Luckily, I’ve never had a bowstring break while hunting or practicing with a compound, regardless of string age, but I’ve stood beside archers when it’s happened, and it’s scary. No one I know has been seriously injured, but I have witnessed busted strings leave nasty welts on forearms and wrists of archers.
To help explain my idea for conducting a “bowstring specials week,” let me hit the rewind button. I’ve never worked at an archery shop, but I did spend seven years in outdoor retail at a fishing store. I mention this because two of our busiest days each year was during “line winding weekend.” Many anglers waited patiently for this early spring weekend for the opportunity to get a price break on re-spooling bulk fishing line on their reels. Early in my retail career because I was “the new guy,” and later because I was efficient operating the line winding machine, I spent hour after hour re-spooling bulk fishing line and talking to anglers. Sure, some of them simply visited our store to buy new line and then left without spending a penny on anything else, but the vast majority also bought lures and terminal tackle, and some purchased new rods and reels.
A fishing store has an advantage over an archery-only shop because after a bowhunter is rigged for big game, he or she doesn’t need to revisit the shop unless they run low on arrows or broadheads, or something goes wrong with their bow or accessories. Anglers, however, are constantly running out of live bait, the hottest lure, line, etc.
One way you can market to bowhunters who aren’t regular archery shop visitors is with a summertime promotion focused on new bowstrings and cables. While price savings is certainly something to call out in roadside signage, radio ads, online ads, social media posts, and email blasts, I think it’s even more important to educate customers on the safety aspect of getting a new string and cables on their aging compound.
I don’t consider it a “scare tactic” to show photos of the damage caused to a bow — or bowhunter — from a busted string; I see it as providing valuable information and insight. Your goal is to calmly inform them about the topic of string maintenance/replacement and safety, then let them make the decision on whether now is the right time to purchase a new bowstring and cables. Of course, offering a dedicated week with discounted pricing on new bowstrings and cables will give them the incentive to make a decision.
When you promote the event, be sure to use language such as “free bowstring safety inspection.” Not everyone will need a new bowstring and cables, and by all means, be honest to gain the trust of customers. If all they need is bowstring wax, then demonstrate how to treat their string as they make the nominal purchase. Provide tips on how to determine whether strings and cables need to be replaced. Have several bows on-hand that illustrate everything from “string replacement is a must” to “this string is great for at least another year.”
Of course, when strings and cables should be replaced is largely a matter of opinion except in the most obvious (bad) cases. As you and your staff know, bowstring wear is dependent on many factors, including string age, number of shots, bow poundage, string care, bow storage conditions, accidents (in the field or at the range), etc.
With proper care, a bowstring should last at least 2,000 shots, and even 3,000 shots doesn’t automatically mean a string will be severely worn. Keep in mind it’s likely some of your customers won’t shoot that many times in a decade. I’m not suggesting you tell someone with a 10-year-old bowstring that he or she is “fine for another year,” but if someone shoots 50-100 arrows per year (maybe they have a shoulder injury, etc.), and they take care of their equipment, it’s reasonable to think their bowstring/cables could last 5 years.
For more insight into this topic, I reached out to Jerrod “Ears” Meyer, who carries the title “New Product Design/Logistics” for Vapor Trail Archery in Ham Lake, Minnesota.
Meyer said, “My answer is always this: Change your strings when they LOOK like they need to be changed, or if you have any DOUBT in your mind about them. A $100-$150 set of strings is way better than a $5,000 hospital visit.
“We typically recommend changing out your strings every other year if you shoot now and then, or every year if you shoot a lot. This also is dependent on the care you give them, how much abrasion is put on them, etc. If you're walking through CRP and sumac bushes for 30-45 days during hunting season dragging your bow through them, then your string may need replacing after 4-5 months!
“That being said, I've kept sets on for 3-4 years with no difficulties. Strings are built from a man-made fiber that breaks down over time whether you're shooting them or not, and regardless of the storage/use conditions. Eventually, they will fail. Furthermore, as the fibers break down, you WILL lose consistency and stability, especially in a poorly built set, or using lower-end materials.
“It's just like changing the oil in your truck. It's recommended every 3,000 miles, or 2,000 miles after high mileage. Will the truck still work fine after 4,000 miles? 5,000 miles? Yes — but is the risk of ruining your motor worth it? To some it is, and others are sticklers about oil changes every 2,000 regardless.
“Smart shooters replace strings before needed . . . and usually every year.”
As happened often in our fishing store during our line winding weekend, you can be sure many bowhunters will also spend money on other products and services simply because they are standing in your store. For example, if they are getting a bit low on arrows, they’ll probably order new ones to save a special trip in another month or two. Or maybe they’ll need new fletching on a handful of arrows. Of course, having new bows on-hand and ready for test shooting might be just the push a bowhunter needs to retire his or her old compound and upgrade to a new model.
Bowhunters around the country are shooting this summer in preparation for upcoming fall big game seasons. A high percentage of them haven’t held their bow since the close of last year’s archery season. A thoughtful message from your archery shop delivered to their smartphone or laptop about a sale on new bowstrings, and the reason why they should consider this important service, can save them possible injury, get their bow working in tip-top shape, and boost your bottom line.
This article was originally published via Archery Business.