The original Apprentice compact bow was a popular entry level youth and women's bow for several years. For 2012, Bear has decided to update the bow and has dubbed it the Apprentice 2. For this review we'll be taking a look at the Apprentice 2 and why it offers an even better value than the original Apprentice.
By the numbers the Apprentice 2 is a compact bow with an axle-to-axle (ATA) of 27.6" inches and a brace height of 6.1", both of which are just a touch longer than the original Apprentice. However the bow still weighs in at a very light 2.9 pounds, has a peak speed of 265 fps, and is offered in left or right hand versions.
The biggest change for the Apprentice 2 is it is now adjustable from 20 pounds all the way up to 60 pounds of draw weight with a 70% let-off. The original Apprentice was adjustable from 20 pounds to 50 pounds. So the new Apprentice can be used longer with a growing hunter assuming the draw length is still short enough to fit within the Apprentices draw length range of 15" to 27" which is unchanged from the original model.
The front and back side of the Bear Apprentice 2 cam system.
Adjustments are made in 1" increments without a bow press.
It's important to note that the peak speeds and draw weight can only be obtained at the high side of the draw length range. As draw length is shortened in one inch increments, the peak poundage also falls off as well as speed. The convenience of being able to have a wide range of adjustability (without a bow press) usually means that the peak ability of the cams are not maximized at the shorter draw lengths. However for a youth hunter, peak performance is usually not a top priority.
A standard cable slide is used on the Apprentice 2 and a string loop is already installed.
The Apprentice 2 only ships as a RTH (Ready To Hunt) package which is similar to some of the other Bear bows we have reviewed in the past. The Apprentice 2 comes with a Trophy Ridge Sharp Shooter 3 site with no external light and no bubble level, a four arrow quiver, a Quick Shot Whisker Biscuit, a string loop, and tubeless peep sight. Unlike other Bear RTH packages the Apprentice 2 also does not include a stabilizer or wrist strap.
The Sharp Shooter 3 pin sight is a basic three pin sight with .29" diameter pins.
The Apprentice 2 ships with a Quick Shot Whisker Biscuit.
The tubeless peep is probably not the best choice out the box for a beginning hunter, because of the tendency of tubeless peeps to rotate out of alignment with sight picture from time to time. Unfortunately a new hunter may not notice their peep picture is shrinking and thus a tubed peep might be a better initial choice. Since the peep needs to be served in before firing the bow, it might be a good idea to have your bow shop serve in a tubed peep before heading out to practice and won't add much to the overall cost of the bow.
The Apprentice 2 comes with a tubeless peep.
Overall the Apprentice 2 draws and handles much like a scaled down version of the Charge (or the 2012 Encounter). In fact one of the nice features of the Apprentice 2 is that once a young hunter has grown out of the bow they could "graduate" to a full size Bear bow and the feel is going to be very similar. The draw cycle is clean and the bow shoots quiet for a sub-$300 bow package.
The limbs and limb pocket system look much like a scaled down Bear Charge or Encounter.
The complete Apprentice 2 RTH package comes in at a street price of around $279 which is one of the best values on the market given the accessories and range of adjustment available in the bow. The original Apprentice was a solid performer for getting new bow hunters started and the Apprentice 2 promises to continue that legacy while allowing a greater draw weight adjustment.
For more information about the Apprentice 2 bow please visit Bear Archery .