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Published by RightWing on 06 May 2008

Crack Open a Bowhunting Classic……….



   Bowseason is over for another year, leaving you with only memories and the culinary delights created from your hard earned venison. The holidays are past and you are settling in for two very cold months of winter weather. Now is the right time to start reading a classic deer hunting book. Many great hunting adventures can still be had, even though it is outside the season. Just open up a book and join the author while he/she leads you on a literary safari. A fine hunting novel can help you remember your own past experiences from deer camp as well. I love to get lost in and taken aback by a writer’s far reaching hunting trek.

   Bow hunting books come in all flavors, there are many “how-to” books, lots of books on getting started in the sport, and volumes of books are available on the subject of becoming more proficient with your bow. However hunting adventure books are what I like to open and read on those cold, cold evenings at home during the off-season. I yearn for the stories of legendary hunts of yester-year, the kind that make you wish you where born 50 years earlier, the kind that make you wish you could have tagged along for the ride. These are the kinds of books that I send hours each year searching for in stacks of used books and little backroom bookstore across the country, the kind that eBay search dreams are made of.

 Great Bowhunting authors are a rare breed indeed. Taking inspiration from their hunts and experiences and spinning them into an enticing yarn, painting a mental picture that places the reader right smack into the middle of the action. They are able to do this with such empowering excitement that you almost feel like you are there watching on. Books that pertain to the subject of hunting adventure are diverse in nature, taking place in a wide ranging variety of geographical locations and include numerous species of game as the quarry. Such books often contain the stories of varied locales from fly-in trips to the bitter cold far North to mountainous ranges of the wide open West. Unique stories are sometimes taken straight from the journals of famous hunters/archers, penciled-in while only using the low light glow from a crackling campfire. The blank white pages some begin to fill with details of the chase. More often then not, it is the details of their experiences that tickle our imagination and not just the hunt itself. Here the description of the camp, the detail of the lay of the land, and even the meals evoke the reader’s spirit. The best part of these unique tales is that they contain element that those of us that are accustom to the daily hustle & bustle seldom hear about. Items like horse saddles, pack frames, canoe paddles, and snow shoes litter the pages in this kind of adventure. Meals are composed of the spoils of the hunting group’s labor. Salmon cooked streamside, fresh backstrap cooking over hot coals, grouse or ptarmigan picked clean of it’s feathers broiling in a Dutch oven, or even a snowshoe hare taken with a well placed arrow might find it’s way to the stew pot. Any self-respecting camp cook would also have some black coffee to complement the meal as well.

   No matter if the quarry is caribou, moose, elk or high altitude mulies, we are still mesmerized by the arrow’s arching flight. We are taken back by the puffs of dust or slinging mud made by retreating hooves as they dig into the earth for a final fleeting run.  Our very souls are stirred by the author’s portrayal of early mourning mists on high mountain peaks, first snowfalls, brilliant sunsets and clear nights that you can see all the far reaches of the milky-way.  We read about great times spent with hunting companions whom we share the love of the hunt with, and about hardships shared along the journey. These outings can also be a solitary event, the lone hunter with his pack-frame loaded with meat, his trophy’s horns balanced at the top of the pack. Sweating and straining painfully as he proudly make his last trip back from the kill-site with his quartered out bull.

  You can probably see by now, one of my favorite non-hunting pursuits is the search for the next great book to add to my personal hunting library. Finding that little known, out of print or rare book is like getting that first glimpse of a trophy buck, and I enjoy it almost as much (I said almost).



Here are a few of my all time favorites, most but not all are written by bowhunters…… 


 T.S. Van Dyke       “The Stillhunter”

Gene Wensel          ”Come November”

Aldo Leopold         “Sand County Almanac “                    

Jerome Robinson   “In the Deer Woods”

George Mattis      “Whitetail”

Glen St. Charles   “Bows on the Little Delta”

Fred Bear             “Fred Bear’s Field Notes “

Dick Lattimir      “Hunt with Fred Bear”


   The preceding titles are of course only a few that are out there, but I will guarantee you will not be disappointed with any of this selection. Opening up and reading one of these hunting classics might inspire you to plan a distant hunt and create your own Bowhunting adventure.

