Compounds built for speed aren’t always the nicest bows to shoot because they kick, they’re unforgiving, and they’re tough to draw. With its
Compounds built for speed aren’t always the nicest bows to shoot because they kick, they’re unforgiving, and they’re tough to draw. With its brand new Omen— introduced today—PSE is hoping to erase that negative image by making a fast bow that doesn’t shoot like a speed bow.
The PSE Omen has vertical limbs, giant hatchet cams, and a short brace height, which are hallmarks of bows built to maximize arrow speed. Yet the Omen has no hand shock, it drives tacks, the draw cycle is manageable, and the string doesn’t make red welts on your wrist. It also spit out my real-world hunting arrow at 310 feet per second.
PSE OMEN SPECS and Features
The PSE Omen is big for a speed bow, measuring 33 inches axle to axle. Speed bows often are shorter, measuring 27-30 inches. But generally, bigger bows hold and aim better.
The power generator of the Omen is the big E2 cam. These egg-shaped cams add another 3 inches to the bow’s length, with the oblong ends sticking well above the top limb and well below the bottom one. That opens the string angle more, which makes the bow feel even bigger at full draw. Again, that’s great for aiming.
The Omen also comes with an S2 cam option. That cam is not quite as radical as the E2, it allows the draw length range to start lower than the E2 does, and the speed rating is 345 fps.
The E2 cams carry over features from PSE’s popular Evolve cam, with wrap-around cable take-ups on either side of the cam. Buss cable ends attach to each side of the cam, so the shooter can make micro adjustments to the cam lean by putting twists into one cable yoke and taking twists out of the other. This is an easy way to clean up left-right paper tears when tuning.
For the Omen, PSE widened the cable take-up tracks and added beefier bearings to spread out the load on the axles and to make the cam system sturdier. Increased speed comes from increased energy, and you have to control that energy, so it doesn’t overwhelm the bow. I saw the benefits of the beefier bearings when testing the PSE Carbon Levitate at the 2022 Bow Test.
The cams on my test bow featured let-off adjustments from 80-90 percent. You can also choose to have the let-off adjust from 65-75 percent if you prefer more holding weight at full draw.
The limbs stand up a bit more vertical at the pockets than you’ll see on many bows today. This helps generate speed. And to make sure those limbs don’t move, PSE added its Limb Vise Pocket. This system features pivots that lock against the handle, so the pocket is forced to stay centered over the riser.
Moving down the bow, we come to the gas pedal for this speed bow—the brace height. Brace height is the distance from the throat of the grip to the bowstring. The shorter that distance, the faster the bow, because the string is pushing the arrow for a longer period during the release. The PSE Omen’s brace height is a low 5.5 inches.
PSE rates the Omen with the E2 cam at a speed of 356 feet per second. Now that’s using some industry standards for draw poundage, let-off, draw length, and arrow weight. I did my own speed test with a realistic hunting arrow at my specifications. I’ll tell you about that in just a minute.
At the handle, the PSE Omen comes from the factory with a rubberized, bolt-on grip that feels warm in the hand. Or, you can remove that grip and shoot off the finished riser, which has a narrow profile for easy indexing to get your hand in exactly the right spot shot after shot.
Two bushings on the front of the riser allow you to customize where you mount a stabilizer. One is in the traditional location, just below the grip. The lower bushing, which sits just above the limb pocket, juts out about 3 inches farther than the other one, which allows the shooter to cut down on stabilizer length to get the same stabilizing benefits.
A stabilizer does very little stabilizing until the rod extends beyond the limb pockets. So let’s say you put a 12-inch stabilizer in the standard bushing under the grip. You could get the same stabilizing effect with a 9-inch bar mounted to the lower bushing, which would reduce the overall weight of your setup. That’s a key feature for bowhunters who don’t want to lug a heavy bow into the backcountry.
Arrow Rest Mounts
The PSE Omen is one of only a handful of compound bows on the market right now capable of receiving every compound bow rest on the market. There are three distinct types.
First up, you’ve got the standard tried-and-true rests that are bolted on to a Berger hole in the center of the riser, just above the shelf. The rest sits behind the riser, with an arm reaching around to the Berger hole. The Omen actually has two Berger holes, which means you can secure your rest via two bolts, assuming there’s enough room in the arm to accommodate two bolts.
Two bolts are always better than one when it comes to keeping gear attached to your bow from moving. You don’t want that rest pivoting up or down should you bang the bow on a tree or rock. With two bolts fastening the rest to the Berger holes, the rest cannot pivot.
The next rest-attachment option is the dovetail mount. The PSE Omen has a dovetail machined into the back of the riser to receive any rest bearing the QAD Integrate technology. Currently, only QAD makes these rests, but other manufacturers are welcome to do so in the future if they want to pay QAD for that privilege.
