Hoyt Horizon Review

I’ve owned my Hoyt Horizon 25 inch riser going on six months now, I’ve shot thousands of arrows through it in that time. Enough, to feel comfortable with writing a review of it.

The Horizon riser is a good quality entry level riser. You will absolutely get more bells and whistles out of more expensive risers however the Hoyt Horizon is straightforward, simple, handsome and has been trouble free. I’ve found it easy to adjust and care for which appeals to my minimalist nature.

The stock grip is comfortable and interchangeable with any of Hoyt’s grips, to include wood if you so desire. The bow feels natural and good in hand.

The Horizon is ILF (International Limb Fitting) compatible so you can use any ILF limbs on it. I’m shooting long W & W Sebastian Flute Premium Wood Limbs for a 70 inch bow and am pleased with this combination.

The limb fittings are simple and straightforward. No magic here, just click your limbs in. The range of weight adjustability that can  be had by loosening and tightening the limb bolts is 10 %.

I have had some experience with other Olympic genre bows but not much, in  Tony Camera’s review of this riser, he opines that the majority of Olympic / FITA type bows benefit from a stabilizer.

I found this to be true. The bow balances better in hand with some weight. I shoot the barebow classes and have a simple 8 oz counter weight but it could stand more. Keep in mind that this riser has a single stabilizer fitting.

I opted for Hoyt’s blackout finish, which is a textured finish and I’ve been  very happy with it. I read somewhere that the textured finish would be a problem with a stick on rest. I’ve found that not be the case, my stick on rest has been on for six months and shows no signs of coming off. (Make sure to prep the surface with something like denatured alcohol before sticking on your rest)

Plunger, plus accessory hole, two fastener holes for a sight are also provided.

The riser comes with a clicker plate and two fastener positions for mounting a clicker.

The riser comes with a clicker plate and two fastener holes to choose from when mounting a clicker.

Hoyt also includes a Hoyt super rest, tools, spare fasteners, tuning instructions and a nice protective sleeve/pouch to store your riser.

One small bone to pick with Hoyt is that when I first got the riser and I screwed in my plunger, I found I could not screw it in far enough as the threads ran out just before reaching the other side of the riser. This was an easy fix as I have taps on hand and I just tapped the hole further and voila, however this could have been an issue for someone who isn’t tooled up or has never used a tap before. I’m making the assumption that this was just an isolated incident and not the norm for these risers.

This riser is not the cheapest for an entry level riser, however Hoyt provides a lifetime warranty to the original owner and in the age of purchasing archery equipment that you may not have seen and used first, there is some assurance that you’re dealing with a long standing company like Hoyt. I have not closely checked the resale value of these but I did spy one for sale recently on the JOAD/FITA classifieds in Archery talk and it was gone lickety split.

This is my first ILF bow and I have been very pleased with the Horizon riser. It is comfortable and good in hand, the simplicity and design of the riser fit my goals and growth. The blackout finish is tough and no nonsense and to my eye, handsome.

I’ve used this bow for a varied range of archery disciplines to include stumpin’ in the woods, field archery, 3D archery, and as of late indoor target archery. It has served me well and I have no reservations in recommending it.

Indoor target scoring in archery

I sometimes post scores and different target system info assuming that everyone knows what I’m talking about, of course that is not the case.

Below find the definitions to two words you should know (end and round) and an explanation of NFAA indoor round scoring as well as the NFAA version of the Vegas Round. These are both indoor rounds which is what I’m buried to the hilt in now.

Keep in mind that there are many, many, many different types of rounds with different scoring, this only touches upon some of the more popular indoor rounds.

End – A set number of arrows that are shot before going to the target to score and retrieve your arrows. (usually 3 or 5 for indoor competition).

e.g.    We shot six ends before taking a break then shot six more, scoring after each end

e. g.    Let’s get there a bit early and shoot 4 or 5 ends to warm up before the round begins.

Round – The shooting of a definite number of arrows at specified target faces from set

e.g.    We shot a Vegas round this morning, next weekend we will shoot a NFAA indoor 300 round.

e.g.    An indoor NFAA 300 round consists of twelve 5 arrow ends at 20 yards, for a total of 60 arrows.

NFAA Indoor target

Ok, here it is, I’ve numbered the target with red numbers to clarify it. Anything in the white circle is awarded a 5 to include the inner X ring. X’s are used as tiebreakers, so if you shoot a score of 250 with 10 x’s and the guy next to you shoots 250 with 11 x’s they win.

An NFAA 300 round consists of 12 ends shot at 20 yards distance. That means you’re up at bat 12 times. Each end consists of 5 arrows, so you will step up to the line shoot 5 arrows, score them, retrieve them and then do it again, 12 times.

Here is the math part, each arrow has the potential of 5 points, so in each end you have the potential of scoring 25 points. 5 arrows shot x 5 points = 25 points.

There are 12 ends so if you shoot a perfect 25 in each end you will score 300 points.  12 x 25 = 300

Archers have 4 minutes to shoot 5 arrows. Capiche?

NFAA Indoor 5 spot

The first thing to know about this target is who it is meant for and why.