   Who knows, someday everyone might be reading about your trips afield, with bow in hand. Maybe you will be chasing down a trophy bowkill or a glorious sunset.


Shoot Straight and Keep’em Sharp………..


Written by Jason Wilborn       Monroe Tennessee 

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Published by harleyrider on 30 Apr 2008

Treestand Fall Restraint Systems — Use & Tips

How to Arrive Back Home Alive

By Len Hinrichs

Evan was looking forward to this hunt like none he had ever before.  The rut was in high gear and he had an entire week of hard-earned vacation ahead of him to do nothing but bowhunt for a huge buck that he had been scouting since last year.  His close friend Jerry was due to join him the next day at their lease so that they could hunt the week together, but Evan thought he would get a head start by setting one last treestand in a hardwood funnel he just knew that big buck would be crossing sometime during the week’s hunt.  As the morning dew began to burn off, Evan began assembling several climbing sticks and fastening them to the trunk of a suitable oak; alternately climbing and fastening the sections until he arrived at 20 feet.  That completed, he climbed back down and retrieved a brand new loc-on stand purchased especially for this occasion.  After a brief rest, he muscled back up the tree with the stand in tow to set it in place.  After struggling with it’s positioning for several minutes, Evan finally managed to get the stand fastened to the trunk of the tree.  He stood on the top climbing stick rung for a few moments to survey the area from his vantage point.  It was a beautiful day and he could almost taste the backstraps as he stepped up onto the treestand’s platform.  That’s where things went very wrong……..

Jerry arrived at their hunting cabin the next morning and was curiously surprised that Evan wasn’t there.  Evan was always a reliable, punctual person so it wasn’t like him to not be where they had agreed to meet.  After stowing his gear, Jerry remembered that Evan might have gone out to place that funnel stand that they had discussed, so he set out in his car to give him a hand.  Knowing the general area where they wanted to place this stand, Jerry went there and was puzzled to find Evan’s truck but not his friend.  Sensing something was not quite right, Jerry began calling and walking a grid pattern through the funnel area until, late in the morning, he came upon the sight that will never leave his memory: the broken body of his friend and hunting partner, dead at the base of that oak.

Although the story just related and the characters described are fictitious, similar scenarios happen with startling regularity throughout hunting seasons across this country.


Hunting from an elevated position, or treestand, can be a highly effective method for hunters pursuing wild game such as whitetail deer, bear, hogs, elk, turkeys, etc.  The increased elevation offers several advantages over a ground-based stand: 1) it provides a higher vantage point for improved game spotting; 2) it allows the hunter to remain hidden above the game’s normal line of sight; and 3) it provides a greater level of scent control by allowing the hunter’s odor to disperse a greater distance from their stand location.  All of these advantages make treestand hunting very popular, with millions of hunters taking to the trees each year.

However, this popularity has made treestand accidents one of the most prevalent causes of serious injuries or death suffered by hunters.  Statistics show that approximately 1 out of every 3 treestand hunters will suffer a significant fall in their lifetime.  Those aren’t good odds!

The disturbing news is that most serious treestand fall accidents are experienced by hunters who either:  don’t use any form of fall protection equipment at all; use uncertified or outdated fall protection equipment; or use or install their fall protection equipment improperly.  Typical reasons that hunters give for not using fall protection are that they find it “uncomfortable” or “inconvenient” or that it doesn’t fit in with the “macho” image of hunting.  Some contend that “I never needed one before, so I don’t need it now”.  Well, it’s pretty inconvenient to be paralyzed or dead (and none too macho)! 

The good news is that the vast majority of these injuries are preventable by using proper safety precautions and equipment while installing, ascending, descending, and hunting from elevated stands. The following general guidelines will assist you in making decisions that will make treestand hunting a lifelong, rewarding, and safe experience.

