We asked three veteran retailers from around the United States: Do you prefer to stock or special-order target bows for your customers? Here’s what they had to say.
Yankton, South Dakota
For target bows, we stock the bare minimum and special-order the rest. It’s difficult to predict the specs and preferences for target archers, as many customers want/need something specific.
Neutral colors are by far the most popular target-bow finishes in our area. Folks can build a pretty sexy target rig starting with a tan, black or brown bow. Not everyone has the funds to own a target and hunting bow, so a neutral color also gives them a bow that stands out on the range but blends in out in the field.
When customers are contemplating color choices, I carefully remind them that color influences resale or trade-in value of the bow down the road. Obviously, a black-finished bow holds better value than a hot pink bow, because you could potentially resell it to a bowhunter.
Our popular target-bow lines are Hoyt and Mathews. By far, Hoyt is the strongest seller here in our area. In fact, my customers demand it. The Podium X and Prevail models have sold particularly well for us over the past few years.
The bulk of our target bow buyers are those dedicated folks with plenty of spare time and resources. We see all ages, but the most prevalent are certainly those in their late teens and early to mid-20s.
Most of our target bow sales occur in December, January and February. This is directly correlated with the timing of indoor leagues. We have a cold climate here in South Dakota, and there aren’t many things to do in the winter. There is also a lot of hype and advertisements during that time, and all the cards line up for us to sell numerous target bows during those key months.
We special-order most of them. We tried stocking several target bows last year, but probably 75 percent of them didn’t sell, and we had to mark them down substantially to move them out. I wish target archery was more popular here, and that we’d sell dozens of target bows annually. But, it isn’t, and we don’t.
Of course, target bows are very expensive. Customers who are shopping for target bows want to see and shoot one before buying. I lend mine out several times monthly for that reason. There are several other target shooters here who’re willing to do the same with their equipment.
In our area, folks who buy target bows generally request colored finishes rather than camo or black.
Most of our target-archery sales happen starting in September and run through March.
We hold a 3-D shoot the second Friday of each month. It draws numerous shooters. Oddly, though, it has little to no effect on our target bow sales.
Some of our bowhunting customers turn their bowhunting rigs into 3-D rigs just to try it out. If they really enjoy it, some start considering the next level: buying a target bow.
Those who buy target bows from Texas Archery are mostly guys in their 40s and 50s who have the funds to dive in. Last year, we sold only a couple of target bows to Gen Z customers. It’s tough for parents to spend thousands on a sport when they’re unsure how long their children will stick with it.
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
The problem with stocking lots of target bows is that everyone wants something different. That goes for brand, colors and dexterity. Rarely do two folks want the same thing. You’ll risk not selling the bows within a reasonable timeframe, and then you’ll have to move them at or below cost.
Most of the target bows we have on hand are owned by our employees or me. We shoot a good mix of Hoyt, Elite and Mathews. We allow our customers to test-shoot and handle our personal target bows in the store, which helps them determine the model they want. From there, we special-order a bow in their specs and preferred colors.
Hoyt and Mathews tend to be our bestselling target bows. In particular, the Mathews TRX 38 is probably most popular. But, we don’t push anything on our customers. We let them decide.
As for finishes, we sell more colored target bows than camo. Honestly, though, black has become the favorite. The middle-aged and older shooters seem to prefer that less-flashy look, while the younger target bow buyers seem to prefer louder colors.
This may seem strange, but 12- to 16-year-old kids buy more target bows than the other age ranges. It’s because we have kids’ programs. Last summer, for example, we had 110 kids shooting at one of our programs. Those kids’ programs significantly boost our target bow sales.
December is our strongest month in terms of target bow sales. It’s right around Christmas and immediately before our indoor leagues begin. That’s when most customers seem to gear up.
Top image by Amanda Cooper