Behind the Scenes With The Bohning Company

After more than 75 years of service to the archery community around the world, The Bohning Company continues to grow, innovate and thrive.

Behind the Scenes With The Bohning Company

More than 75 years ago, Rollin Bohning combined his knowledge as a chemist and passion for archery to create a better fletching adhesive. Bowhunting was big in Michigan, where Bohning lived, and his new creation got the attention of two notable archery legends: Doug Easton and Fred Bear.

The Bohning Company was formed, and more than seven decades later is still based in Michigan. It continues to provide innovative products including fletchings, jigs, nocks, adhesives and more for hunting, target shooting and recreational archers. In the 1970s as bowhunting gained popularity, the bows, arrows and components all began to change and improve. Bohning Company was in the middle of the mix, working to help archers be successful while literally helping to grow the sport. Since then the company has continued this tack, also adding products for fishing.

Larry Griffith became CEO and president in 1987 amid a management update. He remains in those roles and talked with Archery Business this month for our company Spotlight.

AB: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us this month. When we talked, it was mid-summer and the fish were biting, cherries were coming in soon, and deer season was a few months away. At your facility, I’m sure y’all were still going non-stop as usual, right? Is there ever a downtime anymore for the archery business?

LG: This year is proving to be very difficult for manufacturers throughout the sport. We serve a lot of other archery manufacturers providing products or components, and see the follow-on damage from the Covid pandemic and economic actions taken during that time. The year 2023 is one of the more difficult ones I have seen. On a more optimistic note, I know the archery industry is resilient and the core group of customers are still out there. Companies that have been doing this a very long time, like Bohning, have the resiliency to weather leaner times and still be able to produce quality products in the U.S. 

AB: Bohning’s history is one of the greatest legacies in the archery industry. From an adhesive for fletchings to myriad products today, it has stood all challenges and tests. How important is that for any company, in any industry, to be one of the bell cows, so to speak, and how do you impart that importance upon your employees? Do they realize the history and shoulders they’re standing on?

LG: Bohning has a long history of innovation and perseverance. Our reputation is built on doing things with integrity and honesty. We are fortunate to have employees who understand this and take pride in being part of our legacy. They understand that our customers rely on us to maintain the standard of doing the best we can. Our customers trust us with their success and their futures. Our job, collectively, is to take care of our customers and archers. This means all customers around the world, for Bohning is an international company, making it a fun sport no matter where one lives.

AB: How big is your facility? I suspect you’re always seeking better materials and machinery for production, reduction of waste and so forth?

LG: We have two plant sites and tens of thousands of feet of production space. Given our somewhat remote location and cold Michigan winters, our facilities and process are very self-sufficient. Over the years, we have established channels to identify and incorporate new materials, new machinery processes, and new technologies. This is far harder and more difficult than most archers realize since the development of the Internet means an explosion of information and new information channels.

Recently, we tested what we expect will be the next generation of vane material. It’s not quite there yet, but it is close. Additionally, new biodegradable plastics with exceptional strength are in our laboratories’ environmental chambers right now to see how they stand up over time under multiple weather conditions.

We reuse almost all of our scrap material. Our biggest waste product is cardboard, which unfortunately is landfilled. As a chemicals company, we generate some waste oils and solvents that are used as fuel in special EPA-approved locations. As a precision metal making company, our scrap metal is repurchased by our metal supplier and reused to produce new metal forms.

AB: Tell us a little about your company and its culture. Are your employees hunters and outdoors enthusiasts?

LG: Our company is located in the country, about 18 miles from the nearest town of any size (Lake City, Michigan). Most of our employees live in the country with several acres between neighbors. Our morning conversations almost always start with the wildlife we see coming to work, in our yards, or around the company. We are graced with bald eagles, turkeys, large flocks of swans, sandhill cranes, geese, deer, bears and all manner of smaller creatures and multiple varieties of other birds. All of our employees are conservationists. We live here because we enjoy seeing nature and its ever-changing wildlife. Many employees are hunters or married to hunters. Almost all shoot guns, bows and or crossbows. Most everyone has a range and targets set up behind their homes. If this is the definition of redneck, it is a title we happily wear.

