Behind the Scenes With Bear Archery

Marketing Manager Alec Wyman discusses the past, present and future of Bear Archery.

Behind the Scenes With Bear Archery

When you think of archery, you often think of Bear Archery thanks to Fred Bear, the company’s namesake and one of the stalwarts of our industry. From his early days of hunting and spreading the word, Fred Bear was an emissary for bowhunting, competition shooting and ethics. His impact on the archery world and the company that bears his name still resonates after more than eight decades.

Through that time, Bear Archery has taken many twists and turns. From the early days of recurves and wheeled compounds to today’s modern bows designed with the latest technology, Bear Archery has been a mainstay. Originally founded by Fred Bear in Grayling, Michigan, the company is now headquartered in Gainesville, Florida, and includes SIK Broadheads, Cajun Fishing bowfishing tackle and Trophy Ridge accessories.

Marketing Manager Alec Wyman filled us in on the latest from Bear Archery:


AB: Alec, thank you for taking some time to visit with us this month. Can you tell us a little about Bear Archery and how it got started?

AW: Bear Archery has been producing quality archery equipment for more than 85 years. In 1933, Fred Bear started the company with two goals. One, to make archery equipment that was accessible to everyone regardless of age, gender, level of experience, or economic status. And two, to produce quality equipment that could deliver the ultimate archery experience.

Over the years, the company has continued to grow and expand its offering in a wide variety of archery categories. Bear Archery has always been an innovator, and we continue to push boundaries in order to bring consumers the best possible equipment with industry leading performance at affordable prices.

Today, our team takes pride in our widely encompassing lineup of compound and traditional bows, as well as crossbows and more. We stand by the same principles the company was founded on, and work day-in and day-out to honor Fred’s legacy.

Fred Bear started his company in 1933 with a goal of making top-notch, affordable gear for archers of all skill levels.
Fred Bear started his company in 1933 with a goal of making top-notch, affordable gear for archers of all skill levels.

AB: What is something people don’t know about Bear Archery that might surprise them?

AW: Bear Archery was founded in Grayling, Michigan, in the 1930s. In the late ‘70s, Bear moved its manufacturing facility to Gainesville, Florida. Our lineup of compound and traditional bows still are manufactured and shipped from the same Gainesville facility more than 40 years later.

The even cooler part? Some of the hands that build our bows today are the same hands that Fred himself instructed years ago. Every bow that ends up in a consumer’s hands is just as much a part of the Fred Bear legacy today as those that were sold before Fred’s passing.


AB: Not everything always goes as planned. Tell us an “Oh, my!” story that maybe looked like a mistake but turned into a great learning lesson or success for the company.

AW: I’m not sure I’d say “Oh, my!” but the first thing that comes to mind is the response we had to the 50th Anniversary Take Down recurve. We wanted to do something special to honor the success of the bows; never did we think it would sell as well as it has. That’s a large part of why we are running with it one more year. We weren’t able to produce all the orders last year and were practically forced into running it for one more product cycle.

We launched the special edition 50th Anniversary Take Down at the 2020 ATA Show. We came to the table with an A and B riser option in black maple or bubinga and phenolic. All risers received a crested, gold 50th anniversary medallion around the signature Bear Archery coin on the riser to make the design stand apart even more.

Anyone looking to snag one of these historic Take Downs should know time is running out to add one to their personal bow rack.

AB: Tell us a little about the new Legend Series for 2021 (photo above).

AW: Where to even begin? I guess to start, it’s worth clarifying for anyone not familiar with this part of our lineup, that our “Legend Series” bows are the premium Bear Archery offering available exclusively through our dealers.

This year we introduced three new bows to the Legend Series lineup, all different and unique in their own way. Our flagship compound bow is the Redemption EKO. This bow is straight-up amazing. Measuring 32 inches axle to axle, 6.75-inch brace height, and IBO speeds of 342 fps, the Redemption is ready for anything you want to throw at it. We’ve added a new patented Vibration Reduction System (VRS) to the bow that reduces lingering riser vibration by 25 percent. The bow checks every box – fast, quiet and comfortable.

