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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Confessions from a Stupid Hunter

The "Great Outdoors" will frequently make the best intentioned hunter look like a fool. When you venture out there, you always have the potential to damage equipment, cease logical thinking, lose valuable gear and sometimes hurt yourself. That is just the way it is.

Sometimes "foolishness" can be hazardous to one's health
 as shown by this revolver fired with unsafe ammo.
It will be worse if you were raised in a family with a genetic predisposition to do stupid stuff.  It was a deer hunt in Virginia and rain began to fall. I was very young. Dad and Cousin Jim were showing me the ropes and decided we should head back to the truck until the storm passed. Jim suggested that we could place our shotguns underneath the truck on the ground until the rain passed to keep them out of the weather. Sounded 100% logical to me. 30 minutes in the truck with hot chocolate and coffee turned into an hour and we then decided to head down the road to a new spot. You know what happened next. Yep - we backed over all three shotguns which were now cleanly broken at the stock to receiver joint.

Any company that makes outdoor gear is acquainted with this rule.
 "If you make something idiot proof, someone will just make a better idiot."
Yes, in our worst moments, we can become card carrying members of the Outdoor Idiot Club. (OIC) It was a beautiful day in Wyoming as we were scouting a property for a mule deer hunt the next morning. GPS units were newly emerging as a mandatory hunting accessory and I was pleased with my brand new Whizbang 400 GPS unit. Waypoints were entered and the next morning, I envisioned heading to a backcountry ridge using my new GPS unit much to the envy of my hunting buddies. As we headed back to town for the night, I said, "Stop the truck." I had lost my GPS unit. It was somewhere in those Wyoming foothills where I absentmindedly set the unit down while glassing the open country. I entered the Idiot Zone at full speed .... we now had to drive around the prairie and numerous cow trails in our 4x4 trying to find the last place we stopped. It was hard. (We didn't have a GPS!) Thankfully, I found the unit as the sun was setting and all was well. The narrative in the truck was basically, "Chuck, you are a real idiot."

It is well known that technology can accelerate idiotic outdoor behavior. In the old days, I would head out on a hunt, find a Pronghorn Antelope, aim, shoot and be heading to the butcher. Today, I wouldn't think of taking any shot without first using my Mark 12 Mod 9 Laser Rangefinder. (M12M9LR) The new sequence is find a Pronghorn Antelope at 40 yards. Pull out the Laser Rangefinder to accurately determine actual distance to the animal. Watch the Antelope run off in the Laser Rangefinder. Yep- the idiot guy surfaces once more.

The most popular idiot behavior is placing an important piece of outdoor gear on a vehicle for just a minute. Anywhere on the vehicle works well. Great locations are the roof of the vehicle and the bumper of the vehicle. (We have already covered hazards associated with items underneath the vehicle.) It is generally better if the item is not secured in anyway. That way, when you drive away and your favorite pair of gloves or coffee cup falls to the ground, another hunter will find the item in good useable condition and mutter to himself, "what kind of idiot would leave a pair of binoculars in the middle of the road?"
Yes -- it was me passing through. Hopefully, you will enjoy the item as much as I did.
Be safe out there.  Chuck @ Kodabow

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Do the Research and Buy a Crossbow

