HeadHunter Bow Strings

A tried-and-true string and cable maker with a mission to customize everything but the color of the string.

HeadHunter Bow Strings

Brothers Brian, Brad and Jeff Adee have built HeadHunter Bow Strings into a bubbling enterprise, trusted by several top compound and crossbow manufacturers.

Founded by Ted Gillis in 1991, the roots of HeadHunter Bow Strings were planted in the small western slope town of Meeker, Colorado. In 2011, brothers Brian, Brad and Jeff Adee purchased the company and used their combined 60-plus years of business and manufacturing experience to deepen and spread those roots. By 2015, the trio had taken the small Meeker operation, grown it and opened a second facility in Milton, Wisconsin. Today, HeadHunter Bow Strings is a bubbling enterprise trusted by throngs of top  compound bow and crossbow OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) manufacturers.

In an era of custom bowstrings made with myriads of colors, HeadHunter continues to ride the horse that has brought them this far, and they have no plans to loosen the saddle and make a switch. HeadHunter is not a custom bowstring and cable maker. They are not a fly-by-night operation. They couldn’t care less about color. Rather, HeadHunter’s mission is to provide high-quality bowstrings that meet the high-volume needs of its many trusted partners. The mission is working. To date, HeadHunter produces more than 1 million topnotch, built-to-spec bowstrings and cables each year. They have perfected a process, and they’re proud of it.

AB: There are throngs of bowstring makers out there. What makes HeadHunter different?

HH: We have an excellent workforce. We have people in our Meeker plant that have pretty much been there from the beginning. The same goes for our Milton facility. Making bowstrings is not something anyone can do well over a one-, two- or three.-year period. It takes time to perfect the process. We get asked a lot why we have two separate facilities. The answer is really simple: We don’t make custom strings for a few consumers. Rather, we make millions of strings for OEM manufacturers. If a plant were to burn down, or if something were to happen, we need to keep rolling. We work with partners all over the world, and not being able to supply our customers is not an option.

We don’t sell to the aftermarket world. We work directly with the OEMs and their engineering teams. We build strings and cables that are absolutely designed for the unit they’re being placed on. Today’s bows and crossbows are so sophisticated, and things like size, diameter and the like, when it comes to strings and cables, is critical. By working with the OEMs — often during the design phase — we are able to test and tinker and get the strings and cables perfect. We have tolerances as tight as 2.5 thousandths on some units. We can do this because we work directly with the OEM. Aftermarket string makers don’t do this. They often don’t have the exact specs, and this can lead to serious problems. Twenty years ago, it didn’t matter if the space between the posts and the cam were a little off. Today, it absolutely matters.

HeadHunter works with manufacturers to build bow strings in all shapes, sizes and colors, but their number one priority is providing a quality string that matches its specs precisely.
HeadHunter works with manufacturers to build bow strings in all shapes, sizes and colors, but their number one priority is providing a quality string that matches its specs precisely.

AB: What makes HeadHunter the go-to string for bow manufacturers?

HH: In addition to what we’ve already mentioned, it’s crucial to point out that we send each of our customers two or three different configurations. This allows the customer to take these strings and cables out and do fitness testing on them. Manufacturers will take bows fitted with our strings and cables and shoot them through their shooting machines up to 15,000 times. When OEMs work with us, they know they can count on quality. Once a decision is made on a particular string and cable system, we don’t build a few of them, we build thousands of them for that particular model of bow or crossbow. The last question anyone ever asks us is, “What color can we get these in?” We don’t care about color. We care about performance and making sure our OEMs get strings and cables that will satisfy their customers. A lot of aftermarket guys build a string that hasn’t even been tested on a single unit. Sure, they can make it look cool, but does it meet the necessary tolerances for ultimate performance? From what we have seen … usually not.


AB: Why should the serious bowhunter or target archer be concerned with who makes their string?

HH: Customers need to know that OEMs put our strings and cables through a rigorous testing process. Nothing is left to chance when it comes to building strings and cables. We go the extra mile. The string and cable that comes on a specific bow or crossbow was specifically engineered to optimize the performance of that particular model. One thing OEMs have really changed over the last 5 years is their thinking about the importance of strings and cables. At one point, it was all about building the most economical set of strings and cables possible. Now, OEMs are focused on building the best strings possible, and we are happy to facilitate their needs. They want their customers to have bowstrings that promise performance and longevity, and HeadHunter strings meet these demands.

It’s important to note that price-point bows and crossbows will have strings and cables that reflect the price-point focus. They are by no means bad strings and cables, but the materials and the like are not what one will find on flagship models.


