There is not one character that’s as important as Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games movie that has ingnited the spark in so many tweens and teens for archery over the last few years. On the other hand there are a lot of youth models available to choose from which can get quite confusing pretty fast. This review is all about the Vortex which I think is really a great entry-level model that is adjustable enough to be able to grow along with its owners for a few years without a problem. If you want to know its ins and outs just read on! You won’t regret it.
Bow Package Contents
The Barnett Vortex comes in a right-handed version only. It is of great quality, has a cool camo-finish and is literally ready to shoot out of the box. If you want to tune it a bit, you probably need to go to a bow shop for getting a peep sight served in and some other goodies you could add. I’ll talk about those later in this review, so keep reading if you want to find out.
Together with this youth compound you get three arrows with field tips. These are really crappy and you should get better ones as soon as possible. They are made out of thin aluminum (manufactured in China) and will bend pretty easily if you hit a hard target (wall, tree, etc.). Some people stated they even got bend when pulling them out of the foam target or when hitting the ground. So I would recommend you getting carbon arrows or better aluminum ones for your youth archer, otherwise it’s just no fun at all. To do that you need to know her or his draw length. To get it you can read our guide here => How To Determine Your Draw Length. Just make sure the arrows are longer than the draw length of the bow. They can be a few inches longer as well, that’s no problem. But they must not be shorter, or your kid could hurt his or her hand!
You will find details about what arrows to use with the Barnett Vortex in the instructions that come with this youth compound (weight, grain tip). If you are in doubt you could you go to a bow shop as well. They will find ones that fit your kid and the bow.
This model comes strung. Compound bows do not need to be unstrung ever compared to recurves or longbows. What you need to do, though, is to wax the string and cables before shooting it for the first time and then regularly. This will prevent the bowstring from fraying.
You will get five modules for setting the draw length easily (check the manual for the details). Allen wrenches for adjusting this youth model are included as well.
The arrow rest is of low quality too. On the one hand it tends to break after some time, on the other it damages nearly every arrow’s fletching, as you need ones where you can orient the index feather straight down. Otherwise the arrows get wacked each time you shoot them by the rest. I would recommend you switch it for a cheap drop down rest or a Whisker Biscuit, as these are proven solutions. Remember that the arrow rest and the sight are the most important accessories to get good results while shooting.
Along with the Barnett Vortex Youth bow comes a front mounted 3-pin sight that almost looks like a fiber optic sight. If you are just starting out you may get confused so you could take two of the pins off for beginning. The sight is not that bad and even works on cloudy days, but after some time you may want to get a better one. If that’s the case you could buy a rear mounted sight, so no peep sight would be needed.
The 2-piece bow mounted quiver can contain three arrows. It is a bit close to the riser when mounted, which could interfere if you switch out the original crappy arrow rest against something better.
The box of the Barnett Vortex can be used as carry case or for storage. You have to take the quiver off, though, each time you put it in there, so that’s not a very comfortable solution. In case you are transporting it a lot in the car you should think about getting a real carry case. This will protect the Barnett Vortex from extreme temperatures (hot car) or moisture. I say this all the time but still was too lazy to get one up to this point and I am sure I will regret it the first time I have to make a hard stop. But well, I have been warned (by myself, which is weird, somehow). 🙂
You also get a 5 year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. This won’t work for dry-firing or other things you should not do with it, of course.
Now let’s talk about some things you might need if you would like to tune your kid’s compound. These accessories are not needed to shoot it, but with them the results will be much better and as the Barnet Vortex itself is a great sturdy and well made youth compound for a very affordable price you should expect the accessories that come with it to be of a rather low quality. So for a little investment you can make it a really great little shooter.
This model can be finger-shot. For getting better consistency and therefore increased accuracy you should get a nock point. A nock point is a tiny metal ring that gets attached to the string in a certain spot that depends on the kid shooting it. The thing is that each arrow should be nocked in (arrows have a nock too; it’s at their rear end) at the same point on the string. Only this will allow your kid to become better while shooting over time. If you have no idea how to attach a nock point the guys or girls of a bow shop can attach one easily for you. As soon as I have the time I will write a guide about doing it, so next time you can do it on your own.