Fall Restraint Systems

Always wear a fall restraint system (a.k.a. fall arrest system or safety harness ) any time you are off the ground while hunting – it is your single most important piece of hunting equipment.  A fall restraint system is any device(s) that hunters use to attach themselves to a tree or elevated position to keep them from falling to the ground in an uncontrolled manner and subsequently allows them to safely descend to the ground after falling.  A fall restraint system should be worn at all times while off the ground rather than just at final elevation, since the majority of treestand falls occur while ascending or descending the tree, and stepping across or onto the treestand platform.  The bottom line is that a safety harness can only protect you from a fall if you are actually wearing it when you fall.

Full-body harnesses with straps that encircle the torso, legs, and shoulders allowing a fallen hunter to hang in an upright position are now the only type of fall restraint system recommended by the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA) as well as other leading hunter safety organizations.  The old-style belts or chest-type harnesses that were often used by hunters in the past are no longer recommended and should not be used.  Full-body harnesses come in several designs including the standard strap and buckle harness; vests with the harness incorporated into the shell; and hybrids that are somewhere in between. With the number of styles available, it should be relatively easy for almost any hunter to find a harness that is safe, comfortable, and easy for them to use. Interestingly enough, many if not all TMA-certified treestands now include a basic full-body harness at no extra charge.  Regardless of the type of full-body harness you choose, make sure that it is properly sized to fit you and that you are within the specified weight limits for that particular harness.  A properly fitted harness will comfortably allow enough adjustment to accommodate heavier clothing worn during cold weather.

Use the following Safety Guidelines from the TMA website to guide you in the proper use and maintenance of your harness.

TMA Treestand Safety Guidelines

  • ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness meeting TMA Standards even during ascent and descent.  Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer the preferred Fall-Arrest devices and should not be used.  Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
  • ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer’s WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS before using the treestand each season.  Practice with the treestand at ground level prior to using at elevated positions.  Maintain the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS for later review as needed, for instructions on usage to anyone borrowing your stand, or to pass on when selling the treestand.  Use all safety devices provided with your treestand.  Never exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer.  If you have any questions after reviewing the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS, please contact the manufacturer.
  • ALWAYS inspect the treestand and the Fall-Arrest System for signs of wear or damage before each use.  Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts.  Destroy all products that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or exceed recommended expiration date, or if the manufacturer no longer exists.  The FAS should be discarded and replaced after a fall has occurred.
  • ALWAYS practice in your Full Body Harness in the presence of a responsible adult, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level.
  • ALWAYS attach your Full Body Harness in the manner and method described by the manufacturer.  Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into your treestand.  Be aware of the hazards associated with Full Body Harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may be fatal.  Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended.  If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for recover/escape.  If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion.  Failure to recover in a timely manner could result in serious injury or death.  If you do not have the ability to recover/escape, hunt from the ground.
  • ALWAYS hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.
  • ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, PLD (personal locator device) and flashlight on your person at all times and within reach even while you are suspended in your FAS.  Watch for changing weather conditions.  In the event of an accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.
  • ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand.  Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your treestand’s instructions.  Do not climb or place a treestand against a leaning tree.  Never leave a treestand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.
  • ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your treestand once you have reached your desired hunting height.  Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back.  Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.
  • ALWAYS know your physical limitations.  Don’t take chances.  If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.
  • NEVER use homemade or permanently elevated stands or make modifications to a purchased treestand without the manufacturer’s written permission.  Only purchase and use treestands and Fall-Arrest Systems meeting or exceeding TMA standards.  For a detailed list of certified products, contact the TMA office or refer to the TMA web site at
  • NEVER hurry!!  While climbing with a treestand, make slow, even movements of no more than ten to twelve inches at a time.  Make sure you have proper contact with the tree and/or treestand every time you move.  On ladder-type treestands, maintain three points of contact with each step.

In addition, you should keep your safety harness clean and dry and store it out of direct sunlight, away from chemicals and possible ozone sources.

Additional Tips for Use of a Fall Restraint System

There are several methods for safely attaching your fall restraint system while ascending and/or descending your selected tree.  Each has it’s specific uses depending on the task being performed.

