Bear Arena 30 Review
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Editors' reviewBear Archery has been around for a long time, and they have offered a lot of really great rigs. The Arena 30 is a compact hunting bow with a great deal of adjustability in regards to the cam and how the bow feels. With an IBO of 345 feet per second, the 30 could be classified by many as a speed bow, but it does not have any of the characteristics many like to associate with speed bows. The 6.5-inch brace height is also a wonderful addition as well since many hunters are nervous with anything measuring under the 6-inch mark. For $899, shooters are going to get a great bow with a lot of adjustment options. Although the price tag is competitive for flagship models, it may be tough for some shooters to budget that much on a bare bow.
FinishBear and Realtree have partnered together for a while now, and the Arena 30 features some nice finish options again this year. Realtree Xtra Green is the most traditional camouflage pattern offered on the Arena 30, and will work well for those planning on doing a lot of tree stand sitting or spot and stalk hunting. Realtree AP Snow is another available option for those interested in a camo pattern that may not be as popular. Those not wanting a camo pattern have a choice between all black, olive, or or sand. With the exception of the Realtree Xtra option, each of the finishes come with black limbs. All of the five available patterns look top notch and are done with a great degree of craftsmanship, which leaves the riser is pretty good shape.
RiserThe riser featured on the Arena 30 gives the bow a very distinguished look. Around the limb pockets on the top and bottom of the rise, the Arena 30 is pretty bulky in the riser, but still maintains a bare bow mass weight of 3.8-pounds. Bear claims the structural design of the riser was built to better maintain the load added to the riser as the limbs are drawn. Structurally, this makes sense, as the limbs are drawn, the riser is susceptible to added torque. Bear designed the riser to look the way it does in an attempt to minimize this load. Riser technology continues to the Hinge Guard, which takes the place of a cable or roller guard system. Although the Hinge Guard is an additional moving component on the bow, it is designed to help minimize the torque caused on the bow as it is drawn. The guard will flex toward the center line of the bow as it is drawn, and return to its resting position without ever contacting the arrow fletching. A moving cable system is not new, but the way Bear integrated it is unique. The system works well overall, and the idea behind it is sound as well. Part of the Bear design features several dampeners to help the compact bow stay quiet. Just under the the limb pockets, shooters will notice a rubber dampener located in the front of the riser to help reduce vibration and noise after the shot. The riser also features two offset string suppression stops on the top and bottom of the riser. These stops keep the string from vibrating too much, which ultimately leads to a quieter shot. Those that like to tinker will also be thrilled to see the stops are adjustable to get the best fit.
GripA bow grip is completely personal preference. It is also one of the most critical components of a bow because it is the only thing in contact with the shooter for the entire shot sequence. Bear knows and understands this, and offers two really great grip options. The first is the rubber molded grip, which is feels a bit blocky, but is still very comfortable. The rubber is water than many grips in cold hunting conditions, and helps with comfort. The Bear logo is featured on the back of the grip, which adds a nice touch to the overall design of the bow. For shooters with smaller hands, or those that prefer a smaller grip, the rubber piece can be removed for a smaller feel. The riser aluminum riser is then the main grip material, which will be colder in hunting conditions, but may match what many are looking for. Bear rubber inlays can be added to complete the look, so there grip area still appears to be top quality. Both grips offer a different feel, but it is nice to have the option since it is such an important part of the bow and how good it feels in the shooters hand.
LimbsBear outfits the Arena 30 with max preloaded quad limbs. The stressed split limbs are offered in 50, 60, and 70-pound maximum draw weights and can be adjusted 10-pounds lighter for an overall range between 40-70-pounds. The limb pockets contact the limbs at multiple points making them very secure throughout the entire draw cycle.
Eccentric SystemThe new H15 Hybrid Cam System is the powering force behind the IBO speeds up to 345 feet per second on the Arena 30. The cam adjusts in half-inch increments from 25.5-30-inches with an adjustable module, and offers a let off of 75%. Aside from the easy to adjust module, the H15 hybrid system also features two different draw stops with a total of three configurations, each offering a slightly different feel. There is a cable stop from the factory, with an option to add a limb stop. Shooters can shoot with either the limb stop, the cable stop, or both engaged at the same time. Each of the three configurations will have a different feel on the back wall, which will be adjusted based on what shooters want the bow to feel like while holding on target.
Draw Cycle/ShootabilityThe H15 cam is a really impressive piece of engineering from Bear. There is a wide range of adjustment, all very easily done, and the performance is outstanding. For most shooters, 345 feet per second is considered a speed bow, and the Arena 30 draw cycle really does not have the dreaded downsides of having a speed bow in hand. The H 15 cams start out gradually increasing the draw weight until the peak weight is reached. This point is comfortable in the draw force curve, and never feels like the draw weight is getting too overwhelming. The valley is pretty generous, with a little room to creep on the back end. Although creeping does not promote great form, it happens from time to time, and being able to manage it comfortably is important. The feel of the back wall is entirely adjustable to a certain extent. Those wanting a firm back wall with no play, can get it by using the limb stop option, or combining the draw stop and the limb stop features. Shooters that like a little play on the back end can have that as well by only utilizing the string stop. Each of the three choices feel different, but that is a good thing. The back wall feel is a personal preference, and having three distinct options is a bonus.After the shot, the Arena 30's performance is noticeable as the arrow slaps the target. The string stop system, and the added riser girth do great job of dampening noise and vibration, which is typically felt or heard by the shooter. Overall, the bow is pretty quiet, and the feel is really great.
Usage ScenariosThe Arena 30 is a hunting bow. It is hard saying a bow is a hunting bow, because some feel that means the bow is less accurate than a target bow, and that is simply not the case. Despite the short axel to axel measurement, the Arena 30 is a well-designed, great shooting rig. It will also be very accurate. The specifications heavily favor what many hunters are looking for in a bow. Serious target shooters seem to gravitate more towards longer axel to axel bows. With that being said, this hunting bow will be very accurate downrange.
Bear Arena 30 vs. Bear Traxx
|Bow||Bear Arena 30||Bear Traxx|
|Brace Height||6.5 "||6.75 "|
|AtA Length||30.5 "||31.625 "|
|Draw Length||25.5 " - 30 "||26.5 " - 31 "|
|Draw Weight||40 lbs - 70 lbs||40 lbs - 70 lbs|
|IBO Speed||345 fps||338 fps|
|Weight||3.8 lbs||4.0 lbs|
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Shooters interested in a compact Bear hunting bow, will more than likely be interested in the Arena 30 or the Traxx. The Bear Arena 30 is a bit more compact, and boasts a little more performance. However, some shooters will appreciate the longer axel to axel measurement, longer brace height, and smaller price tag on the Bear Traxx. The design is not an easy one, and each shooter will have their own preference. Regardless of which bow shooters decide, both are top notch quality and will do very well in the woods.