The 2023 West Virginia deer season started off like no other. A week before opening day I dry fired my hunting bow on the 3D archery course and totally ruined the cams. I had total confidence in my setup and now had to start from scratch.
Disaster averted. My trusty Mathews SQ2 was still hanging ready to be put back into action. The SQ2 solocam was my first bow – a hand me down from my father in law. Despite its age, it still functions as good as new and was ready to hunt with. The Mathews solocam was ready to go – but was I?
Mathews SQ2 Specs
|Axle To Axle Length
|23 – 30 Inches
|40 – 70 Pounds
A few things should jump out at you after looking at the Mathews SQ2 specs. Mathews solocams have never been the fastest, but this bow is SLOW.
Things have changed in the world of archery in the last 20 years. And nothing should be more evident in a modern compound bow than speed delivered smoothly.
Regardless, speed has never been that important to me. My typical range when deer hunting in WV is 25 yards. At that distance, 305 FPS is more than enough.
However, with the Mathews solocam SQ2 that 305 feet per second only comes with 70% let off. Many bows of today offer up to 90% let off. That’s a considerable decrease in holding weight at full draw.
Have you drawn back a 70 pound bow that felt like it had to be set at 60 pounds or less? The Mathews SQ2 is not one of them. In fact, for me it was quite the opposite. This 60 pound bow feels like you are drawing back a lot more weight.
I switched out the cable slide to a Saunders Hyperglide and the draw improved slightly. Unfortunately, it still felt heavier than the 60.4 pounds my Archery Dezigns scale read on my Last Chance Archery draw board.
These are a few of the areas where the Mathews SQ2 shows its age. It shoots well, but requires a fair amount of effort to achieve the level of accuracy I am after.
I love a good solocam bow, but the Mathews Switchback, released only a few years later, feels much more modern. All these flaws aside, the bow paper tuned incredibly easily and made it count at the moment of truth.
Mathews SQ2 Setup
When I first started shooting compound bows, my draw length was measured out at 27 inches. That made my father in law’s old Mathews SQ2 the perfect hand me down. I shot it a lot and found I really enjoyed both the sport of archery and bow hunting.
As I gained more experience and improved both my grip and form, I realized a 28 inch draw length would better suit me. The Mathews SQ2 draw length adjustment requires a new cam.
Luckily, I was able to find a used 28 inch Straightline Max 2 cam for the Mathews SQ2. Mathews Archery had new ones available, but they were $100.
These bows sell for just over $200 used. I didn’t want to spend half it’s total value to change the draw length on my old solocam.
If you’re thinking about buying a used Mathews Solocam SQ2 remember that you want to find it in your draw length. The SQ2 draw length adjustment requires swapping out for a new cam. Unlike new bows with rotating modules, buying a new cam could cost you nearly half the price of the bow.
Equipped with a simple Whisker Biscuit and basic 3 pin bow sight, we were ready to hunt. The solocam bow sports the typical Mathews wood grip of the era. It’s a bit chunky for my liking but we managed to get along well enough.
The recent Mathews bow grips have shed some weight and are much more slender. You can install a newer grip on Mathews solocam bows with no modifications.
The flat back or focus grips are interchangeable with the wooden Mathews grip. This wooden grip has been Gorilla Glued in place or I would have installed one. The newest version called the Mathews Engage Grip does not work on Mathews Solo Cam bows.
A newer Mathews T5 quiver, replacing the 20 year old Mathews Arrow Web Quiver, held my four arrows in place. Additionally, it updated the look and reduced some overall weight at the same time.
Further improvements came in the way of reducing noise and vibration. New bows are typically described as ‘dead in the hand’ and ‘silent’. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with the Mathews SQ2. When your shot goes off, there is a definite twang.
The first step was installing a string suppressor. These are standard on new bows but the SQ2 solocam came without one. A Limbsaver Universal String Decelerator was easy enough to install into the threaded hole behind the stabilizer mount. It is adjustable and can be fit to the brace height of any bow.
To further aid in noise reduction, LimbSaver Broadband Dampeners were installed on the solid limbs of the SQ2. These simply attach with double sided tape to the underside of the limbs. They are lightweight and easy to install but have proven very durable – holding up to hunting in various weather conditions during the West Virginia bow season.
While these modifications showed significant improvement, the Mathews SQ2 still has more noise and vibration after the shot than every modern bow I’ve tested.
As you can tell from the photos, the 2023 WV bow season was a successful one. On November 3rd, a buck trailed a doe 22 yards away from my stand. A typical shot distance for me when bowhunting in West Virginia.
As he approached, I quickly grabbed my SQ2 from its bow hanger and anticipated the buck’s path. He stopped broadside and a well placed shot went through both lungs.
The arrow buried itself in the dirt behind the buck and he quickly ran 60 yards and expired. Shortcomings aside, the Mathews SQ2 saved my bow season. Even though it doesn’t shine like a brand new bow, it will always have a place in my lineup.
My Mathews SQ2 will never leave. It has sentimental value beyond it’s worth. However, if you are thinking about buying a used SQ2, there are some things you should consider.
Old bows are fun. Some more than others. After having experienced shooting a myriad of other compound bows, the SQ2 solocam leaves a lot to be desired.
Most importantly, a solid back wall. At full draw there is a lot of creep on the SQ2. It’s far from rock solid like bows with limb stops. Solid isn’t a word I’d use – Mushy is a better description.
Because of this, it took some time to adjust to the bow. Initially, I struggled with consistency. It felt much different than the other bows I had been shooting more regularly. After a short shooting session, we warmed up. Accuracy was good with broadheads out to 30 yards – as far as I felt the need to test.
Harsh draw and mushy back wall aside, the bow was easy to carry in the field due to its compact size. It fit well next to me in a treestand and also when hunting from the ground. It was more than adequate for eastern whitetail hunting at close ranges.
31 inch axle to axle bows are quite commonplace. With its short riser length and solid limb design the SQ2 solocam feels much smaller than a current 31″ ATA bow. Almost like a toy in comparison.
If you have a backup bow, something I highly recommend, it shouldn’t be drastically different from your main hunting bow. This would provide for a seamless transition in case of emergency. I didn’t have to adjust much to become proficient with the SQ2 but there were some hurdles to be overcome.