Bowtech and PSE are two of the most respected bow manufacturing companies on the market today. If you’re picking out your equipment for the first time or upgrading your setup, both Bowtech and PSE are great options.
But as with any investment, it’s best to do your homework before you commit to anything. This article will examine some of the key pros and cons associated with Bowtech and PSE so you can make the right decision for you.
Most History: PSE
A company’s history may have seemingly little to do with the products that company manufactures, but a business’s origins and practices can be a good indication of the kind of work you should expect from them.
In the archery community especially, history and tradition mean a great deal.
In the eyes of some archers, a brand-new company may not have the extensive knowledge that is required to produce quality archery equipment.
And yet for others, a deeply-rooted archery company may seem stuck in the zeitgeist they were formed in.
Forward-thinking archers who are more modernly inclined may prefer a newer company that’s willing to take risks.
Realistically, many of the pros and cons discussed in this article cannot be definitive because of how much personal preference affects bow choice.
I’ve assigned winners to most of these categories, but remember, what may be a pro for me could be a con for you and vice versa.
With that, let’s get into the origins of Bowtech and PSE.
Bowtech is the surprising rookie in a league of veterans when it comes to producing bows and other archery equipment.
Founded in 1999, Bowtech is younger than some of the archers using their bows and accessories.
Even their name stands out in a list of other top bow manufacturers.
Other bow companies went with a name that gave tribute to a beloved individual or referenced a special outdoor site (think Bear Archery, Hoyt Archery, or The Great Plains).
They strived to capture the essence of the environment their bows were to be used in.
Bowtech, on the other hand, invites us to envision the future by including “tech” in their name, bringing to mind images of pristine labs, cold steel, and intelligent technology.
It can’t be known for sure, but perhaps induced futuristic imagery was the intention of Bowtech founders John Strasheim and Kevin Strother.
Whether or not they knew how popular their bows would become, Strasheim and Strother knew that they wanted to pool their knowledge of and appreciation for archery to create a lasting impact on the industry.
That impact got its beginning when the first Bowtech bow model was released in 2000, less than 20 years ago.
It didn’t take Bowtech long to become a go-to for many archers, and despite their lack of history, they seem to have caught up to their competitors in terms of popularity and reputation.
Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE) isn’t exactly a dinosaur of a company, but it does have 29 years on Bowtech, which is a long time when it comes to perfecting the process of making archery equipment.
Like many of the other competitors in the game, PSE was the brainchild of a passionate archer looking to apply his knowledge to something worthwhile.
Pete Shepley gave up his full-time job as a product engineer at the Magnavox Corporation in 1970 to pursue his archery hobby.
But he didn’t turn to bows from the start.
Reluctant to jump into the big stuff, Shepley started with smaller equipment and accessories such as release aids and arrow vanes.
Soon, however, Shepley put his energy toward advancing the design of the compound bow, which had just been invented four years prior in 1966 and patented the year before in 1969.
It wasn’t long after PSE began producing compound bows that their company took off, eventually becoming the United States’ largest privately-owned archery equipment manufacturer.
Despite their massive success, PSE hasn’t forgotten their humble roots, and Pete Shepley in particular remains true to his original goal of bettering the sport as a whole:
“Research and development are the most expensive stages in manufacturing, but we’re committed to it and making the whole industry grow, not just our slice of the pie.”Pete Shepley
Best Innovations: Tie
Both Bowtech and PSE have made some major contributions to the modern design of compound bows.
In fact, each company’s innovations have been so integral to the industry that I couldn’t choose one or the other to be the winner of this category.
Some archers may be able to pinpoint the more important invention based on what they use more, but in the larger scheme of things, Bowtech and PSE have been equally innovative in their compound bow designs.
Bowtech brings to the table one very important innovation that changed the lives of a lot of compound bow archers.
That innovation was the binary cam system.
Prior to binary cams, archers could choose to equip their compound bows with single cams, twin cams, or hybrid cams.
Each had their advantages and disadvantages, but when binary cams came onto the scene, all the other cam systems were pretty much all blown out of the water.
So, what’s the big deal about binary cams?
Well, a lot of the hype around them has to do with synchronization.
Unlike the other cams, which pulled on the bow’s limbs, these cams were “slaved” to each other only, pulling on one another to equalize discrepancies and imbalances in the bow’s limbs and string.
It’s due to this advanced cam technology that compound bows with binary cams can shoot arrows with perfect synchronization and efficient transfer of energy.
