My youngest son continues to drive me into exploring “new” things. His aptitude and passion for hunting have led us to explore how we can extend our deer season beyond rifle time constraints. Surprisingly, he chose archery season over muzzle loading. I would have bet he would have preferred to stay with “boomsticks”. However, he did his homework and expressed interest in using a crossbow versus bow. Virginia and West Virginia had recently changed regulations to allow for crossbow use in the archery season. Multiple states are following this trend which has revitalized the crossbow industry bringing forth technology and performance enhancements at a rapid clip. Leading this wave is TenPoint Crossbows located in Ohio.
Needless to say, crossbows have come a long way since my last experience over 25 years ago. Bolt speed, which equates to terminal effect and engagement range, has expanded beyond what I considered possible. In short, crossbows have borrowed archery advancements in cams/cables and turned them sideways. The TenPoint Shadow NXT is a perfect vehicle for me to share my findings and experience entering the crossbow realm.
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The Shadow NXT is a 7-pound crossbow that measures 32″ in length. The aesthetic that jumps out at you is the minimal width: only 6.5″ wide axle-to-axle when cocked. This sleekness translates into an ease of transport when afield, especially in thick cover. The ability to get into a firing position in a stand or blind is aided with the slimmer profile as well. TenPoint’s patented Narrow Crossbow Technology (NXT) features four Vector Quad cables coming from the large XR6 cams and sent through the frame mounted attachments that direct them to the metal limbs and on toward the yokes on the riser ends. The Shadow NXT maintains a 12.2″ power stroke important for generating bolt/arrow speed. The newly designed, maximum rotation cam system powers the assembly’s DUAL FLEX limbs producing speeds up to 380 feet per second depending on the combination of bolt and tip.
All About Accuracy
Speed without accuracy is pointless. TenPoint realizes this and is not a slave to speed over other important considerations. TenPoint Chairman, CEO, and President, Richard L. (Rick) Bednar fully realizes this thanks to his archery background. As he grew up immersed in the family’s business, his father, Bill, also coached him as an elite tournament archer. Competing at the highest collegiate, national, and international levels, he traveled the world as a member of the USA Pan Am, World Target and World Field Archery teams; qualified for the 1976 Olympic Team; and won the NCAA Championship three-times at The University of Akron. All design elements associated with the Shadow NXT have accuracy taken into account. The Shadow NXT’s cable system balances torsion and tension to essentially eliminate cam lean, generating pinpoint accuracy. At the Shadow NXT’s foundation is a CNC machined aluminum riser featuring the company’s 70/75-T6 aircraft grade aluminum TRI-LOCK pocket system that ensures perfect alignment between the pocket and limbs for increased accuracy. Furthermore, utilizing the company’s CX5 connection system, the riser attaches to the barrel in 5 different locations to prevent front-end movement facilitating down-range accuracy.
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TenPoint provides a package of products that allow a user to immediately get started once unpacked, including bolts, optic, ACUdraw 50 SLED cocking device, quiver, and Noise Dampening System. I treated initial work up with the Shadow NXT as I would a firearm. Sighting in of the TenPoint 3x Pro-View 2 Scope that is mounted on a machined aluminum 7/8″ fixed dovetail mount was the first priority. Once a suitable target was found in the form of the Chunk target from Delta McKenzie, the first one purchased served to only slow down the EVO-X CenterPunch bolts (445 grains when combined with 100-grain tips) bolts with 350 fps/121 FP KE, passing clean through. TenPoint test fires and provides a basic zero before the Shadow NXT leaves the factory. Final zero confirmation was accomplished within 5 bolts fired. 30 yards served, as zero range so that the Pro-View 2 scopes reticle hash marks would calibrate. The optic included in the TenPoint Shadow NXT packs has hash marks aiming points for 20 yards out to 60 yards. Accuracy at 30 yards was under an inch spread for three bolts fired.
A special treat was gaining access to a 100,000 square foot warehouse where indoor firing was conducted out to 90 yards. While firing at game would not be done this far away, it was an interesting exercise nonetheless. With no need to account for wind the Shadow NXT could be evaluated to its full potential for repeatable accuracy. The Pro-View 2 scope’s hold over hash marks were also verified in this pristine test environment. Chronographing was conducted at this time. The 350 fps figure was confirmed with EVO-X bolts and 100-grain tips I was using. Two different hunting broadheads types were tested — Killzone rear deploying and TruGLo titanium fixed 4-blade. It is important to verify that hunting tips fly with the same zero as practice field points. Fortunately, each maintained the same zero point.
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Getting It Loaded
The ACUdraw 50 SLED cocking device Fully integrated into the stock, the ACUdraw 50 SLED has taken the leveraged, 50% reduction rope-cocking concept to an easy-to-use level. Its cord/ropes retract neatly inside the unit’s housing after cocking. Lightweight, contoured covers provide improved security of the unit and its cord/ropes when not in use. No storing a cocking rope, untangling it, or putting it away after each use integrated into the Shadow NXT’s stock. The assistance it provides enabling smooth and easy cocking of the crossbow cannot be overstated. This facilitates practice, which translates into confidence when hunting. The ACUdraw 50 SLED cord/ropes retract neatly inside the unit’s housing after cocking. Lightweight, contoured covers provide improved security of the unit and its cord/ropes when not in use. No storing a cocking rope, untangling it, or putting it away after each use. No more need to hang a rope around your neck or to stash it in your fanny pack. When not in use, small magnets hold the handles securely and silently in place.
The Shadow NXT embeds TenPoint’s new “barrel” (bolt rail) and trigger assembly in the company’s lightweight bullpup stock molded from glass-fiber-infused stock. The stock is built with comb-height and length-of-pull for use with TenPoint magnified optic. TenPoint has placed cutouts in the butt of the stock to reduce weight and provide proper balance.
An important aspect with crossbows is preventing a dry fire i.e. sending the string forward without a bolt in front. This often damages the crossbow and could injure the shooter. All TenPoint crossbows feature a Dry Fire Inhibitor system. The safety on the Shadow NXT is automatically engaged once the string is pulled fully to the rear. Once cocked the Shadow NXT needs to be fired to unload. Thus, while hunting it is important to remember to bring along a target and older used bolt so that when done for the day the bow can be released.
The Shadow NXT is equipped with dual-purpose rubber safety wings to reduce noise and vibration as well as helping to keep the shooter’s fore-grip hand safely below the flight deck. Along these same lines a reversible, integrated string stop system is also included to reduce noise and vibration. This has the practical advantage of preventing game animals “jumping string” when the crossbow is fired. I suggest a quick look at slow motion video of any bow hunt at the time an arrow/bolt is sent downrange at a deer to fully comprehend what I am describing. The high velocity of the bolts is another factor in minimizing this from happening.
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My son and I are excited to explore early season hunting opportunities that can only be found during archery season here in Virginia and West Virginia. Expect a follow-up story to recap our experience. However, wanted to highlight the opportunity and potential of the new breed of crossbows as represented by the TenPoint Shadow NXT so that others contemplating would benefit from the provided information. While accurate 100-yard shots are possible, we are planning to limit our range to 50 yards and under — hopefully much closer. This is the thrill of any bow hunting. With the TenPoint Shadow NXT, we know we have one of the best hunting crossbows available.
SPECIFICATIONS TENPOINT SHADOW NXT
- Length 32.2″ (without stirrup)
- Width – Axle-to-Axle (uncocked/cocked): 11.3″ / 6″
- Power Stroke: 12.2″
- Weight in lbs. (w/o accessories): 7 lbs.
- Price: MSRP $1,149
For more information, visit: www.tenpointcrossbows.com