If only it was that easy. Two years ago, we were attending various trade events and were amazed at the performance of a unique crossbow manufactured by a leading crossbow brand name at the time.
That's Chuck Matasic at the NRA Show with a Kodabow in Desert Digital. 
We weren’t so impressed with the bow’s shooting performance as much as how the sales guy would periodically excuse himself and trot out to his truck and get a new bow when the one he was shooting came apart. That company is no longer in business. Today, you can’t obtain parts should you own one of these crossbows.  The product comparison charts showing feet per second (fps) and Kinetic Energy (KE) are still around but a lot of those bows ended up shooting ZERO fps.  The comparison chart didn’t disclose that ---- and sometimes these charts are like the MPG sticker on a new car anyway. Impressive miles per gallon but never seen in the real world. At that moment in time, that particular crossbow might have seemed like a good bet. It was covered by a Lifetime Warranty. There were glowing articles in many outdoor magazines about the crossbow and  slick advertising could make a hunter think that the product was one click away from a being a Photon Torpedo from Star Trek. In the end, it was all BS because many of the crossbows didn’t work, failed prematurely and were plagued with problems. The manufacturer acknowledged this after going out of business. Bows were being returned at a high rate and the big box stores finally returned their inventory because of customer service issues. Sometimes, that is how an industry works. Marketing gets way ahead of the actual product. It still remains a bit of a mystery to a degree --- how could so many not observe what we could easily see at a trade event or at a sales counter and not have it reported down the line to consumers. Maybe everyone from retailers, dealers and magazines were too heavily invested to bring down the illusion. Implosion eventually came. This unique scenario didn’t turn out well for irate customers lined up at the sales counters with crossbows that looked like spaghetti.
At Kodabow, we have a different story. Our focus is making a very reliable and accurate crossbow.  A consumer can pick up the phone and talk with us. Our expectation is that we hear from customers when they send us a few photos after a successful hunting trip. One of the actions of that failed company was a strategic decision to source products overseas. Initially, it probably made sense on the accounting ledger. However, there is a lot of manufacturing detail required to successfully get a crossbow out the door and trusting someone thousands of miles away you might not know so well requires close coordination that can be difficult to achieve.  We understand global business --- but there is no substitute for looking your US supplier in the eye and it helps when they understand hunting as much as they understand manufacturing and accounting. We continually receive inquiries that begin like this.  (Actual Letter – “This is Susan from XXXX Overseas Crossbow Co.  Our factory has been manufacturing crossbows and bows for several Top US manufacturers. We would like to supply your products.” 
This is not the Kodabow story. When you spend $899.00 for one of our crossbows, rest assured – you are purchasing the absolute best that we can deliver with the backing of our material suppliers in a close knit supply chain. We test fire every crossbow that leaves our facility and include a range target that was used that details your bow serial number and arrow serial number used. That’s our story and it’s a good one!  My best --- Chuck at Kodabow

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So you want to hunt Bear?

A Kodabow Crossbow is an ideal choice for Spring Bear 
hunting. In many places, the preferred method is hunting Black Bear over a bait site and with trail cameras in use, the hunting possibilities are exciting. There can be a good sense of what to expect with an understanding of projected animal movement patterns as the norm. We have taken Black Bears in spot and stalk hunts as well as over bait. Very different hunts for sure but for the first time Bear hunter interested in seeing bears, a hunt over bait offers a more settled environment. Always keep in mind that there is considerable preparation between the "idea to go" and having a successful trip.  Expect your Kodabow to work flawlessly and providing you do your part and execute a well placed shot, you will soon be in the skinning shed. The most significant decision will occur months before you head to  the bush.
Pick a good outfitter and you will have a good time, see plenty of game and have shooting opportunities at good sized animals. Make a mistake with your outfitter selection and standby for a miserable time.
It is that simple. If you don't do your homework, you might end up in a camp where taking a good bear is the rare exception and even seeing a bear or having a shot opportunity will not be in the cards.  The tragedy is that your hard earned money was expended just as if you ended up in a great camp. The way to avoid this is to get into the details. Obtain references by phoning hunters who were in camp in the past year. Build a picture of how the operation works and see if everything makes sense and adds up regarding harvest rates, # of hunters in camp, overall success rates, food and lodging. Most outfitters are very good but there are some who will gladly take your money and have no problem creating the illusion of a great hunt. If you get parked on a bait site that has no activity and sit for 6 days with zero opportunity, you are paying the price for failing to do your homework months earlier.  Outfitters may have "go to clients" who can provide  glowing reviews. (They are the one's that get the best treatment and the active bait sites if there are any.) Be more interested in what the hunters say who showed up in camp last year for the first time.
If you can't build a good picture and things don't seem to add up, choose another outfitter.

A successful hunter in the skinning shed.
Ask about fishing possibilities. Many Bear camps offer excellent fishing in lakes and streams and determine if fishing is included or an extra. If you will need a boat, will the outfitter provide that service at a fair price.