  • Lineman style ropes which fasten around the tree and directly to D-loops on the harness belt are used to ascend and descend the tree while still allowing the climber to keep his/her hands free.  This is particularly useful for hanging loc-on stands, placing tree steps, or trimming branches.
  • Top-fastened tree ropes are attached to the tree at stand height and hang down to near ground level.  The safety harness tether is attached to the the tree rope via a small sling tied into a special Prussic knot.  The Prussic knot it designed to be slid up or down the tree rope with minimal effort, but locks to the tree rope in the event of a fall.  This setup is useful for ascending/descending ladder stands and loc-on stands that are semi-permanent or already in position.
  • Mechanical retractors are attached to the tree at stand height and consist of a mechanical reel-type retractor similar to an automatic seat belt retractor.  The safety harness tether is attached to the free end of retractor when standing on the ground and as the tree is climbed, the retractor automatically takes up the slack belt.  In the event of a fall, the retractor immediately and automatically locks thereby arresting the fall.
  • Standard tree straps and ropes are attached by looping them around the tree to be climbed then fastening them directly to the safety harness tether.  The tree strap/rope is pushed up/down the tree and snugged up with each step.  These are predominantly used while ascending trees using climbing style treestands.

No matter which type of safety harness attachment system is used, the safety tether should always be kept as short as possible and should be fastened above head height while standing in the treestand.  This will minimize the distance that you can drop if you you lose your balance and fall from the stand platform.  It will also allow a better opportunity for you to crawl back into your stand should you experience a fall.

Make sure when setting stands that you extend your tree steps or ladder system at least 3 feet above the platform level of the stand so that you can step down onto the platform when transitioning to the stand.  This makes it much easier to get into your stand in the dark or during inclement weather.

Always use a pull-up rope to hoist weapons or equipment into your stand.  Make sure all weapons are unloaded and securely fastened before hoisting.

If You Do Fall While Wearing a Fall Restraint System

If the worst happens and you do fall from your stand or while ascending/descending a tree while wearing an appropriate fall restraint system, what do you do next?  The first thing is DON’T PANIC!  Assuming you’re conscious and not seriously injured, you need to make an effort to get yourself either back onto your platform or to the ground as quickly as you safely can.  Even though your harness has kept you from falling to the ground, you may now be in danger of another serious condition called “suspension trauma”.  If you are allowed to hang from your harness for even a relatively short time (i.e., less than 15 minutes), blood will begin to  pool in your lower extremities, thereby starving your central core area and brain for needed oxygen, causing you to pass out and eventually die.  It is imperative that you quickly alleviate this situation in one of several ways. 

  • Crawl back onto your stand platform.  This is possible if you attached your safety tether high and short enough that your fall was minimal and you can easily reach the platform.
  • You may have to descend the tree.  To facilitate this it is recommended that you carry an extra screw-in tree step or a length of sturdy rope sufficient to go around the tree you’re climbing in an easily accessible pocket on your person.  In the event of a fall, you can then insert the tree step or loop and fasten the rope around the tree in order to give you a place to step up to take your weight off the harness.  By alternating moving the step/rope and hanging in your harness, hopefully you can safely descend to the ground.
  • If you can’t immediately extricate yourself by climbing back onto your stand platform or safely descending the tree, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion with your body and legs.  This will help to keep blood circulating from your legs to the rest of your body.  Remember, this is only a stopgap method.  You still need to continue to try and either climb back onto the stand platform or descend the tree as soon as possible.
  • Only as a last resort, you may have to cut your tether and hopefully climb/slide down the tree trunk in a controlled fashion, minimizing injury.  For this you should always carry a knife or shielded strap cutter that is readily accessible or fastened to your harness so that you can reach it easily.  Remember that your full weight will come to bear once you cut your safety tether so hang onto the tree tightly or be prepared for a quick descent!


Hunting from an elevated treestand can enhance your opportunities as a hunter to see and kill more game.  However, these opportunities are tempered by the many risks associated with the use of treestands that should not be ignored.  Proper use of a certified fall restraint system and thoughtful installation and use of your treestand and accessories can go a long ways towards ensuring that you have a safe and successful hunt.  Remember to arrive back home alive!

