How to Sell More Releases

Releases are popular archery shop buys. Boost your release sales with what's to come.

How to Sell More Releases

I did a garage deep-dive not long ago. It’s a never-fun but always-necessary process. After sweeping, organizing and hauling two truckloads of how-did-I-gather-this-much-crap to the dump, I moved to my archery room, the one place in my garage I don’t mind organizing.

It hit me halfway through the process. I’d taken a plastic tote, slapped a “releases” label on it, and started filling it. When all was said and done, I had 27 different releases in the box. I’ve been bowhunting for exactly 20 years. You do the math. Yep, on average, I accumulate 1.35 releases per year. And, no, this doesn’t count the releases sent for testing and the like. The greenbacks for these 27 came right out of my back pocket.

I’m a curious soul and have a bit of OCD. Not a good mix. I had questions and needed answers. Over the course of the next hour, I called three good bowhunting buddies and asked them all the same question, “How many releases do you own?” The results: My first amigo, who has been bowhunting for seven years, owns eight releases; my second stick-and-string pal has been bowhunting for 10 years and owns 10 releases; and my third bowhunting brother has been in the game for exactly three decades and owns 19. Wow! Between the four of us, that’s 64 releases. Let’s err on the side of caution and shoot low. If each of those releases, on average, cost $45, that’s a total of $2,880. Not a bad chunk of change.

Release Crazy!

What’s the above mean to you? Multiple things possibly, but there should be one glaring fact: Archers are release crazy! Take a minute or 10 and do some online research or flip through a few release manufacturer catalogs. It doesn’t take long to realize that regardless of the ebb and flow of the archery economy, release manufactures often launch multiple new models each year across a broad range that includes index-finger, resistance (tension), thumb and hinge (back-tension).

The list of “why” the archery crowd is release crazy is a long one. Some prefer an index-finger for hunting but a hinge for target and 3-D shooting. Others like to swap between a thumb and hinge when training for the tournament trail. One guy will be over-the-moon about his fancy-to-do new index-finger, but will try a friend’s thumb-activated release and covet it. Then there is the target-panic-stricken crowd. These frustrated guys and gals are likely to try a gamut of options. This was me. After purchasing a resistance release and getting a hold on my target panic, I bought five different releases and started playing. I even know some bowhunters/3-D shooters that carry multiple thumb- and hinge-releases with them during practice sessions. They will set the releases to different “hotness” settings and then draw a release at random from their belt pouch.

You see where I’m going? Having a solid number of release option will help boost your bottom line.

Let ‘Em Shoot

I visit lots of archery pro shops over the course of the year. One, it’s part of my job, and two, I love them. The biggest surprise to me over the last year is the fact that only a handful of shops that I visited had releases available for testing.

I get it. You can’t open one of every kind of release in your shop and put them on the counter for guys and gals to play with. With that noted, you can, and should, have a solid selection of index-finger, thumb-activated, resistance and hinge-style releases on hand that customers can take to your indoor or outdoor range. Choosing a release is a personal process, and when a customer can shoot a range of releases, they will become comfortable with a certain style or styles and typically make a buying decision or two.

One Kansas pro shop I visited last year had 22 different releases available for testing. I tried several of them. In the end, I settled on a hinge-style release but wanted to try the manufacturer’s latest and greatest model in the same line. The dealer did not have this release available for testing, but carefully opened a package and let me take a shot or two under his supervision. I bought the release. Had I not, he would have simply placed it back in its packaging and put it on the shelf.

My family and I were on a road trip and were waiting for an oil change to be completed, which took a while. That afternoon, I spent close to four hours in that Kansas shop. During that time, 18 releases were sold. That’s not a bad four-hour average. The shop owner told me, “We sell a lot of releases, but that didn’t really start until we accumulated a solid test pile. Each year, I add a release or two to the pile of releases customers can come in and test. They love this. Many will read an article about how a hinge-style release will make them a better shooter, but they have no idea how to shoot a hinge. They come to the shop and not only can they shoot a hinge, but we gladly give them advice and teach them the process. We don’t always sell 18 releases over a four-hour stretch. In fact, that’s pretty extreme and you caught us on a good day. That said, we sell lots of releases because we carry lots of releases.”

