Bear Arena 34 Review
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Editors' reviewThe Arena 34 is the big brother to the popular Arena 30, with the same great adjustability in a slightly larger scaled bow. The Arena 34 is a great bow, with lots of adjustments geared toward offering a personal feel for each shooter while marinating a great deal of performance shooting up to 340 feet per second. The specifications check off a great deal of highly desired numbers in addition to the speed rating including a brace height or 6.5-inches, a stretched out axel to axel measurement of 34.5-inches, and a bare bow weight of 4-pounds. From a shooting standpoint, the Arena 34 feels great and has the ability to be altered for a personalized feel. The MSRP of $899 may be tough for some shooters in terms of their budget, but it is comparable to other top of the line bows on the market. Those wanting a new hunting bow with the ability to shoot well in a variety of archery styles should give the Arena 34 an honest look.
FinishThe Bear Arena 34 is available in a total of five finish options resulting from a mainstreamed dipping process, which leaves the bows in really great shape. Four of the five finish options will feature black limbs, while the Realtree Xtra patten will feature matching pattern limbs. The five finish patterns are Shadow, or all black, Olive, Sand, Realtree Xtra, and Realtree Snow. The Bear graphics are not too loud, and seem to blend in a bit with the rest of the bow without taking anything away or drawing unneeded attention. The Bear archery badges are visible, but do not distract from the Arena 34 in anyway.
RiserThe Arena riser is a masterpiece of engineering obtaining exceptional strength while keeping the bare bow weight right at an even 4-pounds. The riser design has a pretty unique look, but the reasoning behind that leads to improved performance. Some may not appreciate the unique look of the Arena 34, but the structural integrity is a nice feature. Just inside the limb pockets, the riser widens out a bit to take the load the drawn limbs place on the riser. This even distribution of limb loads is great in terms of keeping the riser less susceptible to twisting and causing accuracy flaws at longer distances. Adding to the different design, shooters will also immediately notice the dual string suppressors added to this area of the design also. These dampeners work in combination with a rubber dampener located in the front of the riser to dampen the vibrations caused after the shot is fired. The string stops are adjustable to get the best fit on the bow string to cancel noise and vibration to the shooters liking. An additional component has been added in place of the cable guard system Bear calls the Hinge Guard. This is an independently moving system, which flexes as the bow is drawn, and will eventually return to its resting position after the arrow has been fired. The purpose is not to simply add another gimmick or marketing ploy, but to ultimately reduce the amount of torque placed on the riser as the cables work during the draw force curve. Although it is difficult for shooters to measure if this actually occurs, the thinking behind it are solid and it does make sense to want to reduce the amount of torque placed on the riser of the bow.
GripThere are a lot of areas in archery, which ultimately boil down to personal preference, and the grip is one of that. What some shooters love, others will hate, and it is really based on personal presence. For the Bear Arena 34, two distinct options are available offering a little bit of diversity to accommodate the personal preferences of shooters. The first option is to shoot the one piece rubber composite grip, which will have a bigger bulkier feel out of the two options. The rubber modeled grip is comfortable, and will be warmer than the alternative in cold weather. Those wanting a slimmer version of the grip have the ability to shoot off the riser. The incorporated riser grip has rubber inserts displaying the Bear badge for both sides of the grip. The shape is a bit blocky still, but the slim feel fits better in hand for some shooters as opposed to the larger rubber version. Again, it is not necessarily that one grip option is better than the other, but the two offerings is a nice addition in order to meet the preference of more shooters.
LimbsThe composite limbs on the Arena 34 are offered in maximum draw weights of 50, 60, and 70-pounds. Some companies have offered flagship models in 65-pound maximum draw weights, which would be nice, but not necessary. For many shooters, the 65-pound mark is the sweet spot, and being able to obtain that with maxed out limbs is a cool feature. The max loaded quad limbs have some basic limb graphics, which help add to the design of the bow, but does not take away from the rest of the bow design. The limb pockets feature a high strength barrel nut, which allows for the full motion of the pivoting limbs while begin able to adjust the limbs to achieve 10-pounds less than the maximum draw weight. The limb pockets offer a zero tolerance system for secure fit for the limbs to stay in place for the whole draw force curve. The bottom line on the limb pockets, is that they work without taking anything away from the look and design of the bow itself.