Simply put, that means that they allow the bows to shoot their projectiles at incredibly fast speeds.
They’re also very easy to use, a fact that attracts those who don’t want to deal with high-maintenance equipment.
As anyone might have predicted, this advantage attracted bowhunters everywhere, who value precision and power in their hunting equipment.
The binary cam system has taken over as the preferred cam setup of most compound bow archers; however, some still prefer other systems.
After it was introduced by Bowtech in 2005, the binary cam system began spreading through the industry, being produced by other companies under different names.
Some even claimed it was just their version of a hybrid cam system, though the mechanics were clearly binary.
Perhaps without intending to do it on such a large scale, Bowtech contributed this invaluable piece of technology to the compound bow industry, and it hasn’t been the same since.
In the case of PSE, there isn’t one revolutionary innovation but several impactful ones.
According to PSE, they hold over 20 patents for archery products, including bow design.
One of their first experiments in bow design was the creation of bow risers and accessories from pure aluminum.
Doing this allowed them to bring down the overall weight of the bow while maintaining a sturdiness that is essential in the main body of the bow.
Today, aluminum risers, limbs, and other parts are commonplace in the compound bow market, and it’s all thanks to PSE.
Along with the milestone of the aluminum risers, PSE developed a four-step forging process to go along with it that resulted in even stronger and more lightweight bows.
This is important because of the massive amount of tension being held in the bow’s body.
If forged incorrectly, the material won’t hold up to the tension.
Not only is breaking a bow dangerous for the one holding it and anyone nearby, but it usually means a big expense.
No one wants to pay hundreds of dollars to fix or replace a bow.
That’s why PSE’s contributions to the overall advancement of the compound bow design are beneficial both for performance and durability.
Best Price Range: PSE
With the Perform X target bow that costs $1,699, PSE has the most expensive model in their line up.
Bowtech isn’t far behind at $1,499 for their Fanatic 3.0.
Though PSE may have the most expensive bow, there is greater overall price dispersion among PSE’s bows than there is among Bowtech’s.
Without getting too much into the next category, PSE simply has more bows to offer, and that allows them to represent more points on the spectrum of price than Bowtech can.
If you’re looking for a super high-end compound bow and are willing to pay out the nose for it, you can find something at either Bowtech or PSE, as each has a number of highly expensive luxury bows in their stock.
However, for archers with a budget, you aren’t going to find many options at Bowtech.
For example, their website lists only five bows under $1,000.
That’s not a great spread for money-conscious customers.
PSE, in comparison, has 14 bows under that $1,000 price point, eight of which are in their pro series.
In summary, Bowtech’s small, expensive selection increases the chances that you’ll settle for a bow that isn’t quite what you wanted for a price you definitely didn’t want.
It’s more likely that you’re going to get what you want for a decent price at PSE.
Best Variety: PSE
It’s clear that PSE simply has a larger selection of compound bows than Bowtech, but they didn’t stop there.
Bowtech’s current selection totals less than 14 compound bows.
Within that selection, some are specified as hunting bows and some as target bows. Some don’t quite have a specification.
You may be wondering: what else could an archer want?
Well, to start with, a larger selection is always nice.
PSE seems to understand this, and so offers 29 compound bows with clearly labeled purposes.
They categorize their compound bows by use and by price, delineating a section for their most expensive and luxurious hunting bows in their pro series and a section for their value bows in their core series, which are widely versatile in their use.
For the serious competitive target shooters, PSE offers an entire target series, which consists of six bows, four of which are over $1,000 and two which are less than $1,000.
Beyond that, they have 3 bows that are specifically for bowfishing, 8 crossbow models, and 15 heritage bows, which are further divided into competition recurve bows, traditional recurve bows, longbows, and youth bows.
For solitary bowhunters that are only interested in top-of-the-line hunting compound bows, Bowtech is fine.
But PSE’s audience is just so much more vast by virtue of their diversified selection.
For archers with kids, there are several reasonably priced models available for purchase so that you can share your passion with your children.
For competition target shooters, it’s clear that PSE has a better selection of target bows and that they designed those bows with that particular audience in mind.
For those who want to expand their hobby and try out crossbows or maybe combine two of their hobbies and make an attempt at bowfishing, PSE can provide options.
Maybe as the years go on, Bowtech will expand their inventory to include other factions of the sport, but right now, PSE dominates the variety category.
Most Awards: Tie
One thing is for sure: both PSE and Bowtech are putting out some high-end compound bows.
