Whether you're looking to purchase the latest bow on the market, or simply want to upgrade your current rig, the road to finding a quality pro-shop, one that knows how to set you up right, can throw more twists and turns at you than the track at Laguna Seca; but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, consider the following advice, and the next time you walk into an establishment looking for excellent service, you’ll be walking out with a smile.
Why Pro Shop?
There are several reasons why the beginning to mid-level archery enthusiast should choose a Pro-Shop. Perhaps one of the chief reasons would be a familiarity with bow “set-up” procedures; or better yet, a lack there of. Given the wide array of compound bows available today and the mind staggering number of equipment options being offered, choosing the products that will work best with you, your bow, and your style of hunting or shooting can be a daunting task; especially if you, like the majority of bowhunters, are not schooled in the “technical aspects” of archery. In which case, “properly” setting-up your new rig will be a difficult goal to accomplish.
To combat this harsh reality you will need to find someone who knows what works, what doesn’t----and why. You need to find someone with the experience and mechanical proficiency to do things the right way. To put it simple, you need to enlist the help and guidance of a quality pro-shop.
In archery, confidence can go a long way toward success. And nothing will give you more confidence than knowing your bow-rig is set up correctly. A quality pro-shop can make you an accurate, self-assured shooter by setting you up with the right gear.
A Good Start
One of the most critical issues faced while attempting to correctly set up your bow revolves around the arrow rest. Today’s rest of choice is almost unanimously the “drop-away” version. While this style of arrow rest most often represents the most accurate choice, it only works when installed correctly. Simply adding one to your bow doesn’t exactly mean that you will automatically achieve “laser-beam” type arrow flight. Unless you know how to set one up and what to look for when determining whether or not it is functioning properly, you’re most likely not going to get the added performance you paid extra money for; perfect arrow flight after the shot with no contact between the rest and you’re arrow’s fletching.
Most Pro-Shop experts will say the a critical starting point when setting up your bow involves choosing a quality arrow rest. Pictured here is the new NAP Apache Carbon drop-away mounted to a 2012 Mathews Helim.
Properly tuning a drop-away style arrow rest sometimes requires a lot of tinkering and technical “know-how” in order to get things just right. Some models simply do not match well with certain bow brands, some do not match well no matter what brand of bow you shoot, and some even require the shooter to orient the fletching a particular way. For example, some rests simply will not tolerate a cock-vane “up” orientation, conversely, others do. Some may call for a rotation with the cock-vane to the side in order to achieve good results, some may not. Unless you know which fall-away rest your bow prefers and how to correctly set it up, you could spend hours and hours trying to tune it. This is where a quality pro-shop can make all the difference. They’ve been there, done that. They know which rests work and what type of bow and arrow system they work well with. Obviously their knowledge can save you valuable time and money, but more importantly, they will insure the job is done right”.
Learn from the Best
Another significant reason for choosing a pro-shop is a shortening of the learning curve. Most aspects of archery are rarely cut and dry. Consequently, in order to avoid the many pitfalls facing a newcomer it pays to find someone who has been around the block a time or two. A quality pro-shop is the ideal place to find such an individual. In one afternoon, you can learn valuable insight with regards to shooting tips, equipment choices and bowhunting wisdom in general; things that otherwise may have taken you years of trial and error to figure out on your own. Talk about an advantage! When you consider the valuable information available at top notch establishments and the immediate affects it can/will have on your success as an archer and bowhunter, it is clear why finding a quality pro-shop is so important. The “networking” potential in these venues is immense.
Anytime you can be around other bowhunters or archers is a great time to learn something new. No other venue offers as much opportunity for this than a quality pro-shop.
In addition to insuring that your equipment functions as it should, along with the ability to speed up the learning process, pro-shops offer several added advantages over the DIY (do it yourself) route. For instance, good shops will often times offer their customers “free” shooting lessons and advice after purchasing a new bow-rig. Most often, at the really good shops, a certified IBO pro shooter will be on hand to assist with the lessons. Obviously, this type of professional attention is invaluable. Not only does it insure that proper shooting habits are instilled from the start, it also guarantees that the majority of bad habits that plague archers all over the country are immediately recognized and avoided.
Also, don’t overlook the fact that most quality shops will be happy to provide their loyal customers with “perks” so to speak. These gestures of appreciation can come in many forms. Most often minor adjustments are made to your rig at no charge. Sometimes hats and shirts are given away as well; providing advertisement for the shop owner and perhaps a means of showcasing favored equipment and/or facilities for (you) the shooter.
Another nice benefit of the pro-shop is the option to go in and “test” drive new equipment before actually putting down your hard earned cash and then realizing you made the wrong choice. Without a doubt, pro-shops are a bee-hive of knowledge, experience and camaraderie just waiting to be discovered.
Most good shops will have a place to “test drive” merchandise before actually buying it. This is an essential part of the process that ensures you leave with a smile on your face; the right set-up in the right hands will often cause such a reaction.
Making the Right Choice
When choosing a pro-shop one of the most important things to remember is that the devil is in the details. What I mean, is that there usually isn’t one or two defining characteristics that will reveal that you are in the wrong place. Rather, there will most likely be a number of little things that, while seeming trivial at first, could reveal clues too much larger issues.For example, be cautious of shops that try to push a certain piece of equipment into your hands. Having said that, let’s make clear that in order to accurately judge the true intentions of the guy behind the counter you must first understand that there is a difference between pushing a product and eagerly suggesting one. If a certain piece of equipment really is better than the one you initially went in to purchase, the guy selling it to you should be able to explain exactly why it is better. If he can’t, then that might be the first clue that your best interest aren’t what he had in mind.
Suggesting certain equipment options is fine as long as the reasoning behind such advice can be validated. If the transaction doesn’t ultimately benefit you the shooter, then it’s probably not a good investment. A reputable shop will do nothing without your best interest in mind.
In contrast, guys working at shops that are the “real deal” will often have their own personal bows on hand and can readily show you exactly what equipment they are using. More importantly, they can also tell you why they are using it. If that happens to be the case, pay close attention to what these individuals are telling you because odds are good that they have already sifted through the “low-grade” stuff and have found the best of what the market has to offer. Essentially, they can save you time, money and in the end make your set-up the best it can be.
Another indication as to whether or not you have made a wise choice lies in what happens after the sale. Is that where the service ends? Are you no longer ministered to like customer #1? If things seem to drastically change after you’ve spent the last of your piggy bank funds, then you’ve probably made the wrong choice. Case in point, even though it has been a few years since my last bow purchase, if I were to walk into my pro-shop today, the owner (Frank) would treat me like I was the most important guy in the building. Frank Addington and his wife Kathy, own and operate Addington’s Bowhunter Shop in Winfield, WV, and have been providing customers top quality service for over 25 years. When it comes to knowing what the consumer wants and needs, they are masters.
The benefits of any good pro-shop shouldn't stop once a purchase has been made. In fact, service typically gets better and better if you’ve selected the right shop for your needs.
In addition, if I was having a problem with my bow-rig he wouldn’t hesitate to fix it for me. Now you might be thinking that I receive special treatment for being a “writer” or something along those lines ….wrong! Frank treats everyone the same---like a close personal friend.
To Be Continued
Of course, there are other important aspects that go into selecting a quality pro-shop. In Part 2, I will delve a little deeper into the process and offer some final tips that will get you pointed in the right direction.