- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

YORK, Pa. (AP) - Being at Xtreme Archery a week before the first day of archery season is kind of like being at the mall two days before Christmas.

Vehicles pull into the parking lot well before the store opens, and once the door is unlocked, customers start streaming in, looking like they know they’re running out of time.

Nathan Reider said he’s used to it. His store at 1369 Fairlane Dr., in York has been busy this summer when hunting licenses first come available for the year.

“Restringing bows is a big thing we do every year,” Reider said. Reider, 31, said he’s been shooting bows since age 4 and has been restringing them since his father taught him how when he was 12.

Compared to a hunting rifle, Reider said a compound bow requires more maintenance. He estimated that restringing, weighting, installing upgraded parts and other services accounted for 65 percent of his annual business.

According to Reider, his store is able to go head to head with giants like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Gander Mountain by carrying premium brands and by building reputations for stringing and tuning bows better than their big box competitors.

Mike Wherley, a 30-year bow hunter who stopped in Xtreme Archery to pick up his restrung bow, said he was a regular customer there.

“The big stores, there’s too much turnover in people, and they don’t have the experience,” Wherley said.

Dave Press, the manager of Deer Valley Sporting Goods, said it can take years to master the art of stringing a bow.

“I started here 10 years ago and I’ve been training the whole time,” said Press, who was trained by the previous store manager. “Especially with crossbows, they’re so inherently dangerous, you have to be properly trained.”

Press said archery sales at Deer Valley, at 4375 W. Market St. in West Manchester Township, have been climbing since early July. Although the store also sells hunting rifles, supplies and apparel, he said that archery sales and service accounts for about 75 percent of business this time of year.

Press said Deer Valley stocks high-end bow brands PSE and Ten Point, brands which have specific minimum prices mandated by the manufacturer.

“That levels the playing field a little bit,” Press said.

Similarly, Reider said Xtreme Archery carries Matthews, Bow Tech and Mission Bows, all brands with fixed pricing under their licensing deals. Carrying those brands puts him in a different market than chain retailers, Reider added, which tend to carry entry level and novice level bows.

Both Xtreme Archery and Deer Valley Sporting Goods also have in-house ranges which allow customers to try out a new bow or crossbow and come in for a practice session.

“The range supports our service and our retail,” Reider said.

Paul Ruth, a Gander Mountain employee who tunes bows and crossbows, said that the big retailers and the small bow shops both had their place.

“We carry a larger variety at a cheaper price,” Ruth said, “but they have the ability to custom order more than we do.”

Either way, hunters are spending money.

As he was getting his string replaced, Wherley said he spent about $750 a year on archery equipment and events.

Doug Lawrence, who used to bow hunt and recently got back into archery season as a crossbow hunter, said he expected to spend about $250 this year for supplies.

Thomas Keller, a 45-year veteran of the sport, hesitated to estimate how much he’s spent over the years.

“Thousands,” Keller said, chuckling. “Too much.”

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Online:

http://bit.ly/1uj1EN5

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Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com

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