Bohning’s manufacturing plant is located in picturesque northern Michigan, about 18 miles from the town of Lake City.
Bohning’s manufacturing plant is located in picturesque northern Michigan, about 18 miles from the town of Lake City.

AB: You’ve been there since 1987 as CEO and president. How have you managed to change with the times and avoid burnout? Almost 40 years is quite a legacy these days, and a lot has happened in 4 decades. 

LG: The simple answer is I keep learning and investigating new things. Embracing change is key. I also remember the history of this unique industry. I have been privileged to meet and to know many of those who founded this industry. When I hear people talk about legacy, I wonder if they truly understand what these unique people did. These founders made a conscious decision to compete with each other in order to improve the sport, to make it so that competitors could still be friends, and to help each other when needed. How many industries do you know where a competitor will help you set up a booth if delivered late, or loan chairs, tables, or provide tools because something did not arrive or was damaged? It is a nice industry and a wonderful sport, and we try to keep it that way.

The major changes I have witnessed are the majority of companies initially were family owned manufacturers, just like most retail establishments were family owned. However, over the last decades the majority of companies, both manufacturers and in retail, have seen many purchased by equity groups, or chain stores, or closed when the owner decided to retire. Consumers and archery shops previously could find and contact manufacturers. Now, it is a bit more difficult knowing what companies purchased what brand. Some would argue the priorities and time horizons have changed dramatically with new owners, and they would likely be correct. The complaint we hear too often is that new owners have lost their most important resource, the archer.

AB: Bohning makes pretty much everything for an arrow, from adhesive, nocks and vanes to points and wraps. Not just one of each, either: six types of vanes, three types of adhesives and nocks. Producing multiple lines of products can be challenging and some companies get sidetracked with non-productive items. I call it the “salads at McDonald’s” situation, where a company maybe gets away from its core. How has Bohning managed to offer multiple products yet not stray from its core mission?

LG: Let me begin by saying the Bohning Company does make mistakes. How a company and an individual handles a mistake is the difference between ourselves and others. When we realize a mistake has occurred, we don’t procrastinate but move quickly to fix it, no matter what the cost. Over the years, we collectively try very hard to listen to what is being said, as well as what is not being said. The latter point is sometimes more important. What a company actually does versus what they say they are doing is key. Archers know that talk is cheap and what is really important are a company’s actions.

To avoid the “salads at McDonald’s” issue, we know our internal capabilities. Developing a new product line requires a team effort to identify the existing market or customers. Each new product has a designated individual, who makes the decision to move forward. 

AB: I love that you have a video of testing your nocks on the Bohning site. So many companies hide their torture tests, thinking consumers will get negative ideas about the brand. Torture testing is cool. Clearly, y’all had fun with the video. Archers typically forget about their nocks and vanes, which is a good thing, right?

LG: Whenever the Bohning Company produces a new product or enters a new market, we do our utmost to become an expert in the field or product line. To accomplish this, we do a tremendous amount of research and development testing in our labs and facilities, with the help of shooting staff, and outside agencies. We test not only our own products, but those of our competitors as well. By doing this, we know what problems occur, why, and even how to fix them. It takes a great deal of knowledge and expertise to make something as apparently simple as a nock or vane.

I cannot emphasize enough that archers, no matter what company’s nocks and vanes they use, should always check their nocks and vanes, especially if there is a chance of nocks or vanes receiving contact from another object. 

