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ADD ANOTHER STRING TO YOUR BOW


Bowhunting and archery, whether for fun or competition, are rapidly growing in popularity all over the world. If your wholesale or retail business is already into target sports or hunting, then adding archery products to your inventory makes perfect sense.

Archery and shooting’s key sectors run parallel with each other – recreational, target shooting and hunting – covering everything from fun in the garden, to Olympic competitions, to full-on hunting with highly technical gear.



ARCHERY RENAISSANCE

Long before guns and ammunition spread over the world, the bow and arrow were the mainstay of many peoples, whether for hunting, protecting lands or sport and fun. In many cases firearms superseded bows and arrows but, for a variety of reasons, the latter did not disappear completely.

On the contrary, archery is back and getting better known and loved all around the world. Movies like The Hunger Games, where archery plays an important role, certainly are responsible for people’s growing awareness of the sport. Moreover, country after country is opening up on the possibility of bowhunting as a valid alternative to hunting with firearms.

The advantages of bowhunting are numerous. It is absolutely quiet, nothing or no one is disturbed by an arrow being released yet the lethality of a well-placed arrow is tremendous. All in all, the silence with which an archer can enjoy his, or her, sport remains an absolute dream

In a world where people are living closer and closer together, backyard fun with a firearm or even an airgun might be considered a thing of the past. A bow, on the contrary, when safely handled, is the ideal way of honing your shooting skills without anyone ever hearing about it. Thanks to its limited range and utter silence, a bow is the perfect tool for backyard shooting fun.


NO BOX MOVING ALLOWED

It takes a lot of skill and practice for an archer to shoot straight. In the same sense, it takes real skill to sell archery gear well. There’s far more to selling archery products than stocking a couple of bows and arrows and hoping these will fly off the shelves by themselves.

Retailers should clearly be able to provide sufficient advice about equipment selection or point buyers in the direction of well-informed sources. Indeed, independent retailers especially should be able to provide valuable information and services that make them more than just box movers.

For a retailer to succeed in the archery business one really needs a decent working knowledge of bow types, the pros and cons of each type: why a compound bow can prove best for hunting, poundage weights that provide sufficient arrow or bolt speed to ensure a clean kill but are also manageable, which types are best suited for youth and lady shooters, which arrow weights and arrowheads should be used and so on.

This is a whole new world, including its own language you have to get acquainted with when you want to immerse yourself in archery.


BOW TYPES

Basically there are two types of bow that have to be considered. The traditional longbow, which is typically held vertically in one hand with the bow string pulled back with the other, and the crossbow, held horizontally and usually fired with a trigger.

We can further split the longbow into two distinct designs as well: recurve and compound. A recurve bow is formed from a single piece, with its outer ends curving back away from the archer, giving it its unique shape. This provides extra string-pull length for a greater acceleration period on the arrow, improving power, control and accuracy. Compound bows, meanwhile, use a complex system of cams and strings to produce the power via special limbs that form the bow.

The cams allow the bow weight to appear much lighter through mechanical advantage, once the string has been drawn back to its full extension. They are also more compact, making them particularly useful for hunting and outdoor simulated hunting competitions because a high-poundage bow can be used for greater power. The result is faster arrow speed and a less parabolic trajectory, which helps provide potential accuracy improvement, especially as range increases.

Next to longbows, crossbows also have an avid following. Historically crossbows have been put to use extremely effectively on the battlefield piercing an opponent’s armour. As materials have been improved and refined,so the bodies have become more and more futuristic and effective, as have the bolts (essentially a shorter arrow), rails, limbs and strings; not to mention cocking mechanisms and trigger arrangements.

All this makes today’s crossbows amazing pieces of equipment, capable of great power, accuracy and consistency. Crossbows come in conventional (longbow-style with single curved limbs), recurve and compound types, just as longbows do, with the same respective advantages as longbows. Because of their effectiveness, crossbows have gained a certain popularity with hunters.

In some countries, hunting is not permitted with them, while other territories have actually opened their doors in the recent past to the opportunities that crossbows present. In certain parts of the USA and Europe crossbows are becoming increasingly accepted and encouraged. In some cases crossbow-only use has even extended the hunting season.



BOW HUNTING

A key area for sales in many parts of the world is bow hunting. In some areas it is expanding significantly. In North America it is both well established and showing a surge in interest that promises to provide excellent business opportunities for those who take it seriously, thanks to shows on both mainstream and internet TV.

Proper training is vital because these weapons are extremely powerful and have to be handled correctly to ensure a clean kill. The opportunity for add-on sales in this niche sector is huge, including carrying bags or cases, backpacks, camouflage clothing, scopes, laser range finders and more. Some countries do not, however, permit bow hunting. So be sure to check your local legislation before setting up shop in bow hunting gear.


MARKET TRENDS

The archery business is still healthy and thriving. About one third of the retailers in our yearly survey state sales are up. Year after year this indicates the archery business is on the rise. The average number of bows sold last year grew in the entry level of the market. The number of retailers claiming to sell between 1-50 bows and 51-100 bows eats up about two thirds of the market. It’s interesting to see there is a gap between shops selling entry-level volumes and those selling 300-plus bows on a yearly basis. This could be an indication of a market that is still quite niche, featuring only a couple of big, specialised retailers.

The good thing is, whereas last year the vast majority of retailers claimed to sell up to 50 bows a year, there has been a shift upwards for some towards selling up to 100 bows a year.


BEST SELLERS

In this issue’s archery survey, recurve bows came out on top as the best-selling bow type, just like last year. Crossbows, meanwhile, still make up one third of the market. The classic longbow and the compound bow have fallen a bit out of favour with the retailers in our survey.


WHAT’S THE USE?

When asked what all these bows sold are primarily being used for, our respondents claim equal shares of products sold are used for hunting, recreational shooting and target shooting.


BUYING DECISIONS

As with many branches of the shooting trade, price keeps playing a huge role in the decision-making process. Meanwhile, quality of manufacture and performance appear to be equally important when deciding to purchase a bow. This makes it rather clear that products with a great quality/price ratio are absolutely key. What’s more, since consumers are not only buying price anymore, this clearly shows the market is maturing, putting more value on quality and performance.


LADY AND YOUTH SHOTS

Women and juniors are major markets in the archery world, even more so than in the gun business. About one third of retailers in our survey felt the number of juniors taking up archery is on the up. With the rest of junior numbers considered stable, the future of archery and bowhunting is looking very promising indeed.

When asked about the number of ladies taking up archery, the retailers in our survey remain confident – about the same numbers as in the youth category pop up, which is rather positive as well.


AN EXCITING OPPORTUNITY

Bows are also excellent tools to teach youths and grown-ups alike about safety when shooting, concentration and controlling your body and mind. Because of their limited range and utter silence, bows make for great plinkers where firearms might not be appropriate.

With technology making its presence felt in bow sports of all types, there are many opportunities to make the most of this growing market. However, you need to know the rules in each territory because not all areas share the same views on the hunting aspect.

Nevertheless, if you know what you are talking about, archery can prove to be a very good revenue source and a handy diversification in your business.

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