Eccentric SystemThe hybrid cam system powering the Bear Arena 34 is known as the H15 cam and it actually features some really great options in regards to adjustability and tuning allowing shooters to get the best feel out of their bow based on personal preference. The first feature of mention is the overall performance of the H15 cam system. It boasts IBO speeds up to 340 feet per second with a 75% let-off. The draw length adjustments range from 26.5-31-inches and can be adjusted in half-inch increments on the module. The rotating module is capable of obtaining each draw length within the given range with the ease of simply adjusting the module to the properly marked location for the desired draw length. In addition to this, shooters can customize the feel of the back wall as well. The factory setting is the use of a cable stop system. However, there is an option for a limb stop to be used in addition to or instead of the cable stop. The cable stop leaves a little mush on the back end, whereas utilizing the limb stop or both stops together really firms up the back wall. Again, shooters prefer different feels on the back end of the draw cycle, and the ability for shooters to customize what they like right in the H15 cam itself is a really great feature.
Draw Cycle/ShootabilityIn the past couple year's many hunters have demanded shorter, more compact bows for hunting, and those rigs have a lot to offer in tight spaces and small pop up blinds. With that being said, the shorter bows are not comfortable for all shooters. The Arena 34 is a great mixture measuring in at 34.5-inches axel to axel. It is not as compact as some models, so the string angle is a little more desirable, but it does not feel too large either. The mass weight of 4-pounds bare bow feels good in hand and while holding on target. The H15 draw cycle has a pretty great feel overall. The draw pulls pretty well for a 340 IBO bow, and the adjustability in the cam allows shooters to personalize the overall feel at the back end. The valley is generous, and shooters have a little room for error creeping off the back wall. The back wall has a little play with the string stop, but if shooters opt for the combination of string and limb stop, or simply use the limb stop, the back wall firms up significantly. The 75% let off is a nice number as well, coming in not too light and not too heavy. The shot is dampened nicely with the added suppressors in the riser and on the string. The arrow leaves with a bit of a thud, and the bow does a little rocking, but nothing too severe. The axel to axel measurement, brace height, and overall mass are all great numbers for a hunting bow, and shooters will enjoy how it performs.
Usage ScenariosThe Arena 34 is designed for hunting, but those wanting a solid performer in the hunter class of 3D shoots will enjoy what it has to offer as well. In hunting situations, the H15 cam is an ideal mixture of performance and forgiveness, which means you really can not go wrong with the Arena 34 for a variety of archer situations. It may not be the best competition bow, but as a do it all bow, it will do a nice job.
Bear Arena 34 vs. Bear Arena 30
|Bow||Bear Arena 34||Bear Arena 30|
|Brace Height||6.5 "||6.5 "|
|AtA Length||34.5 "||30.5 "|
|Draw Length||26.5 " - 31 "||25.5 " - 30 "|
|Draw Weight||40 lbs - 70 lbs||40 lbs - 70 lbs|
|IBO Speed||340 fps||345 fps|
|Weight||4.0 lbs||3.8 lbs|
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These bows are similar to each other based on the technology and engineering that went into each of them. The H15 is featured on each although the geometry of the Bear Arena 30 makes it 5 feet per second faster with an IBO set up. The real decision maker between these two bows will more than likely be a shooter's draw length. Those in the shorter range should be just fine with the 30, but those wanting additional stability or longer draw shooters wanting a more desirable string angle will more than likely be more drawn to what the 34 has to offer. Each of the bows are top quality, but the axel to axel measurement will be the deciding factor between the two flagship models for Bear.