Also new to the Legend Series is the Whitetail Legend. This bow is unique in a number of ways, most notably, any Bear Archery product with “Whitetail” worked into the name is a BIG deal internally. The name holds its own legacy with the brand. Some of the most iconic and best-selling bows of the past have been the Whitetail Legend, Whitetail Hunter, and Whitetail II. Our engineers and product managers knew a bow that would bring back this name needed to live up to its past success.

The 2021 Whitetail Legend is a 31-inch ATA, 6.25-inch brace height, single-cam bow with the hardest backwall of any single cam bow on the market. This rock-solid backwall is due to a draw stop that is immediately noticeable for anyone shooting the bow. It is a tack-driver and is the best option for anyone interested in a single-cam hunting bow.

Last, but not least, we introduced the Inception to the Legend Series. This bow is a force to be reckoned with, and has IBO speeds of 340 fps via its hybrid cam system. It’s also worth noting this bow is available as bow-only, or with our incredible value RTH (Ready to Hunt) bundle.


AB: The new Impact from BearX, your crossbow line, looks like it will find a home with hunters. How did that come about

AW: For years, the industry has been begging us to introduce a cocking crank for the BearX lineup. That’s where the Impact crossbow was born. Not only is the bow more compact, faster, and lighter, but it also has the silent cocking crank that comes with the crossbow, and allows archers to safely and quietly cock AND decock their crossbow.

The BearX brand has seen substantial growth over the last couple years. It’s an area of our company that we are pushing hard to create performance-driven and reliable offerings at industry-best price points. We have a lot in the pipeline. I can’t say much more at this point in time, but people should stay tuned.

Bear Archery crossbows are marketed and sold under the BearX brand, and provide dependable performance at a great price.
Bear Archery crossbows are marketed and sold under the BearX brand, and provide dependable performance at a great price.

AB: How has the business changed over the years for Bear Archery and in general? What do you see for the next decade?

AW: If you’d have asked a year ago, my answer would be completely different. After everything 2020 threw at us and the industry battled, Bear Archery has never been stronger. That may sound backwards given the big picture effects of the pandemic, but Bear really rose above and adapted quickly to the changing environment.

We had a record year in 2020, with more bows and accessories sold than we had seen in close to a decade. Our facility in Gainesville was forced to close for close to 12 weeks due to COVID, which set us back significantly. However, the entire Bear team and the key individuals at the plant burned the candle at both ends to get us back up and running as fast as possible.

2020 showed us how critical it is to be flexible, and more importantly to be able to adapt to a changing industry quickly. Our current team has never felt more prepared or better equipped to support our dealers and give consumers what they want. We continue to develop assets and plans to support our dealers with in-store and online retail resources to educate a consumer who is wrapped up in virtual and online shopping to drive conversions. The quality of our content and the information we publish as a resource online has reached new levels that are a direct result of listening to what consumer want to hear and see.

The performance, aesthetics, and quality of our products are critical more so now than ever before as consumers are becoming smarter and more particular in the shopping environment. We have a pipeline of projects in place that we believe dealers and consumers will drool over, but also find very easy to get in the hands of customers.

In summary, 2020 was a record year. Our 2021 product launch last September was one of the best our team has ever executed, and from that launch sales have followed. With Q1 of 2021 just about in the books, we are on track to crush the stupendous results of last year. Our foot is on the gas and we are not slowing up any time soon.

I can’t tell you what will happen in the next 10 years, but I can tell you we are going to hit it with everything we have. Get ready.


AB: What’s driving research and development for Bear Archery that you hear about from hunters and competitive shooters?

AW: This is another loaded question – our successful R&D can be attributed to a number of things.

We are fortunate to work very closely with a very long list of outdoorsmen and women who have decades of experience in the industry. Our partners such as Fred and Michele Eichler, David and Karin Holder, Shane Mowery, Mike Pelletier, Kristy Titus and so many others are just one group of sources who drive our rock star product development and engineering team to deliver an incredible lineup, year after year.

Our expansive dealer network is another source of information and inspiration. Our national sales team spends a lot of time talking to dealers to get their thoughts on what they hear from the customers in their shops. They know what people want and what people can’t find.

