Dryad Epic ILF Riser (Bocote) Review

Dryad Epic ILF Riser with Uukha EX-1 Limbs
Dryad Epic ILF Riser with Uukha EX-1 Limbs

On review is a 15-inch Dryad Epic ILF Riser. This was ordered online from www.dryadbows.com

It has been with the reviewer since end 2014, subjected to substantial shooting mileage and has performed well under pressure in competitions.

Here are some of the specs:

Riser Length = 15”

Material = Bocote Hardwood with Phenolic reinforcements/strips

Adjustable Limb Bolts = Yes

Lateral Limb adjustment = Nil

Finish = Appears to be spray-on matt polyurethane

Price = US$385 (excluding shipping of US$60)

Why Was This Riser Bought?

Originally, I had no intention to shoot or own a traditional type of bow but that was before Eagles decided that we’d like to take part in the Thailand Princess Cup 2015. There was no Barebow category in the competition at that time but they did have a Traditional Bow section. However, we noticed that the equipment rules seemed to change a little bit with each edition. We sought to understand the old rules better…. which led us to collectively decide that 1-piece bows or 3-piece wood riser bows would be the safest way for us to approach the games. We were all newbies (except for Lynx).

The Buying Experience

I ordered this bow after trawling the forums for comments and reviews on ILF wood risers. Dryad seemed to stick out as nice things were said about the riser , although it was rather pricey at US$385 (including a wood upgrade). Why a 15” riser? Hmmm, archers can be somewhat romantic and unrealistic……….. I had thought that a 15” would make a good compact bow for hunting but goodness knows when we’ll ever go hunting out of urban Singapore. Hunting doesn’t seem to make sense when we are not in short supply of food and hunting for sport doesn’t quite gel from an ethical standpoint.

I was a bit concerned that you can’t make lateral limb adjustments on this riser. Dryad Bows’ Mike Westvang informed me that the riser would be very straight as they make them to 0.001” tolerance. Ok, so I don’t worry about a twisted riser but I’d still have to worry about compensating for less than straight bow limbs. This concern became a reality after I purchased a pair of Kaya K1 Professional Fibreglass-wood limbs for this riser from a local retailer. The limbs were twisted and had to be returned to the retailer, for a refund. I eventually ordered a pair of long 22# Uukha EX-1 to make for a 60-inch 30lb bow. (All Dryad riser sizes are designed to add 8lbs to the standard limb rating for a 25-inch riser. Therefore, 22lb + 8lb = 30lb)

Mike and I chatted a little bit about the grip too. I was worried that this USA product may not fit my small hands and enquired about customising the grip. Mike felt I should not be concerned as the standard grip was already quite small.

Delivery took longer than expected. I placed the order in late August and was told that my riser would be shipped out by end October. The time neared and there was no update from Dryad. I eventually sent a chaser to the bowyer and riser was finally shipped out in mid-November. This is an area of customer service that Dryad should improve on. I understand that bow-making is largely a cottage industry and one can accept that production times can be a bit elastic in a small shop setup. However, warning about it ahead, rather than have a customer send you a reminder, will give a leg up to customer confidence.

The Delivery

Dryad used US Parcel Service for the delivery. For some strange reason, it took about 3 weeks to arrive. The tracking showed that the riser spent a good period of time being pushed around USA but it did come just adequately protected with bubble wrap in a standard USPS triangular sleeve. It was sleeved in an attractive camouflage printed Dryad riser cover. I do think Dryad could have done better in protective packing, just in case the package suffered impact damage.

The Riser

Radiused Riser Sight Window Wall
Radiused Riser Sight Window Wall

The riser had a good heft to it and grain of the Bocote wood looked really tight and dense. I knew (on seeing and then holding it) that I made the right decision in the choice of wood. The grip also felt right and comfortable, even before fitting up. The arrow shelf is nicely radiused as is the sight window wall (which presumably reduces the occurrence of arrow impact against the riser). The finishing was also up to mark and there were no faults whatsoever that I could find.

On the downside, the riser shelf and strike plate had some basic stick-on felt. They looked cheap and were poorly cut. The folks at Dryad must have figured that they will be replaced by finicky archers, anyway. Indeed, the felt pads wore out really fast… after a couple of shooting sessions and had to be replaced. I shaped some scrap leather for both the shelf and strike plate………. These worked much better and they have lasted a long time, needing just a tad of string wax now and then.

DIY Limb Bolt Retainer
DIY Limb Bolt Retainer

One other drawback is the absence of a limb bolt retainer. I think the designers must have decided that most of their customers would keep the bow strung up but then what’s the point of a 3-piece bow? The limb bolt tends to slip after dismounting, which means having to check the tiller each time I mount up. I got around this problem by marking the limb position and wedging a piece of target board foam between the limb bolt and riser. It does the job adequately.

The Setup

String = BCY 8125, 18 strands

Brace Height = 220mm

Tiller = 0 mm

Limbs = Uukha EX-1, 22lbs (long). Add 8lbs as per Dryad specs for a 30lb bow.

Arrows = PSE X-Weave Hunter 100, 175 grain field points, 31” uncut

5” Gateway parabolic fletches

How Does It Shoot?

Riser Cut Past Centre
Riser Cut Past Centre

Perhaps it’s more appropriate to ask “How does it feel, when shooting?” Risers aren’t the active part of the bow, that’s the province of the limbs and string but it does convey the kinetic energy of a shot to the bow hand/arm.

The riser has a nice, solid and balanced feel to it perhaps partly due to the dense Bocote wood (density = 849kg/m3). As a comparison, East Indian rosewood has a density of 900kg/m3. As I shoot using a “3-under” draw, the bow tends to tilt back after release, using a very loose grip. This is understandable and I have had to use a modified grip with little adjustment to sighting.

Overall, the feeling from pre-draw, draw and release is very comfortable and satisfying. The setup shoots with authority despite the light poundage of 30lbs at my draw. Using a high cheekbone anchor point, I can still manage point on aim at 25m. This is also aided by the sight window that is cut past centre. The point on range is quite remarkable given the heavy tip weight of 175 grains. This a fast bow for it’s poundage.

As for the grip, other archers from big to small handed ones have remarked how natural and comfortable the riser feels in their hands. Dryad’s bowyers must have invested long hours and innumerable attempts before arriving at this “Universal” grip shape.

Different Size Hands, Same Riser and All Loving the Feel
Different Size Hands, Same Riser and All Loving the Feel

Pros

Great grip shape, surprisingly suitable for small through to large hands

Solid built quality

Great looks in the Bocote version

I don’t need or want another “Traditional” ILF Riser

Cons

No lateral limb adjustment. Requires high quality limbs

No limb bolt retainer – limbs run out of position when limbs are dismounted

Supplied with moderate quality arrow shelf and strike plate material

Pricey –  At US$385, it’s a $45 more than the 19” Gillo G5 Ghost. Albeit, there is no direct comparison as the G5 is an aluminium riser and is more versatile, with all the modern fitments.

  • review contributed by Tyger
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