This target is for very accurate shooters but is mostly shot by very good compound bow shooters. Archers using this target are confident of not shooting anything lower than a 4, the reason the target is partitioned into 5 small targets or spots is so an archer can have the option to shoot one arrow per target. The reason they want to do that is so they don’t Robin Hood (shooting an arrow into the back of another)  arrows which gets expensive and annoying after a while, you also destroy the paper less since you’re shooting five different locations instead of a single paper location, making it easier to define scores.

For very good compound shooters this is really an X game. A perfect 300 score is a given so the person with the most X’s wins. There are compound shooters who score 300 points and 60 x’s which is perfection indeed.

The rest is scored the same as the single face target. 12 ends, 5 arrows per end. 5 possible points per arrow. 60 arrows. 300 points.

The indoor 5 spot can be shot in any order and the archer can shoot any number of arrows into any spot as the shooter wants not to exceed their 5 arrows of course.

As in the single face competitors have 4 minutes to shoot 5 arrows.

Now to Vegas… as in what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, as least 3 times per end that is.

Vegas target – numbers are just for illustration.

In a Vegas round there are 10 ends. You shoot 3 arrows per end for a possible 10 points per arrow, or 30 possible points per end. 10 ends x 30 possible points = 300 possible points. The smallest inner X circle is 10 points as well as the next greater yellow circle. Your X count will go towards deciding tiebreakers. Competitors have 2 1/2 minutes to shoot 3 arrows.

There are variations of the Vegas round  like a 450 and 600 round instead of the above 300. A 450 round will have15 ends and a 600 round will have 20 ends, 3 arrows per end 10 possible points per arrow.

There are also variations with the X ring, which will be found with different archery organizations and locally, in this example I am addressing NFAA rules.

Lastly, there is the Vegas 3 spot.

Vegas 3 spot

The 3 spot like the NFAA blue face 5 spot is meant for more accurate shooters, who know they won’t shoot less than a 6. NFAA rules state that you can shoot the Vegas 3 spot target in any order but you must shoot just one arrow per spot.

One last important thing to know of all NFAA rounds and targets. If your arrow is touching the line of a higher scoring zone you are given the higher score. For example if you are shooting a blue face and your arrow is in the 4 ring but you are touching the 5 white ring, you are awarded the higher 5 point value.

This picture shows a typical shoot with a mixture of the NFAA indoor single face and the 5 spot depending on the competitor’s choice. This was taken at Central Maine Archery in Auburn, Maine.

The above covers the basics there are more rules and specifics about these rounds, If you’d like to know more click on the following link for the NFAA’s rulebook.

2012 – 2013 NFAA Constituiton and Bylaws

My first 25!

I shot my first 25 in practice today! Which means 5 arrows all in the white, each worth 5 points at 20 yards. This is with a recurve bow at 20 yards and no sights. Woo hoo!

My Vampiric practice schedule and shooting at Central Maine Archery

With shorter days this time of year and balancing time between work, family, activities, etc. I’ve found myself having to squeeze in time for archery practice wherever I can.

I don’t always have the time to drive to the range and while I can tolerate the temperatures, I’ll practice at night, usually in the mornings and evenings before and after work. This nocturnal schedule has had me feeling somewhat vampiric, but hey if that’s what it takes… I can’t imagine I’m the first archer to rig a spotlight on their target.

There is the added benefit that aside from practice, the stars are often out and it can be a moment of calm in the busy lives many of us seem to lead.

The practice has been paying off and I’ve watched my scores rise at the weekly “Shooter of the year” competition put on by the Maine Archery Association. This is an indoor competition at 20 yards using NFAA blue face targets, it is a 300 round. I scored 214 – 6 x’s the first time, 227 – 8 x’s on my second shoot and yesterday on my 3rd shoot I scored a 244 – 4 x’s under the barebow division.

Archers on the line at Central Maine Archery

Yesterday’s shoot was held at Central Maine Archery, I’d never been there and found that they have an excellent range and a clean, well thought out facility. The shoot was well organized and the little interaction I had with the staff was good. My quick perusal of their shop revealed a good stock of bows and components, and I can personally vouch for their hot dogs, which were good!


Although I was happy with my score, I did have a handful of right arrows, that scored me 1’s and 2’s. I think that they are the result of nervousness and not being fully aligned, settled in and locked into my back muscles before releasing.

Calling out scores

I did  much better on the 2nd half of the shoot than the first half, again I think I’m just calmer and more settled, all I know to do about it is to do more of it and get comfortable with the process. It’s interesting that all my 1’s and 2’s are in the first five ends.

Something to practice and figure out, later tonight of course…

First Deer

I took Tuesday off from work to go hunting, I went out in the morning on my property with no success, around the middle of the day I went into public land near my home and in the afternoon I went to a friend’s property where I have a blind setup on a field.

I had setup the blind almost a month prior, enough time for the deer to get used to a new object in their environment and brushed it in to help it blend and so it wouldn’t stick out.

