By Jeff Johnston, American Hunter
I’ve been to several hunting camps lately that were filled with bow nerds. You know, guys who either own bow shops or have the equivalent in their garages. They have more moleskin in their kit than orthopedic surgeons. They constantly tinker on bows, tune them and debate such things as ideal forward-of-center percentages, degrees of helical fletch and nock travel.
Me? I just want a bow that shoots arrows straight. If I can get a 6-inch group at 60 yards, I’m going hunting. But still, I listen intently to the campfire banter when the conversation turns to best bows.
One bow company that the propeller heads keep mentioning is Prime Archery, a six-year-old bow brand that’s made by the Michigan-based machining/archery company called G5. (You’ve probably heard of its Montec broadheads and precision machined aluminum peep sights.) I’ve heard plenty of guys say the company’s parallel cam bows are some of the easiest to tune on the market. So I wanted to find out more about its newest bow, the Prime Centergy.
The company is admittedly not overly concerned about speed—and that’s a big reason why I like them—rather, it focused its design research on the shooter to form the basis for the Centergy. G5 already thinks it has the most tunable bow on the market; its new goal was to make the most shootable bow, but focusing on all three elements of the shot: The draw, the aim and the release. According to Prime’s literature, nearly all companies focus on the draw and the release, so it wanted to build a bow that was easier to aim and hold steady.
At the core of the company’s extensive computer-aided research was determining how bow balance—the relationship between the top of the bow, the hand, the bottom of the bow and rearward pressure of the draw—all work to hold the bow steady while at full draw. G5 performed a test using a laser mounted to the bow and a computer program that measured the path of the laser while random shooters attempted to hold the sights on target at full draw. G5 engineers’ research indicated that shooters can naturally hold the bow steadier—and therefore produce more consistent shots—If the grip is in the center of the bow, and so that’s what they set out to do with the Centergy. The 33 ¼-inch axle-to-axle Centergy features a balance point that is on the throat of the grip.
G5 concluded that the Centergy is 49 percent more stable than “brand X.” While I can’t confirm or deny that, I tend to be skeptical of any claims nearing 50 percent better than the competition. There are many excellent bows out there. I’d would urge you to watch Prime’s video online, as it’s fairly compelling. But, being a hunter and not a nerd, I’m more interested in drilling some holes in a target rather than listening to marketing talk.
But in moving the bow’s center of balance up, Prime created some other issues that needed to be solved. You might notice that the bow’s dual TRK cams (more on them in a minute) are smaller on the bottom. That’s because to keep the eccentrics, including the string travel, in time and in balance when engineers moved the grip, off-sized cams were required. Problem solved. My test bow’s cams came perfectly in time, as indicated by the timing marks and perfect arrow once a rest was installed and tuned.
Personally, I don’t like top-heavy bows or those that require a stabilizer to keep them down and on target at full draw. For me, the Centergy is naturally balanced, so much that I did not feel the need to install a stabilizer on it. As a result of this, the 4.3-pound bow that’s slightly heavier than many on the market can now be lighter and easier to carry than those that really need a stabilizer. To me, the Centergy is a great shooting bow, but perhaps not as revolutionary as “49 percent” better would suggest.
What is undeniable, however, is Prime’s contribution to solving an age-old compound bow problem that keeps bow nerds up all night. The company’s parallel cam system all but eliminates horizontal nock travel that’s caused by cam lean. Prime’s cam system uses two cams (four total) that are bolted together on top and bottom so that torque placed on the string is forced between the two cams and not to one side or another as the bus cables are pulled out of the way by the cable guard. This force, as well as torque applied by the shooter’s hand, can make traditional cam systems lean. Lean can cause horizontal nock travel through the powerstroke; nock travel can cause inconsistencies in arrow flight and therefore reduce a bow’s accuracy potential. The Centergy’s parallel cams are proven to remedy cam lean. Whether average shooters can tell it is debatable, but what you spend money on is accuracy potential. Its actual accuracy is up to the shooter.
The Centergy’s new TRK cams are draw length specific and require a module for each inch of draw from 24.5 to 31. Draw lengths from 24.5 to 30 produce a 6.5-inch brace height while 30.5 and 31 feature a 7.5 inch brace height. I like the fact that the cams come with limb stops installed, but the bow also comes with optional cable stops if the shooter prefers a rock solid back wall to one with slight give. They are adjustable, so the bow can be perfectly tuned if bus cable twists are required.
I found the Prime’s draw cycle to be on the aggressive end, which surprised me for a bow I hear most shooters describe as “smooth” and for Prime’s stated non-concern for speed. I preferred the cable stops to the limb stops as I like a fraction of give at the back wall that helps me feel back tension; the limb stops are so solid that they can deliver a subtle click when the cams snap over.
The key to the system’s nock travel mitigation is Centergy’s patented Flexis AR roller cable guard that diverts torque that would be placed on the cams to the flexible arm of the cable guard. It’s adjustable to aid in fletching clearance and tuning. As a bonus, vibration and sound is also mitigated thanks to its flex and vibration damping apparatus through the shot cycle.
Finally, the Centergy’s Swerve riser is a term for the shape of the riser. Engineers thought it best for the riser to be as concentric as possible so that vibrations, flex and recoil are equal on the top and bottom portions of the riser. Yet the top portion must have cutout for the arrow shelf. So G5 made the bottom riser so it flexes in the same, albeit opposite manner. It calls this riser the “Swerve.” Significantly, it’s made of 82x machined aluminum that’s touted to be the strongest aluminum alloy available.
Robust Gordon glass limbs go past parallel at full draw, something that I’m convinced helps cancel vibrations. Patented limb pockets hold them in place like a vise. Both these things contribute to the Prime’s low-vibration, solid feel.
One of my favorite aspects about the Centergy is the grip itself. I’m a bare riser kind of guy—as I believe the less the shooter touches the bow the less he or she can torque it during the shot—so I naturally like Prime’s rendition. But it’s slightly rounded at the corners so it’s very comfortable. Removable side grip panels Prime calls its “Ghost Grip” are more for looks than anything. Also adding a nice touch is the First Light Fusion camo that it licensed for use on the Centergy.
After shooting the Centergy, I came away with several thoughts. First, without a doubt it’s a premium, top-end bow that compares very well to the very best on the market. I must admit that it did seem like it was easier to hold steady than some other bows. Thanks to its parallel cams, it’s tougher to induce hand torque. It’s rather large framed. It is not the fastest on the market and not the very quietest I have shot—although it was very quiet. All told, when I consider the grip, the solidness and the sum of its parts, it’s easy to see why I shoot it well. Its balance just feels good to me, and I love the fact that I don’t have to put a stabilizer on it because it balances nicely as is. And I can’t deny the fact that plenty of bow-shop professionals swear by the tunability and wonderful arrow flight produced by Prime bows. Indeed, I shot it as well as I’ve shot any bow, and even took some shots at 100 yards. The bottom line is that once you enter the premium bow world, personal preference boils down to feel. So if you’re in the market for a new one, I strongly suggest shooting a Centergy before buying something else. Take a nerd’s word for it.
Type: compound bow
Riser: machined aluminum
Let-Off: adjustable 75-85%
Grip: Ghost Grip
Dimensions: axle-to-axle length 33¼″; weight 4.3 lbs.
Brace Height: 6.5″
Draw Lengths: 24.5″-31″ in .5″ increments (26.5″ tested)
Draw Weights: 40, 50, 60 (tested), 65, 70, 80 lbs.
IBO Speed Rating: 333 fps
Finish Options: Black, First Light Fusion, Optifade Elevated II, Recon Gray