If you’ve done any research on compound bows recently, you’ve probably come across Elite Archery as a company to pay attention to. They’ve established quite the reputation over the years as makers of “the world’s most shootable bow.” (Now, my laptop doesn’t put the red squiggly line under the word “shootable,” so I’m guessing it’s a real English word…but I’m still suspicious.) Anyway, with so many players in the top-of-the-line archery market (Matthews, Hoyt, Prime…and all the other really expensive bows you see celebrity hunters carrying around), it can be nearly impossible to cut through all the hype, marketing tactics, and “my brother’s cousin said ‘X company’ is the only bow a real man would shoot” (if you read that with the most redneck voice possible, then you’re picturing it correctly). But I digress…
The question of the day is about the Ritual from Elite Archery…is it really as shootable as they claim? According to Elite, the Ritual is the culmination of every piece of ground-breaking bow technology they’ve ever developed…all crammed into one, magnificent compound bow. That’s quite a claim, if you ask me! But, I recently had the opportunity to form a relationship with Elite, and to get myself into a brand new Ritual 33. I took it down to the shop to get all set up (another shameless plug for Ross Outdoors…those guys are awesome), and I’ve since put about 150 arrows downrange. So, I haven’t had it long, but it’s enough to consider the bow officially broken in and to be able to offer some sort of an authoritative opinion on the matter. I won’t get into all the nitty-gritty of the specs and the nerd-stuff (if you’re interested, you can read all that on Elite’s site), but I’ll just point out a few of the things that really jump out to me about this bow in hopes that it helps with your decision.
If you’re the type that prefers to watch/listen as opposed to read (no judgment…I’m the same way), I also did a video review of the bow. Feel free to just click that down below and watch away!
Okay…the reader-types are still with me…so here we go! Here are my honest opinions about the Elite Ritual 33…
Smoothest Draw-Cycle Ever
The first thing you’ll notice when you go to shoot the Ritual is how insanely smooth the draw-cycle is. I’m not enough of a bow-tech-junky to tell you all about the cams and the “valley” and all the why behind the smooth draw, but as an archer I can tell you that it is noticeably smooth. This bow is set at a 70lb. draw-weight, which is the exact same as my last bow. When I first drew it back in the archery shop, I double-checked with them that it was, in fact, set at 70. It was so much easier to draw than my previous bow that it honestly felt lighter…it’s terrific!
At the end of that draw cycle, you’ll find an incredibly generous let-off, as well! If you ever have to let down a shot, the bow does not want to let that string come forward. It feels like you could just sit at full draw for hours (you couldn’t, of course, but it feels like it), which comes in real handy when that animal is taking his sweet time meandering into your shooting lane. Finally, while you’re at full draw, feeling incredibly satisfied with the smooth draw cycle, hanging out in that overly generous let-off, you’ll notice the rock-solid back wall Elite is known for. Cam-stops on each cam come up against the limbs, and stop that string from moving another millimeter to the rear. If you’re paying attention your fundamentals and using back-tension to release the shot as opposed to punching the trigger with your finger, this will help immensely in executing a perfect shot.
Completely Dead in the Hand
I realize “dead in the hand” is kind of a weird phrase to anyone outside of the archery community, and it sounds more like something one of those really creepy guys on all those Netflix documentaries about murderers would say…but it’s the term we have, so we’ll roll with it. If you’ve ever shot a bow that wasn’t dead in the hand, then you know just how important this can be to being an effective archer. If you feel every ounce of that string vibration, if your front arm is rattling after your arrow is released…well, it’s gonna suck! Actually, in terms of affecting your accuracy, the more shock that gets transferred from your bow to your hand, the harder it will be to have a rock solid follow-through on the shot. It’s real hard to keep that front hand stable and watch your arrow hit through the sight when your hand and bow are already flying around just from the kinetic energy of the shot.
