Hoyt Carbon Element & Matrix

By Darin Cooper
Hoyt Carbon Element & MatrixOver the past 18 months, I’ve had the pleasure of abusing both of Hoyt’s flagship Carbon bows - the Carbon Matrix and the Carbon Element. Both are lightweight, rock-solid performers. From its unveiling, the Carbon Matrix was a showstopper – a bow unlike anything ever produced before. The radically different appearance invoked a polarity of reactions, but the overwhelming majority thought it was just flat-out cool! Walking into a pro shop with one is a bit like walking through the door with a supermodel - you quickly are the envy of nearly every guy around.

These bows are ridiculously lightweight, with nearly all the mass concentrated at the pocket ends where it’s most beneficial. This tends to give these bows a level of stability usually reserved for target bows with generous axle-to-axle lengths. The 32-inch Carbon Element ventures into the featherweight category, tipping the scales at 3.6 lbs., yet feels remarkably stable.

The next thing that stands out in these bows is their toughness. There’s a YouTube video of Hoyt’s engineers running them over with a pickup - a pretty convincing way to demonstrate the incredible strength of the new carbon riser. Durability doesn’t stop with the riser; Hoyt cams are built with thicker walls that will easily survive a clash with high country granite. The ARC 5-layer, laminated split-limbs are built with exceptional durability and stress management technology.

The Fuel Cam & ½ has a smooth yet robust draw cycle that rolls smoothly into a good valley with a nice hard wall. The adjustable draw stop peg has been improved for 2011 to reduce sound as the cable contacts it at full draw. The cams can be easily adjusted without a bow press by swapping the module out and moving the draw stop peg. Modules are offered every half-inch of draw from 24.5-30 on the Element, using three different cams. The Matrix draw range is 25.5-31 inches. A longer-limbed version will stretch the brace height an inch and extend the draw out to 32.5 inches.

Hoyt’s tactile pro-fit grip has great feel and a natural, ergonomic fit that promotes consistent hand placement. I still prefer to shoot bows with the grip removed since this gives me a narrow, target-grip feel and the risers are nicely radiused to enable me to do so comfortably. I use grip tape for a little added tackiness and to protect the bow’s finish in this area, even though the carbon riser doesn’t draw heat away from your hand in cold conditions like a metal riser.

The custom Fuse strings glide nicely through their innovative in-line roller cable guard. The strings are built on computer-controlled string jigs that pre-stress the strings for reduced creep. I haven’t had any issues with peep rotation and the servings have held up well with no separation after thousands of shots. I typically prefer to use Winner’s Choice custom strings, but the factory Fuse strings are very dependable as well.

Hoyt’s vibration dampening package is extensive. The Alpha Shox do a nice job of taming limb vibration and noise while the Stealth Shot takes care of unwanted string oscillation and provides a cleaner disengagement of the arrow. The Carbon Element has a rubber shelf pad to dampen potential noise from loading the arrow, saving the trouble of adding moleskin or fleece. Functional string and cable dampers are also included to round out the hush package. Both bows have excellent balance and carry well, with no strange top-heavy feeling to fatigue you. The risers are shaped to offset some of the sight window, quiver and rest mass – and the element stabilizer bushing is offset to counterbalance the bow even further. This is obvious when the sight bubble settles nicely.

At the range, they did not disappoint. I was able to nail down a solid 300 Vegas round at league with Easton Axis FMJ’s on only my third outing with the 70-lb. Matrix. The new Element is equally capable – I think it actually aims a little better than my Matrix and seems really stable and forgiving for a shorter bow. It’s consistently producing excellent groups at long range for me.

Both the Matrix and Element are solid performers. I used three different arrow weights to cover the common range of hunting arrows on my 70-lb. Element with three sets of modules to produce the velocity chart in Figure 1. The Matrix trails the Element by an average of about three fps, but can outperform it at some draw lengths. Neither is a true speed bow, but they are purpose-built hunting bows – designed to provide the perfect blend of speed, smooth draw character, and accuracy. Both bows exhibit very little noise and recoil, but the slight advantage goes to the Element thanks to its shorter riser and string length. Tuning has been a breeze with a variety of rests including conventional prong designs and Trophy Taker’s Extreme FC and Smack-down rests.

Simply put, Hoyt has set the bar high in the riser department with these bows. At around $1200 retail, these beauties might raise an eyebrow from your significant other, but at least you’ll have a supermodel in hand until she forgives you!