The Fred Bear Montana longbow in action.
The Montana is one of three longbows offered by Bear Archery in their lineup of traditional archery bows. The other two, the Ausable and Patriot, are newer reflex-deflex designs. The Montana, which was introduced in the late 90s, sports a more traditional appearance with slightly reflexed limbs and a very basic handle.
But don't let the simplicity of its design and the entry-level price fool you — this bow shoots like a dream.
At the time of this writing, I've owned mine for about three weeks and have already launched several hundred arrows from it, both on the range and stump shooting in the field. And, boy, am I impressed.
This bow draws smoothly and, if you do your part, puts arrows where you point it. Form, especially with traditional bows, is paramount. But a little forgiveness doesn't hurt either, and this bow, with recommended brace height between 7.5 and 8.5 inches, provides that in spades. Its 64-inch length also ensures that finger pinch and stacking are not issues. (The former happens when an acute string angle during the draw pinches the fingers on your drawing hand; the later means that the effort of drawing the bow gets suddenly and progressively harder during the last few inches of draw.)
The Montana's narrow profile allows for a very near center-shot, off-the-shelf arrow rest too. That means it works well with a variety of arrows, since archers paradox (the way an arrow has to bend to get around the handle) is less of a concern.
As noted earlier, the Montana has been in the Bear line up for a while. This means that it has been refined and proven reliable. Like all traditional longbows, it's not a speed demon, but it is a very stable shooting platform that will put meat on the table if you take the time to get good with it.
I happen to think it's a pretty bow too. Its limb laminations are tapered clear, white maple. These are sandwiched between satiny black fiberglass. Each limb tip is built up with layered black and white fiberglass which, in addition to the Dymondwood riser and the inlaid Bear Medallion, makes for a elegant bow that turns heads.
It comes from the factory with a 64-inch AMO Dynaflight 97 Flemish string. This helps make the bow very quiet, even without string silencers. And while hand shock is sometimes an issue with longbows, it is imperceptible on the Montana, even though it is exceedingly lightweight.
It is one of two Bear longbows that are also made for lefties — the Ausable being the other. In left handed configurations, it comes in 45-, 50- and 55-pound draw weights. Right-handed models are available in 30-, 35-, 40-, 45-, 50-, 55- and 60-pound draws.
I have one minor complaint about the bow: the handle wrap. Mine is already showing signs of wear, and I suspect that I'll have to replace it soon. But that's a relatively minor expense that's ultra-simple to remedy with after-market parts. And it certainly shouldn't stop anyone from purchasing this product because I truly think it is excellent value for the money, especially for those who want to try a more traditional approach to bow hunting.
I know I can hardly wait to stalk through the deer woods this autumn with my Bear Archery Montona in hand.