What makes a bow better for kids than adults? Some would argue that it’s the weight and the draw. Others think it’s the size. So how many requirement boxes should you check before you know you have the best youth bow for deer hunting in your hands?
Answering these questions is not a simple matter. There’s a lot more to consider if you want to put the No. 1 label on a youth bow. However, through thorough research and quite a bit of experience we managed to put together something that should simplify your search.
We’ll start off this article by reviewing our favorite entry-level bow for learning and hunting. It’s designed for kids, so don’t judge it by adult standards. We’ll also put up a quick buying guide that’s more generalized and should give you a good overview of how youth bows should look and shoot.
Bartnett Vortex Youth Archery Bow Review
Finding the best youth bow for deer hunting overall is not an easy task. Some value certain features more than others. Regardless, any bow that has good quality and is ready to shoot out of the box earns a run at the title.
This is exactly the case with the Bartnett Vortex. It requires little to no tuning, and it has above average durability and a very cool camo finish. The axle to axle length ranges between 27.5” and 28.1”. It’s right where it should be considering that young archers need their learning bows to be smaller than adult models.
Too bad it’s only available as a right-handed model.
One thing we noticed is that the string and cables need a light waxing before shooting the bow for the first time. But, other than this, the bow is ready to shoot out of the box.
What makes this bow particularly great for young archers is its lightweight design. The bow weighs well under 3 pounds so it’s quite versatile. It’s not only good for young boys and girls, it can also be a fun bow for elderly enthusiasts.
The draw weight range is adjustable between 15 and 45 lbs. (though this is the case for most compound bows). A younger child can start off at a low draw weight and go up from there.
The five draw length modules are easy to adjust. If you have no experience with compound bows at all, just follow the instructions in the manual to adjust for your kid.
Shooting the Barnett Vortex is quite smooth and comfortable. The draw weight can be adjusted in two ways. You can use the Allen wrenches to increase or decrease the poundage. However, make sure not to do more than 3 turns as it could increase the pressure too much. The one minor downside here is that you will need a bow press to set the maximum and the minimum weights.
The draw length is between 21” and 27”. The cam modules on the Barnett Vortex are easy to change. You’ll only need a press for the maximum and the minimum settings. Working them with a slow rocking motion seems to be the best way to adjust the length.
The bow’s let-off is around 60% which is more than enough for beginners. It promotes shooting from a proper stance and back tension. It also helps correct the aim by not letting the archer be pulled forward by the tension of the bow.
The front-mounted 3-pin sight is also included. The quality is not high end but good enough for beginner purposes. Besides, if three pins seem too much, you could always remove two of them.
The sight is decent and may even be reliable on cloudy days. However, after a while you may want to consider removing it and adding a rear-mounted sight to improve your kid’s accuracy even more. The rear mount is also a bit more comfortable to use.
A mounted bow quiver is also part of the package. It’s a 2-piece design that holds three arrows. It’s slightly close to the riser, but that shouldn’t hinder the learning process. In fact, it’s recommended that you keep the original quiver instead of replacing it with something else. The closeness to the riser might make the bow difficult to operate using an aftermarket quiver design.
We find the Barnett Vortex to be slightly louder than other bows in its category. This could be just a matter of personal preference, of course. However, should you want to reduce its sound, a stabilizer can always be used. It will remove most of the vibrations; it will also improve the balance and make it more comfortable for kids to learn with the bow. Just keep in mind that you’d need a bigger stabilizer since this youth compound bow is lightweight and rather small.
Let’s talk materials for a moment. The Barnett Vortex Youth compound bow is popular for its durability. It follows the familiar design of larger Barnett bows. Its riser is high-end and made of hard composite and it also features pre-drilled holes for a large number of accessories.
The limbs are also tough – so are the cams and the modules. The grip may be a bit too sharp for some users but ultimately it’s nothing that can’t be fixed by some foam or regular duct tape.
For deer hunting, you’ll want to limit the distance. Getting the right arrows is also important if you want to maximize the efficiency of the bow. Going for large game is not often done with a 45 lb. draw weight. However, with the right weighted arrow you should be able to kill your game in a humane way.
The good news is that with an entry-level compound bow like the Barnett Vortex, you can spend a lot of time practicing before you actually go hunting. The bow should perform rather well against small game like rabbits and groundhogs and good with enough practice against medium game such as deer and antelopes.
It’s also worth noting that depending on the state you live in, you might need a different draw weight. The legal requirements of a compound bow for hunting purposes may vary between 30 and 50 lb. in certain states and can go even higher. This is why, despite its popularity, the Barnett Vortex can’t be used across the entire US for hunting deer.
Another cool design feature is that you can attach a bow fishing reel with ease. You can do this by using one of the pre-drilled holes. The poundage of the Vortex is more than enough to allow arrows to penetrate the water and the fish as well, and without ripping up the fish.