Though this youth model can be finger-shot, in general, compound bows should be shot with a release aid, because it will make your shots more consistent and therefore more accurate as well. Your fingers tend to influence the shot mostly when doing the release. A release aid minimizes these influences. For using a mechanical release aid you need a D-Loop installed on the string of your compound. It must be attached to the same point where the nock would be and it has a loop for the release aid (think glove) to pull the string back. Barnett does not recommend to shoot this youth model with a release aid as it may wear out the string, though.
For better aiming you can get a peep sight served in to the string (the string can be split, so there’s no problem). A peep sight works together with the 3-pin sight for aiming and needs to fit the shooter. Attaching a D-loop and serving a peep sight in can be very tricky and should be done by someone who knows what he’s doing, as those accessories need to be adjusted to the person shooting the compound. So if you’re in doubt, better go to a professional shop. It won’t cost much and it’s just not worth to damage your Barnett Vortex while trying it on your own.
Additionally you could add a stabilizer for making this youth compound more quiet and more smooth to draw overall. The Barnett Vortex has pre-drilled holes so every standard stabilizer should work without problems.
The last thing I would recommend you to buy is a bow sling. Such a sling will attach the compound to your kid’s wrist so that he or she can relax the hand holding the bow after the shot. As we tend to hold it with a strong grip after releasing the arrow the muscles of our hand and wrist can influence – again – the release and thus affecting the whole shot resulting in missing the target.
Noise Level / Handshock Of The Barnett Vortex Youth Compound Bow
The Barnett Vortex seems to be a bit noisy out of the box (this is also a personal thing: for some people something is loud, for others not, so take this with a grain of salt). To make it more quiet you can get a stabilizer to take some of the vibrations while shooting out. A stabilizer will also balance the compound and make it overall a bit smoother and more comfortable to shoot. As this youth model is pretty lightweight and small (as it is meant for youth archers) you will need to get a bigger one for a good balance.
Bow Specifics /Limbs / Riser / Grip / String
The Barnett Vortex Youth compound is a very sturdy and well made model of high quality. It has the same design and functions like Barnett’s full sized bows. The riser is made out of hard composite just like any other model out there and has pre-drilled holes for all kinds of accessories. The limbs look tough and very durable, as do the cams and modules. As this youth model or parts of it are made in China (they advertise it as being made in the USA but to be honest, every compound has parts that come from overseas and are assembled in the USA) it is nonetheless of a very good quality. So Barnett seems to have their quality control in place.
Some people did not like the grip and padded it with camo foam-tape, or duct tape or tennis raquet tape as there are edges that were too sharp for a few customers and therefore did not feel too comfortable while holding the compound.
A customer gauged it (as there was no information out there) and came up with around 3 lbs 14 oz, which is pretty good for a tween or teen. Younger kids (around 10 years) might have a problem when shooting a lot as this weight can be a bit much for them. On the other hand this depends, of course, on the strength of the little ones as well. So if your kid is rather on the strong side, there should be no problem.
The Barnett Vortex is available only in a version for right-handed shooters. Its model number is 1105 and it has a poundage of 16 – 45 lbs. There was some confusion about it as Barnett advertised it with a different image (of the Barnett Vortex Lite which has less poundage) for a certain time.
Its axle to axle length is from 27.5“ – 28.1“ (there are different numbers out stating its total length is 34.5“). As this youth model is recommended for young and beginning archers it has to be smaller than adult models.
Draw Cycle / Shootability
The Barnett Vortex is smooth to draw and shoots very accurate if you get a better arrow rest and better arrows (and even maybe a better sight, although the original one is good enough to start out). It has some vibrations that can be subdued by a stabilizer as mentioned before. If you’d plan to hunt with it you should get one anyway.
Its draw weight ranges from 16 – 45 pounds and is adjustable without the need of a bow press, concerning the manufacturer. Truth is, that the poundage depends on the draw length settings and that you will need a bow press if you want to set it to its maximum or minimum draw weight.
The poundage has to be adjusted with the included Allen wrenches by backing out the limb bolts. Clockwise tightens it and increases the poundage; counter-clockwise loosens and decreases it. You should never ever do more than 3 turns! As there is a lot of pressure on the Barnett Vortex it could fall apart if you loosen the bolts too much resulting in injury in the worst case. It would be a good idea to to tighten the bolts before beginning to loosen them. Each bolt (on each limb) needs to have the same adjustments, so be carefull while doing it.