It could be said that Bowtech’s small concentration of luxury compound bows mean that they have to be putting out higher quality than PSE, who are spreading their efforts among several different kinds of bows.
But the critics say otherwise.
In nearly every list ranking the best compound bows from the 2019 Archery Trade Show, both Bowtech and PSE make an appearance.
In fact, the Realm SR6 was named Editor’s Choice by Outdoor Life.
One of the lists in which both PSE and Bowtech appear in was created by Scott Bestul of Field & Stream.
His article, “Best New Compound Bows from the 2019 ATA Show,” goes into depth about what the Evoke and the Realm SR6 are bringing to the table in terms of a good compound bow.
According to Bestul, PSE made a good decision in building on the 2018 Evolve model to produce the Evoke.
The Evolve was a popular bow at the 2018 ATA show, and it was a favorite of Bestul’s.
With the Evoke, PSE kept a few of the Evolve’s best parts (namely, their three-track binary cams that offer up to 90% let off at full draw).
But they also upgraded a few aspects to bring the bow that much closer to perfection.
Though the small, 28-inch axle-to-axle bow length of the Evolve appealed to a lot of hunters looking for something small and maneuverable, PSE expanded the Evoke’s axle-to-axle bow length to 31 inches.
They also added Wedge Lock limb pockets that greatly increased the limb’s rigidity, along with a new riser with added bridges to supplement the bow’s support.
Perhaps the most-loved addition to the Evoke is the Flex Rod System (FRS), which adds to the overall smoothness of the bow’s draw cycle.
These brand-new features contribute to an increased speed of 342 feet per second IBO, which is an improvement on the Evolve’s maximum speed of 335 feet per second.
Bestul’s words of praise for the PSE Evoke are echoed by many other archery experts who attended the 2019 ATA Show.
But seemingly just as many had good things to say about the Realm SR6 by Bowtech.
Bowtech had a similar strategy as PSE in creating their flagship bows for this year’s lineup.
The Realm SR is an evolved version of the 2018 Realm models, adding the SR to signify that this version is “speed refined.”
What Bestul and other critics loved about this particular model was its surprisingly easy draw cycle.
For the most part, speed bows are the hardest to pull back right before the cams roll over and provide the let off.
Apparently, Bowtech’s engineers caught on to this complaint and designed their Realm SR6 to beat the competing speed bows in terms of comfort.
The Realm SR6’s stiffest point of the draw is at the very beginning of the draw cycle.
According to Bestul, the slight change made all the difference in the world, making it easier to complete the rest of the draw.
Oh yeah, and it’s pretty fast.
I don’t think anyone is going to complain about the 352 feet per second IBO speed, and it’s part of the reason that the Realm SR6 is getting so much attention.
Both the Realm SR6 and the Evoke are doing a lot of things right, so it’s no wonder that Bowtech and PSE are tying up the awards category with their current lineup.
Best Design: PSE
This category hinges more on personal preference than perhaps any other, but for our purposes, we’ll be relying on the professional’s opinions to determine who has the best bow design.
In this case, the experts have determined that PSE has the best-looking bow on the market, and guess what?
It’s the Evoke.
Tony Hansen wrote about the Evoke’s attractive finish in his article “Best New Compound Bows from the 2019 Archery Trade Show,” which appeared in Outdoor Life in January.
Hansen also wrote about Bowtech’s Realm SR6 and SS, but between the two brands, PSE is the only one that made an impression on him in regards to aesthetics.
Maybe it’s just in comparison to PSE’s previous designs, which have been lacking in Hansen’s opinion, but something about the Evoke’s Kolorfusion finish allowed it to really shine.
And it’s true–the Evoke’s pattern seems to be unique among its 2019 competitors, especially around the riser where the camouflage begins to look almost like scales or a psychedelic honeycomb.
If you’re not into flashy paint jobs, however, the Evoke does come in several other color options including solid black, tan, and green, as well as a few other camouflage patterns.
Best Community: PSE
It’s all fine and good to buy a quality bow and shoot it to your heart’s content.
However, one of the best things about the sport of archery is the community that’s been built around it.
It may seem like a solitary sport: it usually involves one archer shooting arrows at a target with his bow. No part of that requires a group.
Despite this fact, people who are passionate about archery always seem to find each other, and the resulting community is almost better than the actual sport itself.
Of the two companies we’re discussing here, PSE seems to understand this the best.
Before I offend everyone with a religious devotion to Bowtech, let me say this: both companies have a pretty good community set up among their customers.
