Bowhunting Business

Bowhunting What Sells For Bowhunters And Keep Products In Inventory.

Specialized archery shops are the norm these days, so much so many gun dealers don’t even try to compete in archery and bowhunting. Gun dealers who carry bowhunting gear, however, say the right mix of products can enhance their sales to bowhunters and gun hunters alike.

Shaun Lacasse is one of the owners of The Gun Room in Portland, Ore. He said The Gun Room has carried bowhunting gear since about 1990.

“One big reason bowhunting products are important to us is the tag situation in Oregon,” he said. “Hunters have to draw to get deer and elk tags in the better units. If a gun hunter isn’t able to draw tags, he still has a much greater general tag opportunity if he bowhunts. So while he’s accumulating preference points for the deer or elk hunt he wants, he can buy a general archery tag and have a good archery hunting opportunity.”

As a result, many of The Gun Room’s hunting customers are what Lacasse calls “crossover” customers. “We have the opportunity to sell them all the equipment they need to bowhunt and not burn their rifle points,” he said.

In general, Lacasse said, his customers prefer higher-end bowhunting products. “They buy better quality stuff and replace it less often,” he said. This means bigger sales but fewer of them. In terms of bows I only carry Hoyt, which are some of the best bows made.”

When it comes to other bowhunting products, Lacasse sticks with what he terms “the basics.”

“When I started carrying bowhunting products in 1990, I had a better selection,” he said. “I phased out the stuff we didn’t sell and just replaced with things such as calls and accessories people bought and needed. By doing this, I tie up less money in inventory and stay with products we know are going to turn.”

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Bohning Vane Product Box

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ZEISS TERRA 3x XB75

An Add-On To Your Business

For The Gun Room, Lacasse said, bowhunting is an additional business that coexists with the primary business, which is new guns, used guns, gun accessories and hunting gear.

“The main lines of bowhunting products we deal with are Hoyt, Easton, and Beman,” he said. For customers who are looking for the ultimate in high-end arrows, Victory Archery has a full line of high-performance carbon fiber arrows; Bloodsport Impact Hunter Pro Hunter arrows utilize their proprietary Rugged Wrap in their carbon fiber arrows.

The Gun Room stocks two primary clothing lines, Stika and Core 4. “The cool thing about those clothing lines is they cross over,” Lacasse said. “They’re both hunting lines that work equally well for both bowhunters and rifle hunters, and it’s all high-end stuff.”

One thing reason why Lacasse sells bowhunting products so well is he is a long-time bowhunter himself.

“Every Friday night my father is on the range teaching people how to shoot shotguns, and I’m upstairs teaching other people to shoot bows,” he said. “We live this. If I’m not here selling it, I’m out using it.”

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One trend in crossbows is toward smaller, lighter bows — like the new Horton
Storm RDX. These lighter crossbows are bringing women, children and older
shooters into the bowhunting market.

Crossover Appeal

At Midwestern Shooters Supply in Lomira, Wis., Randy Boelkow said the same customers who bowhunt also use guns to hunt.

“Carrying bowhunting products helps you bring in the person who does both,” he said. “Bowhunting is complementary to the rest of it. When this happens, you sell more products — like tree stands — you already carry anyway.”

Catering to bowhunters really helps sell clothing, Boelkow said.

“Gun guys only buy so much clothing,” he said. “If you’re just a gun shop, it’s kind of hard to stock enough clothing because you have to buy it in such big quantities. But when you bring the archery guys in, it’s easier to stock clothing. This category is just kind of something you have to have.”

In Wisconsin, Boelkow said, a big change recently took place in the state’s crossbow market, “Crossbows were legalized a year ago, which has cut our regular bow sales probably in half. Everybody is hunting with crossbows right now because it’s something new and different.”

One trend in crossbows is toward smaller and lighter bows, such as the Barnett Raptor and Lady Raptor; also, Barnett’s Recruit Lite Series is great for kids. The availability of crossbows is bringing new shooters into the field, according to Boelkow.

“It’s bringing in ladies and kids,” he said. “It’s also bringing back older shooters who haven’t been able to shoot a bow. Now they can hunt again.” One brand of hunting clothing great for women, including bowhunters, is Próis; it’s high performance clothing designed by women, for women.

The biggest selling archery equipment in his store recently, Boelkow said, has been bowfishing equipment.

“Sales of bowfishing gear are on the rise,” he said. “Bowfishing has been around for a long time, but it’s really taken off in this area recently. Bowfishing tournaments are getting really big.” Muzzy has introduced the Addict Bowfishing Kit to help bowhunters get started in bowfishing.

Boelkow carries several bowlines, including PSE, Hoyt and G5.

“In sights, I carry HHA,” he said. “All the Hoyt Fuse stuff sells really well for us. Carbon Express sells really well for us. We well a lot of G5 and Rage broadheads.”

Advertising has a lot of effect on sales, Boelkow said. “What sells really well is whatever is being advertised nationally, and who’s shooting it,” he said. “You can have a great product, but if it’s not nationally advertised, it usually doesn’t last too long.”

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Dealers report the sales of bowfishing products are on the rise, and Muzzy’s Addict
Bowfishing Kit provides a convenient way for bowhunters to crossover to bowfishing.
The kit includes a 58-inch recurve bow with a 40-pound draw at 28 inches, the XD
Pro Reel, Fish Bone arrow and more.

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Carrying the right mix of products can enhance your sales with bowhunters and gun hunters alike.

Do Events Impact Sales?

In mid-August, Midwestern Shooters Supply holds its annual Fall Fest. There are specials throughout the store, trial guns, vendor reps, the Sportsman’s Rummage, a gun auction, raffles, food, entertainment, pig wrestling and community fundraisers.

“We have 13 acres, and we do the Fall Fest there,” Boelkow said. “We don’t charge anything for people to attend, and we bring in about 10,000 people. All the archery reps are here, and people can come try anything they want from crossbows to fishing bows to regular bows.”

When Boelkow brings new bowhunting products into his inventory, he introduces them here. “The Fall Fest is like a sports show, but we do a lot more than just have sporting goods on display. Last year we served more than 1,200 people at the fish fry. We have a pig-wrestling contest for the kids on Saturday in a swimming pool. The local fire department does the beer and we have bands at night,” he noted.

Boelkow has plenty of room to carry both guns and bows; the store has more than 30,000 square feet of usable space. “We have an indoor archery range and an indoor pistol range,” he said.

Some local archery shops have restaurants in them, according to Boelkow.

“I know one shop runs a pool league, dart league and an archery league on the same night. They also run horseshoes and volleyball,” he observed.

Boelkow noted the prevalence of indoor leagues probably is related to seasons and climate.

“Once you get into December, indoor archery leagues are huge,” he said. “People want to make a night of it. They want to have food and refreshments. We don’t have this because we have a pistol range, but the big archery places run it as a whole business.”

However you approach it, carrying bowhunting products in your gun shop means better inventory, crossover customers and more dollars to your bottom line.
By Carolee Anita Boyles

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