In the world we live in today, the DIY mentality is alive and well. Endless amounts of information at your fingertips and with a little dedication, you can really learn whatever you want. Truth be told, I love it and it’s hard to imagine not having those resources at our bestowal. With that being said, I do think that the internet gives people a sense of entitlement with the platform it provides. In the shadow of that entitlement comes a lot of misinformation and we are often left with the conundrum of “who do I trust?” The bowhunting and archery world is no exception to this. In a day where there are so many “experts” it really pays to have some real experts at your disposal. Some things just can’t be solved DIY and need the attention of a pro. Which brings me to the topic at hand. Why you need a good pro shop.
These are Professionals
Let’s get right down to it. Not all pro shops are created equal, but for the sake of time and a separate conversation, let’s just focus on the good ones. The folks that are behind the counters of these pro shops are professionals. Day in and day out, they are working on bows, and figuring out how to solve problems all walks of people are having with them. They aren’t sitting there googling how to fix something, they are actually putting hands on and fixing it. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for people doing things on their own. I love taking care of things here and their on my own. It’s both rewarding and fulfilling to do so. However, some things are just better left to professionals. Especially, when something might happen in the field and you don’t have time to sit there for hours or days trying to fix something on your own. Having a good pro shop that you can rely on to get the job done right there on the spot is pure gold. It’s an insurance plan for your bowhunting.
That Personal Experience with the Customer
On top of having the pleasure of professionals working on your equipment, these professionals are just like you. They are bowhunters themselves often willing to burn a few hours talking hunting with you while taking care of their daily tasks around the shop. This bonding builds a great relationship between a customer and the shop. It builds trust. They aren’t just there to get your stuff done and kick you out the door. These shops want you to continually come back through those doors and tell them about your season and the successes you may or may not have had. Bowhunting is their passion and that passion bleeds through both the work they do, and those conversations you have with them.
Hands on Experience with Gear
Online shopping is huge these days. It is crazy to think that one could literally sit on the couch and take care of every inch of their Christmas shopping with a few taps here and there on their smartphone screens. That is all fine and dandy in terms of convenience, yes. However, there is just something missing from that. Being able to actually put your hands on something before purchasing it is pretty awesome. For instance, ordering a pair of boots and not really knowing if they are going to fit you is kind of nerve racking if you ask me. It’s nice to go sit down and try on a few pairs of those boots instead of ordering them blindly. What’s worse is when they don’t fit or you simply don’t like them. Then you have to go through the whole process of packing them back up and shipping them back. For how convenient the ordering process was, this is definitely an inconvenience. A hands on experience with gear before buying definitely has its benefits.
Big Box vs. Pro Shop
OK, OK, but what about the big box stores? Why should one go through the hassle of trying to find a good pro shop, when they can just go to one of these big stores and call it good? Surely, they must know what they are talking about being in the position they are in the industry right? Well, not always. The truth is, you really just never know who you are talking to at these stores. On multiple occasions, not being a professional myself, have found out that I the customer knew more than the person working there. These folks may know the SKU number of some hunting product, but that doesn’t mean they are actually hunters themselves. That is slightly unnerving to me honestly. Those folks needed a job and they got it, which is great. But, when someone comes in looking for guidance, shouldn’t an expert on the matter be there to guide them? Just my thoughts.
Another thing that sticks out is the inventory. Now, these big box stores are filled to the brim with inventory, don’t get me wrong. The question is, what inventory are they filled with? They aren’t going to have that new Mathews bow you are looking for, or that Hoyt you’ve been drooling over. These places appeal to the masses, so they are going to have mass quantities of general products. For a more specialized line of products, you need to go to a specialized place, which is a pro shop. It’s a classic case of quality over quantity.
I got into bowhunting and archery heavily about 5 years ago. My dad ended up handing me down an old bow that he had used in the past. My first reaction was to bring it into a pro shop to have them take a look at it. I wanted to make sure everything was in order for the upcoming archery deer season here in Arizona. Turned out there was a pro shop not too far from my house, so I set off to get some help with the bow. Now, when one is a beginner, just getting into something, it can be intimidating putting themselves out there in front of these folks. You don’t want to look or say something stupid in the presence of the elite right? Well, by the time I left, I was left with a super bad taste in my mouth. They laughed at me and made me feel really uncomfortable. I thought my pro shop days were over. After getting over that unfortunate hump of my search for a good pro shop, I did indeed find one and I’m so glad that I did. A group of people dedicated to their customers, their craft, and the overall experience one has when walking into the shop. When I left, I didn’t just find a great pro shop, I gained new friends.
Written by Josh Kirchner of Dialed in Hunter