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Published by Martin Archery on 17 Apr 2008

Martin Archery Arrowtrade Article

             One of the oldest bow manufacturers has been quietly embracing one of the newest riser construction techniques to provide a better value while it boosts its share of the bow market.  With the aid of many long-time employees, three generations of Martins are leading the design, manufacture and marketing of bows that employ modular risers as a way to sharply reduce manufacturing costs.  From the $399 Bengal that Vice President Terry Martin first told me about in mid 2006 to the $599 Firecat.
 I remember quizzing Terry about how the joints would be formed and finished when the vice-president and lead designer first called me about the Bengal. Rather than wait for the rest of the 2007 line to be introduced, Martin was releasing the Bengal early to gain some fall 2006 sales with a mid-priced 32-inch model that boasted a ball-bearing mounted M-Pro single cam, a Vibration Escape Kit, and fully laminated Coreflex limbs. Terry, who also heads marketing, wanted to talk about how Martin Pro Shooter Laura Francese preferred the Bengal to longer competition models and how Martin ads would use her fresh-faced beauty to attract attention to the value-packed new bow.

 Martin is reporting a 25 percent increase in sales for 2007, in large part because of the Bengal and the Cheetah and is now making three more models: the Firecat, Moab, and Leopard.
 Terry Martin heads the diverse bow design team at Martin Archery but he credits son Ryan and its other members for a lot of the inspiration and effort that’s reflected in the 2007 and 2008 models. In addition to Scott Landwehr and Ryan Martin, the team includes head machinist Aaron Hamilton, 3-D computer modeling pro Jake Richmond and graphic artist Ken Melhus. Terry attends some of the bi-weekly meetings early in the year but then prefers to track the progress through the meeting notes and a master spreadsheet that charts where each new or redesigned product is at in the process that takes it from good idea to good seller for Martin dealers.
 I knew one of the reasons Terry preferred to work from a home office: Pain from a decades old auto crash in front of the plant meant he often had to work from a prone position. Terry’s Pinto was rear-ended by a semi on busy Hwy. 12 in front of the Martin plant and the neck injury never got the surgical attention it should have. When I visited Terry at his home, he showed me how he would use reclining office chairs to look up at computer screens above him so his neck would be fully supported. Now that a spacer had been inserted between the neck vertebrae in a recent operation, he looked and sounded stronger than he has for years.
 Terry Martin may continue to spend most of his time at his home office, for a few other reasons.  He prefers giving the design team its head and then occasionally redirecting the efforts. Once in a while he simply says “No, don’t pursue that it’s been tried before” from the perspective of someone with a lot of years in the archery industry who is working to complete a book on the history of the compound. Second, Terry’s large home is also the nerve center for and its related sites, the and that together generate more than 20 million hits per month for about 140 banner advertisers. Terry showed me the logo Ken Melhus had just developed for a new ArcheryTalkTV site where hunting shows can be downloaded for viewing whenever the consumer wants, which could be important to the industry now one of the outdoor networks has folded. Terry and Ken devote part of their time to the internet company, while its three other employees work out of offices in Terry’s home. About 20 volunteer moderators work out of their own homes, Terry noted, to police the busy sites for objectionable language and images and to try to keep people from posting false information to gain an advantage over another brand.

 Here’s a third reason why Terry may often be found in his home office. It’s important for the future of this family owned business to allow its third generation, represented by Ryan Martin, to hone his management skills. Early that day I’d been talking with Gail Martin, who with wife Eva founded Martin Archery 57 years ago to make bowstrings and arrows. We were talking about the just-announced sale of BowTech to Savage Sports Corporation, maker of the Savage Arms line of firearms. Gail didn’t seem too worried about additional resources being available to BowTech, noting past involvement by firearms firms in the archery industry hadn’t worked out so well.
 When I teased him that he was jealous Savage had come courting that Oregon bow builder instead of Martin Archery, the founder told me in all seriousness. “We probably get at least one or two inquiries per week from people wanting to buy Martin Archery. Often it’s an investment group and they tell you exactly how much money they have behind them. I probably would have sold it a few years ago, but we have grandchildren involved in the business, like Ryan and he’s doing a really good job. He’s learned a lot in the past few years and he’s really enthusiastic, he’s working on something new all the time.”
 Martin also has a lot of loyal employees to think of, Gail said, including many with 20 years of service and two he could name at the Yakima plant that have more than 40 years with the firm. Between the Yakima operation where the compound limbs are laminated and the traditional bows are built, and the Walla Walla headquarters, Martin has about 125 employees.  This includes Terry’s brother Dan, who is his frequent hunting partner, Gail noted, showing me the deer he and Dan had arrowed on one of three recent Oregon hunts. “I got that deer just a few days after my 84th birthday. I had cataract surgery three years ago and it’s really made a difference. We’ve got a whole group in Yakima that go to the traditional shoots and I’m fortunate that I can still shoot and keep up to them.”

