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Attracting the traditional customers.

No feather fletchings; no conventional bowstrings, no shooting gloves; no back quivers; no leather arm guards; no index nocks; no wooden shafts; no feather-fletched finished arrows; no arrow-makings for recurves or longbows. That was the verdict. I walked out of my local gun/archery shop and back to my catalogues.

The traditional archery movement is no romantic interlude. Market share runs up to 25 percent, and the explosion of custom bowyers and traditional equipment specialty houses proves that recurves and longbows are back--for good.

Few gun/archery shop owners seem to notice, however. That's too bad because traditional archery inventories are inexpensive to establish, and they offer a service that furthers good business/customer relationships.

There is overlap between compound and traditional bow markets. Glue, string silencers, arrow shafting, as well as a multitude of other products serve both bow types. However, there are also specific accessories required for stickbow archery. These are the missing links between the gun/archery shop and the traditional archery customer. Unless there's a special archery pro shop in town, the customer has to buy via mail order, and that means lost dollars for the gunshop owner.

Selling The Stickbow

Longbows and recurves are available wholesale for those who wish to stock them. So along with traditional archery supplies, carrying a few stickbows may result in new sales, even new customers, especially those archers who want to try the simpler bow, but can't find a local dealer.

Even without bows, a selection of traditional supplies is an important attraction to customers who already have longbows and recurves. Furthermore, it's mainly a retail market. Discount stores rarely sell traditional bows or accessories.

"A third of my sales are arrows," one archery shop dealer said. Behind his counter were two dozen fletching jigs with a shaft in each. "When there are no customers in the shop," he said, "I make arrows. It only takes a few minutes to assemble one. It's mostly waiting for the feather to dry on the shaft."

Going from sealed, uncrested/unpainted arrows, this shop owner later invested in dip tanks and a cresting machine. Now he produces handsome (as well as functional) arrows for stickbows.

The difference between a compound bow arrow and a recurve/longbow arrow is fletching. Few of today's stickbows use an elevated arrow rest. Shooting off the shelf is back. This demands feathers, not plastic vanes. Vanes strike the arrow rest, forcing the arrow off target, whereas feathers "fold" out of the way.

Arrow-making components are always in demand by traditionalists, who are do-it-yourself fans by nature. This means wooden shafts mainly, such as cedar, slow-growth pine, ash, poplar and other woods, but also aluminum and graphite. Wood arrows in 5/16 size are for light-draw bows. The 11/32-inch diameter shaft is far more popular. Heavier-spined 23/64-inch diameter wood shafts work in heavy-draw bows.

More goodies include: feathers (die-cut and full-length), tapering tools (pencil sharpener type or hand-held precision tool), feather cutter or burner, fletcher, and nocks of various designs.

Additional Accessories

Bowstringers are important. Stringing a longbow or recurve without one can cause two problems. The bow can slip, injuring the archer. Or a limb can twist, damaging the bow.

Bow squares are especially vital for stickbows. In order to gain best arrow flight, longbows and recurves require tuning, which means matched arrow, correct fistmele (brace height), and proper nock set location. The bow square handles the last two factors.

Conventional bowstrings are vital. Fast flight strings are popular for longbows and recurves made to handle them. Regular strings work on other bows.

Also, the traditionalist prefers broadheads that slip over the taper end of the arrow, held in place with ordinary hot melt cement. Modular, two-blade, bodkin and other broadhead styles come in taper hole design. Taper hole field points and blunts, mainly in 125-grain weight, are also in demand, the latter especially good for roving or "stump-shooting" because they don't stick in the target.

Shooting off the shelf requires a medium for the arrow to ride against, so shelf materials are necessary to create an arrow rest (horizontal contact point for the arrow) and strike plate (vertical contact point for the arrow).

Traditionalists like leather: leather quivers, leather shooting gloves, leather arm guards (braces). The shooting tab is also popular with stickbow fans, although it need not be made of leather.

Today's longbows and recurves are far from primitive. They are surprising performers. Longbows that shoot 190 to 200 fps are the rule. Recurves improve that speed by 10 or 20 fps. Stickbows are smooth, forgiving, easy-handling and handsome, but they are not altogether simple. They require a considerable array of accessories, important items that are small on the shelf, but big with a growing number of archers.
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Title Annotation:traditional archery equipment
Author:Fadala, Sam
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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