Bow Package Contents
Barnett Crossbows sells this one in a version for right handed shooters only at the moment. This means your kid is holding the Barnett in his or her left hand while pulling the string back with the right hand. If you have no idea about compound bows so far I would recommend you read my beginner’s guide about them here => Beginner’s Guide To Compound Bows.
You wouldn’t buy a car without having some basic knowledge about it either, would you?
The capture style arrow rest is moulded from plastic. It is clearly not the best, as it will tear up the fletchings of the arrows from time to time. That’s why I would suggest you get a Whisker Biscuit or other ‘brush style’ arrow rest as soon as possible. Because when the fletchings hit the rest, the arrow’s flight might be affected, missing the target in the worst case. A good arrow rest raises the accuracy that you will get while shooting a lot.
You will also get a simple 3-pin sight. It is good for starting out but nonetheless pretty basic. If you can, I would suggest you get a better one as well. This is not as essential as getting a better arrow rest, but it will help too. Bowsights need to be sighted in, by the way. If you want to learn how to do this, feel free to read my guide about it here => How To Sight In A Compound Bow.
The 3 27″ Safetyglass arrows that come with the Barnett Vortex Lite have blunt, glued on tips and are made from fiberglass. Fiberglass tends to splinter and crack, especially when hitting hard objects like concrete or trees. This happens more often than you might think. If it happens, please check the arrow for small cracks, to prevent them from breaking entirely the next time they will be used by your offspring, as this might cause serious injury. As you will need a lot more arrows anyway, I would suggest you get better youth arrows like the Easton Genesis 2 or similar models. Carbon arrows would be best.
To find the right arrows that fit the bow and the archer is often times more important than getting the best compound (if such a model exists at all). If you want to learn more about choosing arrows, I have an article about it here => Choosing The Right Arrows For A Compound Bow.
There is a 2 piece bow mounted quiver included in this package that can contain up to 3 arrows. It does its job like it should. Younger kids often don’t use additional stuff like a quiver or a peep sight etc., but tweens might prefer to use those things and they won’t be disappointed with this one.
Barnett advertises that the package can be used as a carry case or that it can be doubled as wall mounted storage. If you transport the Barnett Lite a lot (driving to the range, camping, travelling etc.), I would suggest you get a real case. It will protect the Vortex Lite from extreme temperatures (hot car trunk, hot attic) or moisture (damp garage or cellar) and you can keep it in there safely for weeks, if needed.
There is no peep sight included in this package, but you could add one (the string is splittable). With a peep sight the accuracy of your kid will go up tremendously. If you add one, it would also make sense to add a D-loop to the string. For using it you will have to buy a release aid, though. If you add all of these things your kid will get the most out of this model.
A release aid has a mechanical trigger and is attached to the wrist of the shooter. It takes the fingers out of the shooting process, which is important for accuracy, as fingers tend to twist the string specifically at the release, which can result in wild shots.
If your kid prefers to finger-shoot the Barnett Vortex Lite, I would suggest you install a nocking point to the string and get an archery glove for finger protection. A nocking point is important, as it lets your kiddos nock the arrow in at the same spot all the time. This way the whole shooting process becomes repeatable, thus resulting in consistency which leads to accuracy.
If you are new to compound bows I would suggest you go to a professional shop. They can set everything up for your kid against a small fee. They will also choose the right arrows for you, cutting them to the draw length of your child if needed.
I also would recommend you get an arm guard, as it will prevent your kid’s forearm from getting string slaps. These will cause pain and leave ugly bruises, which might kill your kid’s motivation to learn shooting bows fast. String slaps can occur from time to time. If they occur all the time, something is wrong and your offspring is not shooting with proper form. If you want to learn more about proper form, feel free to read my article about it here => Proper Form For Compound Bow Shooting.
A bowsling is also missing in this package. A bowsling attaches the compound to the wrist of the archer (holding hand), enabling him or her to shoot with a rather relaxed grip. Bows tend to move forward a bit after releasing the arrow. That’s why we tend to tighten our grip to prevent them from falling to the ground. This might torque the whole thing, affecting the arrow and therefore – in the worst case – missing the target. With a bowsling in place the it cannot drop to the floor, so we don’t need to tighten our grip.
There are no instructions and no Allen wrench (for adjusting the poundage) coming with this model. It is not hard to set up, but a real manual would have helped a bit.
Noise Level / Hand Shock Of The Barnett Vortex Lite Compound Bow
This one is pretty noisy while shooting and it has lots of vibrations going on. As it cannot be used for hunting anyway, I would not bother much, but you can try to bring the vibrations down a bit with string silencers or a stabilizer, if you want to.
