As editor-in-chief of both Archery Business and Bowhunting World, I get asked about crossbows … a lot. I used to tiptoe around the subject, afraid of offending one side or the other. I’m not saying it was right, but anyone who knows me knows I hate confrontation.
On the consumer side of the coin, as more and more states started to legalize the use of crossbows during regular archery seasons, I received email after email from frustrated vertical bowhunters. Many of them felt the permission of crossbows during regular archery seasons gave this new wave of horizontal bowhunters an unfair advantage. One letter, which I resurrected from my files, quoted from Wikipedia’s entry on the crossbow. It read:
“In many cultures, bowmen were considered a separate and superior caste, as their archery skill-set was essentially developed from birth and was impossible to reproduce outside a pre-established cultural tradition. In contrast, the crossbow was the first projectile weapon to be simple, cheap and physically undemanding enough to be operated by large numbers of conscript soldiers, thus enabling virtually any nation to field a potent force of ranged crossbowmen.”
A letter like the one above would instantly swing me from pro-crossbow back to the anti side of the coin. Then, I would get a letter like this:
“Mr. Bauserman, thank you for starting to cover crossbows in both both your trade and consumer pubs. As an archery pro shop owner, I vowed to never carry a crossbow on my shelves. A recent shoulder surgery changed my thinking. I figured I would be skipping my most coveted months of the year (October and November), but the crossbow allowed me to take to the woods. Plus, I got my son involved. He isn’t strong enough to pull the minimum vertical bow weight, but can, using a crank device, cock his crossbow. We both killed nice deer during November, and both of us shot them at less than 25 yards. Not sure these weapons gave us any unfair advantage. I started carrying them on my shelves at the store as well. The response was mostly positive. I did lose a few clients, but my sales have been increasing and overall my bottom line is growing. As of now, my overall profit margin is up 42.5 percent. Crossbows are the reason. The numbers don’t lie.”
The barrage of letters was relentless, and each and every one would pull me from one side of the fence to the other. It was stressful. Today, having watched this crossbow revolution evolve right in front of me and having shot, tested and hunted with the latest marvels from crossbow kingpins such as Barnett, Excalibur, Mission, Ravin, TenPoint and other manufacturers, I will say crossbows absolutely have a place in archery. They are here to stay, and for many, it’s time to get on the ship or sink.
If you’re not hanging crossbows on your pro shop racks, you’re missing out. I promise you there’s an entire clientele out there you’re missing. There’s the hardcore vertical archer who suffered a career-ending injury. There’s the older gentleman down the road who can no longer draw his vertical bow or hold it steady. There’s a father/son combo on the other side of town looking for a new way to get into the outdoors together. There’s a woman who’s been toting a rifle her entire life and is looking for a new challenge. Then there are those guys and gals like me, serious bowhunters who, from time to time, simply want to tote a new weapon around the woods.
Do what’s best for you and your business. Crossbows and crossbow accessories are yet another tool to boost your bottom line.
What do you think? Is the crossbow revolution getting stronger? Is it dying out? Have crossbows boosted your shop’s profit margin? I want to hear from you. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.