The Vortex Hunter’s features can be seen in this photograph with an eating-sized adult nanny goat taken with a fixed-blade broadhead and the bow set at 50lb.

Powerful Barnett Vortex Hunter Compound Bow

MY interest in bowhunting has recently been reignited following a long absence from the sport.

After my first field trip with an SR Extreme triangle bow, I felt the desire to try something with a little more grunt. While at the Australian Fishing Trade Association show on the Gold Coast I couldn’t help but notice the Wild Game Australia stand with its extensive range of bowhunting gear.

Concealed among all that eye candy was the Barnett Vortex Hunter. This is the most powerful of the Barnett bows available in Australia and looked to be spot-on for a part-time bowhunter. The Vortex Hunter is an excellent bow choice, especially for archers with a shorter draw length, and it is adjustable from 26” to 30”.

Though built for the shorter draw, it still packs a punch, launching light carbon arrows with 100gn tips at velocities not too far shy of 300fps set at 30” and 60lb (draw weight is listed as 45-60lb but actually peaks at 62lb). 

The Vortex Hunter’s features can be seen in this photograph with an eating-sized adult nanny goat taken with a fixed-blade broadhead and the bow set at 50lb.
The Vortex Hunter’s features can be seen in this photograph with an eating-sized adult nanny goat taken with a fixed-blade broadhead and the bow set at 50lb.
A smooth draw and the speed of this bow set it apart from most other bows designed for the shorter draw length.

The Vortex Hunter takes advantage of what is known as vertical force technology (limbs positioned close to the horizontal plane), which reduces hand shock and vibration. Naturally, the lower the draw weight, the less vibration. At lower draw weights there is very little vibration noticeable to the shooter, but it does start to become noticeable around the 50lb range.

Finish

The bow comes in a very field friendly, ‘high-definition camouflage finish.  The cam wheels have a blood-red anodised finish that does not detract from its usefulness as a purpose-designed hunting bow.  Its quiver is matte black, as are the sights and arrow rest.

Risers/limbs

This bow has a slightly longer (61cm) riser in order to maintain the 72cm axle-to-axle distance and help create the speed it does. The limbs are set in pivoting limb pockets, perfectly matched to provide the necessary strength to generate hunting speeds from this bow. The limb bolts are used to make draw weight adjustments within a 17lb range.

Other components

This rig comes in an ‘almost’ ready to shoot package.  Included are ‘no frills’ three-pin sights and an enclosed arrow rest.

Also included is a three-arrow quiver, but on my bow, the middle arrow’s position clashes with the sight, so I only carry two arrows in the quiver. Before using the bow on live quarry, I had a peep sight, nock point and D-loop fitted because I find these essential for accurate and consistent shooting.

If you were to shoot the bow cranked up to the maximum draw weight, you may wish to add limb vibration dampeners and string silencers. In the future I may add a stabiliser, but I’m finding the bow quite comfortable and accurate as is for the moment.

Cam system

The Vortex Hunter uses the fairly aggressive binary cam system, which paired with the limbs generates the necessary force to launch an arrow downrange at 280fps-plus (when set at 60lb). The aggressiveness of the cam also makes for a strong draw cycle when set at maximum weight.

A module system incorporated into the cam wheels is used to change the draw length and can be easily adjusted by changing the module. This allows for 25cm incremental adjustments, and can be done without a bow press or any specialty tools.

Draw cycle/shootability

The draw weight for this bow is set by adjusting the limbs bolts. The cam is fairly aggressive and brings with it a stiff draw. Although the draw is strong from beginning to end, it is smooth throughout. With a solid back end, it is easy to hold this bow at 70 percent let-off, making the Hunter very shootable.

Scenarios

With a 72cm axle-to-axle length, this bow will fit any situation and please the shooter, whether on the 3D range or from a hide. Because of the Barnett label, some mistake this bow as a youth bow, but make no mistake, the Vortex Hunter is the real deal.

I used to hunt goats back in the late seventies with a 35lb recurve, so you can be assured that the Hunter is more than capable of taking them. Adjusted up to 50-60lb, the Hunter is more than enough bow to take both pigs and fallow deer.

Value

The Vortex Hunter can be found for under $500 from dedicated hunting and archery suppliers. If price is a factor for the buyer (as it usually is for the family man or woman), this could prove to be an excellent deal by providing an uncompromised shooting experience without breaking the bank.

Summary

This is a very nice shooting bow. You might be tempted to dismiss the bow initially when viewing the short brace height and the short draw. This deception is quickly dispelled when the bow is pulled back and the arrow flies.

Many shooters average in the neighbourhood of 280fps out of this bow. As the draw weight hits about 50lb, the shooter will begin to notice some vibration. As the weight increases, the vibration becomes more noticeable.

With a few vibration suppressing components such as a string suppressor, stabiliser, string silencers and a heavier arrow, the majority of any vibration can be removed. Though the draw cycle is fairly strong on this rig, it is smooth and easily moves through the transition to let-off. At 70 percent let-off, the bow can be held long enough to make a solid shot.

The versatility of this bow makes it desirable for those requiring a short-draw bow. With an adjustment range from 26” to 30” and a draw weight from 45-60lb, this bow will not be overpowering. This rig is an excellent choice whether the shooter is on the 3D range, staking out a western waterhole for pigs and goats or hiking through the ranges in search of deer.

About Neil Schultz

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