Tossing a fly before heading to a Bear stand. 
When hunting over bait, ensure you have the correct yardage measurements in hand and be confident that your Kodabow will put the arrow exactly on the mark. No guide wants to chase down a bear in the thick bush. The Bear pictured in the skinning shed (above) was arrowed at 30 yards with a Koda-Express 185 lb bow. The shot was with a Killzone mechanical 100 gr broadhead and a Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow which resulted in a pass through shot in the vitals. The Bear was recovered 10 yards from the point of impact.
If there will be "bugs" --- be prepared and go overboard with your preparations. Mosquitoes will bite through a single pair of hunting pants so suit up with multiple layers and cover all exposed flesh. Bring a Thermacell and multiple pairs of socks. The critters seemed to be stymied by three pairs of socks but could routinely bite through two pair. A head net or one of the Bug Tamer style outerwear jackets is a solid investment and is a serious element in ensuring a comfortable hunt. Sunset can be very late up North and spending hours chasing bugs is not only bothersome --- all the movement will scare the Bears!

Kodabow at the Ready Position


Friday, May 9, 2014

Jim Shockey is a Patient Man.

Hal Shockey, Chuck Matasic and Jim Shockey in 2003.
Hal died last year - 2013 at 86 years old.
Dinner was over but the guides kept talking about the need to make a good shot on these Black Bears. "If your shot is just a little off, be ready because your guide will be ready with his rifle to quickly put a second shot in the animal." The concern was the danger associated with tracking a wounded animal in the thick undergrowth of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I listened and after the 3rd cycle going over the same information, I realized two things (1) they were serious (2) an incident must have focused these men on this subject. I didn't ask. Ten years later, I still remember that dinner discussion as if it was yesterday.
Earlier that day, Jim Shockey picked me up at the Vancouver Airport in his pickup truck. I was working with a firearms company at the time. (Actually, that firearms experience helps us make the great product that Kodabow is today.) For the next 4 hours, I talked with Jim about Bear Hunting. It was non-stop and question after question was presented. Jim offered answer after answer. We discussed bear behaviour in early Spring and how bears act, feed and think. He had a scrapbook on the front bench of his pickup and that only fueled our discussion. Jim was very successful ten years ago in the outdoor industry and since then, his career as a professional hunter has continued on a very high trajectory. He is a gentleman, a great hunter and  an all around "good guy" and that is the force behind his meteoric popularity. By the time we arrived in camp,I felt as if I might have discussed nearly every bear hunt , every scrapbook photo and nearly every other hunt in Jim's long hunting career - but he never tired. He is a patient man.

To make a long story short, I headed out with Jim the next morning and we stalked up on a nice black bear. The circumstances required an offhand shot because of a changing wind and the bear was immediately dropped on the spot with a single well placed shot with a .300 Winchester Short Magnum. It was an exciting hunt.

The next day, I was enjoying dinner with Louise Shockey (Jim's wife) and Jim at their home and we talked about family, the outdoor industry and hunting. The discussion eventually turned to our successful bear hunt and I had one final question for Jim. I asked, "Jim, the guides talked about the aggressiveness of these Vancouver Island bears and the need for the guide to be ready with a 2nd shot. I looked over when we were chasing that big bear and you left your rifle in the truck. What the heck was that all about?"

Jim leaned back in his chair and thought for a minute and said, "Chuck, you came a long way. We spent a lot of time together talking about shooting and hunting on the way to camp. You are the type of guy that really gets into the details. I just knew you would make the shot." I thought to myself ..... No one ever paid me a finer compliment.

Jim took this picture. The curse of  a big man.
I can make any animal appear smaller.
The passing years have taught me that there is magic in archery hunting but I still enjoy picking up a rifle, shotgun or flintlock from time to time. I have been on many firearm hunts where I wish I would have brought my bow. I have never been on an archery hunt where I wish I would have had a firearm. That is the difference.

I will head to Canada again this year for a bear hunt .... with a bow this time and  instinctively think about Jim and our hunt together. 

- Chuck Matasic @ Kodabow Crossbows

Monday, March 17, 2014

Make the shot EVERY TIME!

On weekends, our Kodabow factory range is used for archery instruction. We watch hundreds of shooters process information, develop form and shoot at targets.
Whether shooting a traditional bow or a crossbow, here are 2 obstacles every shooter needs to overcome to make the critical shot - every time!

