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We Go Deep on Bowhunting Tech With Mathews Athlete Trail Kreitzer

GearJunkie Hunt & Fish Editor Rachelle Schrute was excited to ask Kreitzer some long-burning questions in a recent interview where they talk about bowcraft, tech, and how the sport continues to evolve.    
Trail Kreitzer takes a break from the hunt; (photo/Mathews Archery)Trail Kreitzer takes a break from the hunt; (photo/Mathews Archery)
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Trail Kreitzer’s been bow hunting since he was a little kid — and he has the photographic evidence to prove it. From an early age, he would roam the hills and river bottoms surrounding his childhood home attempting to shoot jackrabbits and cottontails. 

Years later, as an adult, Kreitzer’s passion for archery and bowhunting reignited (about 24 years ago), and he’s been bowhunting big game ever since. The first big game animal he drew back on was a spike bull elk. He missed at 23 yards, but the entire interaction — responding to calls and the adrenaline spike he felt — got him hooked on archery elk hunting for good.

“I love bowhunting several species, but I won’t miss a September pursuing bugling bull elk,” the Mathews Archery ambassador said while reflecting on those early draws.

With a comprehensive depth of knowledge and decades of bow hunting experience, Kreitzer is a veritable well of information about the state of the sport, as well as emerging technologies and designs that are pushing the craft forward. 

That said, GearJunkie Hunt & Fish Editor Rachelle Schrute was excited to pick Kreitzer’s brain and ask some long-burning questions in a recent interview where they talk about bowcraft, tech, and how the sport continues to evolve.    

Trail Kreitzer packs out recently harvested game; (photo/Mathews Archery)

Rachelle Schrute Talks Bow Hunting With Trail Kreitzer

Rachelle Schrute: What changes have you seen in bow technology since you first began?

Trail Kreitzer: The first year I really bowhunted, I headed into the field with my dad’s hand-me-down late ’80s compound. I was shooting Easton aluminum arrows paired with fixed-blade muzzy broadheads. I had a rectangular three-pin sight. All three pins were brass with a small bead at the end, which served as the aiming point.

The rest was a basic two-prong style with moleskin wrapped around it to quiet the sounds of aluminum arrows sliding across metal prongs. It had a peep sight, a rubber hose tied into the cable to ensure it came back straight enough to see through. Stabilizers had little to do with actually stabilizing the bow and mostly served as a means to soak up the sound and vibration. 

In 2001, I got a Mathews Q2, which was in the midst of the Solo Cam technology timeframe. I bought my first dozen arrows made from carbon fiber and I hunted with expandable broadheads that year. My sight had fiber optic pins and I’d graduated to a whisker biscuit rest. 

Fast forward to 2024; the Mathews Lift 33 is 35 FPS faster than the Q2 I had in 2001. It’s incredibly quiet and there is far less recoil and feedback in the hand. The long riser and wider limb base offer a super-stable platform. I have the ability to tune the Lift to my style of shooting, where the Q2 was very static in its ability to adjust and tune. The Lift integrates the rest, sight, and stabilizers seamlessly for a much better aiming and accurate bow. 

I now have the ability to easily switch draw mods to adjust draw length, let-off, and draw weight. Rests, sights, arrows, broadheads, releases — really every accessory has improved. Drop-away rests are the norm, almost every Western big game bowhunter I know uses a slider sight for precise aiming and front and back bar stabilizer setups for a much better hold. 

It’s very common to see bowhunters in the field with the exact same release hooked on their d-loop that you see in the biggest competitive archery shoots in the world. In essence, the modern bowhunter setup is faster, quieter, almost completely free of handshock, holds and aims much better, and is quite a bit more accurate at all distances — even at distances we would not have even considered 20 years ago. 

(Photo/Mathews Archery)

RS: The Lift seems to be one of the first major overhauls in quite a while from a bow company that is known to do it right consistently. What’s your favorite new innovation that the Lift features?

TK: It’s hard to pick one because it’s become a system that’s integrated various accessories and features into a really incredible piece of equipment as a whole. The Lift is noticeably lighter — it’s almost a half-pound lighter than the Phase 4 33. 

I like that because it gives me the ability to add weight at the end of my stabilizers which directly improves the way it aims, or if I am backpack hunting, I could drop weight and still feel completely confident in it being accurate. 

The new cams also provide a more solid backwall, and I prefer the draw cycle over previous models. I also believe the longer riser and wider limb pocket/base provides an improved stable aiming platform. 