I got into the blind around two o’clock, the interior of the blind is black so I wore black so as to camouflage with the inside. I had gotten reports from the property owner of deer crossing the field, I had seen deer standing next to the blind when I’d intended to go hunting but gotten there late. I also had trailcam pictures of these deer, so I was feeling confident about my chances at seeing them that day. I had drawn a doe tag in the anydeer lottery which was good as I’d only spotted does out there and on the trail camera.

I had talked to other hunters about this field situation and what they would recommend for setting up there. An experienced hunter advised to not hunt the area in the morning because it is adjacent to bedding areas and often the deer will bed on the field itself, sounded like good advice so I had reserved this spot for the afternoon.

I sat on an upside down five gallon bucket and felt tired. It had been an early morning and I found myself with the bow on my lap and my head on top of the bow, not quite sleeping but in a trancelike state. That restored my energy enough that I was able to sit up with my senses on high alert, listening for footfalls. I also took the time to take a few pictures from the inside of the blind using the panorama feature on my son’s camera. See below:

View from the blind.

At around 3:30 I heard them. Pretty loud on the field grass, more than one and coming fast. The adrenalin kicked in and my heart started pounding like it was going to come out of my chest.

They came into sight quickly from the right, paused a second dead ahead at 20 yards, I didn’t have my bow up and I didn’t dare raise it as I was sure they were looking at me. They moved further left and I had the obstruction of one of the diagonal supports on the blind. I took the opportunity to raise the bow, draw and aim, except that the arrow exits the bow lower than the line of sight and I was afraid I’d hit the  window crossbar, they moved further left 30 plus yards, then everything happened as if I had been switched into auto-instinctive mode, I had a correction to make because the single pin sight was set at 25 yards and now they were further, the mind never entered into it, I just automatically raised the bow to the correct height and loosed the arrow at the largest doe. A hit! The three deer took off across the field into a strip of woods with a small ravine and I lost sight of them.

When using archery gear an animal very rarely just falls over after a shot, what typically happens is they take off and you patiently wait then track them to recover your quarry, so I waited, then walked across the field where they had  disappeared. I saw plenty of sign that the doe had gone through there, I climbed up the shallow ravine and exited into another field. It was twilight then but as I looked left I thought I could see a shape, I walked closer and sure enough it was the doe. She had gone a total of about 100 yards.

I felt elated and thankful. I called my wife Laurel to tell her, then set up a towing harness to drag the deer off the field. I had never field dressed a deer before and although I’d watched the YouTube videos I thought some guidance would help. I called my neighbor, Aaron, who is a longtime hunter and we agreed that I’d go tag the deer then meet at my house after he’d had a chance to vote.

This proved to be a good decision as  nothing really compares to someone showing you the ins and outs first hand. Thank you Aaron!

Once we were done, Laurel took the tenderloins and fried them with onions and we all had a beer to celebrate.

The day was over, I was grateful and thrilled at my first deer.

20 yards

I shot my first indoor competitive event this past Sunday.

Days prior I was fletching new arrows for the indoor season. I was switching from fast light arrows to long heavy slow arrows. My goal with heavier arrows was to get my point of aim higher, particularly since I am comfortable with and somewhat attached to a low anchor. (A high anchor raises your point of aim, which is why it is often favored by traditional shooters not using aiming devices, as it places the arrow beneath your eye and for many that is a plus)

I got a chance to practice with my new setup on Friday before work and Saturday amidst family events, friends, hunting and the like,  enough to feel comfortable entering the “Shooter of the year” indoor session at Lakeside Archery on Sunday. This is a weekly event with a rotating location (range/pro shop). It runs through February and is sponsored by the Maine Archery Association under NFAA rules (National Field Archery Association).

Archers on the line. 4 minutes, 5 arrows, 20 yards.

I’ve done very little competition and so when we got called up to the line I found myself a bit jittery and had a bad release almost right off where I put an arrow outside of the target, I definitely felt discouraged for a moment, fortunately for me the first two ends were practice ends and I managed to settle down and get to the business of focusing on the target. Looking back on it I am amazed at how things change from one minute to the next, I was there early practicing shooting the same distance, same place, same bow, same arrows and the minute it became the “Official” competition it threw me a mental curve. On the plus side I had been strict about not doing any scoring during practice as I didn’t want  to go in  with any expectations, this worked as I did not feel the pressure of trying to reach or surpass a certain score.

I was also schooled by fellow archers in the art of scoring, with a caller and and double scoring for each person. I was one of the scorers, I did however see how it can so easily get confusing as a fellow scorer had some uncertainty with two cards at one point and had to make some corrections between archers, the potential for mistakes definitely exists.

Scoring targets at the Lakeside Archery range

In the end I shot 212 with 6 X’s in the recurve barebow division (no sights).  I am satisfied with that score. I will continue to hone, practice get used to the new arrows, work on my release, get used to competition and hopefully that will turn into improved scores although I dare not count on it as I would like to keep the expectations out of the picture as much as possible.

Lastly I wanted to mention that the folks involved in this weekly pursuit that I’ve met so far, all answered my questions, were friendly, and supportive. It seems an interesting group with families, moms, kids, teenagers, seniors, truly a varied bunch brought together by the love of this discipline, also thanks to Trey Tankersley for taking pictures to post to this blog.