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Getting started as an archery retailer.

Many general sporting goods dealers have a desire to expand into sales of archery equipment. This is a sound idea, because archery gear specifically that used in bowhunting is presently a reliable money-maker in most parts of the United States and Canada. With firearm hunting seasons becoming increasingly short in the face of shrinking animal habitat, more and more sportsmen are turning to bow-and-arrow to expand their enjoyment afield. With a sensible complement of bowhunting equipment in your store, you can capitalize on this current trend.

What should you stock to satisfy mainstream bowhunting customers? As anyone even remotely familiar with archery can tell you, bow-and-arrow equipment is decidedly more diverse than that used in firearm hunting. More than 30 arrow sizes are sold to satisfy individual hunting-bow draw lengths and draw lengths between 24 and 31 or 32 inches. One or two models of hunting rifles or shotguns can be modified to fit almost anyone, but your stock of bows must be more diverse.

Similarly, a look at the myriad of arrowheads, armguards, shooting tabs, arrow rests, stabilizers, mechanical string releases, broadheads, rangefinders, bowsights, stabilizers, and other modern archery gadgets currently available can confuse even the expert bowhunter. Given such a range of gear, is it possible to stock enough archery items to satisfy customers without overcrowding your store or breaking your bank account?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. Here are some recommendations on adding a modest, effective archery section to your general sporting goods array.


Hunting equipment dominates archery sales continent-wide, so the bows you stock should possess a dull yet attractive camouflage finish. These should also feature adjustable draw weights between accepted hunting parameters. The most common draw-weight choices are 40 to 55 pounds and 55 to 70 pounds. The lighter-draw choices are ideal for lady bowhunters and youngsters.

The best-selling bows today are compound models with energy wheels or high-performance cams which let off 60- to 65-percent at full draw. Energy wheels launch arrows with adequate speed and excellent accuracy for archers who draw and release with their fingers. High performance cams are best for customers who insist on extra-fast arrow speed. Cam-operated bows are most accurate when used with mechanical bowstring releases. The primary advantage of 60- or 65-percent let-off is a low level of muscle strain as the archer aims and releases his arrow.

There has been a trend in recent years toward compound bows with relatively short overall length. Mechanically, a short bow generates more arrow energy and flatter trajectory than a longer bow of the same draw length. To satisfy most customers, you should stock bows measuring 40 to 45 inches in overall length. Longer models say 46 or 48 inches - are slowershooting and not popular today.

Top bow companies like Bear, Browning, Golden Eagle, Hoyt USA, Martin, Pearson, PSE, and Xi offer bows fitting the foregoing description. However, be sure you select models with a widely adjustable draw length. The best bows, from a general sporting goods standpoint, adjust over a two-inch or three-inch length to let you quickly accommodate a wide range of customers. For example, if you stock a few bows with 25- to 27-inch draw lengths, 27- to 29- inch draw lengths, and 29- to 31-inch draw lengths, you will be able to match almost every man, woman, or youngster who enters your store.

Bow Accessories

To satisfy customers, you will need to stock arrow rests, stabilizers, bowstrings silencers, bow quivers, and bow sights. One or two models of each will suffice, provided you choose solid, dependable designs.

Finger shooters need some sort of "side-control" arrow rest on the bow to ensure top accuracy. Most dealers stock the springy rest and some sort of flipper/plunger rest to meet this specific need. Excellent flipper rests include the Flipper II and Cavalier Super-Flyte.

For archers who prefer to shoot with a mechanical bowstring release, some sort of V-Iauncher rest is ideal. PSE, Martin, Golden Key, and others sell suitable models.

One other note on arrow rests. Some bowhunters prefer to shoot short, extra-lightweight "overdraw" arrows to increase velocity and flatten trajectory. For this reason, you should stock one or two types of overdraw shelves to accommodate extra-short arrows. Such shelves can solidly be attached to any compound bow.

A bow stabilizer improves accuracy, upgrades bow balance, and absorbs noisy shooting vibration. Variable-weight stabilizers like the Easton Enhancer are excellent sellers, and so are shock absorbing models like the Saunders Torque Tamer and Okie Hydraulic Stabilizer.

