Selling Crossbows to the Rifle Crowd

Looking to expand what you offer the gun crowd? Crossbows are the next logical step.

Selling Crossbows to the Rifle Crowd

Operating a retail store is full of challenges, not the least of which is deciding what product lines to carry. Will you be more “specialty” focused, or will you carry a huge variety? At the end of the day, though, the most important thing is your bottom line. 

In previous articles, I have spoken of the only three ways to make more money in your business: gain new customers, sell more to your existing customers, or raise your prices. Those are your only options to increasing revenue. 

The easiest method, by far, is to sell more items to your existing customers. This topic is worthy of its own article, or even books written about it. 

To that end, there is an excellent product line that offers a wide range of high-margin products, as well as an entire line of accessories, many of which you may already be carrying, but, certainly, many more that are easily compatible with your gun store business: Selling crossbows to your rifle-shooting crowd. It’s a perfect fit, because the gun hunters are already your customers, and crossbows are a much easier step into the archery market for the end-user than traditional bows are.

The crossbow market has grown exponentially over the past decade. With more and more states offering the ability to hunt during the archery season without a disability permit or special permission, a large number of your potential customers have already taking the step from rifle to crossbow. But don’t worry — there are plenty more out there.

Crossbow technology, similar to archery technology in general, has made leaps and bounds forward over the years. New and more advanced products come out every year. Today’s crossbows are capable of speeds in the 400 to 500 fps range, and are shorter, lighter and more maneuverable than those of the past. The sky is the limit as to design, variety, and the ever-important and almighty dollar when it comes to crossbows. 

Since you already cater to hunters, there is a big advantage to offering crossbows to your gun crowd. First, as mentioned above, using a crossbow now gives hunters the ability to extend their hunting season. Traditional firearm seasons for big game tend to be short in many states. Some are as short as a long weekend. With a crossbow, your customers will now have the option to participate during their state’s archery season (in many states), which, typically, is months long. Additionally, many of the archery permits for big game do not have to be drawn by a resident. In my home state of Arizona, which only offers crossbows to people with a disabled permit, there is a “Gen” deer permit available over the counter for residents. It is also much easier to draw an archery permit in many of the trophy designated areas than it is a rifle permit. 

Another advantage to the crossbow is that it can generally be used in areas that are closed or unsafe for utilizing a firearm. Many suburban areas of the country do not allow firearms to be discharged, but hunting with a bow and arrow, or crossbow, is perfectly fine and safe.

There are many more places and opportunities to shoot a crossbow than there are a rifle.

Rifles require space. Crossbows make no noise and require a lot less space, sometimes as little as your own backyard. Can’t shoot in your yard due to local ordinances? A short trek to any open area that you gain permission to use and a portable target are all that’s needed. If your store has a range, you can easily convert it over to be crossbow-friendly with the addition of a few portable targets.

Crossbow bolts/arrows are also reusable many times, unlike bullets or shot, giving your customers yet another reason to experience them. 

Another bit of good news for the consumer is that, due to the competitive nature of the marketplace today, the overall price of outfitting yourself with a crossbow setup is significantly less than it was even several years ago. A great example of this is Barnett Crossbows’ new Hyper Raptor that sends a micro-diameter bolt downrange at 410 fps and sells for a retail price of $599. 

There are lots of options at the lower end of the crossbow price range from many manufacturers. 

At the other end of the spectrum, Ten Point’s new Flatline 460 has a reverse draw design with an overall length of only 26.5 inches, a speed rating of 460 fps, and an out-the-door price north of $2,500. 

The good news for your business is that means there are options for everyone, regardless of budget. You have the opportunity now to sell more and different items to the customer who buys a Remington 700 and then a couple of boxes of ammo every season and also to the custom rifle crowd whose rifles cost multiples of thousands of dollars and whose ammo costs a few bucks every time they pull the trigger. 


Much like shooting a firearm, shooting a crossbow allows someone who is differently abled to be on the same level of skill and ability as someone who is not. Inclusion and opportunity to interact with other shooters, and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to have an activity, participate in competition(s) with non-disabled people (something that many in that market desire and at the same time is sorely lacking) is something that many people with physical challenges are looking for. Those people also have friends, family and numerous connections who will want to do business with the same people their friends do. It is also an opportunity for you to reach yet another group of customers who are likely going to buy something. Why not from you?

Easy to Learn

The good news for you and your business is that crossbows are easy to learn. Anyone who has shot a rifle or shotgun can easily learn a crossbow. This is somewhat different from making the switch from the firearms world to the traditional archery world, where a physical pull is required each time you want to fire an arrow. The method of firing, posture, sighting and muscles used are entirely different. The same skills required for shooting a rifle are similar to those of shooting a crossbow. Stability, trigger control, and sight picture in both open sights and through an optic are the same (or at least very, very similar.) 

The Real Money Maker: Accessories

Up-sells are a way for you to easily to add to your bottom line. Your staff should be trained to offer at least two or three up-sell items to every customer who walks into your store. A new crossbow shooter is similar to a new rifle shooter. There are hundreds of additional products, devices, and accessories available for them to buy…from you. 

First, the obvious: they will need arrows and target points. They will need a target to shoot at. A crossbow can require a more substantial target than even the fastest modern archery equipment needs. They will need both rail lubricant and specialized crossbow string wax, as a properly waxed string lasts a great deal longer and prevents unintended damage to the string, the crossbow, and the bolts. Many crossbows have their own add-on items available that are practically a necessity, such as cranking devices that make it easier to cock today’s heavier-draw bows. Specialized optics like red-dots and specialized crossbow scopes are also available and might make for a quick up-sell. 

If your customer plans to use their new crossbow for hunting, they will need broadheads, a quiver, and perhaps some new hunting apparel like warm-weather clothing, hats and boots, as most archery seasons occur in warmer weather. 

Crossbows also require some specialized equipment to adjust and repair, even for the regular replacement of strings. They will be more likely to come back to the person that sold them everything for those services, so if you can, equip your store and train your employees to service the bows you sell at a basic level, at least.


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