The Road to a New Bow With Prime Archery

The author learns what goes on behind closed doors as Prime Archery brainstorms, designs, builds and ultimately markets a new compound bow.

The Road to a New Bow With Prime Archery

Manufacturers of all types need to be innovative in designing new products, yet building them with economic feasibility. Pour too much of your budget into a new product and it could cost you — and your bottom line — dearly. This problem is magnified if your customer won’t pay the required amount for a high-dollar new product. On the flip side, if you sit on your laurels, then the competition will pass you by. New advancements in a product backed by marketing influences consumers into upgrading to the latest and greatest gear.

The smartphone industry is a case in point, and BlackBerry is a standout example. That single device was once a top contender in the handheld communications market. Today, it is still used for security purposes, but for most it is a ghost of the past as other models sped by with newer innovations.

You only need to look at the Apple iPhone to see how they handle market domination. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the iPhone held a market share of 56 percent in America. Android devices were no slouch, but Apple rallied $365 billion revenue in 2021; 52 percent of that resulted from highly lucrative iPhone sales.

Other companies continually introduce innovation for marketing campaigns to maintain consumer attention. Tesla, Samsung and even Doritos (new, short-run flavors) all keep updating and adding to their already successful product lines. This smart approach prompts you to purchase, embrace their brand and enjoy something new from a company you support.

Archery companies have a mission similar to that of Apple and Tesla. They also need to introduce innovative technology, models and ideas into the marketplace to retain customers. Sit on your laurels for a year or more, and you could become a BlackBerry in the blink of an eye.

The behind-the-scenes factory pics shown in this article came from Prime Archery. In the photo above, Marketing Manager Casey VanDerGraaf is shown assembling a new flagship compound.
The behind-the-scenes factory pics shown in this article came from Prime Archery. In the photo above, Marketing Manager Casey VanDerGraaf is shown assembling a new flagship compound.

Where It All Starts

Casey VanDerGraaf (above) is the marketing manager for Prime Archery (, one of the leading bow companies in the market today. VanDerGraaf has worked with Prime Archery and G5 for 5 years. In fact, he didn’t wait for college graduation to launch into the world of business. He landed a position with Prime Archery while still in studies. As a double major in advertising and graphic design, he was able to work 2 years with the company while finishing his education before continuing into his current position.

Like Apple and other previously discussed marketing leaders, Prime Archery must introduce new products annually. If you look at other giants in the archery industry, you see the reason. Mathews, Hoyt, PSE and others all race to the new year with a new technologically advanced compound bow to grab the attention of the archery world.

“Yes, we launch new models every year. The market looks for consistent product improvement and innovations,” said VanDerGraaf, who adds it is an ongoing process in the effort to have new product each year. “It takes a solid year to conceptualize, design and manufacture a bow. There are certain pieces of technology that are being developed years prior, but are only integrated if they are truly ready.”

An excellent example of technology that was in the works for years is Prime Archery’s customizable, adjustable parallel cam system. That system alone accounted for 3 years of design and manufacturing to launch. VanDerGraaf added that another of Prime Archery’s noted features was not born overnight.

“There are definitely some ideas that take a while to develop,” he said. “The Inline Cam System also took around 3 years to complete from idea to final product. So yes, we have some ideas we’ve been working on recently that will eventually come to light once we nail down the technology.”

Mindset to Manufacture

Keeping up with the Joneses, or rolling past them like a locomotive, requires a team of experts. As brilliant as Elon Musk is, he cannot do it all himself, especially running a space and electric car company. Archery companies succeeding to lead in the competitive nature of a specialized market also require a team to focus on innovation. At Prime Archery that team is led by Nate Grace and Scott Prater. This duo is in command of all aspects of engineering and product design for the year.

Grace and Prater have an extensive and long history regarding the engineering facet of the archery business. In fact, you could say it is in Grace’s blood. Nate Grace is the son of Prime Archery founder Lou Grace and a partial owner of G5 Prime. From years of working alongside his father that included hands-on learning, Grace absorbed the interest and desire to keep pushing Prime Archery to the next level.

Interestingly, Prater followed a similar course of action to end up in the archery industry. Prater’s father was an engineer, specifically an archery engineer. Prater acquired the aspiration to expand on the drive he received from his father. Today, Grace and Prater oversee the design of new models, the addition of innovative technology, testing of new models, and green lighting the launch of new product. It is a team effort that has helped continue Prime Archery’s domination as a top tier archery company.

One aspect that sets Prime apart from other industry leaders is their determination not to be led by trends of other companies. Of course, Prime realizes they need to be aware of current trends, transformations and customer demands, but they prefer to be leaders, not followers.

