R. Blacky Schwarz Longbow Review
Longbow Review: Carbon Elite Longbow from Centaur Archery
Jim Neaves, the owner and bowyer of Centaur Archery grew up in Hamilton, Montana in the heart of the Bitterroot Valley. He spent his childhood right next to the Bitterroot River shooting bows and arrows that his dad acquired for him at auctions and other occasions. As he got older, he really took to traditional archery and after reading a lot of books about bow building and watching several people build self bows, he gave self bow building a try. That was thirteen years ago and after several self bows under his belt; he started selling them to the local archery community. After about three years into self bows, he made a switch over to laminated bows, mostly for reliability concerns for his growing customer line-up.
He also enjoys all of the research and development that goes into the bows and with an open mind towards fiber advancements, glues and finishes, it is his constant pursuit to build the best bow possible for his customers. Jim believes a good bow will enhance days in the field and can be passed along generation to generation, for that little kid that needs a spark of passion to get started in traditional archery. Along his bow building journey, he met his wife Katie at the local health club. They have now been married for five years and she offers her support working behind the scenes by preparing paperwork and printing labels to ship bows. Besides building bows, Jim is also busy with several new projects. One of them is the development of the Centaur broadhead. This new broadhead will have a thick blade with a concave profile, tanto tip and single bevel edge. It will be available in time for this fall's hunting season. He's also bringing a new hand spun woolen string silencer to the market. The new silencer, utilizing Navajo sheep wool, has natural waterproofing lanolin oil and comes in the natural, exotic coloration of the wool fibers. They are already found on every string that comes with a Centaur bow. Together with some friends, he's also working on an all traditional hunting DVD that will hit the market in 2010.
When he's not in the shop or helping a customer with archery, he's working part time helping people to get on track with their health through consulting and personal support.
The reviewed bow is the Carbon Elite model, with High-Tech limb backing materials to enhance performance. Let's see what other features this bow has to offer.
Length: From fade-out to fade-out, the riser measures 16 1/2 inches in length.
Material: The center part of the riser, which features the fade-out ends, is cut and ground from Charcoal Silvertone Dymondwood and then embedded between the limb laminations. Dymondwood of the same color is glued to the belly side of the limbs to form the grip part of the riser. For looks and contrast a thin accent stripe from red Micarta is placed between the outer limb lamination and the grip part. The shelf is designed with a downward slope towards the sight window, which helps to keep the arrow on the Velcro rest during hunting situations. Shelf and Sight window are radiused to keep the arrow contact areas to a minimum. Artistic engraving work on the palm side of the grip, depicting a knapped arrow head, shows the craftsmanship that goes into building the Centaur bows. Cutting little dimples into the surface of the grip, not only prevent slipping of the bowhand, it also enhances the optical appearance of the bow. Jim calls this eye catching engraving work "stippling" and offers it as an option on his bows. An overlay from Red Micarta and black glass, that matches the overlays on the limb tips, is glued to the back side of the bow. For a perfect fit, finger grooves are cut into the front of the riser according to a tracing of the customer's hand.
Shape: slightly deflexed
Grip: medium low pistol type grip with finger grooves
Center Cut: Cut to center
Sight Window: The radiused sight window measures almost three inches in height.
Distance from pivot Point to shelf: 6/8 inches (from deepest part of grip to shelf surface)
Physical weight: 21 oz (complete bow)
Bow Length: 60 inches
Draw Weight: 51 lbs @ 28 inches (A.T.A.)
Brace Height: The recommended brace height is 7 inches and is measured from the string to the first lamination on the belly side of the limb.
Shape: Reflexed limbs with a trapezoid cross-section that is wider at the belly side.
Material: Two tapered layers of ActionBoo on the back side of the bow and a parallel layer of Maple ActionWood on the belly side are used for the construction of the limb core. The lamination on the back of the bow is Jim's own lay-up from carbon fibers and a woven matrix on the surface for protection and a sophisticated look. His specially engineered hybrid lamination, designed to withstand high compression forces, covers the belly side. All limb laminations are running continuously from tip to tip. Red Micarta, with a top layer of black multi directional fiber glass, is the material of choice for the limb tip reinforcing overlays that permit the use of modern, low stretch string materials. The size and shape of the limb tips shows Jim's attention to details. Cutting the tips to a length of merely half an inch, measured from the outer edge to the string groove, results in a higher dynamic efficiency, since a lower mass has to be moved during the shot.
Limb width: The limbs measure 1 1/4 inches at the fade-outs and taper down to five eights of an inch just below the string groove.
String: Dynaflight 97 string material is used to build the Flemish twist string, with padded loops, that is supplied with the bow. Strings made from other low stretch, high performance materials, like D-75, BCY 452-X, TS-1, BCY 8125, Fast Flight etc. can also be used, without any ill effects.
Finish: For moisture protection the bow is sprayed with five coats of Thunderbird two-part epoxy, which also provides a non-reflective surface, suitable for hunting.
The Centaur longbows can be ordered in bow lengths of 54, 56, 58, 60 and 62 inches and in a right hand or a left hand version. The reviewed Carbon Elite is the performance enhanced top of the line model with the specially engineered outer laminations. There are different combinations of riser woods to choose from for this model. Jim also offers other models with veneers under clear glass and a multitude of different wood choices for the limbs and risers. All Centaur bows can be ordered in a two-piece take-down version and with options like Pierce-Points, custom engraving or inlays to personalize your bow. The grip can be made in different heights and is sculptured according to a hand tracing that the customer is supplying on a piece of paper. For all available options please refer to the website.
A force-draw curve was obtained from the reviewed bow, using a digital force gauge with a resolution of 0.1 lbs. Measured bow weight was rounded to the next half pound. The different arrow speeds were achieved with the bow shot from a shooting machine with a mechanical release and with finger release, using a "Crick-It" clicker and a deerskin glove. The string was pulled to 28inches A.T.A. that is 26 1/4 inches from the string to the deepest point of the grip. The (3) arrows for the speed testing had a weight of 9 grains per pound of measured (not stated) draw weight. A 16-strand Flemish spliced Fast-Flight string without any attachments (silencers, etc.) was used. Speed measurements were taken 3 feet in front of the back of the bow with two chronographs set up in a tandem configuration. Each arrow was shot a minimum of 6 times and the average achieved speed was rounded to the next whole digit.
(Click to see larger image)
R. Blacky Schwarz is a self employed consultant and freelance writer and lives close to Heidelberg in Germany with his wife Danny. They both share the passion for the Outdoors and especially Bowhunting, which is not legal in Germany. Danny and Blacky Bowhunt mostly in the U.S. where they both belong to numerous Bowhunting organizations, including PBS. Blacky is writing bow reviews and articles for German, American and African magazines.
He can be reached at: blacky@BowReports.com
R. Blacky Schwarz 01. June 2009
For comments, questions or feedback please feel free to send me an email