Alex Tyler puts an Italian thoroughbred through its paces
Italian manufacturer Ragim make a wide range of wooden archery bows, including recurve takedowns and beginners gear, but their speciality is high-quality wooden trad bows.
The Whitetail is a product from their ‘Superior Series‘, with a riser made from made of a combination of hardwoods: amazaque, padouk and black technowood. The three-layered limbs have a central maple core overlaid by elm and clear fibreglass, and the bow comes supplied with a Fast Flight string.
The Whitetail is reflex/deflex and forms a continuous curve when strung. Ragim refer to it as a longbow on their website and in the marketing. If shot with wooden arrows in the UK, in National Field Archery Society (NFAS) and English Field Archery classifications it could be shot in the American Flat Bow class. For the International Field Archery Association, it would be classified as a longbow.
The bow Ragim supplied me for review was 66” long and 40lbs, left-handed, and for testing I shot it with wooden arrows with a spine of 35-40lbs, naturally fletched.
The bow had arrived at my house on 18 March, days before the UK lockdown was announced. I had opened the box, admired the bow’s design with the combination of woods and then had to seal everything up again.
With the exciting news that our woods were now accessible, it was finally time to reopen the box, fix on temporary knocking points and head out for the long overdue trial.
The first day back shooting in the woods after lockdown was always going to be a treat, even though this was an isolated practice session rather than a convivial open field shoot. When I had last been to the woods, the buds were just starting to decorate the trees – now, under the leaf canopy, the woods are cool and shaded, dappled with patches of sun.
When I stood in front of the target, ready to shoot, the first impression was how light the bow was in the hand. When I got home, for comparison, I weighed it against my regular bows, a Bickerstaff English longbow and an Andy Soars flatbow (this was the most fun my kitchen scales have had in years!). The Whitetail came out closer to the longbow (620g against the longbow’s 530g versus the all-wood flatbow weighing in at 820g).
The Whitetail’s finish is very smooth with a subtle matte finishing. In line with the clean design, the bow comes without any material around the grip. This was new to me and my first reaction was to grip the bow tightly.
This meant my fingers wrapped around, finding the straight edges on the back of the bow began to dig into me – a position that was uncomfortable and it was impossible to settle to a clean draw. To stop this, I had to loosen my hold on the handle and, when relaxed, I found my palm fitted much more naturally into the grip which at first had felt too big for me.
This also released the pressure on my fingers and automatically opened my bow hand. Given that this is something I always have to remind myself to do, this was a distinct positive.
Even with arms which haven’t done any archery for three months, the Whitetail was a very easy bow to shoot. The draw is smooth and with minimal stacking at my drawlength, there is no problem with holding at full draw.
I tried shooting from a range of distances and found no problems comfortably reaching targets within the typical range of a UK field course.
There was no hand shock when loosing and what was particularly pleasing was the noise – a deep, bass thrum. This was the upside of the string, which was unusually fat and took some getting used to with 5/16” nocks.
Could I imagine shooting the Whitetail around a field course? Yes, I could. The bow is light, compact and delivers power without unnecessary bulk, which is good when you will be out for a full day. I also got the impression the bow would stand up well to mud, brambles and being leant against the nearest tree, all necessary skills for a field bow.
And now, after its trip to the woods, the temporary nocking points will come off and the bow will be going back into its box again, to find a new home. Maybe it could be yours?
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