The Elite Ritual DOES NOT have that problem! I’ve heard of people shooting the ritual without a stabilizer and still claiming it feels pretty dead…I believe them, but I didn’t feel like taking my chances there. I ordered the 11” stabilizer from Elite (they offer 7.5” and 11” with matching finishes…if that kind of thing is important to you…it is to me), and let me tell you, that thing barely moves when the shot breaks. I’ve watched my shooting in that fancy iPhone super-slow-motion, and it’s incredible how little that bow moves after the shot. The bottom of the bow isn’t flinging forward, I’m not struggling to get my left hand under control…it’s just flat-out dead in my hand! I am told that’s largely due to the dual-caged riser Elite has produced for the Ritual (and several of their other bows at this point), but again…I’m no scientist.
All bow manufacturers seem to be chasing that perfect blend of forgiveness and arrow speed. In fact, several manufacturers simply market their bows with a standard and a turbo version…generally the turbo has higher arrow speeds and less forgiveness. I’m sure there’s a lot more engineering wizardry to it than this, but one of the main differences you’ll notice is in the brace-height (the distance from the riser to the string…usually 6-7 inches…in general, the lower the brace-height, the less forgiving the bow is). Well, Elite isn’t messing with the two different versions thing…they just offer the Ritual in its pure form with what they have determined is a great blend of speed and forgiveness. In this particular case, that blend comes at a brace-height of 6 3/4 inches.
Okay, enough numbers…from the subjective point of view of the shooter, this bow is insanely forgiving! My first bow was entry-level, designed to be crazy forgiving, and had a brace-height over 7 inches. My last one was trying to crank out arrows as fast as mechanically possible, and had a 6” brace-height. My Elite Ritual is more forgiving than either one of them, and still sends my fairly heavy arrows (I shoot Easton Full Metal Jackets) downrange plenty fast. The biggest thing I’m amazed by is that I set this bow up with a 70 yard pin (previous bows maxed out at 50 and 60 yards, respectively), and I’m seeing noticeably smaller groups at 70 yards than I ever had at 50 or 60 with those other bows. I’m not getting in a ton more practice, I haven’t changed anything dramatic about my technique or anything…this bow just flat out shoots better and more consistently. I’m a big believer in not trying to just throw expensive gear at every problem, but I will say that this bow has improved my shooting immensely!
Answer the Friggin’ Question Already!
Okay, okay…I get it. Is the Elite Ritual really the world’s most shootable bow? Well, I have not personally shot every bow on the market, so it would seem inappropriate for me to give you a conclusive yes or no. However, it is absolutely the most shootable bow I have ever picked up! Hands-down, this is the best archery shooting experience I’ve ever had. I’m incredibly impressed and intend to shoot this bow for years to come. If the time ever comes way down the road for me to get a new bow, you will be hard-pressed to pull me away from the Elite brand simply because I’ve been blown away by my experience with the Ritual.
So, if you’re currently in the market for a new bow, make sure you give Elite a real solid look. You may not see as many guys on The Sportsman’s Channel carrying them around as opposed to a few other brands, but I would bet that has a lot more to do with sponsorship dollars than it does the quality and effectiveness of one brand over the other.
Plus, as a random side-note: Elite is the only company I’ve seen with the “Hunt Guarantee.” Basically, if you’re out on your hunt, and something happens to your bow (whether it’s your fault or not), they will overnight a loaner bow set to your specs and already tuned so that you can get back out there and salvage your hunt. I’m sure most of us will never have to cash in on that offer, but I just love knowing that it’s there. I can only imagine driving 8 hours to Colorado this Fall, hopping out of the truck, and discovering that my bow is down for the count. Knowing that I could be hitting the trail the following day with a new Elite (instead of my far less effective backup bow) is just some really cool piece of mind.
Okay, enough talking…get down to your local bow shop, shoot a bunch of bows, and see what feels good to you. But, make sure you run some arrows through an Elite and see how you feel. I’d be surprised if the Ritual didn’t end up really high on your list for your next new bow.