Bow Package Contents
Dear parents, if you have no idea about compound bows I would suggest you read my beginner’s guide to get a quick overview about the topic here => Beginner’s Guide To Compound Bows.
The Tomcat is manufactured in China but the quality control and the customer support is handled by Barnett Crossbows. Their customer support is pretty good and will help you out most of the times as soon as possible.
This model comes fully strung and ready to shoot out of the box in a right-handed version only. All you have to do is to install the quiver, which is pretty easy to do as there are pre-drilled holes.
You will get a 3 pin fiber optic Brightglo Sight which is okay for a starter model. The sight is adjustable, which means you can sight it in. For sighting in a bowsight you simply need to follow the arrows. This means if you shoot too high and way to the right, you need to adjust the sight accordingly. If you have never done that before I have a guide about doing it here => How To Sight In A Compound Bow.
The adjustable arrow rest that comes with the Tomcat is made out of cheap plastic and is therefore pretty flimsy. It tends to break after some time (at least I stumbled upon several parents stating this) so it might be a good idea to get a Whisker Biscuit instead, rather sooner than later. A Whisker Biscuit or any other ‘Brush Style’ arrow rest will make your kids much more accurate while shooting this starter model and therefore much more successful. So investing in a better rest will keep them away from the TV and video games much longer, and that’s a good thing, don’t you think?
Along with the Tomcat come two 25″ fiberglass arrows for youth archers. They have glued on blunt tips which is pretty standard for youth models. The problem with fiberglass is, that it tends to splinter when hitting hard objects like rocks or walls. If this happens check the arrow for cracks immediately, as shooting with damaged arrows might lead to injury to your child. As two arrows are not enough – they tend to get lost from time to time – I would suggest you get a bunch of additional arrows as soon as possible. You could get Barnett youth arrows or Easton Genesis 2.
The arrows need to be nocked in with the index feather (the colored one) pointing down. Barnett’s instructions state that you should shoot with the index feather pointing outward (maybe I got an older manual) but their support says this is wrong and it needs to point down.
The Soft Touch Finger Rollers protect your child’s fingers from getting sore. They also act as nocking points, so that you nock in the arrows at the same spot while shooting. Over time they get a bit flimsy, moving up and down on the string, which results in wild shots. I would fix them with a tape or anything similar when this happens.
The Barnett Tomcat is available in a matte black finish with pink or green cams (pink for girls, green for boys).
To check out the version for boys please click on the image below!
It is advertised by the manufacturer that the packaging case could be used for storage but well, if you want something for transport or storage, I would suggest you get something appropriate. The packaging case is a bit flimsy and I would not trust it to store the compound safely. For storing please don’t expose the bow to extreme temperatures (hot attic or car trunk) or moisture for a long time, as this could damage it severely.
A lot of customers stated that the set up instructions are terrible. As you only have to set up the quiver (which is not hard to do) I assume that those statements came mostly from people that have absolutely no idea about compound bows. If that’s the case I would bring it to a tech savvy friend or a professional shop who can set it up for a small fee – if they charge one at all.
Although there is no release aid and D-loop included, you could get those items for the Barnett Tomcat. A release aid would make the shots more accurate as it takes the twisting of the fingers out of the shooting process. To clip it to the string you need a D-loop installed. But to be honest, I would not get a mechanical release aid. This is a model for very young children (6 – 9 years old) that introduces them to archery. They should have fun and learn to deal with a compound in a responsible and safe way in the first place. All those gimmicks that their daddies are used to can come later, in my opinion. Just keep them engaged and motivated for now.
Same goes for a stabilizer. There is a pre-drilled hole for one but I don’t think that a stabilizer is necessary at that young age. On the one hand it will make the whole thing heavier which may make shooting, especially for weaker kids, more difficult. On the other hand the additional weight may throw off their aim a lot – which may lead to frustration, which we don’t want to have.
As there are no targets included I suggest you get some hay bales and put paper targets on those. Just make sure that there is something behind the target that catches arrows safely. Maybe start at ten feet as kids tend to shoot poorly at first, and increase the distance with growing experience. Always superwise your children while shooting and never let them aim at people, pets or valuables (which is a rather obvious thing, right?). And always stay with practice tips (field tips) for the arrows. There are sharper ones available but you don’t want your kids to run around with those.
The warranty usually covers errors in manufacturing or materials. It won’t cover moveable parts like accessories and stuff like the string and cables, which will get worn over time. The warranty gets voided if you misuse or modify the Barnett Tomcat in a way it was not meant to be used or modified. So if you drill additional holes in the riser, there goes your warranty. Also never ever dry fire any compound bow! Dry firing means shooting without an arrow in place. If you want to learn more about it and its consequences please read my article here => Dry Firing A Compound Bow.
Noise Level / Hand Shock Of The Barnett Tomcat Compound Bow
Well, as the Tomcat was designed for very young archers, the noise level is quite okay. The lower you set the draw weight the noisier it gets, which is pretty normal for any bow. With a maximum poundage of 22 lbs there is, of course, no hand shock recognizable.
Bow Specifics / Limbs / Riser / Grip / String
The Barnett Tomcat itself is well made and feels quite sturdy. It is constructed to Archery Trade Association ( ATA) and Archery Manufacturers‘ Association (AMO) standards.
Apart from that it feels professional and mature, just like daddy’s model.
With a net weight of 3 lb 8 oz, it is manageable for most kids. If you have one who is on the weaker side, you could detach the quiver to save some weight. But overall, 3 lbs should not be too much for young archers.
Its axle to axle length (ATA) is 26″ – 28″ depending on the poundage setting. This small ATA shows clearly that the Barnett Tomcat was specifically designed for young children, not tweens, teens or adults. The overall length from top to bottom including cams is around 35″.