The draw length of the Barnett Vortex ranges from 21″-27″. The cam modules (B-F) for the draw length adjustments can be easily changed. You only need a press if you want to set the draw length to the lower or upper end. Be careful and take your time when changing the modules as those could be damaged when getting too rough with them. Work them slowly out of place and back into place with a rocking motion.
One drawback is that there are specific ranges available with the cam modules inserts and limb bolt adjustments. You cannot have a 25 lbs poundage at a 26″ draw length as the 26″ supports poundages from 31 – 40 lbs. If you want to go below 31 pounds you need to shorten the draw length accordingly. So in case you have a big personal draw length you cannot start with 25 lbs to work on proper form before raising the poundage.
To clarify one more time: You can adjust the draw weight and draw length of the Vortex from 19 – 41 lbs and 22″ – 26″ without a bow press. For setting it to 16 or 45 lbs and 21″ or 27″ you will need one.
The let-off is advertised at 60-70%. A customer stated that theirs was around 61% when set at a draw weight of 31 lbs (the backwall was at around 12 lbs). This let-off is big enough for beginners to learn proper form (stance, back tension) and to aim without being pulled forward by the power of the compound.
At the end I’d like to mention that the manufacturer claims that this youth model has been constructed to ATA/AMO standards, which is just another proof for its quality.
Shooting Speed Of The Barnett Vortex Youth Compound Bow
There was no information about the speed of the Barnett Vortex on the internet. This tells me that no one measured it after the IBO speed rating up to this point. Which makes sense as it is a starter compound for young archers.
Proper For Hunting / Kinetic Energy (KE)
Bowhunting and youth bows. Well, as you all know each state has a different legal minimum draw weight that a compound needs to surpass to be allowed for hunting. These minimum poundages can vary from 30 – 50 lbs depending on the state.
As there is no speed rating of this youth model you cannot calculate numbers for the Kinetic Energy that it might reach but all in all its 45 lbs maximum draw weight seems to be too low for going after large game in my opinion. For bowhunting you will use heavier arrows (that decreases speed and KE as well) and there are a lot of other factors that bring the Kinetic Energy down as well (field conditions, weather, distance etc. etc.) so I definitely would not recommend it for going after medium or large game. Just look at Easton’s field chart to get an idea what they recommend.
If you want to learn more about Kinetic Energy you can read our guide here => Kinetic Energy For Hunting.
As this is an entry-level compound recommended for young and beginning archers I would not try to kill a deer with it as it is to weak in my opinion. Even at 45 lbs draw weight you would need to be able to hit the game animal exactly where you want to (vital organs) and especially as a beginner that would be hard to do. That goes for every game, does not matter if small or medium. As a bowhunter it is your responsibility to kill game in the most humane way possible – one shot, one kill in the best case. So learn to shoot well first!
Proper For Bowfishing
As there are pre-drilled holes it should be possible to attach a bowfishing reel to this model without any problems. Its poundage is enough for penetrating the water and hitting the fish well.
With a price of under 150 bucks the Barnett Vortex Youth Compound is a great option for entering the world of archery. With its wide adjustability it can be used by a young enough kid for years – growing up with it literally – and it can be passed along to the next generation easily as well. As I stated already the bow itself is sturdy and of a very high quality. The compromise you have to take is in the bad quality of the accessories coming with it. But considering the small additional investment into better add-ons (rest, sight etc.) it still is quite a deal. Just look at the Infinite Edge Pro, the Apollo Tactical or the Bear Archery Cruzer. This model costs over three times as much as the Barnett Vortex. If I wanted to test if my kids were interested in archery at all I would buy a cheaper model in the first place. If they keep their interest I can upgrade later in time if I wanted to.
Pros & Cons
- wide adjustability
- very good entry level / starter bow
- super deal at this price point
- cheap arrow rest and arrows
All in all I can say that the Barnett Vortex Youth Compound is a very good model to start out in archery – especially for youngsters that are 10 years and older. Its wide adjustability also makes it interesting for small built females that want to start shooting and don’t want to invest an arm and a leg at the beginning. For its rather small price you will get a well made, sturdy bow that will last for years if treated accordingly. And for an additional small investment you can make it into a very accurate little shooter that will get tight groups together with ease.
I hope you enjoyed reading this review!
Thanks and shoot straight!