Scenario One:  At 15 yards, our friend Mary Jane (name changed for this article) couldn't miss when shooting her recurve traditional bow. Arrow after arrow found the center of the 17" square target. Mary Jane then stepped back to 20 yards and arrows began flying everywhere. She barely could get the arrows on the 48" square target butt. What happened? 
Analysis: At 15 yards, Mary Jane was seeing the target clearly and was focused on the center 3" yellow X ring. At 20 yards, everything changed. Instead of seeing the same yellow aim point, her mind processed the situation differently and the large 48" square target unconsciously became her aim point. Visually -- Mary Jane was fine but her mental state needed to be pushed to make this type of distance and visual adjustment.  It requires mental work to get in the moment and shoot "small" and reorient to the X ring. Don't be lazy and just see a large massive target. As her instructor, we changed things up and placed a 3" balloon at 20 yards and her very next arrow hit the mark. Full mental engagement again. This scenario could have easily been a hunting situation when a hunter makes the mistake of aiming at the "deer" instead of a small target point in the vitals area.  
Scenario Two: On the range, Fred was shooting well at paper targets but was not setting the world on fire by any means. We suggested Fred shift over and shoot his bow at a 3D deer target.  At this point, 20,000 years of genetics and hard wired DNA magically kicked in. Fred sized up the "foam" game animal. Arrows began finding their mark more consistently and with every shot, there was the equivalent of a fist pump going down on the range. High intensity was apparent. We were under florescent lights but in Fred's mind, he was in the wilds of Alaska or Africa.
Analysis: To hunt effectively, your mental state must include an intensity level that provides you with the fortitude to properly make a "killing shot." Hunting is an exercise where a lackadaisical or casual attitude delivers failure. I think Fred harnessed the hunting legacy of generations of his ancestors. Buried deep inside all of us is the primitive bow hunter of 10,000 years ago. There is no other explanation that explains the exceptional transformations that we see on the archery range every day. Something special "kicks in" for many shooters and a quiet, reserved young lady new to archery can begin launching arrows at a game target with a sense of purpose and ferocity as if her next meal depended on making the shot. She may never intend to hunt a day in her life but the act of shooting awakens that "bow hunter" in us and it feels good. There is always a smile. And for those who choose to make the progression and actually head to the field and hunt, you must WORK to mentally prepare to be fully in the moment. Be ready to make a "killing shot" ---- it is not (1) any shot, or a (2) casual shot or (3) a shot that may or may not be good or (4) a hurried or haphazard shot. It is a killing shot  - a perfect shot honed by practice and taken with focus, the fullest sense of purpose and 100% intensity.  See you out there!  
My best, Chuck @ Kodabow 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Making an Impression

Chuck (L) & Kyle (R) with the big smile!
Trade shows are a big part of the outdoor industry. Since the same vendors see each other frequently over many years, friendships are formed. A year or so ago, Kodabow attended a show in Maryland at a County Fairgrounds. Instead of staying in a hotel room and with Sam, our Labrador in mind, we thought it would be fun to "camp" at the site. It was 8 PM and while walking the dog, Chuck came upon a backpack in a field adjacent to the Show Hall. No one was around. Folks were at dinner or headed to their hotels and the Fairgrounds were now deserted. There was no identification on the bag so Chuck pulled the zipper open and saw hundreds and hundreds of dollar bills.  (There was actually $15,000 in the bag.) Well ...with nothing to be done for the moment, Chuck and Sam turned in for the night and stowed the bag safely in the truck. Around 11 PM, there were voices and activity in the field. Chuck and Sam headed over and found Kyle frantically walking around in the dark and asked him what was up. Kyle was a vendor at the Show selling trail cameras. He said that he and his brother had lost a bag of checks and receipts from the last few trade shows they had attended on the show circuit. They had been looking around all night since they realized at dinner they lost their money. They were both very, very devastated. Chuck reached in his truck and handed them the backpack as they stared in disbelief. Whenever these boys see Chuck, they always yell out --"Hey Kodabow - we love you!) $15,000 is a lot of money. An event like that makes a long lasting impression. 
Channing from Alabama shooting a Kodabow.

We like tradeshows for one reason. Folks get to meet us and shoot our crossbow. We then get emails like this one from Jeff.

