.
This article will embark on a comprehensive exploration of the Montana, delving deep into its performance, design, usability, and value.
This review aims to provide a balanced and insightful perspective, taking into consideration the needs of different archers – from the novice dipping their toes in traditional archery, to the seasoned enthusiast looking to add a remarkable piece to their collection.
We will evaluate the Montana's performance, considering factors like accuracy, smoothness of draw, and velocity.
In addition, we'll discuss the bow's design, aesthetics, and build quality, and finally, its value proposition – how much bang for your buck do you actually get?
Join us as we journey through the world of traditional archery, shedding light on the Montana's strengths and potential areas of improvement, and perhaps, just perhaps, revealing why this bow might be the perfect addition to your archery gear.
The Bear Archery Montana, often referred to as the Montana, is a bow that blends tradition with modern performance, making it a perfect match for those just getting into shooting the longbow, yet still packing enough punch for seasoned archers.
Priced at $449.91, it offers an elegant blend of beauty and performance that you'll enjoy exploring in this review.
Here are its key specifications:
- Length: 64″ AMO Length
- Riser: Radiused, cut-on center shelf made of solid black maple. The riser also includes a leather grip and arrow rest, as well as an inlaid Bear medallion.
- Limbs: Clear white maple core surrounded by black fiberglass. The limbs are tapered and feature slim tips, giving the bow stability and speed. The bow tips are reinforced to handle high-performance string materials.
- String: D97 Flemish twist bow string, with a manufacturer-recommended brace height of 7½” – 8½”. A replacement string length of 61″ is recommended21.
- Draw Weight Options: The Montana is available in a variety of draw weights. You can choose a right-handed bow in 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, or 60# @ 28″. Left-handed options are available in 45, 50, or 55# @ 28″.
- Minimum Arrow Weight: Bear Archery recommends not shooting an arrow weighing less than eight grains for every pound of peak draw weight. For example, if your bow's peak weight is 40 pounds at your 30″ draw length, do not shoot an arrow weighing less than 320 grains total arrow weight2.
The Montana is more than just its raw specs, however. Its slightly reflexed design and classic lines combine to create an elegant and smooth shooting experience2. Plus, every Montana is unique – variations in color tint, wood grain, and even “birthmarks” are common in this bow, making each one a unique piece of craftsmanship.
The Montana also comes with a host of included accessories:
- Montana Longbow
- 1 Vista Traditional Single Seam Glove (available in Small, Medium, Large sizes)
- 1 Vista Ultra-Lite Armguard
- 1 Vista Longbow Stringer
- 1 Package Brush Buttons
- 1 Kwikee Kwiver Bow Tip Protector
My Personal Experience
I remember the first time I held the Montana in my hands.
As a hunter with years of experience using various bows, I was initially drawn in by the aesthetics of this bow.
The sleek black fiberglass, contrasting with the clear white maple of the limbs, and the solid black maple riser with its carefully inlaid Bear medallion, all conspired to create an immediate impression of refined elegance and rugged functionality.
The first time I drew the bow, the smoothness of the draw struck me.
The Montana didn't fight me; instead, it moved with me, becoming an extension of my body.
The 64″ length and the slightly reflexed design provided a level of stability I hadn't expected.
I remember standing there, the Montana fully drawn, and feeling a kind of stillness I hadn't experienced before – it was like time itself had paused, waiting for me to release the string.
The true test, however, came when I took the Montana out for its first hunting trip.
I was tracking a white-tail deer through the woods of Montana, the state from which the bow draws its name.
The compactness of the bow was a blessing, allowing me to move quietly and unencumbered through dense brush.
The quiet whisper of the D97 Flemish twist bowstring was a stark contrast to the loud snap of many other bows I've used.
As I spotted a deer grazing in a small clearing, I had the opportunity to appreciate the Montana's accuracy.
The arrow flew true, landing exactly where I had aimed.
In that moment, I was reminded of why I love traditional archery – the raw, unfiltered connection between hunter and hunted, the interplay of skill, patience, and a good bow.
One feature of the Montana that really stood out to me during this hunt was the leather grip and arrow rest.
They gave me the confidence I needed during my shots, providing a level of control and comfort that made each shot a seamless process.
The leather “shoot-off-the-shelf” arrow rest was particularly impressive, offering a quiet and smooth arrow launch, which is essential when hunting skittish game.
The Montana, with its blend of traditional aesthetics and modern features, felt like an old friend by the end of that hunting trip.
It was a tool that did its job remarkably well, and also a piece of art that commanded respect and admiration.
I've used many bows in my hunting career, but the Montana has earned a special place in my collection and in my heart.
In my subsequent hunts with the Montana, it has continued to impress.
Whether it's the stability offered by its design, the smoothness of its draw, or its accurate performance, the Montana stands as a testament to Bear Archery's commitment to quality and tradition.
This is a bow that doesn't just do its job; it elevates the entire hunting experience.
Price and Value for Money
At $449.91, the Montana may seem like a considerable investment, especially for those new to the world of longbows.
However, it's important to remember that when purchasing a bow, you're not just buying a piece of equipment – you're investing in an experience, a tool for practice, and potentially, a hunting companion.
The Montana offers a lot for its price point.