Let’s look at pin nocks for target arrows. They are made to very tight tolerances. However, we cannot say the same for the pins used by some of the arrow manufacturers. When this occurs, even the best made nock will likely split due to poorly made pins. Compare the size and walls of the pin nocks  to other nock styles, like the swedged nocks (used primarily on wooden shafts and made from a different plastic) or insert nocks for many carbon graphite shafts. The pin nock size difference and plastic volume is significant when compared to the other nock styles. Nocks should be viewed as a high-precision piece of equipment that should always be checked before and after every shot. Nocks made from aluminum or other metals have their own issues. Any nick or burr may result in a cut bowstring or cable.

Vanes face many of the same challenges. Adhesion, durability and arrow flight are considerations when making and selecting vanes. As a manufacturer, we ensure our vanes are immediately ready for gluing with any company’s adhesive — no primers needed, no wiping of vanes, just put them in a clamp, apply glue and fletch. Every week we produce millions of extremely tough, ready-to-fletch vanes with great adhesion for archers around the world. This comes from decades of expertise, knowledge, investigation and learning — we never stop learning. 

The Bohning plant is one of the most colorful workplaces you could imagine.
The Bohning plant is one of the most colorful workplaces you could imagine.

AB: Do your R&D guys ever test things like the Griffin Vane (for Olympic recurves) on arrows with other bows, just to see how they work and fly? How much testing and research goes on at Bohning with products that, seemingly, aren’t broken and don’t need to be fixed or updated?

LG: Archers are, by and large, tinkerers, whether young or old, new or experienced. Forgive me for saying this, but men of all ages are notorious for not listening or reading instructions, so we do not have to worry about archers using our products in unanticipated ways. They cheerfully tell us when they have!

The Griffin vane has been in the works for over 10 years and undergone multiple iterations, many never seen by archers. Even now, the Griffin is in the process of being improved to enhance its durability. The development of this product uses two very unique scientific and engineering firms in its design. Every part of the Griffin vane incorporates functionality to remove a variable the archer needs to worry about. The Griffins, both 1-inch and 2-inch, are designed to straight fletch only, no offset or anything else. Everything on these vanes has a scientific and proven purpose. There is nothing simple about the Griffin vane. It is the fastest vane on the market. It is designed to spill variable crosswinds while maintaining straight flight over long distances.

AB: Do you see more of that R&D going on with the crossbow segment, which has made tremendous leaps in the past 10-15 years? Everything from the bows and speed to arrows, heads and components has undergone significant changes. What’s coming in the future for crossbows in regard to arrows and components?

LG: The crossbow segment is interesting in that the many crossbow manufacturers currently refuse to warranty their products if archers use other manufacturer’s products. Historically, archers are tinkers and experimenters. I have never known a bow or crossbow manufacturer to maintain a level of expertise on bolts or arrow components. It is not where their profits come from or where their interest lies, and it often requires a totally different skill set and level of expertise.  As a consumer, I would wonder why the crossbow manufacturers are afraid of competition.

AB: Have we hit a wall with materials for vanes, nocks, broadheads, arrows and other archery gear? Do you think in the future we’ll see significantly better or stronger things with carbon fiber, plastics (for nocks and vanes) and other components?

LG: The simple answer is NO, we have not hit a wall with materials; just the opposite. We are testing new materials and production methods of all kinds. We gladly learn from other industries solving similar problems. While many people may not have liked the global economy, we used it to find many new ideas. If I were a middle school, high school, or college student, I would be investigating the manufacturing and sciences curriculums offered at all levels. There are tremendous innovations occurring every moment of every day guaranteeing an exciting future.

AB: It looks like your Bohning Youth Archery Schools and Clubs Program is quite successful. Obviously it’s a great way to put your brand and products in front of future customers. But is it more gratifying to know that for decades you’ve supported archery from the true grassroots level?