Dear Kodabow,
 I have been shooting all the top brand crossbows for a few months and thought I had found the perfect crossbow until I shot the Kodabow at the sportsman show in Harrisburg. I couldn’t believe a crossbow could be so accurate or be built with such quality. I got the bow home and showed it to my wife and then just sat and stared at it that night for a while until my wife said, “I’m going to bed. You need to make a decision, me or the bow”. I’m not stupid. I went to bed.  Jeff

Jeff made the right decision. Keep the spouse happy! At the recent Great American Outdoor Show in PA, we shot a single crossbow for 9 days straight. (Two weekends and 5 days in between.) We couldn't help but notice that there wasn't much crossbow shooting going on in other booths. More talk --- less shooting. Much less. Folks noticed and told us .... "Kodabow is shooting more than all the other companies combined."   Keep that in mind if you are thinking about a crossbow. 
Long after the trade show marketing chit chat is a distant memory, a crossbow needs to shoot and be reliable. An event like that makes a long lasting impression.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


100% Genuine and Authentic is a huge compliment when dealing with people or products.  
At Kodabow, it is our culture to be straightforward and we are rewarded with customers who feel very positive about our company and product. This was in an email this morning and is pretty normal around here.

"Just dropping a note to let you guys know I got my new Bravo Zulu and I love it! I opened the box Tuesday night and it just screamed quality when I started taking it out of the box. I am very impressed with the fit and finish of the bow. I started shooting it in my basement after assembly. The trigger is awesome, so much better than my other crossbow (--deleted---) I bought this bow sight unseen never handled one until I took it out of the box. I am glad I made the purchase! You guys make a beautiful crossbow. A few deer in 3C Susquehanna County are in trouble this coming fall season. Hope to see you guys at the Harrisburg Show next month. - Bob D."

We just returned from the SHOT Show 2014 and with the explosive growth in the firearms business, the Show is "over the top" more than ever with tremendous booths, glitz and Las Vegas glitter. Many attendees have T-Shirts that say things like "Special Operation Group" or come dressed with combat boots and sharp tactical pants appearing ready to rappel from the nearest helicopter. But the front lines are a long way from the Vegas strip. The realization is that many of these guys never had a day of military service or never worked for one of the 3 letter agencies. They are not authentic in the true sense of the word but it is all part of the Show and why not be part of it. (By the way, none of the real spec ops types I meet ever dress this way. The wear jeans, a plaid shirt and loafers - go figure.) But if you scratch the surface, you can still find authenticity like Kelly Glenn-Kimbro. We spent time with Kelly in the Ruger booth where she has reigned as the "Ruger Girl" for 25 years. She and her husband, father and daughter run a ranch in Arizona along the Mexican border. Their land goes right to the border fence. They have mules and dogs and are world famous for their mountain lion hunting adventures. Search the internet and the operation is described as the "real deal." The 10 day hunting experience is authentic and Kelly and her family know their stuff based on both their success and their client's reviews. She is a lady who can deliver the goods with a revolver - 4 inch barrel please -- or shoot a mountain lion on the run with her rifle. Give her a Scout rifle in .308 and she will show you a few things. Listen deeper and the changing life and realities of the Malpais become clear. Malpais is a Spanish word for badlands and this is where the big cats roam that go to 150 lbs. Things changed in 1978 when the first drug smuggler was caught crossing their ranch lands. Today, 36 years later, the Border Patrol catches drug runners nearly every day on the ranch as they make their way North to the US through the mountains and gulches. Every once in awhile, the running dogs, racing mountain lion and Kelly with her hunters riding mules accidently intersect with a drug smuggler and as the drug guys drop their load and run, they must be thinking about the spectacle and their bad luck. They must surely wonder what the heck they just ran into. It is pleasant to be around folks like Kelly who are genuine.

The civilian market follows the trends in military weapons and clothing and the SHOT Show is packed with products that had their origins in military use. We have adapted some of these products for use on the Kodabow with great success but the Kodabow is not a military weapon.  That would not be authentic. It is simply a great hunting tool and as one dealer told us recently, "everything my customers aim at with a Kodabow ends up on the ground dead."  We believe we make a genuine product and in the end, being authentic is important.  See you at the NRA Show!