I’ve always said that regardless of the sport, people need a coach and archery is no different.”

Offer Classes

That “teach them the process” line is an important one. In fact, I’ve visited a few shops lately that have added “release mastery” classes to their archery class lineup. Great idea! When I was learning to transition from a thumb-activated release to a hinge-style release, I would’ve gladly dropped some coin to acquire professional assistance. I’ve always said that regardless of the sport, people need a coach, and archery is no different.

One Midwest shop I know of is offering specific “how-to” release classes in the following categories: index-finger, thumb-activated, hinge-style and resistance. In each class, archers learn not only how to properly activate their release to achieve maximum accuracy, but also the ins-and-outs of their particular release’s function. This is a great idea. Today’s releases are high-tech devices with customization options. Most customers, however, because they think they may mess something up, take the release out of its package and never tinker with a single setting.

“We get people signing up for a class just so they can really learn how to take full advantage of their particular releases settings. We also offer a discount on classes if they purchase the release directly from us,” the wanted-to-remain-nameless shop owner told me.

Advertising and Display

No one knows your shop like you do, and you likely have an advertising plan that’s working well for you. My only suggestion is to fuel your shop’s release hype by letting your customers know you have several options available. A good Instagram and Facebook post showing various release types and styles can get a buzz going. If your shop is on Twitter, don’t be afraid to send out a Bob’s Pro Shop: We have multiple brands of index-finger, thumb, hinge and resistance releases available. #releases #bobsarchery tweet.

It’s also a good idea to let your customers know that they can test various release styles at your shop. Side of having a solid selection of releases set out with a sign branded with words like Go Ahead, Shoot Em’, you can send out a few social media posts from time to time. It’s also a good idea to have this information on your website.

If you’re offering classes, post class schedules and availability on your website, Facebook and at multiple locations in your shop. Be sure to include times and prices, and be sure to post updates as classes fill up.

Multiple times this past year, I had to ask pro shop owners if they carried hinge and resistance releases. Most did, but a few didn’t have the releases out on display. One shop owner told me, “We just don’t sell many of them, so we keep them behind the counter.”

It’s hard to sell something customers can’t see. Some customers are shy while others just don’t like to ask questions. If they don’t see a particular release on display, they are likely to simply assume you don’t carry it. The better your display, the more attractive it will be to customers. Make your releases visible, and be sure to have them separated by style.

A few tips you can apply right now and use throughout the year. Often, the difference between putting some extra coin in the bank and holding steady is having a willingness to embrace change and step outside the box. Don’t be afraid to offer a few extra release styles this year and possibly expand upon the number of brands you carry. Your customers will be glad that you did.

Four Go-To Releases

You can pick your poison, but I’ve tested throngs of releases over the years and if you’re looking to provide customers a few options for testing across the above-mentioned release categories, you can’t go wrong with this foursome.

T.R.U. Ball’s Goat is unique in that it can be converted from a thumb-style release to a hinge in a matter of about 20 seconds. The release feels great in the hand and boasts Flex Technology, which allows for finger articulation in the index- or pinkie-finger depending on whether your go with a three- or four-finger option. Both are included with the release. The sizeable, easy-to-grip thumb-barrel can be manipulated across a wide range. The release is crisp and highly functional.

Stanislawski’s Perfex Resistance comes in short- and long-neck versions and in sizes from small to x-large. The release is lightweight and operates via a thumb-lock safety that allows the archer to reach full draw without the worry of accidently triggering the release. Once at full draw, archers release the thumb-button and use back-tension to fire the release. The Perfex Resistance promises +/- 1/8 pounds to ensure shot-to-shot consistency.

Carter’s Lucky features a short head and body size as well as a super-customizable trigger system. The release’s Magnetic Attraction Tension System (M.A.T.S) doesn’t utilize springs. Rather, the shooter adds or removes magnets located in the body of the release head for instant trigger customization.

TRU-FIRE’s SEAR back-tension features fully machined components and a heavy, feels-great-in-the-hand brass handle. A four-sided sear with variable click options along with an easy-to-see hot/cold setting makes customization possible and easy. A trio of thumb-position holes further boost fit and feel, and the SEAR is convertible from a three-finger to a four-finger release. The release also accepts a wrist strap, which is sold separately.


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