Part 6 of a series on independent archery businesses. This month: Butch Baker of BAP
We make bowstring jigs and various string building aids of my own design. We make an airless manual string stretcher built for the busy shop or builder who needs to stretch multiple strings at once, and several variations of four-post jigs;. Our tools make measuring long strings easier and help you make perfectly served end loops. We make string separators, layout spoolers, tool trays, a ball-mount bow vice, and our signature string stretcher/twister that stretches strings to 400 pounds and is packed with features to make it easier and faster to build each string – and is built to last.
Our latest product is a new Flemish Twist string jig that enjoys infinite toolless adjustment. It is engraved with measuring marks and a cutting mat to save your knife blades.
I have always made my own strings and worked on my own bows. I needed to make a better string jig that would stretch and twist to make strings and cables better and easier. The design idea for the twister stretcher just popped into my head one day. I went to work building a functional twister stretcher that I could make tag end strings with. I posted a pic of it on a forum, and somebody bought it. Things grew gradually and organically. It was a couple of years before we thought we had enough ideas to fill an online store, but we did.
The bow vice, which attaches to the grip rather than the limbs, was the answer to a problem. How to grasp a bow securely, be able to easily access all parts of the bow and in no way cause the bow to flex or skew.I had seen a wood carver’s vice with a ball mount and decided I could make that fit into my vision of a bow vice.
Our tools are super-specialised and familiar to only a small percentage of archery enthusiasts. We are the epitome of “niche market”. We also seem to be pretty much the only manufacturer of the type of tools we sell and definitely the only jig manufacturer that offers a full array of unique, purpose-built accessories to make the string builder’s job easier. Our products are in use all over the world. Although having an ever-growing product line to keep track of is taxing to the whole team.
My wife helps in the shop, builds vices and is the shipping department. Our daughter does graphics and takes care of the website. We have a bookkeeper who comes in a couple of days a week, a part-time welder and a cast of part time shop helpers. Besides being the ideas man and fabricator, I am in charge of customer service, social media and taking phone calls.
I don’t really have a background in manufacturing or business. I am self-taught on pretty much all of it, and the learning curve has been huge. We have tried and failed at a few other side hustles before this. We think its cool that the one business that never started out to be ‘the one’ is the one that’s succeeding.
I feel that my products have solved problems in the bowstring building world. I have helped hundreds of people establish side businesses. I enjoy the phone calls I get from folks asking questions about our products or how to do something. I really feel that we have helped our customers. We have social media accounts that share tips and tricks from archery people all over. We have over 30 videos on YouTube on how to make bow strings using our products.
Talking with customers and helping them is the most satisfying part of the business, but I also enjoy going as a vendor to trade shows and archery events. I love meeting the people I talk to online.
I’ve sent orders to Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. We get a kick out of seeing the orders come in from all these countries that just don’t generally come to mind when you think archery.
My longer term goal is to get production set up to run without my being in the shop the whole time so I can continue to develop new products. We’d like to be able to leave the shop to our hired help and travel to more shoots and archery events around the country, and most of all, many of our fine customers in Australia and New Zealand, several African countries and Hawaii have made offers that we’d love to take up!
If you’re starting a business, be passionate about what you’re doing. When you have long hours and stressful deadlines, that passion will be what gets you through. I’m pretty sure that’s why all my previous attempts at self-employment failed – I had no passion for them.
Visit www.bakerarcheryproducts.com for more