The string is a coated steel cable. This means that you are not able to serve a peep sight in. For all of you who don’t know what a peep is – just forget about it as it is not important for your kids right now. For all the others: I would not see it as a downer, as – again – this is a model to introduce very young children to archery, not a pimped gimmick rich super thingy. Don’t forget its purpose!
Its brace height is 6.75″, by the way, which is pretty standard.
Draw Cycle / Shootability
The Barnett Tomcat draws – due to the rounded cam design – pretty softly. The whole shooting cycle is rather on the soft side, which is good for young archers learning to shoot compound bows, as they can concentrate on proper form.
This model is accurate up to 20 yards. But don’t forget that this might depend heavily on the skills of the individual young shooter. Apart from a lot of practice, getting a Whisker Biscuit and better arrows might help too!
The draw weight range is from 17 to 22 lbs. Its maximum setting might be already a bit too weak for an 11 year old kid, so you may want to look at other models like the Barnett Vortex if your child is 10 years or older.
If you have to set the draw weight down a lot, I suggest you get lighter arrows, as the ones that come with this model are rather heavy and might drop to the floor like stones when being shot with a low poundage.
You can adjust the poundage by loosening or tightening the bolts that connect the limbs to the riser. Do one full turn on each side and make sure that the number of full turns is the same on both sides. If you are not sure, tighten them to the max and start over from there. Don’t overdo it, though! When the poundage gets too light the string will be too loose and get out of time. Barnett recommends a bow press for adjusting, but a customer stated he did it without one because of the low draw weight. If you have never adjusted the poundage of a compound, you can also bring the Barnett Tomcat to a professional shop.
The draw length range is 20″ – 22″. It is adjustable in one inch increments. If your child is already 10 years or older, I would suggest you measure his or her draw length before buying this model. If their arms are too long for this one, you need to get a different one. If you want to learn more about measuring the draw length, feel free to read my guide about it here => How To Determine Your Draw Length.
The generous let off of 60% – 70% allows even the youngest archer to shoot without holding a lot of the peak weight while aiming. This is important as the little ones need to concentrate on shooting with proper form in the first place to get good results and to keep their motivation high. No idea what proper form looks like? Then read about it here => Proper Form For Compound Bow Shooting.
Shooting Speed Of The Barnett Tomcat Compound Bow
As this is a kid’s model there is no info about its speed out there, as it is not important.
Suitable For Hunting / Kinetic Energy (KE)
Surely not. With a maximum poundage of 22 lbs, it is way below the legal requirement for most states – which means it is simply too weak to hunt anything with it. Apart from that it was never meant to be used for hunting. It is a model for target practicing and learning how to deal with a ‘weapon’ like this.
For bowhunting you need a lot of kinetic energy, by the way. Don’t know what that is? Then read about it here => Kinetic Energy For Bowhunting.
Suitable For Bowfishing
Not like it is. Maybe you can a find a custom solution to add a bowfishing reel – which may void the warranty. Apart from that, I am not sure if 22 lbs is enough to penetrate the water and hit the fish well.
At around 40 bucks, the Barnett Tomcat is a very affordable option to test if your children might be interested in archery at all. It may not be the best youth model out there, but because of the low price it is a very good solution if you are not sure if your kiddos will stay interested in shooting bows. That’s the main reason why I would start with something like this before spending a lot more on a high end model like the Diamond Atomic. If they prove that they will stay with archery, I would invest in something more expensive after they have outgrown the Tomcat. You could also take a look at the Bear Brave or the Barnett Lil Banshee for starting out.
Pros & Cons
– very affordable for testing the waters
– good quality by a big brand
– accessories are cheaply made
– arrows are crap
All in all the Barnett Tomcat compound bow is a great model for beginners that are very young. I would recommend it for children that are 7 – 8 or 9 years old. There were also parents stating that it was shot successfully by their 5 year old sons or daughters, but this depends a lot on the individual kid.
When your child is a bit older (10 years and up), I would measure his or her draw length to make sure the bow is not too small already. You will have it for a very long time if you buy it when your kiddos are still very young. With 10 or 11 year olds they will outgrow it pretty fast without a doubt.
I also found statements that small built females (5`3“) shot it as well but – again – I would suggest you get something appropriate if you are an adult as this one is meant to be shot by kids. I also found a lot of dads complaining that the arrows won’t stick, that it has not enough power and that it won’t shoot 50 yards straight. So again: It is a child’s compound, for god‘s sake! Don’t expect something that it cannot deliver. As long as your offspring has fun, is away from the TV and computer, is building confidence and responsibility while learning to deal with a model like this, everything is okay – at least in my opinion.
Thanks for reading and shoot straight!
You are incorrect about pound limits in every state. West Virginia does not have a law for minimum poundage on a compound bow. Now on a crossbow it can be no less than #125. My son killed a 6 point buck last year with the Tomcat set on #22. You might want do do some research and tested on such thing before posting them as being correct.
Thanks, you got me there. As most of the states have requirements between 30 and 50 lbs I did not check every state, so I changed the review. Concerning the 22 lbs for deer: That’s more or less my personal opinion. I would not try taking a deer with a 22 lbs bow, that’s why I don’t recommend it. But, as I said, that’s just my opinion and everybody has to decide for himself if that’s okay or not 🙂 .
Just bought 2 Barnett tomcat camo bows I noticed the black tomcat bows came with arrows the camo ones didn’t the store couldn’t tell me why. Had to buy arrows
I keep reading that this bow’s draw length can be adjusted in 1″ increments, however, there is no indication that this is actually possible. Am I missing something really obvious here?