With the addition of Mathews to Abbey Archery's product range, we felt it essential to become factory trained by the people who actually help design and manufacture the Mathews, McPherson and Mission ranges of bows.
Abbey Archery has based its customer service on being experts in their industry and knowing the ins and outs of all products we sell. With this in mind, before heading back home to our land down under, after the 2012 ATA Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio, we took a bit of a detour of some 1050 kilometres or 650 miles and headed to Mathews headquarters in Sparta, Wisconsin, USA.
Representing Abbey Archery at the prestigious Mathews Academy training programme at the Mathews factory in Sparta, were national sales and marketing manager, Grant Hughes and marketing adviser, Rachel Heinen. Other course attendees came from far flung places across the globe, including Bhutan, a landlocked state in south asia, located near the Himalayas and bordered on 3 sides by India and to the north by China.
The day commenced with a comprehensive tour of the factory and warehouse where all Mathews bows are designed, machined, anodised, assembled and finished. Grant and Rachel along with the other students, were shown where risers are CNC machined, limbs are made and serial numbers engraved on limbs, aluminium components are placed in a ceramic tumbler bath to remove sharp edges and bow mechanics assemble bows. Rachel was particularly impressed with film dipping of risers remarking "The film dip process was amazing, dull aluminium risers were lowered into the tank and they emerged perfectly covered in Lost Camo!"
Students were ushered into Mathews own personalised pro shop, complete with a shooting range, show room, seminar area, several bow presses and plenty of Mathews parts and accessories and even kitchen facilities. The 2012 bow line up was also showcased including the Jewel, the Monster series, the Mission series and of course, the highly impressive flagship bow, the HeliM.
The fit-out of the pro shop and the replication of what an archery shop should look like, was most impressive, yet it put you at ease so you felt at home. After the tour of the factory, Grant commented, "It was inspiring to see such an efficient process, all while maintaining a family atmosphere. There were inspirational quotes up on the walls and the place had this warm buzz which was contagious!"
After a bit of a meet and greet and a very nice cup of coffee, it was time to begin the morning session. The instructors made the class aware that this part of the discussion would be entirely on the Solocam bows and other accessories. The seminar was well structured and covered everything a bow technician could imagine. Grant was taken aback when the class learned there are several different sizes of limb turrets to accommodate the varying thicknesses of the film dip process. Grant remarked, "It shows the attention to detail Mathews take to create a product that has no imperfections."
The class was instructed on how to trouble shoot a Solocam bow which wasn't performing to its full potential and also how to ensure that the specific model of bow is set precisely how the factory recommends. Attendees were taught how to install the ever popular Mathews DownForce arrow rest and the T series quivers.
Now it was time to put the words into action. Grant and the other students, as well as several Mathews technicians worked on the bow presses for some "hands on" experience. While assembling, tuning, adjusting and unassembling bows like the Jewel, Z7 Extreme and the HeliM, Grant took in as much knowledge as he possibly could, knowing this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about the intricacies of Mathews bows and the technological advances and patented technology that Mathews has incorporated into their Solocam bows. Grant looked at home in front of the press, yet encouraged and absorbed with any special advice the Mathews team had to offer. Smiling widely, Grant quipped "Some of the little tips which the guys pointed out will save our customers time and their bows will perform even better. When you get these tricks from the pros, you can never have enough."
After a hearty home cooked lunch and some test firing at the Mathews Solocam range, it was time to focus yet again. The second half of the day consisted of information directed towards the McPherson range or the Monster series. Learning how to properly install all of the parts from limb pockets to cams and the finite tuning of this range of product was the intent. After an extensive seminar utilising hands on and a display screen for finer details, Grant went back to the bow press to work on the MR series, to familiarise himself with the famous McPherson dual cam system. Assembling the MR8 wasn't tricky at all with the aid of Mathews technical staff giving Grant advice and helpful hints. After assembling, it was time to test fire, shooting the entire range from the MR5 to the MR8. Unfortunately Grant wasn't quite man enough to handle the 85 pounds Safari - it just wasn't going to happen.
After a full 9 hour day at the factory and Mathews Academy, Grant headed back to the hotel to review his notes and the impressive, well laid out fifty-six page technical manual which was provided to academy attendees.
Once back home, Grant was eager to train all his Abbey colleagues on Mathews and to pass on and share the wealth of knowledge that he had received at the course. The scope of technical information gained would bore the average archer so we won't go there, but let's just say if ever there is a Mathews bow that needs some tender loving care or if you are interested in getting outfitted with a new Mathews, the Abbey staff have become highly trained and are very confident they will be able to resolve any issues.
Grant added "The trip to the Mathews factory was incredible and the Mathews Academy was essential in being able to serve our Mathews customers to the best of our ability. Being factory trained and gaining invaluable hands on experience, ensures the team at Abbey Archery have the ability to deliver our customers a bow that is performing at 100 per cent!"