Bowstring silencers are essential on all hunting bows. Properly installed, these prevent game-spooking noise during the shot. By far, the most popular silencer used today is the "catwhisker" - a wad of rubber filaments similar to those found in skirts of bass fishing plugs. Catwhisker silencers are inexpensive yet important to customer satisfaction.

All major archery companies offer bow-attached arrow quivers to match their bows. The most versatile, from a sales standpoint, detach quickly for separate hanging in a tree stand. Such quivers must possess a roomy plastic hood to fully enclose sharp broadheads, and a sturdy rubber shaft gripper that holds arrow fletches silently apart.

Finally, you must stock one or more models of bowsights to help your customers aim. A majority of modern archers prefer multiple-pin sights, but an increasing percentage are turning to crosswire sights with a single vertical wire and four or five horizontal wires. The best of both types feature sturdy all-metal construction and solid bolt or dovetail hookup to a bow. There are literally dozens of pin-style bowsights available from various companies, but compact models like the Martin Deerslayer, Hoyt Pro-Steel, and PSE Mongoose are especially popular with hunters. Fine-Line's Hunter Sight is one of several excellent crosswire choices.

Arrows and Arrowheads

The most popular hunting arrows possess Easton Aluminum shafts composed of XX75 alloy. These are available in nearly three dozen hunting sizes, but five or six sizes will accommodate almost all your archery customers. Among the most popular sizes are 2016, 2018, 2117, 2216, and 2219. In addition, a few "Superlight" sizes like 2213 are popular with archers who insist on fast, flat allow flight.

Before stocking up on arrows for customers, I would strongly suggest that you call the major arrow manufacturers like Easton, Beman, or Bear and obtain explicit advice on the best-selling shaft sizes for your store. You'll find their numbers in SI's latest Buyer's Guide.

To be in the archery business, you will need to stock three or four types of arrowheads. Steel field points are necessary for basic backyard target practice. Steel blunts, rubber blunts, and multi-pronged judo points are all useful for small game hunting and field shooting at stumps, dirt banks, and other natural targets. Multi-edge broadheads are needed to hunt big game.

Nearly 100 broadhead models are presently available from manufacturers. A majority are sharp and well-designed for accurate flight and deep penetration in deer-sized game. Most customers prefer heads which easily screw-attach to arrows, so you should refrain from stocking old-style, glue-on heads unless you plan to stock a very wide selection.

A primary key to stocking broadheads is matching those with field points and other arrowheads of the same weight. Like bullets, arrowheads will not hit the same place unless they possess the same grain-weight. Some broadhead manufacturers make this task easy by including matching-weight field points in their packaging of the broadheads they sell.

Most popular arrowheads weigh between 110 and 145 grains. Small-scale archery dealers are advised to limit sales to heads within these weight parameters.

Shooting Accessories

A well-chosen complement of shooting accessories can yield significant profits in your store. Armguards, finger tabs, and shooting gloves are essential to protect bowstring fingers and the forearm as an archer shoots. An increasing minority of modern archers prefer mechanical bowstring releases instead of traditional tabs or gloves, operating on the theory that a crisp trigger release improves accuracy on targets and game. Similarly, many shooters now strap on a well-designed chest protector to flatten baggy clothes and thus prevent accuracy-disruptive collisions between bowstring and clothing.

One of the most important shooting accessories you can stock is the dialoperated rangefinder. Such a unit lets the bowhunter precisely determine shooting distance to real-live animals, or landmarks around his stand. Ranging, Inc is the only company offering these important archery accessories, and you can take your pick of excellent models. Every hunting customer who buys a bow should also purchase a dial-operated rangefinder to control the arcing trajectory of his arrows ! In addition to the selection of archery gear outlined in this article, you might wish to stock a few bowhunting accessories like camo makeup, deer scent, deer calls, and leaf-print or tree-camo clothing. As archery sales grow, you can easily expand beyond these bare-bones items with a wider selection of bows, arrows, arrowheads, bowsights, string-release aids, and other things which seem to sell especially well.

For ideas on additional bowhunting products, I would recommend a close scrutiny of substantial catalogs by Bear, Martin, PSE, Jim Dougherty, High Country Archery and other reputable archery manufacturers or distributors.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Adams, Chuck
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Feb 1, 1991
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