Dovetail rests are the latest craze because they’re solid, and they’re slim. The rest claws gripping the dovetail do not slip, and by mounting a rest to the back of the bow, you eliminate the arm and bolts that reach around to the Berger hole. That cuts down on weight, and it slims the bow’s side profile, making it more streamlined.
Lastly, the PSE Omen has two holes drilled into the center of the dovetail. These holes allow the bow to receive Hamskea’s special C.O.R. mount for its new Epsilon rest. In essence, it’s a Hamskea rest that mounts similarly to the QAD Integrate rests by attaching to the rear dovetail, eliminating the arm and Berger bolts. But Hamskea didn’t want to simply mount its rest to the QAD-patented dovetail, so they have their own dovetail that screws into the riser dovetail via the two threaded holes.
Testing the PSE OMEN
For my review of the PSE Omen, I borrowed a 70-pound bow from Lancaster Archery Supply. I set the draw length to 29.5 inches, and the let-off to 90 percent.
With that rig, I launched an Easton Axis arrow weighing 427 grains at 310 fps through the pro shop’s chronograph. To calculate its speed rating of 356 fps, PSE would have used a much lighter arrow, and set the bow to the lowest let-off possible and the draw length to 30 inches.The 310 fps I got was impressive for a true hunting-weight arrow with the bow set at 90-percent let-off.
Most bowhunters probably are going to opt for 90-percent let-off, since that makes it easy to hold the bow at full draw for extended periods, like when you’re waiting for that buck to offer the perfect angle. But the higher the let-off, the slower you can expect your arrows to fly.
The Omen’s draw cycle is more aggressive than other flagship hunting bows. It has to be to register its impressive speeds. The cycle starts with an initial burst of energy needed to start the string back, then flattens out, and then climbs another hill just before the cams roll over. After three or four practice draws, I knew what to expect and the cycle didn’t bother me. But I definitely needed some practice so my body knew how to adjust to the Omen’s cycle. At 90-percent let-off, I could have held the string back all day.
And here’s where the Omen surprised me. I’ve shot many, many speed bows over the years. Normally, I don’t like the heavy hand shock and I can’t hold a group because these bows are so touchy.
The Omen held steady at full draw. I’m talking about allowing me to lock my sight pin on my aiming spot. I was shooting at a 40 cm Vegas target face at 20 yards and my pin easily stayed in the yellow center.
I had a 12-inch stabilizer mounted in the traditional bushing under the grip, which helped me hold steady on target. After a couple practice ends to familiarize myself with the bow’s feel, I was easily able to pack three-shot groups in the ten ring. Outside, the bow held equally well at 30 and 40 yards. Before long, I felt confident that my arrows would hit wherever my pin was sitting when I released the string.
Even if I made less than perfect shots, my arrows hit behind the pin. As I said, in the past I’ve found bows with brace heights under 6 inches to be unforgiving—especially on imperfect shots.
The Omen’s hand shock is typical of other flagship hunting bows, in that there is very little of it. I shoot with a relaxed grip, which allows jumpy bows to fly out of my hand. The Omen stayed right in the pocket after each shot.
What the Omen Does Worst
The draw cycle will turn off some people. If you draw back a PSE EVO EVL with the Evolve cam, and then the Omen, there’s a considerable difference.
That extra effort late in the draw required to pull the Omen’s cams into the valley is not subtle. There are bowhunters who will rule out bows based on their first draw. You have to give the Omen a couple of draws for your body to understand how to get the string all the way back. Once you do that, the draw really isn’t as hard as it first seems. But there are bow buyers who will hang the Omen back on the Pro Shop wall before then.
What the Omen Does Best
The Omen shoots arrows fast and accurately. When you don’t expect a bow to be this fast and this accurate, it’s surprising. The more I shot this bow, the more confident I became with it. It held wonderfully and didn’t kick like a mule.
The Omen is built to cater to a huge range of bowhunters. If your draw length is anywhere from 24.5 to 31 inches, there’s an Omen for you. Don’t like the factory grip? Take it off. If you like a lot of let-off or a lot of holding weight, there’s an Omen for you. No matter what type of rest you prefer, the Omen’s got you covered.
In the past, there were bowhunters who swore by their speed bows. They loved showing you how tight their pins were stacked in the sight’s scope housing, and bragged about being able to use their top pin—usually set for 20 yards—out to 35 or 40. But secretly, we all know they hated shooting those bows, because of the hand shock, rough draw cycle, and lack of forgiveness. But with speed bows like the Omen, they won’t have to.
If you’re in the market for a new hunting compound, give the Omen a fair shot. That is, don’t dismiss it after one draw. Give your body a chance to figure out the draw cycle, and you might find yourself hunting with the fastest, most accurate bow you’ve ever shot.