 Gail and wife Eva still work most days at the plant, unless they’re on a trip. Eva oversees the accounting department and Gail is involved with designing traditional bows like the carbon-reinforced Bamboo Viper and with designing some of the accessories. Gail also insists Martin continue to put long-term goals over short-term profits, evident in areas like its approach to building compound bow limbs.
 When Martin switched from building limbs laminated of fiberglass and wood to limbs ground from blanks of Gordon Glass, Gail said there were appearance and breakage concerns as cut fibers lift ed. Rather than laminate one side or the other, or just use that thin layer of unidirectional glass on models where the stresses seemed to require it, Martin began laminating all compound limbs, both sides. In the Yakima plant plates of contoured fiberglass are bonded to thin laminations using special adhesive and large presses, then the laminated plates are cut to width for the limbs. “We’re probably one of the few that do that all on all limbs, laminate both sides,” Gail said. “I believe you should build the best product you can, and price it accordingly. It costs a company a lot of money if you get returns and have to replace limbs, and dealers don’t want that headache, they want something reliable.”
 Ryan Martin knows what dealers want in a bow, because his role has expanded to have him work with the sales reps and to personally call on large accounts and service a territory of his own. Two weeks before I visited, Ryan and Scott Landwehr had been in Minneapolis to preview the 2008 line for the William B. Gartland sales rep group. A week before my visit Ryan presented the 2008 line to the buyers for Sportsman’s Warehouse, and visited Jake’s Archery and retailers in the Salt Lake City area. After I left Martin to head for home, Ryan would take a late flight to Reno, so he could go over products and programs with the Wild West Marketing Group. “Then next week I’m on the road. I have a really small territory, nothing like our reps do, and I don’t collect a commission. I do it to try to get the experience of what our reps are up against. I go into the dealers, shake their hands, see what they’ve got to work with and who they’re competing with.”
 Martin is asking all its Pro Series retailers to renew their contracts this year, which prohibits them from selling online or in most cases from shipping a bow to a customer. In turn Martin provides support for store shooters, a dealer kit that includes decals and certificates, a protected territory and some very attractive pricing.
 “The Pro Series has a Minimum Advertised Price and a Suggested Retail Price,” Ryan noted. The best prices to dealers are what are referred to as the COD prices: It’s what you buy at when you pay by COD or credit card. The net 60 price, meaning payment is due 60 days from invoicing, is a step up from the COD price. Ryan pointed out Martin calculates its MAP 30 to 35 percent above the net 60 price, instead of basing it off the lowest possible price. Yet Pro Series dealers automatically pay the COD price, giving them a larger profit margin. Or they can choose the option of being billed at the net 60 price, and being given until fall to pay the invoice. “If they take us up on our best pricing, they’ll be getting 40 percent margin even when they sell bows at the lowest advertised price,” he said.