LG: The Bohning Company wants every archer to enjoy the sport from the very first time they pick up a bow or crossbow and shoot an arrow or bolt. If it is fun and satisfying, then people will stay with the sport, especially if they have the facilities to do so. This helps all of us, the entire archery community. It is true that over the years, we have purchased and provided a great many NASP kits to schools, provided products to various organizations, helped out with fundraisers and events. If there is a constant, it is the enjoyment of seeing the positive excitement of a new archer, of any age or capability, during a tournament. Part of learning is realizing one may not be an expert or “natural” when one first tries something. It is one of those life lessons – to push through and do the best you can because you enjoy it.     

AB: Not only are Bohning products found in every state, but they can be found around the world. How many countries does Bohning ship to? 

LG: In any given year, we ship to between 90-140 countries. Our products can be found in an additional 30-40 countries or territories via distributors. Bohning-branded products are purchased by archers in such diverse countries as Bhutan, China, India, member nations of the European Union, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, most of the Pacific Island nations, and many nations in Africa and the Middle East.

AB: Supply chain issues still resonate from the pandemic, along with ongoing questions about the economy. Are you still experiencing any significant supply chain delays or issues?

LG: Even during the height of the Covid pandemic, Bohning never had to shut down production lines due to supplier problems. Almost all of our suppliers have worked with us for decades. When things were tight because of Covid, they still kept raw materials coming to us. Since we are very self-sufficient and produce almost all things in-house, we avoided many of the supply chain issues other companies dealt with on a continuous basis.

Julie Brown, quality control specialist, inspects vanes at the end of Bohning’s west production line.
Julie Brown, quality control specialist, inspects vanes at the end of Bohning’s west production line.

AB: Archery equipment, and almost any product for that matter, takes a beating from online scammers, knockoff artists and counterfeiters. Is this a big problem for Bohning, and how does the archery industry fight this? Knockoffs and scams hurt everyone from big companies to retailers and customers, right?

LG: We are very aggressive pursuing and fighting counterfeiters. Prior to Covid, we were involved in police raids in China shutting down counterfeiters. I was present in China as an expert witness. More are planned and targets have been identified in several countries. In addition, we monitor international and domestic market websites, quickly identifying and shutting down accounts selling counterfeit goods. In some cases, we leave them up to see what customers are making purchases for follow-on investigations and legal action. The Bohning Company owns roughly 750 to 1,200 intellectual property assets registered and protected by foreign country laws, besides domestic intellectual property.

AB: I’m a retailer and want to hear your elevator pitch about why I should stock Bohning products in my store. Go!

LG: On Feb. 21, 1948, Bohning shipped 12 sticks of Ferr-l-tite to Moose Sporting Goods, Co. in Detroit, Michigan. This is one of hundreds of thousands of shipments of our products around the world. The Bohning brand has been serving dealers for over 75 years and will continue to do so. We are still a family owned business that truly cares about the needs of our dealer network and our end customers.

Bohning also is able to provide multiple classes of staple products for your archery store from a single vendor. From waxes, adhesives, wraps, points, nocks and vanes (among other things every store needs), Bohning can provide an easy, fair, and dealer-profitable one-stop shop. Bohning has always guaranteed every product we make, and our first goal is always customer satisfaction. In today’s world, this may not be as fashionable as it once was, but it is still one of our core principles.

As a final point, Bohning’s engineering and chemicals teams test and ensure that production of our products are to the utmost quality standards. We produce products to make sure that when they hit our customer’s hands, there is no need for them to look anywhere else.

AB: Do you work with retailers on pricing and volume, promotions, holiday and hunting season specials, etc.?

LG: Fortunately for our customers, we have an excellent customer service and sales department, along with very fine sales representatives, and marketing staff who work with retailers. The one thing we do is keep things simple. Our underlying philosophy is to help our customers succeed and grow through our programs. In this field, I defer to the experts. 

AB: How can retailers or dealers get in touch with you?

LG: Anyone having questions can call 231.229. 4247, press *, then 0 and you will get one of our customer service people. My extension is 2101.

For more information on products from the Bohning Company, visit

Rollin Bohning, Founder, 1946
Rollin Bohning, Founder, 1946


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.