COVID-19 still causing equipment shortages for outdoorsmen
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first quarter of 2020 saw perhaps the greatest changes to the way we live in the United States.
The shutdown of businesses, both nationally and worldwide, affected nearly every aspect of our lives, especially as consumers. Shortages of raw materials and missing employees led to much-longer lead times in the manufacturing of many products. This was very evident in the archery industry, which faced the double-edged sword of reduced supply, as well as a huge increase in demand.
Most archery products, including bows, crossbows and accessories, were affected, with lengthy back orders the norm. Especially hit hard were arrow manufacturers and custom-string builders, with lead times of often up to several months.
The early bird….
As is often the case, success favors the well-prepared. And these supply issues were living proof of that old adage. Archers who had regularly maintained their bows’ strings and had an ample supply of arrows and broadheads were able to capitalize on the extra time afforded in some cases by fewer hours of work, by shooting their bows or hunting more often.
Those who rode their strings until they were unravelling or broken and brought them to bow shops the customary 3 weeks before the season opened were left waiting for strings that often took several months to arrive, forcing them to hunt with questionable equipment — if at all. Many hunters had to tune and sight their bows in mid-season because they ran out of arrows or broadheads, both stressful and time consuming.
Both retailers and consumers will have to adjust their buying habits to avoid this situation in the future. But we are still in a huge hole when it comes to product availability. I think it will be well into 2022 before things seem at all normal again. As a retailer, nothing is more frustrating than customers trying to spend money with you and not being able to obtain the products they wish to purchase. We have increased both our order quantities, as well as our forecast lead times, to try to get ahead of these issues. That being said, the consumer still plays a large part in the scheme of things.
Plan ahead as far as possible for archery season
As a bowhunter, here are several things you can do to avoid being inconvenienced by high demand and short supply. First and foremost, plan as far ahead as possible. Bring your bow or crossbow in to have it checked over or serviced right away, so it will be ready for fall hunting seasons. That way, if there are any unforeseen issues that require parts, you are allowing plenty of time for those parts to arrive.
When purchasing arrows, lighted nocks, and broadheads, buy TWICE as many as you think you will need. Arrows and broadheads are not perishable. And you will eventually — hopefully — use them anyway. Once you find an arrow/broadhead combination that flies well from your bow setup, it pays to have plenty of them, because these are the foundation of your tune. The last thing you want is to have to retune and resight in mid-season. Again, I predict these issues will continue through the winter, and the middle of hunting season is no time to need “a few more arrows.”
If you have your bow in for service or items on order, don’t call the shop every day to “check on it.” The retailer or service center is already doing everything they can to get your bow back to you or items you wish to purchase in stock. They only get paid when they deliver, so they are trying their hardest. Calling constantly only further stresses the situation by tying up an employee who could be working on the other end to find inventory or do repairs. Remember, we are all in this together. Let’s work together to make the best of a tough situation and get everybody into the field this year.