 Those Pro Series dealers will also be getting Martin’s most advanced products. Ryan’s familiarity with the design and manufacturing process was apparent as we talked about the unusual limb mounting system you’ll see on the Firecat and Moab, two bows that are limited to Pro Series dealers. “We’ve been asked by our customers for a few years for a limb cup that rotated, as opposed to a fixed one. It never made sense for us to rotate the entire end of the cup and have a large side load on the limb bolt and have there be play between the limb cup and the riser. For us it was always more important to have the limbs exactly aligned, whether they were buying a basic Martin bow to go hunting with or they were getting ready to compete in Vegas.”
 Martin’s design team realized people were getting used to seeing limb cups where the sides had been machined away, and it went a step farther to develop a Roto  Limb Cup which has no end cup at all. The bow weight is adjusted by a limb bolt that still goes through a rotating barrel bolt to allow a full 15 pounds of adjustment. It’s aligned on that bolt and about three inches further back, where stainless steel pins aligning the limb rotate on hidden components. It’s as precise as the system Martin has been using on models like the Bengal, Ryan said, looks cleaner and contributes to the light 3.6 pound mass weight of the new Firecat. 
 The Firecat and Moab are built on identical risers, which sport trim new grips and a new sound-dampening riser plate, both molded from the same vibration dampening material the company has been using in its riser mounted Vibration Escape Modules. “One of the problems with our older Thermal II grip was it was kind of thick out the back,” Ryan admitted. “On our new bows we were going for a thinner, sleeker feel.
This material can be molded very thin, as we do for our new arrow shelf. But we didn’t want that polymer to be what the shooter was pressing their hand against: We wanted something really solid with good thermal properties.” The design team settled on black leather for the back of the grip, combining it with a molded portion that wraps the front and sides. Ryan got the inspiration for the attractive bars on the molded portion of the new grip from the grill on his BMW dual sport motorcycle.
 While risers are identical on the Firecat and MOAB, feel and performance of the bows are radically different. The CAT Cam used on the Firecat incorporates Cam Assisted Timing, and is a hybrid system developed with technology licensed from Rex Darlington of Darton Archery. It produces an aggressive force draw curve and helps the bow generate advertised speeds of 335 fps despite its generous 7 inch brace height. The Firecat was a breakthrough model for Martin in the mid-90s, Ken Melhus reminded me when I sat down with him and Jake Richmond, and so that was the perfect name for a new speed bow that has been in the works since the 2007 ATA Show.
 PSE’s success in attracting interest with the very fast X Force on the Atlanta show floor is part of what convinced Martin the market was keen for a new speed bow, Jake said. “We wanted it to be in the 340 fps range. The 2008 Bengal shoots 315 fps, so you’re talking 25 fps faster with a Firecat. There are a lot of fast bows out there but where I think we’re going to gain sales is with a price point of $599.”
 While the Firecat is exactly what a lot of bowhunters will want
in 2008, Jake said he personally prefers shooting the MOAB. That bow uses the company’s M-Pro single cam and is set up for a much softer draw cycle. “I’d say drawing a 70 pound MOAB feels comparable to drawing a 60 pound Firecat. But then Scott Landwehr loves the Firecat, he’s been shooting one for months.”
 “If you can get a bow that is fast enough it will get a lot of ‘street cred’” Ken added. “A lot of people will come into a Martin dealer and ask ‘what’s the fastest bow, but they don’t necessarily want the fastest bow after they draw it back. With a MOAB, the dealer can say ‘We’ll, here’s a bow with the same specifications that’s easier to work with.’” It’s also easier to afford. Because Martin is fully paid up on the single cam patent, it can price the MOAB at $479.

