Behind the Scenes With Barnett Crossbows

Barnett Crossbows Vice President of Marketing Mike Powell discusses the company’s 60th anniversary, its recent sale to Surge Outdoors, and what’s in store for the future.

Behind the Scenes With Barnett Crossbows

Barnett Crossbows has been around for 6 decades and is an industry legacy. Many hunters cut their teeth on one of the company’s crossbows. Innovation and looking to the future always have been important to the company and its founder, David Barnett.

In 2021, Barnett Crossbows was purchased by Surge Outdoors. Distribution has moved back to Florida, and despite all the upheaval during the last couple of years, things are rocking along. Mike Powell, vice president of marketing with Barnett Crossbows, spoke to us recently about the company and how business is going. 

AB: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Mike. We know summer is always a busy season in the archery industry for production and distribution as everyone gets ready for fall hunting seasons. Please tell us a little bit about the long history and industry experience of Barnett Crossbows.

MP: Barnett is in its 60th year, with a long history of knowing key seasonal timing and production dates to take care of retailers. With 60 years of history, combined with 20 years of experience from Ryan in the outdoor industry, we have seen the crossbow market grow and evolve into what it is today. We understand the challenges amid the sales seasons and have a proven performance that helps our retail partners succeed.


AB: Barnett Crossbows was purchased by Surge Outdoors in 2021, after being part of the Plano Synergy family for many years and then, quite briefly, part of Pure Fishing. That must’ve been an interesting few weeks between the two sales. How are things going with production, transition of distribution, and other facets now that the dust has almost settled? 

MP: Things are going really well. Fortunately, none of the supply chain was disrupted because supply, demand and production stayed intact after the purchase. The transition was seamless. Moving our distribution to Florida has worked out great, and we’re now able to focus on people more from this new standpoint. Florida is David Barnett’s backyard, so it feels like the company is back home where it belongs.

Barnett Crossbows was sold to Surge Outdoors in 2021, and distribution of the crossbows was moved to Florida.
Barnett Crossbows was sold to Surge Outdoors in 2021, and distribution of the crossbows was moved to Florida.

AB: Crossbows have been accepted for use throughout the country for multiple hunting seasons. Why do you believe there still is such a pushback from some hunters about their use?

MP: We’ve seen the barrier being broken down over the past few years and people are more accepting of crossbows. Crossbows are more beneficial in situations with ground blinds or for kids or new hunters learning to hunt. Most of all, we know that crossbows help extend the season for gun hunters. They provide a natural segue into archery for a lot of hunters.


AB: The last 3 years have been crazy in myriad ways. The hunting and outdoors world saw some rollercoaster action. What was it like in 2020, and even last year, with so many people with available time and the surge in interest for hunting? Was it overwhelming?

MP: Sales cure all. Our focus always has been on new innovations, consumer outreach and education, and dealer support. As a result, this allowed our dealers to move through a lot of product during that strenuous time. We are able to focus on new advantages for consumers in ways we didn’t have the time to analyze and revamp before.


AB: Barnett came out with the Hyper series in 2020, with crossbows hitting more than 400 fps along with arrows specific for this series. How has the Hyper series been received by dealers and hunters?

MP: We have seen fantastic response from dealers and consumers. The crossbow line is powerful and accurate, while still compact and maneuverable enough for hunters of every size and specialty to use. Dollar for dollar, we believe these are the best crossbows on the market.

Barnett Hyper XP 405
Barnett Hyper XP 405

AB: What should dealers know about the Hyper series that can help them sell more crossbows and accessories? 

MP: It’s a crossbow line that offers a wide selection for every type of hunter. The Hyper series provides an option for everyone — new hunters and seasoned veterans alike. The new Hyper XP 405 has proven to be a consumer favorite. Its features are easy to understand and sell. It also helps to see the crossbows in action, so any chance to demo the product is additionally helpful.


AB: You also offer a HyperFlite narrow-diameter arrow designed for the Hyper series. Dealers should remind customers about this specific pairing, right?

MP: Absolutely. This is the ultimate pairing. Matching the small-diameter Hyperflite arrow with the rugged outsert creates superior performance. The Hyper series provides unmatched penetration and accuracy with every shot downrange.


AB: What separates Barnett from other crossbow manufacturers in the market? 

MP: Barnett represents the best combination of value and innovation. The price points meet the needs of consumers in each hunting background. Barnett sells a wide array of models. It is our goal that every bow we produce is the best performing, best shooting crossbow in its price range.

AB: Barnett currently offers a line of youth compound and recurve bows. Will this continue?

MP: Absolutely! The youth business is critical in growing the future of our sport. Our goal is to develop a connection between our products, the hunting experience and young hunters. This is a great way to create a generational love of hunting, and potentially have the tradition passed down among families. We also offer a great line of slingshots that are fun for the whole family, and a good way to get even the youngest hunters safely intrigued by the outdoors.


AB: How does Barnett Crossbows work with dealers for special pricing, seasonal deals and other things such as in-store promos or demo days?

MP: We work to ensure that we’re as competitively priced as anyone in the market, and we offer opportunities for customers to take advantage of great deals. We encourage showcasing our products in store demos whenever possible. We also enjoy attending promotional events and being front-and-center for our consumers.


AB: Where are we headed with crossbow speeds, technology and materials? Some brands claim 500 fps. We’re seeing lighter yet tougher materials for limbs and rails, along with better triggers and strings. What will we see in 5 or 10 years?

MP: Barnett has been innovating for 60 years, and we’re excited to continue this growth into the future for hunters everywhere. We’ve driven the market in the past and look to continue to do just that.


AB: Can crossbows get any slimmer and lighter? In the last 10 years, we’ve gone from limbs with 20-inch or more widths to, now, some in the single digits. Those are super for tight spaces such as treestands and ground blinds. But are we about at the edge of skinny crossbows? Can they be slimmer? 

MP: We believe that there is an optimal balance between weight, narrowness and speed. It’s ultimately about the maneuverability for the hunter in action. The shootability isn’t there for some of these lighter-weight crossbows that vibrate too much, so our mission is to find that perfect middle ground between slim frames and performance in the field.


AB: Illuminated optics are the hottest thing in the firearms world. Will we see more of a move to these red- and green-dot optics from traditional scopes? Should dealers be learning about and phasing in these optics?

MP: They’re better for youth, better for seniors, and these scopes are a potential advancement for our hunters. We’re continuing to research and test the optics as they evolve, and we hope to offer more crisp and precise yardage for our hunters in the future.

AB: I’m a dealer who is considering selling crossbows. Tell me why I should, and how to talk with my customers who might give me the side-eye about adding them to my shop.

MP: The barriers are coming down and state restrictions are loosening. As they gain acceptance, crossbows are ideal for hunters young and old to stay in the stand and get more hunting experience. If you sell hunting rifles and guns and you’re not selling crossbows, you’re missing out on a whole other side of the market of hunters who want to extend their hunting season.


AB: Thanks again, Mike, for talking with us and the Archery Business readers. Anything else you’d like to add about Barnett Crossbows?

MP: We’d love for the dealers to know that this is a new Barnett, but we’re still sticking to our family owned roots. We still cater to the heartbeat of hunters everywhere. Barnett prides itself on passion, flexibility and nimbleness in this ever-changing industry. We’re a team of driven  outdoors enthusiasts who will seek the best for dealers and consumers.


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