Best-Looking Risers: Ever

Bow’s resident aesthete Guillaume Bayeuse pontificates on his all-time favourites.

An Italian masterpiece. Ignore the carping from the loggionisti about ‘skis with scoliosis’, this is one of Sante’s finest achievements as a creator. The modernist lines and the carefully measured liminal space are a triumph in form, and allowing for some delineated colour. Its qualities as a riser, as the centre of a setup, have perhaps never quite been proven. Its qualities as an object are peerless and daring.

MK’s industrial design has always aimed high, even if the puzzle-pieces-plus-shark-mouths of the Alpha was a little recherché, but this short-lived flower is their highest achievement. It manages to pull together the squared-off muscle of the Hoyt aesthetic and some more modern, organic forms into something that looks new, even as it calls back some of its antecedents. The bottom half especially seems like something worthy of champions.

“Samick Masters?” said my companion, as we talked the day through over cocktails. “Wasn’t he a wildcard in the last Ryder Cup?” Oh, you. Perhaps the greatest ever handle from the land of Joseon, its folds and lines are as Korean as the carefully measured skirt of a Pansori singer. Some of its more declassé paint jobs will not be missed, but in the right light and in the right hands, it remains a classic of its age. Some say the Samick Avante’s lines are even more feminine and sweeping. Some say all kinds of things.

Simply wonderful. A wishbone bridge arch, carrying a soaring deck across a mighty stretch of water. A gothic cathedral, a place of worship and awe. Sweet soft lines that never make you fear for its strength. A gallery where you can paint whatever you wish. Without question, their finest effort.

Hoyt’s most recent offering is by some distance their most balanced and tonally coherent design yet; modern and technical without being too aggressive and macho. The bulbous ‘cage’ for the pocket lends it the lines of a budding flower; appropriate, as the colours just leap off it. There’s been a few clunkers in the last few years, this is not one of them. More like this please.


Like a spirit level in a hall of mirrors, the ATF is the latest in a long line of honeycombed aluminium beasts from Win & Win, seemingly closer to the Ulm School of Design than whatever the finest design grads in Seoul can come up with. There is something of industry and kinematics here, the pockets like something you’d see on a factory roof. But it has presence. It says it belongs. And this one in black and gold, too! A short route to classy, but a rightly well-trodden one.

thanks to Malcom Rees for this image

Another Italian thoroughbred; this is as svelte and slender as a fine two-seater sports car designed in Milan. A whippet. A slimline masterpiece in sharp tailoring. If only all risers were as trim as this, we’d all be sipping espresso between ends. Barebow archers, not a group collectively associated with elegance, have made it their own. Watch them, and learn.

pic via Totally Cool Pix

An attention-seeking plesiosaur? One of several pleasingly different and sinuous recurve efforts from Pete Shepley’s stable, the PSE suffers a little from its rather too obvious name. Show, don’t tell, is my golden rule. You feel someone could go just a little further with this idea, but it’s a winner as it is, and comes with some clever features and a couple of head- scratchers too. Like all the best things.
Also been described as a ‘velociraptor’s shoe stretcher’, but not by me, I hasten to add.

Perhaps le roi soleil of Hoyt’s golden age in the mid 2000s, I chose the Matrix over Hoyt’s crowning achievement in the recurve department – the GMX – as there is something about its polished simplicity that they have never really bettered, even if some of its lower curves look a little of their age. Just better than the Avalon? Perhaps. Lauded by many professionals as the best ever; once owned, never forgotten.

From the age of Global Hypercolor and more, this solid body beauty from Japan has been described as a ‘pastel-hued femur’, and there is indeed something skeletally organic about it. The 1990s colours are of their time, and that time will come around again soon enough, believe you me. The associated stabiliser rig reminds me of an audiophile record cartridge and stylus. I would dearly love to own one of these psychedelic fishing rods.

The world of men. H.R. Giger’s calipers. A corpulent Terminator. Something the Inquisition would use. A steampunk sex-toy. Many things have been said about barebow favourite the Sirius, rare as hen’s teeth, and one of the few risers more talked about than seen. Some would say that was for the best. I simply love it’s utterly outré, techno-erotic lines. You might not. But you’ll be dreaming about it anyway.

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One comment on “Best-Looking Risers: Ever
  1. Alexander says:

    Love this overview and the selection! I am shooting the Bernardini Nilo and have the same association of an Italian sportscar: (red) metal, some chrome (okay here bright steel for the weights) and a small portion of wood for the grip/steering wheel. But espresso between the ends would be too much, I am shaking enough.

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