 That’s also why you’ll see a miniature M-Pro single cam on the new and unique Tiger kid’s bow, one designed with minimal letoff so you can shoot it anywhere from 14 to 22 inches in draw length. That bow started with Ryan and Jake sketching on a blank sheet of paper, then progressed to two dimensional drawings in the Illustrator program Ryan prefers for it’s free flowing capabilities. He loaded the two-dimensional design for a molded shoot-through riser with graphic elements like miniature VEMs provided by Ken Melhus, then turned the file over to Jake.
 Jake works in Solid Works, a 3-D modeling program, and generated files that could be rotated and viewed from every direction. When everybody on the design team was happy with the Tiger’s design, Jake e-mailed it to a vendor who formed parts using the Stereo Lithography process that hardens resin with laser beams. (If this had been an adult bow with metal riser and components, head machinist Aaron Hamilton would have taken Jake’s Solid Works file and reworked it into the computer files that drive the CNC machines for Martin and its vendors.)
 The SLA parts are what Martin’s staff used to assemble the first prototypes to assure that everything fit the way it was supposed to after the film dip was applied. Ken then used the SLA bow to get photos for the 2008 catalog, many weeks before the tool would be ready so a vendor could start injection molding the shoot-through risers of glass filled nylon.
 We could draw the bow assembled from its SLA components in Ryan’s office, because the little Tiger only will be offered in 10 and 20 pound draw weights. But for a little bow, it can make a big impact on Martin’s bottom line. “We sell tons of kids bows, but since someone makes them for us, it doesn’t help Martin that much,” Ryan confided. “Our reps said there was a huge need for a bow of this type, and I worked with our R&D team to make sure it looks as much like dad’s bow as possible. We modeled it after our Slayer.”
 “Normally bows of this size are all limb and very little riser,” Ryan continued. They’re made that way to reduce cost and help stiffen the molded riser, which even so may curve toward the sight window after it comes out of the mold and is strung. The shoot-through riser stays straight, works for right and left handers and like a full-capture rest it solves the problem of kids pinching the arrow so it falls off the rest. That problem was fresh in Ryan’s mind because he’d just taught three youngsters to shoot before the Tiger project was launched and in every case they had a tendency to grab the string and force the arrow off the rest. It’s a little slower to load the arrow from the rear, he acknowledged, but the packaging should be able to communicate other advantages of the shoot-through design, including full fletching clearance. “The bows we’re competing with have  you shooting off the shelf,” he noted.
Ryan said the Tiger youth bow is already opening doors for Martin with independent retailers and chains that aren’t carrying the adult bows now. He was at two retailers the week before who liked the light weight, the smooth shot and the price points of the adult line, but we’re not ready to commit to another bow line. Both retailers signed up with Martin specifically to order the Tiger, he said. “So if a customer asks about one of our hunting bows they’ll be able to say, ‘sure, we can order them in’ and then they may start stocking some. It gets our foot in the door.”
 Martin’s got some more “door openers” in the 2008 line. Ryan talked about seeing how target faces are often displayed stacked flat on shelves, if they’re not hidden behind the counter. Often they’re not even priced because the retailer doesn’t want to put a tag on each one and just counts on the customer asking for them.
 When Martin took the step of transferring its full color animal targets from film to digital files recently, it looked again at this product people were taking for granted. “We looked at how posters are displayed in stores, and decide to roll the targets into packs. You’ll order either a small game set or a large game set, and we’ll include a sight-in target face.  Since it’s not a flat package now, they’ll get four target pins as well. We sell a lot of target pins to retailers, but we sell them in the hundreds and the individual consumer just wants four.” By repackaging its targets and bundling them with the pins, Ryan said Martin has caught the attention of retailers large and small with the new target sets.

 Feedback from retailers is behind another change for 2008, which should boost sales of accessories for what’s often thought of as a “bow” company. “They don’t want to put a sight or quiver in from Martin because they feel the Martin name on it keyholes into one bow brand,” Ryan said. “They say they like our accessories but the Martin name kills it for any other bow owner. So our Wild Man brand was born.” The name suggested by Terry Martin is being used to re-brand some popular accessories and it’s going on a new bow carrier and new Round-A-Bout Stabilizer. The stabilizer has the same material Martin uses in the VEMs, those riser-mounted vibration killers that Martin holds the patent on.
 Before I left his office, Ryan showed me another better idea from Martin. The company enjoyed strong sales for its complete bow packages that come with the bow set up with accessories and with the arrows, release and quiver in the top of the hard shell case. The sets come in a large cardboard box with a full-color photo showing the bow and accessories.
Martin found there’s just room at the curved corner of the case to include a Rinehart Field Target and since the box goes as “oversize” anyway, there’s no additional charge for the added weight. There are field points in the package and by eliminating the broadheads Martin could cover the cost of including the target. “The whole idea of these kits is that someone could buy one, or get it as a gift, and have everything they’d need to go shooting right now,” Ryan said. “The dealer can pop open the case, put a price tag in the middle of it, and it’s all displayed just like it is on the package. The customer will get a really good bow and in a few months if they want a different rest, need more than four arrows or are ready to buy broadheads for hunting season, they’ll be back in the store.”
 A dealer can’t ask for more than that.


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