There are also a number of other driving factors worth mentioning: The feedback we receive from our audience on social media, at consumer events, and via market research is always discussed. Our team loves to scan through comments on our social posts and see what people like, don’t like, or wish they could see. How a company choose to act on all this feedback and insight is what makes-or-breaks a successful lineup of equipment.


AB: What makes Bear Archery different from its competitors?

AW: One thing comes to mind – our 88 years of excellence in the industry. Bear has produced and continues to bring to market some of the most iconic and innovative archery products in the industry. Fred Bear brought the industry the first laminated maple and fiberglass bow limbs, which brought the industry a new era of performance. He then went on to introduce bows like the Grizzly, which was the first mass-produced recurve; the Take Down, which is a coveted design in the industry to this day; and the Whitetail Hunter and Whitetail II, which is one of the most popular bows in the history of archery.

Today, our team continues to innovate and push boundaries with our lineup. Over the years since Fred’s passing, we’ve introduced new technologies such as our React Technology, Vibration Reduction System (VRS), AlignLok Technology, and EKO Cam technology.

We are a brand that was founded on the principles of always becoming better. Our current team has never worked harder to make that true across all of our products.


AB: Why should dealers carry your products?

AW: That’s easy. A dealer wants to carry our brand because we offer something for everyone. We have the bow for the 25+ year hunting veteran who wants the best performing, newest technology-packed, aesthetically stimulating bow. We also have the entry level, beginner, widely accommodating and easy-to-make adjustments bow. And then there is everything in between.

A Bear Archery dealer can have a family of five, ages 5 to 50+, and a broad range of experience between them, walk into the pro shop and leave with a bow that fits them perfectly. Not only can that family leave the shop that day and shoot those bows for years, but we have options they can move up into as they achieve new levels of experience.


AB: Hunters see a ton of new products each year before and during the ATA and SHOT shows along with other events. What makes Bear Archery separate itself to customers?

AW: Our brands have always been focused on the consumer experience. Fred Bear gave everything he had to make archery equipment accessible to everyone. We want people to look at our equipment and not feel intimidated by our offering. Whether someone has shot their entire life or is looking to pick up a bow for the first time, our lineup of products, our messaging, our staff and dealer network are all there to make bowhunting fun, inviting, and available to anyone.

At shows, we want people to feel comfortable walking into our booth or interacting with our team at the shooting lanes. We have a team of experts that are on standby to help, encourage, and inspire people to pick up a Bear bow. This approach and sense of “open door” to the brand has worked well for our team. Those in the industry know that they can come to anyone on our team to receive help or unbiased, nonjudgmental guidance.

AB: How does Bear Archery stand out to retailers? Do you offer special pricing, deals or other programs?

AW: We stand out to retailers for a few key reasons. There’s the business aspect of the relationship, and then there’s the personal aspect. We take care of our dealers and retailers by offering continuous education and support around our products. We have our own in-house sales team that gives everything they have to build and maintain relationships with the shops in their territory. It is our team’s goal to make Bear Archery authorized dealers as successful as possible.

As Bear sees growth, we want our dealers to feel some of the same reward for their hard work. We offer incentives such as show specials, dealer exclusive products that drive traffic into their shops, and many other acts that reinforce our dedication to our partners.


AB: What can dealers expect from Bear Archery over the next few years?

AW: Growth. 2020 was a colossal year for our brands. From adding new team members and partners, to a successful 2020 product lineup that shattered sales records, Bear Archery has our foot on the gas with absolutely zero intention of letting up. Our launch last September for 2021 product has already yielded record results, and our team continues to break our own records and win industry awards at every turn.

Our marketing approach and the way we interact with our customers and dealers has become a top priority.


AB: Anything else you’d like to add about Bear Archery that dealers should know?

AW: Bear is, and always has been here, to support the dealer network. We hold our relationships with dealers and organizations that also help retailers as an utmost priority. The feedback, ideas, and suggestions that we receive from our dealers do not fall on deaf ears. Our team is always listening in hopes to improve our relationships and elevate our brands.


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