The price may also seem a bit high at first. After all, there are plenty of beginner bows that are more budget-friendly. However, considering all the beginner-friendly features, the high-end design, and the track record of the manufacturer, it is a noteworthy investment that should give kids years of consistent practice time.
It’s literally a bow your kid can grow up with, which is why we weren’t disappointed by the pricing at all. And, the 5-year warranty is pretty sweet too. Of course, it only applies to manufacturing and material defects.
The high range of draw weight is the main highlight of the bow. Bells and whistles aside, it’s the 14 to 45 lb. draw weight range that allows this bow to teach kids proper shooting technique and ensure accuracy when hunting small or medium game.
Although the Vortex Youth bow is great overall, it might need a bow stabilizer to make it even better. The design and the materials used don’t give it the proper balance nor do they help dampen the vibrations on heavier draws. This can be quite a nuisance, especially for young beginner archers.
• Weighs around 3 pounds
• Adjustable sight
• Cool visual design
• Solid construction
• Pre-drilled holes for accessorizing
• 5-year warranty
• For right-handed users only
• Average balance
• Vibrations on high draws
What We Look for in a Youth Compound Bow
As previously stated, you can’t easily slap the best youth bow for deer hunting label on just anything that catches your eye. Even when it comes to entry-level bows, the requirements may differ from one starting archer to another.
The lighter the bow, the easier it is for a kid to hold and shoot for a longer period of time. Practice makes perfect, so you never want a bow that tires out your kid. Another important consideration about the weight is that it’s easier to add attachments and accessories to lighter bows that can help improve its balance and aim.
While we don’t find this to be too important, some argue that reducing the noise level is very important. The reason we disagree here is that when it comes to youth bows in particular, it’s hard to expect everything to be fine-tuned. Besides, if you can get your shot in on the first try, you won’t care about the noise, will you?
Regardless, the noise level can be reduced by using a stabilizer. This attachment helps reduce the amount of vibrations upon release and helps balance the bow. It’s almost a must-have purchase for any beginner bow whether you use it for target practice or hunting.
It improves the aim, makes it silent (for those that value this), and makes shooting an overall better experience. The bottom line is that if a bow is louder than others it shouldn’t come off as a deal breaker since it’s something easily fixed.
Draw/Poundage and Adjustability
The draw weight of a bow is just one of many features that can make or break a bow. For one, the draw weight determines whether or not a young archer can achieve a proper release. It doesn’t really matter if we’re talking about a finger release or using a release aid.
The draw weight also determines how powerful the bow is. For instance, with a 15 lb. draw weight you can’t even go rabbit hunting. That doesn’t mean that it’s not good enough for target practice.
Adjustability is also important for a couple of reasons. If your bow comes with an adjustable draw weight, it offers more teaching value for a kid. It’s something a beginner can experiment with by going through multiple setups and settings.
An adjustable bow also has a higher chance of meeting the legal hunting requirements set by certain states. Regulations may call for a 40 lb. draw weight, for example, and you’re good if you have a youth compound bow with a 20 to 45 lb. draw weight.
Even better, in most cases, only the minimum and maximum weight limits need a bow press. Anything in between can be adjusted by hand using wrenches. If you’re lucky, your bow will also come with the necessary tools to make those adjustments.
There’s such a thing as complex and basic youth compound bows. Not all companies treat youth bows as they would their adult counterparts. Because of this, access to special design features is almost a requirement for any bow that aims to be the best youth bow for deer hunting.
Of course, the design features cover a large spectrum of intricate details. Some may prefer a specific quiver placement that allows for experimenting with different arrows.
For others, the addition of pre-drilled holes for extra attachments is a must-have. We agree with this one for a number of reasons. A kid can learn faster on a more versatile youth bow. And it also makes it easier to transition from a backyard shooting range to the forest hunting for game.
While there is an argument to be made that youth bows should be cheap, we have a different opinion on the subject. Skimping on a youth bow is a bad idea.
The more you pay the more features you get. And, if you’re buying from a reputable brand this further increases your chances of getting a bow that lasts for years.
Youth bows should be something a kid can grow into. They’re not something that should break after a few months. If you want something durable and adjustable, you’ll need to pay a bit extra.
The upside is that a more expensive bow is often more comfortable to use. If the bow is fun, the kid will probably grow fond of the sport. If it’s just stiff and hard to learn, well – kids are known for being easily distracted by new toys.
So why is the Barnett Vortex the best youth bow for deer hunting in our opinion? As our review reflects, it has a lot going for it. It doesn’t often happen that a youth bow has as many features as an adult model.
Sure, it’s not for every kid out there because it’s only comes in a right-handed model. Still, the draw weight range, drilled attachment holes, included sight, carry case, and super lightweight design make it feel like a miniature masterpiece.
At last, the 15 to 45 lb. draw weight range should make it a legally acceptable bow to go hunting with in many states. All of the above makes it our top choice for beginning archer.