Field & Stream

COUNTER EFFECT

LOOKING AT THE NUMbers, the compound bow business is in trouble. Pro shops are closing, and bowhunter numbers are falling. The reasons are no doubt complex (the steep price of the equipment, for example, hasn’t helped), but there’s been a big, undeniable change in the bow woods over the past decade: Crossbows have surged in popularity.

In 1979, Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE) introduced the Crossfire, the first commercially successful compound crossbow built for modern sportsmen. It was championed by PSE founder and bowhunting icon Pete Shepley as a tool that could help recruit new hunters.

“Pete really took a lot of heat over crossbows,” says Blake Shelby, current executive vice president for PSE. “But we pushed to get them legalized, hoping they’d get more people into archery.”

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