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Bowhunting headgear, cover your assets - quietly.

Many sporting goods dealers ignore a bowhunter's unique headgear requirements. This is a missed sales opportunity. If you stock a variety of caps, hats and headnets, every archery customer is likely to purchase one or more before he leaves your store - especially when you point out his specialized needs. Many bowhunters don't realize the importance of correctly designed headwear, either.

A bowhunting hat must be camouflaged, quiet and easy to shoot in, The last of these requirements is most commonly overlooked by retailers and archers alike.

Everyone has a slightly different bowshooting style, but most archers draw the bowstring to the forehead. This eliminates the possibility of using an ordinary bill cap like those preferred by some gun hunters. As a bowhunter draws to shoot, the string can literally knock a long-billed cap from his head. This causes noise and movement guaranteed to scare game away. Even when the bowstring only jostles your hat, mental disruption is often enough to cause a poor or completely missed shot.

Short-billed caps especially for bowhunting are sold by several firms. Even more popular are Jones-style hats with a short brim completely around the crown. This brim can be flipped up or rolled down to provide better wet-weather protection for the head.

A third archery alternative is the simple stocking cap. This form of head protection is completely brimless, so bowstring collision is not a problem. Stocking caps are available in a myriad of forms, from simple navy "watch caps" to models with integral pull-down face masks. In cold bowhunting weather - especially on a late-fall whitetail stand - a stocking cap is essential to keep an archer's head warm. The unit can instantly be rolled down to cover the ears, and a face-mask model can be fully unfurled to cover everything but the eyes.

A few bowhunters prefer a felt western-style hat when rain or snow threaten to fall. Such headgear prevents moisture from sifting under your collar and sheds rainwater tolerably well. The frontal brim can be cut down with scissors to accommodate any bowhunting style.

A staggering variety of camouflage patterns are available these days both in clothing and hats. The most versatile of these is some sort of vertical tree camo in muted grays or browns. My personal favorite is the distinctive Trebark pattern, but RealTree, Mossy Oak, Woodhide Bark and others work reasonably well in average archery situations. For deep-woods hunting of elk, black bear and late-summer whitetails, a darker shadow pattern like World War II leafprint or Vietnam leafprint is best of all. In arid or genuine desert settings, a light-brown leafprint or brown and tan ASAT pattern is great. If snowy backgrounds are the rule, a specialized brown and white camo is advisable. One of my favorites is Jim Crumley's snow Trebark pattern in white and brown. All-white hats seldom work well against snow because these tend to be stark-white in color. Snow is creamy white, making solid white fabric stand out like a neon sign.

All too many bowhunting hats are noisy. You should stay away from hard-weave cotton and water-resistant canvas, even when these look great. Stocking caps of knit wool or Dacron are very quiet, and so are standard cotton Jones hats without stiffening waterproofing treatments. Wool, felt or beaver felt brim hats are sufficiently soft and silent, and so are short-bill caps of medium-weave cotton or wool. Caps made of nylon fabric are especially bad about whining against trees or bushes ... a sound guaranteed to send animals out of their hides.

A light-colored, shiny face can scare the beejesus out of game in close-range bowhunting situations. For this reason, savvy archers often wear camo face makeup or a headnet with eyeholes. A headnet is most desirable because it can instantly be removed without the need for soap and water. In the past, several companies sold stiff cardboard headnets with bowhunters specifically in mind. These worked okay, but tended to sand-paper your nose and itch in warm hunting weather. Today, most quality headnets are composed of stretchy material that neatly conforms to the face. Browning and others sell such nets in a variety of leafprint and tree camo patterns. Headnets are inexpensive but effective - ideal "impulse" items to sell in your store.

Don't overlook the importance of specialized headgear in bowhunting. With a variety of hats, caps and nets on your shelves, you can serve serious archers and make a substantial profit at the same time.
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Title Annotation:archery
Author:Adams, Chuck
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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