“We rarely compare ourselves much to competitors when designing a new bow,” VanDerGraaf said. “We focus on making the most accurate bow on the market, and that has stayed true for 11 years now. It is always performance over trends for us.”

Despite a goal focused on accuracy wrapped into a bow that will easily merge into hunting or competition markets, VanDerGraaf says Prime is not tone deaf to all innovations despite an objective of producing the best of the best

“Very little of our design arrives from trends,” he said. “There are certain features that consumers care more about because of competitors’ marketing, like noise and vibration reduction, but the real goal of our bows never strays too far away from our overall goal of accuracy.”

Prime Archery also pays attention to input from its customers. Despite working through many issues and additions to a product, sometimes they still have a product element that consumers may not appreciate. (Note: When I discussed the topic of consumer input with a trail cam employee recently, the company admitted a flaw that customers alerted them to immediately. That customer input led to a better product.) Prime Archery sees value in the comment-box approach. Even dealers can add to the discussion and good things result.

“We definitely listen to our consumers and dealers when it comes to bow improvement,” said VanDerGraaf. “The modular aspect of our cam was brought to attention by our dealers and consumers, as an example.”

Oftentimes, new ideas and innovations can lead to expensive investments in manufacturing. Prime Archery is no stranger to that complicated issue as technology races ahead. Still, they absorb these new costs and strive to expand marketing and the brand, instead of increasing prices on products. Prime understands the importance of hitting a price point the average consumer can meet, while still offering an accurate new bow.

“Yes, due to increased demand we have had to invest in production. Fortunately, this does not play into the price of a new model and we continue to offer great products at a great value,” said VanDerGraaf.

We’ve Got a Hot One

The final design results in extensive testing for any new product, whether it is a smart TV or a new compound. For Prime Archery, testing starts early in the engineering concept to ensure parts work in synergy and smoothly for the accuracy result. From there, Prime Archery takes on a personalized look and lets the employees run a new bow through the ringer.

“Testing depends on the model and technology,” said VanDerGraaf. “Testing begins in the engineering room, then slowly makes it to our inhouse hunters and employees to shoot after work. As it goes through these two steps, we start a first run of prototype bows. These are then shipped to our Prime pros to be given a final thumbs up. The bow changes several times throughout this testing process.”

Testing through the eyes of engineers, staff and eventually the professionals that Prime trusts with their branding mission, helps polish an already refined product. Of course, a finished bow is only as good as the marketing behind it. Nike, Under Armour, Gatorade and other companies marketing on a global stage, understand that important mission. Without branding and marketing, Gatorade is just another of the many energy drinks bombarding the market, and Under Armour is no better than a discount poly-based shirt sold at Walmart for a highly reduced price.

Successful archery companies also have embraced this marketing objective. They want consumers to understand they have a dependable and deadly product, but the marketing continues beyond that simplistic mission. Customers now are immersed in an archery world where a brand name becomes a lifestyle choice. Professional/celebrity hunters help promote a brand’s connection to hunting success along with everyday life that revolves around a bow company. In addition to seeing pros wearing company gear, you see the very depth of brand commitment merely driving around and witnessing truck decals that promote a company lifestyle.

“Marketing is a large portion of our yearly focus for a few reasons,” VanDerGraaf said. “Since we are still a younger company, compared to the top brands, we work on building brand awareness year-round. For the new bow launches, marketing takes on a very important role. Because we’re an engineering company at heart, the technology is very advanced and a lot more difficult to understand for the consumer.”

VanDerGraaf takes the launch personally, and once a new compound is cleared for takeoff, he kicks off a marketing campaign to introduce the latest model to the hunting world. That hype begins at least a month before the official new bow introduction. And after this introduction, the crew is ready to start on another goal. Twelve months in the future, it will all cumulate again to another new bow. There is no taking a breath in the world of archery innovation.

For more information on Prime Archery, visit


Sidebar: Importance of the ATA Show

Traditionally, new bows and archery tackle are introduced soon after the New Year at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show. This show is not open to the public and is held at a massive venue to allow retailers to see new gear, plus place orders for product to stock. During and after ATA is held, the public does get to see the launch of all new products via marketing and firsthand in outlets soon after the show.

It is the archery industry’s largest show to preview both competition and bowhunting gear. ATA even allocates a space, New Product Launch, for attendees to find the latest in innovative gear for the coming year. Shooting lanes at the show give visitors a place to test bows and other equipment safely onsite.

If you are not an ATA member or have not attended the ATA Show, consider it. In addition to being a sports show on steroids, ATA funds archery and the growth of bowhunting. To date, ATA has invested and pledged nearly $1 million to heighten the awareness of archery, introduce archery and aid in bringing archery facilities to metro areas. ATA also puts its money where its mouth is and fights for bowhunting rights across the nation.

Learn more about the ATA at


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.