By Taylor Pardue
Bow-repair kits are available from a number of manufacturers in case you need to perform emergency surgery on your gear, but many archers are dependent on their local pro shop for bow maintenance. If you fall into this category, you would be wise to have a backup brick-and-mortar in mind before going on your next adventure. But how do you find a quality shop if you’re in a pinch and away from home?
Google & Chill
Making a list of pro shops near your destination is great, but in this digital age, Google Maps is more than capable of steering you toward help in your time of need. The web-mapping service can give you directions to a pro shop as well as provide you with business reviews to determine if one shop, while closer, is as reliable as another shop a few miles farther away. Once you’ve made a decision, simply check the shop’s hours — also possible via Google Maps — and drive over.
By the Brand
If you experience a problem specific to your bow’s manufacturer — say, a problem with its limbs — you may need to have the bow worked on at a specific pro shop in order to comply with said manufacturer’s warranty. Contact the manufacturer and explain your situation, then ask where it would like you to have the bow worked on. Some manufacturers will even mail a replacement bow to where you’re staying so you can keep hunting while your bow is undergoing repairs.
If you only need a certain part in order to fix your bow, still contact the manufacturer to determine if a local pro shop is one of its dealers and/or has the component. Shop A and Shop B may both be dealers, but one may have been a dealer longer than the other. As a result, the older dealer may have spare parts lying around from older bow models — the same model you shoot, perhaps — that the younger dealer would have to order, if it could get them at all. Your bow manufacturer should be able to point you in the right direction.
Bow Repairs in the Age of Coronavirus
With COVID-19 forcing many archers to self-quarantine as of this writing, accessing even your local pro shop can be difficult. The Archery Trade Association is trying to help these small businesses navigate the situation by providing them with a wealth of online knowledge.
“As of last Wednesday [March 25, 2020], archerytrade.org has hosted a COVID-19 roundup page,” Allison Jasper, the ATA’s senior director of marketing and communications, said. “This page is updated daily, sharing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, federal excise tax info, basic how-to videos that walk members through relief resources and more.”
While much of the information is geared toward fiscal and governmental issues, there’s also plenty of advice regarding customer service. One of the ATA’s “9 Things Your Archery Business Can Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic” is offer creative business solutions. People are still shooting their bows while self-quarantining, which means they are still putting wear and tear on their equipment. The ATA suggests that pro shops offer “porch pickups” and other forms of drive-thru services, as well as deliveries and house calls when possible.
Mack’s Camo Connection, located in Atwood, Tenn., is one pro shop taking the ATA’s advice. Owner Dale Nelson said Tennessee is currently under a stay-at-home suggestion rather than a shelter-in-place order. Nonessential businesses are closed, but Mack’s also has a hardware department, allowing it to maintain a semi-normal business flow.
“Customers can still come inside, but to help curb this deal, we’re taking all the precautions we can,” Nelson said of the coronavirus. “We’ve got hand sanitizer everywhere. Every transaction that we make, whether it’s cash or card, we wipe the counters down, wipe the credit-card machine, door handles. The people that are still coming in, they actually feel comfortable in here after seeing all the measures that we take. We’ve got signs posted suggesting the social-distancing deal of six feet. Nobody is really congregating in crowds; everybody is just kind of coming in and picking their stuff out and leaving.”
Mack’s is also offering phone-in services, free local delivery and curbside services for people who don’t want to get out of their vehicles.
“We’ve had people call and want to pay for stuff over the phone, and they literally pull up on the curb, and we go out there and sit [the customer’s product(s)] in the bed of their truck. They roll the window down, thank us and then go on their way.”
Butchko’s Big Tine Archery, located in Mount Pleasant, Penn., has also adapted to this unusual economic environment. Ordered to close its doors to the public by Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus response, this nonessential business responded by offering free shipping and delivery to its customers. It also reassured them that the shop could still fulfill orders and perform services.
“We’re doing drop-offs. We’re doing pickups. We’re doing any kind of shipping. If somebody needs something, we can ship it out,” manager Leah Butchko said. “It’s not like [the state is] telling you that you can’t have people drop stuff off; people are just not allowed in your business.”
Butchko said Big Tine is also taking this opportunity to ramp up its social-media efforts, a process which may include a digital shooting competition. Other pro shops may also adopt this strategy if COVID-19 puts a stop to summer 3-D leagues and the like.
And what about that nonessential business label? In order to help pro shops — and the industry as a whole — stay afloat during these unprecedented conditions, the ATA is urging the governors of all 50 states to reclassify archery and bowhunting businesses as essential. In addition, the organization is asking that the 11 percent federal excise tax on archery goods be deferred.
“We continue to leverage our considerable network at the state level and encourage our members to make us aware of critical local issues,” Jasper said.
Needing to have your bow repaired is never fun, but thanks to pro shops the country over, it is possible under even the most challenging circumstances — including a pandemic. If you can, please support these local heroes who are helping keep our equipment in working order.