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An Interview with Bill Troubridge, president of Excalibur Crossbow

 

The crossbow market seem healthier than ever , we are seeing a great number of new models , there are also new competitors. Do you feel pressure from the competition?

-Yes, and no. We certainly feel pressure as more competitors enter the crossbow marketplace since logically there is a finite number of potential crossbow sales available and with each new entry the pieces of the pie get smaller. The good news is that the crossbow market in general is growing and this reduces the effect of each new competitor. My big concern as the market becomes more crowded is that the customers won’t be able to tell the “sheep” from the “goats” and may be led to buy lower quality or poorly designed products in their confusion. At Excalibur we have a very loyal following however, and we aren’t concerned about these exciting changes.

How is the new Equinox selling?

-The Equinox is our #1 model at this time, and has reduced Exomax volumes considerably while at the same time attracted it’s own customers. We are very happy with it’s performance both in the marketplace and in the field, and I will be shooting it in South Africa next few weeks.

In USA the number of states allowing crossbows for hunting is growing, how are you doing in the market?

-We honestly don’t know as real numbers are hard to get from our competition, however we THINK that Excalibur is growing faster than the overall market, which means that we are gaining market share

What is your largest market outside North America (U.S & Canada) ?

-That’s easy…Europe! There are millions of people living there with a tradition that includes shooting crossbows. I only wish the crossbow hunting opportunities were better there both for their sakes and ours.

What about Europe?

-Like I said above, Europe is crossbow nirvana, it’s just too bad the market is virtually limited to target as this is not our forte. Europe represents less than 5% of our sales at this time.

It seems that lately there are two “buzzwords” everyone is concerned with: Speed and Noise
What do you think about these?


-If I had a penny for every word that’s been entered into our forum on these subjects I’d be able to retire! My personal take on the subject is that these are very closely related issues. First, everyone has to get it through their head that crossbows are crossbows, and NOTHING will make them quiet enough that a spooky fast animal like a deer won’t hear and react to them. Face it, the vertical compound and recurve guys are a lot quieter and they still get string jumped with surprising regularity. If you give up one foot per second of speed to make the bow quieter you are working in a very wrong direction. You will never make the bow quiet enough that an alert deer won’t react to it, but you MIGHT make it fast enough that it can’t beat the arrow. I personally opt for speed when hunting really fast animals because of this. There are people who say that kinetic energy drops off with fast light arrows, but it doesn’t take many FPE to penetrate a deer and all the energy in the world won’t help if it’s not there when the arrow arrives. The other side of the story is “What Price Speed?”.Some of our competitors are giving up way more utility and portability than the average hunter is willing to bear to get a few extra FPS. There is a limit to what makes sense in the field, if gun hunters were as obsessed with velocity as we are they’d all be hunting with howitzers!

Are new Equinox and Vortex going to replace the Exomax and Exocet, or are you going to keep all of them in your catalog?

-Good question. Our line has become uncomfortably long with the 3 new bows we introduced this year and we are considering the issue carefully. We are, however, going forward to replace our aging “traditional” style stock mold next year. You can bet that there will always be both stocks represented.

While testing the Equinox we found the riser to be somewhat amazing, so small but with so many operations to build , looks like one of the most expensive parts in the crossbow, isn’t it?

-Very observant, yes, it is the single most expensive part of the bow. The riser is made from an extruded blank in batches of 6 per loading on our CNC milling machines. Total run time is about 2 hours to complete these parts plus considerable effort to deburr etc.

What can we expect next from Excalibur?

If I told you everything I’d get in trouble with Kath. Lets just leave it at this….We are working on something special for our 25th anniversary!



From what we have seen and tested we are excited and we can't wait to see what Excalibur is working on

Ed.

   
       
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