Archery isn’t a hobby for Scott Depot resident David Powell: It’s a self-described way of life.
When he’s not fulfilling his duties as an executive with a large commercial roofing manufacturer, Powell often embarks on hunting expeditions across the country – and sometimes beyond – as well as competes in Total Archery Challenge events, which involve maneuvering courses over several miles, often at elevations about 10,000 feet.
Powell said his competitive nature fuels his constant search for ways to gain a competitive advantage in the sport. One challenge he sought to overcome was how to easily adjust his bow sights to increase the distance and accuracy of his shots. “I couldn’t find any commercially available solution to these challenges so I set out to develop my own practical solutions.”
Combining his extensive knowledge of the sport with some trial and effort, Powell developed a concept for an accessory that would allow archers to remove the bow’s sight wheel and tape and replace them quickly and easily with another wheel and sight tape to adjust for different circumstances, things such as changing distance, arrow weight, weather conditions or the type of game being hunted.
To bring his idea to life, Powell turned to the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI). He had heard about RCBI several years earlier from a friend who took machinist classes there. Another friend recently told him about the 3D printing capabilities of the organization. “Still, I had no idea of the wide range of services that are available under the umbrella that is RCBI,” he said.
RCBI Design Engineer Chris Shaffer created 3D computer models of Powell’s sight wheel design, then prototypes were producing using RCBI’s multi-color, multi-material Stratasys J850 3D printer. This new technology prints much faster than traditional 3D systems and produces smooth surfaces with incredible accuracy.
Powell tested the prototypes during a competition in Pennsylvania. Not only did they perform well and help improve his scores, but the so-named X-TRA Yardage Wheels attracted the attention of fellow participants in the competition, who asked Powell to make ones for them. “So much for me gaining an advantage! My quest for a viable solution led me straight into business with ready-made orders.”
Voila! Powell’s Long Range Archery Solutions business was born.
Powell worked with the RCBI manufacturing team in South Charleston to 3D print inventory of the first-generation X-TRA Yardage Wheel in a variety of colors and to design and produce a second generation of the product. Because of RCBI’s advanced 3D printing capabilities, Powell was able to produce multi-color customized versions of his creation for the wholesale market.
To commercialize his archery accessories and reach a broad base of potential customers, Powell took advantage of Digital Frontiers, a new RCBI initiative to assist entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses in establishing e-commerce sites as a way to capture those early sales so crucial to the success of startups. He worked with RCBI’s Evan Nelson to design and launch the website and create a social media presence to help drive traffic to the website.
In a matter of weeks, Long Range Archery Solutions has generated web sales across the U.S. and in Canada, Germany, Mexico and as far away as Guam, supplying a growing and loyal legion of customers. “We refer to our customers as Long-Range Gypsies because of their pursuit of adventures in far flung places,” Powell explained. “We regularly receive photos and videos of some of those adventures along with stories of their successes in using our products. I find that very rewarding.”
New X-TRA products are in the works that address other challenges archers face. Those will be added to the product line soon.
“Without RCBI, Long Range Archery Solutions would likely be nothing more than a good idea,” Powell said. “I am extremely grateful for all of their hard work, guidance, mentioning and help in quickly establishing a working company with products, inventory and sales channels that did not exist approximately 45 days earlier.”
To learn more about Long Range Archery Solutions, visit the website at www.longrangearcherysolutions.company.site.