Hoyt Archery gives bowhunters a deadly, quiet, remarkably accurate, and ultra-durable 2023 compound bow. Dubbed the VTM 31, this racy rig should be on every bowhunters wish list.
by Jace Bauserman
I test a pile of compound bows yearly — from flagship to budget — and I love it. Recently, I got asked the same pair of questions that ding my inbox each year: Are the new-for-2023 flagships that good? Have bow manufacturers hit their peak, and am I wasting money buying a new compound bow?
My answer to both questions regarding Hoyt’s 2023 VTM 31 is: No!
Hoyt is a kingpin bow builder, and each year this savvy manufacturer finds a way to improve its new-for-the-year compound line and give bowhunters excellent shooters that fill freezers and promise lots of grip-and-grin photos.
This year is no different.
The new Bourbon color on Hoyt’s VTM 31 is flat sexy, and I was thrilled to see a familiar riser design as I pulled the bow from its packaging. I was deadly with Hoyt’s 2022 Ventum Pro 30, and the stability and tranquil nature of the bow’s riser were a big reason. The Ventum Pro riser is back for 2023 on the VTM 31. Other immediate riser noticings were Hoyt’s In-Line System — a Picatinny-rail with dovetail slits on the front face of the riser and a pair of dovetail slots on the back face of the riser. We will get into the purpose of these two attachment systems soon. The riser also sports a pair of stabilizer mounting holes, and I use one for Hoyt’s Short Stop stab and the other for the bow builders Go Stix.
Another sweet riser feature I’ve been waiting a long time for is the addition of the Drop Cord Slot. I’m a cable-driven rest guy, and the sweeping piece of aluminum that swings out and behind the grip makes it difficult to use a cable-driven rest. There was always too much cord, which meant hanging up on brush and the like. That worry is gone. By adding a simple slit in the riser, the user can pass the rest’s cord straight through the riser to the bow’s down cable.
The VTM 31 is sleek and trim and measures 30-5/8 inches between the axles; the rig is a touch longer than the Ventum Pro 30, which I like. Hoyt’s proven HBX Pro Cams sits between the limbs, and these cams are light, easy to tune, and produce excellent arrow speed.
Other immediate noticings were the Holeshot String Silencers, which Hoyt engineered to soak up more noise and vibration, and the VitalPoint Grip. Many Hoyt shooters remove their grip, go directly to the riser, or wrap the grip with tennis racquet tape, and I was one of them until I shot the VitalPoint. Made from Versaflex, this thin, flat-backed, and perfectly angled grip promises great dexterity and promotes unprecedented control.
The bow pressed like a dream in my Last Chance Archery EZ Press Deluxe — no limb bolt chatter — a sure sign of a tremendous limb-to-pocket-to-riser marriage. The HBX Cams arrived set at 29 inches, which is perfect for me. All I had to do was use an H15 Hex driver to loosen a single screw in the top and bottom cam module and adjust the let-off from 85 percent to 80 percent. Had a draw-length adjustment been necessary, the process is elementary, and you don’t need a bow press. The VTM 30 is adjustable in half-inch increments between 25 and 30 inches, and a draw-length setting chart can be found on the inside of the upper left split limb.
You will want to take advantage of Hoyt’s In-Line System and choose In-Line accessories to maximize this compound’s full potential. I chose QAD’s UltraRest Integrate MX and Spot-Hogg’s Fast Eddie PM. The Integrate MX mounts to the back of the bow’s riser via the slots mentioned above and clamps down tight. The sight mounts to the risers Picatinny-rail system on the riser’s front. With In-Line accessories, there are no mounting blocks or screws, which cuts down on accessory and bow weight. Plus, these accessories sit in direct line with the riser, making the entire setup more streamlined. The biggest asset of using In-Line accessories on this compound, though, is how quiet they make the bow. Hoyt engineers went to great lengths to make the VTM 31 a whisper-quiet assassin, and Hoyt notes that the bow is 11 percent quieter when In-Line accessories are used. I couldn’t agree more.
I never jump from the press to the paper tuner; you shouldn’t, either. As good as today’s strings are, you can still bank on some stretch and want to get that stretch out before you start fine-tuning. You also want to take the time to get familiar with a new bow. The slightest change in grip or anchor point will affect shot-to-shot consistency, and you’ll only get a perfect paper tune if you’re feeling 100 percent comfortable with your bow.
I get every bow I test close out of the press — shoot it at 40 yards to ensure there is no noticeable nock travel and make sure arrows are going in the target straight. I shoot no less than 150 arrows before going to the paper tuner.
The VTM 31 draws like a dream, and the transition to let-off is ultra-smooth. The bow’s valley is just right; it promotes a great feel without being spongy. The pair of padded stops on the top and bottom cam modules contact the cable, giving shooters a chance to push and pull and achieve a surprise release.
At a tick under 31 inches axle-to-axle, the bow sits in hand perfectly and balances remarkably well. Recent Hoyt builds are so balanced that I’ve gone strictly to the Short Stop Stabilizer to cut down on bow weight. The Short Stop measures a mere 2.25 inches long, and with this stabilizer attached to the VTM 31, I was driving tacks at 100 yards.
Speed is solid. Set at 72.42 pounds of draw weight (tested with Luyoer Digital Bow Scale) and a draw length of 29 inches, my Easton Axis 4MM Long Range (428 grains) arrows flew the chronograph at 295 fps, which resulted in a kinetic energy ranging of 82.69 foot-pounds. Yikes.
And I know I’ve mentioned it, but this bow is just so deadly quiet. At the shot, there is zero hand shock or vibration, the bow sits dead in hand, and there is no noise. A November field test confirmed this when I harvested a rattled-in, one-edge whitetail from 300 yards. The combination of the Hoyt VTM with In-Line accessories and a reasonably heavy Easton arrow caused the buck not to flinch. The conditions outside were calm, so I held low. The SEVR-tipped Easton blew through his heart.
Yes, I did paper-tune the bow, and after 161 arrows, a simple .0019″ right click of the QAD Integrate MX’s windage wheel created a perfect paper-tune tear for a dozen arrows. I always paper-tune every arrow that goes in my quiver.
If you’re in the market for a new-for-2023 compound, Hoyt’s VTM 30, also offered in a 34-inch axle-to-axle model, will make a superb in-the-field assassin.
Hoyt VTM 30 Specifications:
- Axle-to-Axle: 30 5/8 in.
- FPS: 342 (ATA)
- Brace Height: 6 in.
- Weight: 4.6 lbs. bare bow
- Draw Length: 25-30 in.
- Peak Draw Weights: 40-80 lbs. adjustable down 10 pounds from peak
- Finishes: Buckskin, Wilderness, Bourbon, Black Out, Realtree Edge, Kuiu Verde 2.0, Gore Optifade Subalpine, Gore Optifade Elevated II, Origin Raptor Highland, Realtree Edge Bone Collector, Black Out Bone Collector, Origin Raptor Keep Hammering, Black Out Keep Hammering