Bow Specifics / Limbs / Riser / Grip / String
The Barnett Vortex Lite is a fiberglass compound, constructed after Archery Trade Association (ATA) and Archery Manufacturers’ Organization (AMO) standards. It is very sturdy and durable and will take a lot of beating from your kids.
Its axle to axle length (ATA) is 27.5″, which makes it compact enough for the recommended age range.
The durable plastic cams may need to be timed after a while, so that they keep working simultaneuosly – but that needs to be done with some dual cam systems from other brands from time to time as well. It’s a dual cam system, after all.
The string is splittable and a peep sight can be served in at any time. I would suggest you get some bow wax and wax it (and the cables) before shooting the first time. This will prolong its life quite a bit and prevent it from getting frayed and worn parts too early. Strings and cables should be waxed regularly, they should be switched out once per year or every 5,000 shots. And never ever dry fire the Barnett Vortex Lite, as this can result in severe damage to it and serious injury to the archer. I also have an article about dry firing, just in case you never heard that term before => Dry Firing A Compound Bow.
Draw Cycle / Shootability
The Barnett Vortex Lite draws rather smoothly and – provided you have a better arrow rest and better arrows – is able to achieve tennisball sized groups up to 15 yards. You also need some skills to be able to do that, of course.
The draw weight range is from 18 – 29 lbs. You can adjust it with an Allen wrench by loosening or tightening the limb bolts. Counter-clockwise decreases the draw weight, clockwise increases it. Just make sure that the number of full turns is the same on both sides and don’t overdo it, or the whole compound will fall apart. If you are not sure about the number of full turns, just tighten to the maximum and start over from there.
The draw length range is from 22″ – 25″. It is adjustable in 1″ increments and you don’t need a press for doing so. If your kiddo has longer arms than the average kid or is taller, it might be a good idea to measure his or her draw length before buying anything. If it is longer than 25“, this model is not for him or her. If you want to learn how to measure the draw length, I have a guide about it here => How To Determine Your Draw Length.
A generous let off of 60% – 70% makes this one a very good choice for starting out, as it gives enough room for aiming without worrying about holding back the full peak weight all the time.
Shooting Speed Of The Barnett Vortex Lite Compound Bow
The given 135 fps were not measured after the requirements of the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO), because this model would need 70 lbs of draw weight for doing so. 135 fps is not that fast compared to a full sized hunting bow, but it is not bad either for a compound that is meant to be used by tweens.
Suitable For Hunting / Kinetic Energy (KE)
With a maximum poundage of 29 lbs the Barnett Vortex Lite is not suitable for bowhunting, as it won’t meet any of the legal minimum requirements of the states. Apart from that, the achievable kinetic energy would be way too low for hunting anything. With a speed of 135 fps and 350 grain arrows you would achieve 14.15 ft-lbs, which is not much. Just take a look at Easton’s Field Chart.
I would suggest your kids stay with target practice until they upgrade to a serious hunting model. A lot of practice beforehand will make their first hunting trip way better!
If you want to learn more about kinetic energy, I have an article here as well => Kinetic Energy For Bowhunting.
Suitable For Bowfishing
I did not try it. If you find a way to add a bowfishing reel it should work, even if the 29 lbs are not that great for penetrating the water and hitting the fish well. If you try, just let me know below how it worked out, please, as I am curious about that as well.
At around 75 bucks the Barnett Vortex Lite is still an affordable option to introduce your children to archery. You could also take a look at the Crosman Elkhorn or – if you have more to invest – at the Diamond Atomic or the Bear Archery Cruzer. Those are all good options for getting tweens into our wonderfull sport. If your kid is on the stronger side, the Barnett Vortex (meant to be used by teens) may be a good choice as well. Another good option is the Genesis Original, which is the official model for the National Archery In The Schools Program.
Pros & Cons
– great quality
– crappy accessories
All in all the Barnett Vortex Lite compound bow is a very good option to get your offspring into archery. It is manufactured and sold by a well known company, that stands for great quality and good customer support. Apart from that it is adjustable and will serve your kids well for a few years (if you buy it when they are still young enough!).
The Vortex Lite is recommended for 8 – 12 year olds, because its minimum draw weight is too much for most younger archers. There might be younger shooters who can use it as well, though. As we are all different, so are our kids, and what might be too much for one of them, might be doable for another.
Small built adults (maybe 5 feet tall) could use the Vortex Lite too. But to be honest I would suggest you get something appropriate for you, as this is a model for tweens, not adults. It isn’t called ‘Lite’ for nothing!
Thanks for reading and shoot straight!