(Photo/Mathews Archery)
(Photo/Mathews Archery)

How Is the Lift a Step Up From Prior Bows?

RS: So far, what has been your favorite hunt with the Lift?

TK: This past fall, I got my Lift 33 10 days before I was planning to leave for a Colorado OTC elk hunt, and after setting it up and sighting it in, I felt totally confident in taking it. I killed a great six-point bull on the fifth day, 9 miles deep in the backcountry, and spent the next 3 days packing it out. It was a ton of work, but definitely a hunt I will never forget — I feel an immense amount of gratification for having been successful there. 

RS: Honestly, I’m a bit skeptical of the set-it-and-forget-it string, so hearing people claim they send hundreds of arrows out of the Lift without having to engage in any break-in string tweak sounds wild to me. Do you think the Match Bowstrings actually live up to the hype?

TK: Historically, within a few hundred shots, I would always see serving separation where the draw stop rolls around and contacts the cable. I’ve also had Mathews strings where the peep was great and others that had issues no matter how I tried to fix it. 

I have had no serving separation on the Match Strings, which I believe is due to them being served under higher tension. I also haven’t had issues with the peep sight rotating through the draw cycle, which may be my biggest pet peeve in the world. Overall, it’s been a much more stable and consistent set of strings and a very real upgrade to previous versions. 

(Photo/Mathews Archery)
(Photo/Mathews Archery)

RS: I am most excited to see a compound bow that weighs under 4 pounds. However, lighter isn’t always better when it comes to performance. Do you notice any drawbacks when shooting a bow that’s so lightweight in hand?

TK: In my opinion, the weight of the bare bow lends itself to you then being able to add weight where it can improve accuracy, like at the end of your stabilizers. So, the drop in weight is nice in that it’s lighter to pack if you set it up similarly to previous bows, but it also allows me to add weight in a potentially more meaningful way. 

To answer the question though, yes, I do feel slightly more feedback because it’s a lighter package, but it’s miniscule in comparison. The Lift is so much quieter and dead in the hand than bows being sold just a few years ago. If we define performance in terms of FPS, accuracy, noise, and vibration, I would suggest that you are gaining speed, accuracy, a better draw and backwall — and you are close to being on par in terms of noise and vibration. Additionally, it’s almost a half pound lighter, which for a lot of people is a major benefit.

RS: What’s your honest opinion on Shot Sense? Outside of target shooters, do you think it’s something your average bowhunter will use on a regular basis? Honestly, as a data nerd, I’m just looking for someone to convince me that I need this.

TK: It’s a good question, and I think it largely depends on your personal objectives. For individuals that are actively looking to improve, Shot Sense provides real data that you can utilize to fine-tune your setup and your form. In the past, trial and error and feel were really the only options to explore the way your grip impacts torque or how your stabilizer setup may impact your aim. You always think your bubble is relatively level and that it’s level at the shot based on the assumption you check it prior to executing a shot, but Shot Sense provides this data. 

Additionally, shot timing is important, perhaps even more so for target archers that are facing high pressure situations on a shooting line, and Shot Sense provides data there to help you get more consistent. I think the fact that you can simply track the number of shots you take and share that with other folks that also have the Shot Sense product and app is a really great feature. 

Overall, it provides data that you can use to fine tune your setup and it helps you identify areas of your shot and shot process that you can work on to become a better archer and bowhunter. I think it depends on how dedicated you are to the craft — but it’s definitely one of, if not the single most interesting, new, and out-of-the-box tool I have seen in a really long time. 

(Photo/Mathews Archery)

Why Upgrade to the Lift?

RS: For the Mathews shooters that just picked up the Phase 4 last year, or are like me and still holding onto older models like the TX-5, what are the biggest reasons to upgrade to the new Lift?

TK: Pretty simply put, it’s lighter, which is always a benefit on backcountry hunts, or as I said earlier, it allows you to add weight where you want it. It’s a bit faster without any real negative impact like added noise or serious feedback. It holds incredibly well for a hunting bow, and personally I prefer the draw cycle and the firmer backwall over the previous models. 

For me, every once in a while, you get a bow that you really enjoy and feels easy to shoot because it offers everything you want in terms of aim, forgiveness speed, sound (or lack of it), and the Lift is exactly that.

RS: Anything else we should know about the Lift and your experiences with it?

TK: Visit your local Mathews Pro Shop and shoot a Lift, I’m confident you’ll be impressed with how accurate, quiet, and smooth it is. 

This post was sponsored by Mathews Archery

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