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Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 – 18:37:03

Top Bowfishing Bows

By Jack Thatcher

Apr 5, 2006, 10:16

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Lately, I have been getting a lot of emails regarding Bow
choices for bowfishing.  So I decided to
write a short article about what I feel are the top two bowfishing bows on the
market today, the Browning Barracuda and the AMS Bowfishing Fish Hawk!  

Browning Barracuda

These two bows represent the pinnacle of bowfishing technology
today.  Both bows are purpose built and
designed to cater to the specialized needs of the bowfisher.  Both bows are extremely agile, easy to shoot,
easy to maintain, and can fit multiple users with no adjustment.   Both can be snap shot like a recurve while
delivering much more power.  Both are
relatively light in weight and can be fished all night with little to no
strain.  Most importantly, both are very affordable.

So what is the difference between the two bows?   I recently had an opportunity to compare and
evaluate both of these bows and I must say they do not disappoint.  Some of the testing was for performance but
most was in the field under actual shooting conditions.   So here it goes!


AMS Fish Hawk


Fish Hawk Specifications:                            

  • Draw Weight: 30-40#                          
    Draw Weight:
  • Draw Length: 15-30″
    Length: 14-30?
  • Approximate Let-off: 20%
  • Axle-to-Axle: 35
    to Axle: 32?
  • Brace
    Height: 7 3/4″                                        
    height: 6.25?

First I set up both bows with AMS Wave Roller Rests and
Retrievers loaded with BCY 350# line.   The
arrow used was a standard fiberglass arrow tipped with the Muzzy 1010
Garpoint.  I adjusted both bows to
exactly 40 pounds and began the tuning process. 
Both bows were tuned for finger shooting (split finger).  Once both bows achieved bullet holes with
bare shafts (not tied to the string yet), I was ready to move on to performance

I decided to test the bows at two different draw lengths to
evaluate possible nock travel issues. 
The arrow was marked at 26.5 and 29 inches of draw.  I enlisted the help of Scott Hausmann of
Mesquite Creek Archery in San Antonio
to provide the short draw shots through the chronograph.  The following results were shot at 70 degrees
Fahrenheit, indoors with 80% humidity, and seven feet from a chronograph.  The speeds are a result of a three shot
average and are in feet per second.  The
formula for kinetic energy was used to establish foot pounds.  The arrows weight was 1468 Grains.

Draw                  29? Draw

Browning Barracuda  115 FPS                      128

AMS Fish Hawk                    103 FPS                      118 FPS

I must admit I was a little surprised in the difference
between the two bows.  Further testing
would show why we had such a large disparity in speeds.  While both bows reach peak weight at about
14.5 inches of draw, the Browning Barracuda maintains its weight and only loses
three pounds thru the draw stroke.  Once
you get past the peak weight of 40 pounds the bow then lets off to about 37
pounds at full draw.  The AMS Bowfishing
Fish Hawk bow lost eight pounds after peak which left us holding 32 pounds at
full draw.  The result is lost

Ok, so what?s ten feet per second right?  When you factor in that the arrows weight of
1468 gr., it can mean a lot!  The
Barracuda (53.41 ft#s) delivered eight foot pounds of energy more than the Fish
Hawk (45.39 ft#s) at 29 inches of draw.   The Barracuda will hit harder deeper into the
water than the Fish Hawk all things being equal.

So are all things equal? 
Not really.  Speed is not the only
thing that affects penetration into water. 
The arrow must leave the bow straight before the line is attached for
the best performance.  While I spent
considerable time tuning both bows to perfection, most people do not.  I found the AMS Fish Hawk very forgiving and
easy to tune.  It launched bare shafts
perfectly into the target with various adjustments to the rest and nock shot
after shot.  This is truly rare!  A very shooter friendly bow!

The Browning Barracuda tune up took some time and was a lot
more sensitive to a poorly released shot.  
This of course is due to the 32? axle to axle length and finger
pinch.  I would very much like to see a
35? version of this bow in the future! 

Alright so how did they compare on the water?  In truth, both bows shot very well at my draw
length.  I had no trouble taking fish at
various depths and distances.  Both bows
sent arrows to where I was looking with little exception.  Both were unaffected by canting or string
tweak.  Both exhibited plenty of speed
and penetration.

Everything was going great until I tried some quick snap
shooting.  This is the act of short
drawing a bow so as to limit penetration into the fish.  The AMS Fish Hawk while smooth, whipped
arrows wildly when short stroked on quick shots.  I can only assume that this is caused by its
single cam design.   The two cam Browning
Barracuda delivered its arrows straight at all lengths of pull. 

Overall, both are remarkable bowfishing bows and are very
capable of taking the largest of fish!  
Both aim naturally and have generous sight windows to track your
quarry.   I would however recommend the
Browning Barracuda for kids and short draw shooters.  It builds considerable power at the smaller
draw lengths while delivering accuracy shot after shot.  It was not designed for big hands
though.  Larger draw lengths will enjoy
the AMS Fish Hawk with its smooth draw and slight let-off.  This bow will accommodate hands of all sizes
and is a pleasure to shoot!  

Shoot straight and stay in the boat!

Jack Thatcher


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