I would never doubt that those who shoot Bowtech are happy to be a part of what the company calls “Team Bowtech.”
But by comparison, “PSE Nation” just seems to have more incentives for their members to stay loyal.
Not only do they have an Elite Pro Hunting Team as well as an Elite Pro Competition Team, but they offer 10% off to all PSE Nation members at their pro shop in Tucson, which you can take advantage of right after touring their headquarters, also in Tucson.
A membership to PSE nation also gets you a free e-newsletter keeping you in the loop on all of PSE’s product releases, special offers, and even giveaways.
When you’re a part of PSE Nation, you won’t just get a headshot on their webpage–you’ll get real-life benefits and a community that’s as passionate about archery as you are.
Fastest Bow: PSE
In their article “The 12 Top Hunting Bows of 2019,” Outdoor Empire named PSE’s Full Throttle model, which is part of their pro series, the fastest bow of 2019.
Their pick for fastest bow seems entirely accurate given that the Full Throttle’s IBO speed is 370 feet per second.
That’s incredibly fast, especially given that PSE already held the speed record at 366 feet per second with the Omen model.
Not to mention, it’s quite a bit faster than Bowtech’s fastest model, the BT Mag X, which has a maximum speed of 360 feet per second when the draw length is extended to 34 inches.
The Full Throttle’s speed comes mainly from its custom-made cams, its super pre-loaded limbs, and its limited 70% let off.
Its massive success and popularity have made it difficult to find, and it’s no longer available on PSE’s website or on Amazon.
So, if you find one for sale, you better jump on the chance to own this rare and valuable speed bow from PSE.
Best Customer Service/Warranty: Tie
PSE’s customer service has a reputation that seems to precede it in the archery community.
Many an archer have positive stories to share about the customer support they received from PSE’s team, who are no slackers when it comes to making sure that their customers are getting the best deals and the best care.
As far as their warranties go, PSE offers 100% coverage on their bows up to five years after purchase, and 50% coverage after that.
Bowtech’s customer service doesn’t have exactly the same reputation for customer service.
In fact, more than a few Bowtech customers had negative things to say about their experiences with the Bowtech support team.
However, their warranties are exceptional compared to some companies.
Bowtech offers limited lifetime warranties on their bows that only terminate when the original owner sells or gives away the bow.
The lifetime warranty only applies to bows bought at certified Bowtech dealers, not bows bought over the internet.
That could sour the deal for quite a few people, especially considering how many people use the internet to make a majority of their purchases.
If you don’t have an aversion to driving to your nearest pro shop, however, you should be able to get a solid warranty on your new Bowtech bow.
Heavy bows are a huge hindrance, especially to bowhunters who plan to be out in the field for hours at a time.
Even target shooters need to be concerned about bow weight, as it will affect the strength and endurance of your arms as you hold up the bow.
Both PSE and Bowtech offer super light options for exactly these conditions, although Bowtech takes the cake for lightest bow between the two companies by a tenth of a pound.
For many archers, that would be sufficiently light.
But for those looking for a compound bow even lighter than that, Bowtech can provide with the Carbon Icon DLX, which weighs in at 3.2 pounds.
There are perhaps one or two other bows on the market that are lighter than this, but both PSE’s lightest and Bowtech’s lightest bows are high on the list of ultra light compound bows.
Best Accessories: PSE
To be frank, Bowtech could be beaten by nearly any other archery company when it comes to accessories and other archery equipment.
Like their bow collection, they just don’t seem to want to expand beyond what they’re good at.
Bowtech’s collection of accessories includes a few quivers, some grips, a rest, a dampener, and a bow case.
PSE’s accessory inventory isn’t even that impressive on its own, but compared to Bowtech, there are just so many more options.
Where Bowtech only offers multiple kinds of quivers and one version of their other products, PSE offers multiple kinds of stabilizers, sights, rests, and quivers.
Even PSE’s apparel section is more expansive than Bowtech’s, including other branded products like mugs, decals, and even a license plate frame.
We’ll give Bowtech the benefit of the doubt and assume that in the coming years, they will expand their selection.
It would seem that PSE emerges victorious from this particular matchup, but remember, everyone has different personal preferences.
Even if Bowtech didn’t come off as particularly desirable in this examination, it’s still very possible that you could choose a Bowtech compound bow and never have a complaint.
An archer is not defined by his equipment, so don’t get caught up in the details and forget what the sport is really all about.