AB: Describe HeadHunter’s string building process in as much detail as possible without giving away any trade secrets.

HH: Being an OEM supplier, all of our equipment is handmade in our facilities. Everything is designed and made with a three-part criterion that includes speed and efficiency, repetitiveness and high quality. We don’t build one string that has to come in spec. We build 5,000, 10,000, 100,000 bowstrings that must be totally identical. That’s what we work toward. When every string is highly engineered and built exactly the same, errors are eliminated. Our system operates off two plants. We have about the same number of employees in both plants. All our employees are highly trained and all are working off the same equipment — equipment we have built. We get some very big orders that need to be turned around quickly. This isn’t a problem for us. This is what we do. We can go to work on a big order using both plants because our system is the same, our quality control is the same, and our employees have been trained in the exact same way. You can pull off these types of orders only if you have very tight controls, incredible equipment and highly trained people.

We make our bowstrings and cables right here in America. We are very proud of that. In fact, even the raw materials we use to build our strings and cables are made in the USA. We do plenty of research and development, and one thing we spend time doing is looking at aftermarket competitors. It seems color is always their big customization. To us, customization means so much more. When we are in the development phase with customers, we either have a complete unit of limbs, cams and risers, or if we are early on in the process, we may have only the cams. This allows us to design our strings and cables for a specific unit. That’s true customization. Through testing and development, we are customizing the specific bowstring for each of our customer’s specific models. In short, aftermarket string makers focus on color. We focus on everything but color. We build hundreds of samples per week just for the sake of testing. We actually work with many OEMs on their cam design so it’s string-friendly. Sometimes, we don’t even have a cam to work with. Our OEMs will have an idea and send us a drawing of a cam and we go to work. We work to help our customers succeed. If our customer succeeds, then so do we.

HeadHunter works directly with the OEM’s engineering teams to build bowstrings and cables  designed specifically for particular compounds and crossbows.
HeadHunter works directly with the OEM’s engineering teams to build bowstrings and cables designed specifically for particular compounds and crossbows.

AB: What do you want the industry to know about HeadHunter that we have not covered?

HH: In the 28 years we’ve been in business, we have never employed a sales or marketing person until now. We don’t even have signs on our buildings. Why? Simple. We want the focus to be on our customers and not on us. We have built this company based on the relationships we have with our customers. We are not interested in just being a supplier. We are interested in partnering with OEMs to help them build the best bows and crossbows that they can build. We build piles of samples every week that are being hand-shot, taken on hunting trips, fired through shooting machines and the list goes on. This allows us, when we partner with an OEM, to build products that are going to make their products better.

Over the years, we have had some major players come to us and we’ve turned them down. They didn’t want to build a relationship. They wanted a quote and some strings built. That’s not how we operate. We operate just the opposite. Recently, we flew in a prospective customer. We flew in the engineering team and walked them through our entire process. When they left, they knew exactly how we could help them make their product better. The only way to be successful is when you and your customer are on the same page and both want each other to be successful.

We have grown a lot just by word of mouth. One OEM recommends us to another and a new partnership is formed. The main reason we are reaching out to the world now is we have OEMs wanting to put the HeadHunter brand on their final product. Our OEMs are testing our strings against every other string in the industry and they are choosing us. This caused us to have some difficult internal conversations, but we’ve decided this “get our name out there” approach is the right one.

Current leadership strives to ensure HeadHunter Bow Strings is an industry leader, and their plan for the future is to continue to lead.
Current leadership strives to ensure HeadHunter Bow Strings is an industry leader, and their plan for the future is to continue to lead.

AB: Tell us about your future plans.

HH: We keep pushing the bar. We had a good friend tell us years ago that when you’re the leader in the industry, you must continue to lead. That’s our plan. Up until now, we have always kept our head in the sand, but not anymore. We want our customers to know that we keep innovating. We want them to know about our CNC-drives, lasers and automatic shutoffs to keep everything the same all the time. We keep innovating. Research and development don’t stop. In fact, it’s never been a bigger part of our process. We have such amazing people working for us — people that believe in what we do. It’s these people that allow us to constantly step up to the plate and provide OEMs with the designs that we do. We know these designs will continue to get more advanced than they already are, and we will be ready to facilitate those designs. We are working with different raw materials and doing testing that no one in the industry is even aware of. It’s this type of research and development that will allow us to continue to lead from the front.

For more information on HeadHunter Bow Strings, visit www.headhunterbowstrings.com.


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