• GTW Author


Whether for hunting, recreation or target shooting, archery has been enjoying a worldwide boom in recent years. Archery, bowhunting and firearms have more in common than you might think. If you are a wholesaler or retailer in the gun business, archery products can be a truly useful addition to your product range.


There is no one accepted system of classification of bows. Bows may be described by various characteristics including the materials used, the length of the draw that they permit, the shape of the bow in sideways view, and the shape of the limb in cross-section. Basically there are two types of bow that have to be considered. The traditional bow, 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 bow 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 arrow speed and kinetic energy. The result is faster arrow speed and a less parabolic trajectory, which helps provide potential accuracy improvement, especially as range increases.

Crossbows also have an avid following. In essence, a crossbow is a bow mounted horizontally on a frame similar to the gunstock, which has a mechanism for holding the string at full draw, enabling it to shoot the crossbow when the hunter has carefully placed the shot. 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 (with single curved limbs), recurve and compound types, just as bows do, with the same respective advantages. They are really versatile weapons that can easily be deployed, as well as enjoyed by a wide variety of people. Those who, through age, injury or lack of strength, cannot draw a regular bow can still experience the thrill of archery by using a crossbow. The ease of use of a crossbow also allows it to be used effectively with little training, while other types of bows take far more skill to shoot accurately. What’s more, with a crossbow, archers are able to release a draw force far in excess of what they could have handled with a regular bow. Furthermore, a crossbow can hold the tension for a long time, whereas even the strongest longbowman can only hold a drawn bow for a short period of time. Modern crossbows allow hunters who may not be able to draw a bow to deliver an extremely precise shot.


A key area for sales in many parts of the world is bowhunting. In some areas it is expanding significantly. In North America it is both well established and shows 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 although these weapons are extremely powerful, they have to be handled accurately 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. Although more and more countries are opening up to bowhunting, some, in Europe for example, do not yet allow it. The advantages of bowhunting are numerous compared to hunting with firearms. 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 knowing about it. Thanks to its limited range and utter silence, a bow is the perfect tool for backyard shooting fun as well as your next hunting trip.


The archery business is nothing but healthy and thriving. Not a single one of the retailers in our yearly survey state sales have declined. 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 and 50 bows grew to nearly 67 per cent. It’s interesting to see there is a gap between shops selling entry-level volumes and those selling up to and over 100+ 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.


When asked what all these bows sold are primarily being used for, our respondents claim products sold are most used for recreational shooting, target shooting and hunting in that specific order.


In this issue’s archery survey, recurve bows came out on top as best-selling bow type. Compound bows meanwhile still make up for one third of the market. The classic longbow has fallen back a bit in favour of the crossbow, according to the retailers in our survey.


As with many branches of the shooting trade, price keeps playing a huge role in the decision making process. According to the majority of our survey respondents, performance and price are one of the top two features when deciding to purchase a bow. These features come in first after brand and quality of manufacture. This makes it rather clear that products with a great quality/price ratio are absolutely key.


Women and juniors are major markets in the archery world, even more so than in the gun business. The majority of retailers in our survey felt the number of juniors taking up archery is on the up. This makes the future of archery and bowhunting look very promising. 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.


It takes skill and practice to shoot straight with a bow. 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. 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. Nevertheless, if you know what you are talking about, archery can prove to be a very good revenue source and a handy diversification for your business.

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