WANT RAPID GROWTH?
Focus On Knowledge, Big-Four Bows And Events.
With nearly 19 million active archers in the United States, bowhunting remains a lucrative addition to a firearms dealer’s business. Since many gun owners also hunt with bows, dealers already have a built-in bowhunting clientele buying at their stores.
The challenge, then, becomes how to develop an equally successful bowhunting business that will coexist and thrive alongside a dealer’s existing firearms business. It’s a challenge Brandon Scott knows well. As one of the general managers of Springhill Outfitters in Selma, N.C., Scott helped build Springhill, which opened in October 2003. Scott, along with his parents, Wanda and Eddie, and Trent Lassiter are owners of the store.
“When we opened the store, there was not one piece of archery equipment in there,” Scott said. “But those of us who opened the store — my father, myself and our first employee — all bowhunted. But we were wary of carrying archery equipment at the time because none of us had truly ever worked on bows.”
While Scott understood the basic physics of a bow, he didn’t have the knowledge to set up a bow for a customer, which became a problem when his clients began asking about archery equipment. So Scott began studying archery and received tutoring from several well-known bow technicians in North Carolina. As a result, Springhill began carrying bowhunting equipment in 2004.
Springhill Outfitters owners Trent Lassiter (left) and Brandon Scott (also general managers)
have enjoyed continue growth in the archery/bowhunting segment of their business.
Grow The Business
“It’s grown exponentially since then, and we’re still growing,” Scott said. “We haven’t had a year where we’ve plateaued or seen negative growth. There are certain factors that have definitely helped that growth. We built a new shop and have an indoor archery range, and we continually try to change our offerings throughout the store.”
Scott strives to stay abreast of the latest bowhunting trends, but he never changes the four major bow lines he carries: Mathews, Mission, Hoyt and BowTech. While he’s expanded into PSE and recently added Elite, he stressed that firearm dealers need to carry one of the “Big Four” bow lines when expanding into archery.
“We didn’t start with carrying a major company back in 2004,” Scott said. “I used Parker compound bows instead. But I noticed the most successful archery shops have Mathews, Mission, Hoyt and BowTech. Once we added BowTech and Mathews, we started to see major growth.”
Scott also stands by companies like Carbon Express, Easton and Beman for arrows; Field Logic for targets; G5 for broadheads; and HHA Sports for sights. He also carries inventory from companies like Cobra, Trophy Ridge, Bohning, NEET and others.
BowTech is one of the “Big Four” bow manufacturers that Brandon Scott of Springhill Outfitters recommends. The BowTech Experience compound offers top performance demanded by bowhunters. Visit www.bowtecharchery.com.
As Scott points out, simply carrying the right equipment isn’t enough. During time spent studying under different bow technicians, he learned that acquiring the knowledge to properly set up bows and assist customers is critical when expanding into bowhunting.
“Any gun dealer who is interested in branching out into archery needs to try it first,” Scott said. “Dealers need to go out and get a bow, shoot it, and see how fun and enjoyable it is. It’s hard to sell something if you don’t know anything about it, so you need to get educated.”
While Scott learned the bowhunting trade under a variety of bow technicians in the North Carolina area, he also attended archery technical certification schools at Mathews, Hoyt and Parker. Scott asserts that gaining qualified basic knowledge about archery is the most challenging and critical component of success for dealers.
“Just like there’s a lot of technical ability when it comes to gunsmithing, you have added technical needs with archery,” Scott said. “You’ve got to know what you’re doing. If you set up the bow incorrectly, it’s no different than a gun. You could possibly hurt someone, or they could have a bad experience and never come back to your store.”
In addition to archery technical certification schools, Scott emphasized that the major bow companies like Mathews and Hoyt are also a great resource for firearms dealers who are venturing into bowhunting.
“I haven’t seen one bow line that won’t help you out,” Scott said. “You can visit their headquarters, and they’ll put together a bow with you and share a ton of technical knowledge. Whichever bow company you decide to start with, use them as a resource. Go to the factory and see how the bows are made. The companies want you to be successful.”
Hiring the right staff members also weighs heavily in whether or not a new bowhunting business will be successful.
“There’s not a ton of excellent bow technicians out there,” Scott said. “It’s like having a good gunsmith; they’re not exactly coming out of the woodwork. We are lucky to have four technicians who can set up bows — myself, an archery manager and two other technicians, one of whom is an apprentice. We also have a couple part-timers and full-timers who can help with crossbows.”
Bowhunting customers purchase a lot of equipment in addition to bows and arrows,
including optics, treestands, seasonal clothing, game calls, blinds, scents,
GPS units, rangefinders and more.
Springhill Outfitters’ bowhunting business has “grown exponentially,” according to
general manager Brandon Scott. The well-known North Carolina dealer highlights
its archery and bowhunting offerings on its website: www.springhilloutfitters.com.
Engage Your Customers
Once dealers have the right inventory, equipment and staff to start a successful archery business, the promotion and selling begins. From archery camps to simulated hunts and hunter education classes to special sales, Springhill Outfitters hosts a variety of events to engage customers in the sport, as well as get them excited about new products.
“Trent Lassiter and I are hunter education certified,” Scott said. “We teach hunter education classes at the store, and then participants can go right into the indoor range and experience archery for the first time.”
Springhill also hosts Beginner Archery Camp for children ages 8 to 12 and Archery Skills Camp for ages 9 to 15. Held during the summer, the camps provide a safe environment for youth to learn about bowhunting. Springhill Outfitters also offers archery leagues, 3-D shooting and TechnoHunt leagues. The TechnoHunt virtual archery simulator provides interactive shooting for target shooters and bowhunters.
Scott relies heavily on Facebook to promote events like Super Bow Sunday when Springhill highlights new archery products for the coming year, provides demonstrations and offers prizes. He stresses every promotional event as one more opportunity to engage a new archery customer.
“With our bows, we want people to try it out before they buy,” Scott said. “They can go into our 20-yard range and shoot each bow they’re interested in. It’s like buying a car; you want to test drive it before you commit.”
Like selling firearms, customer service is critical when expanding into archery, especially in the early days when dealers are working to develop their reputation as a trusted supplier to local bowhunting enthusiasts.
“We back everything we do,” Scott said. “If customers aren’t happy with how their bow is set up, we’re going to stand behind that and keep working with the bow to make sure they’re happy. Before they leave the store, we’re going to have them shooting the bow in the range to make sure we’ve done everything we can to set them up for success.”
Visit Springhill Outfitters at www.springhilloutfitters.com. Also check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SpringhillOutfitters; follow them on Twitter: twitter.com/SpringhillOut; and on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/SpringhillOutfit.
By J.K. Autry
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