Its construction showcases a blend of high-quality materials and craftsmanship, from the solid black maple riser to the clear white maple limbs surrounded by black fiberglass.
The bow's design, slightly reflexed with tapered limbs and slim tips, ensures smooth, stable, and fast shooting, attributes that are valued by both novice and seasoned archers alike.
Add to this the fact that the bow comes with a host of included accessories, like a Vista Traditional Single Seam Glove, Vista Ultra-Lite Armguard, Vista Longbow Stringer, Brush Buttons, and a Kwikee Kwiver Bow Tip Protector, and the value proposition becomes even more compelling.
These accessories can greatly enhance your shooting experience and would cost extra if purchased separately.
Beyond the tangible aspects, the Montana also offers something less quantifiable but equally valuable: the experience of using a traditional longbow that is rooted in history but doesn't compromise on modern performance.
Every Montana is unique, with variations in color tint, wood grain, and even “birthmarks”.
Owning and shooting the Montana is as much about enjoying this distinctive experience as it is about the physical attributes of the bow.
Finally, the Montana is also an excellent choice for those transitioning from modern compound bows to traditional longbows, as it offers a smooth shooting experience without a prohibitive cost.
This makes it a cost-effective way to explore the world of traditional archery without breaking the bank.
In conclusion, while the Montana does come with a significant price tag, the value it offers in terms of construction quality, performance, included accessories, and the unique shooting experience it provides, makes it a worthy investment for both beginners and experienced archers.
As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, and with the Montana, you're getting a lot.
What are people saying?
Our first review comes from Robert J Fried, who gave the Montana a 5-star rating.
Robert expressed his deep admiration for the bow's beauty, noting that it always attracts attention and positive comments at the range due to its distinctive appearance compared to the more modern materials commonly seen.
He particularly praised the Montana's forgiveness for imperfect form and release, making it an excellent choice for beginners and those who appreciate a traditional feel.
Despite a minor complaint about the handle wrapping, he found the Montana to be reliable, enjoyable to shoot, and a perfect blend of traditional crafting and modern durability.
Above all, he recommended the Montana for both new and long-time archers seeking an easy and fun shooting experience.
The second reviewer, identified as C, praised the Montana as a “beautiful bow” and a testament to Bear Archery's reputation.
C was particularly impressed by the remarkably fast shipping, noting that the bow was dispatched only a few hours after placing the order.
Despite a minor confusion about the bow's color in the product description, C chose not to remove a star from the review, attesting to the overall satisfaction with the Montana, even declaring, “this bow is too great.”
While the Montana offers a wealth of benefits, it is important to acknowledge that no product is without its drawbacks.
One minor issue that some users, including myself, have noted is the handle wrapping.
Constructed from a sort of thin black foam sheet that is glued on, the wrapping can initially feel a bit less than premium, especially when compared to the otherwise excellent build quality of the bow1.
I recall one winter hunting trip where the colder weather seemed to make the handle wrapping feel slightly less secure in my hand.
Although it never actually caused any issues during my hunt, I found myself being more conscious of my grip than I would normally be.
It's a small detail, but one that's worth mentioning for those who place a lot of emphasis on the feel of the bow in their hand.
Another potential drawback to consider is the bow's color.
As one reviewer noted, the product description can be a bit misleading, as the bow is black rather than brown.
While this may not impact the bow's performance, it could be a point of contention for those who have specific aesthetic preferences for their bows.
Overall, these drawbacks are relatively minor when weighed against the Montana's many strengths.
They do not significantly detract from the overall performance or quality of the bow, but are worth keeping in mind when considering the Montana as your longbow of choice.
Should You Buy? Concluding the Review
In conclusion, the Montana from Bear Archery is a remarkable longbow that delivers in terms of both performance and aesthetic appeal.
Its 64″ slightly reflexed design with tapered limbs and slim tips offer a smooth, stable, and fast shooting experience, making it a worthy addition to the archery arsenal of both beginners and seasoned archers alike.
Its construction, with the blend of black maple and white maple limbs surrounded by black fiberglass, showcases high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, creating a bow that is as elegant and beautiful as it is effective.
Moreover, the bow comes with a host of included accessories that enhance the shooting experience and add value to the purchase, further reinforcing its position as a cost-effective choice for those looking to explore traditional archery.
Even though there are minor concerns, such as the handle wrapping and the potential color confusion in the product description, they do not overshadow the bow's many positives.
In fact, these concerns are relatively minor and subjective, and for many users, they may not be issues at all.
So, should you buy the Montana? If you're seeking a traditional longbow that offers a blend of beauty, performance, and tradition, then the answer is a resounding yes.
This bow offers a balance of modern performance with a feel of historical craftsmanship, making every shooting experience unique and enjoyable.
Whether you're a seasoned archer looking for a new addition to your collection, or a beginner aiming to delve into the world of traditional archery, the Montana presents itself as a worthy consideration.
And as Robert J Fried, a satisfied user, said, “It's really a blast to shoot, a beautiful weapon…
I recommend this for both those who are new to archery as well as long time shooters who want a traditional feel and a fun, easy shoot.”
In conclusion, with the Montana, you're not just buying a longbow; you're investing in a rich, fulfilling archery experience that combines tradition with modern performance.