Quick quiz: What do the countries of India, Taiwan, Australia, Slovakia, Malaysia, Canada, and the United Kingdom all have in common with each other and the little town of West Chester PA?
Give up? All were recent destinations for shipments of Kodabow Crossbows, the little company located right here in our hometown. Kodabow CEO Chuck Matasic, also of West Chester, established the fledgling company back in 2010 and has been busy growing it throughout the intervening five years.
The timing of the 2010 Kodabow start-up was propitious, coming on the heels of a new 2009 Pennsylvania hunting regulation that significantly changed the face of bowhunting here in Pennsylvania by permitting the unrestricted use of crossbows during the state’s archery seasons. Since then, the once-prohibited crossbow has become a staple for many bowhunters; in fact, statistics show that during the 2013-2014 archery seasons, Pennsylvania hunters using crossbows bagged 51 percent of all deer harvested — more than longbow hunters, recurve hunters, and compound bow hunters combined.
It should also be noted that since the legalization of crossbows during bow seasons, the number of archery licenses sold in the commonwealth have spiked from 260,001 in 2008 (the year prior to legalized crossbows) to 312,045 in 2013. Cause and effect here (i.e. the popularity of crossbows) seems clear. Crossbows are also legal archery tackle in every other state except Oregon.
CDR Matasic, a retired U.S. Naval officer, worked in the chemical, firearms, and sporting goods industries prior to starting up Kodabow. Matasic will tell you that Koda is a native American term meaning “friend,” and it’s probably safe to say that those who have purchased a Kodabow consider it a friend indeed when venturing afield in search of game. Matasic’s passion for the outdoors and pride in his product are palpable.
All told there are six different variations of the Kodabow, all built on the same platform, and all deadly accurate. “They are all recurve bows,” said Matasic, “no wheels or cams. Some customers just prefer the simplicity of recurve versus compound type bows.” Another key feature of any hunting bow is how quiet it is when the arrow is launched, and the Kodabow fills that bill. “Our split-limb recurve is designed so that when the string comes forward it doesn’t slap the limb,” Matasic noted, “and the rubber string stops help dampen noise and reduce vibration.”
The crossbow industry is a crowded field, and with at least a dozen other larger crossbow manufacturers out there, Kodabow has plenty of competition. In response, Matasic is compelled to offer a superior crossbow. “A number of features make Kodabow unique,” Matasic declared. “Among these are its AR styling which allows adaptability for different size shooters and our recurve technology which permits the hunter to easily replace the bowstring in the field.” It is advertised as the “most versatile and feature rich crossbow made.”
It’s also a very safe and reliable piece of equipment. A number of other crossbow manufacturers have been forced to deal with litigation concerning injuries caused by their products. Others have been subject to extensive recalls, many involving faulty trigger mechanisms. Due to their intensive quality control, Kodabow has avoided these problems. Matasic introduced me to his right hand man, Mark Gurnee of East Earl, Pa.
Gurnee, an accomplished archer in his own right, heads up the company’s trigger and limb assembly — critical components of every crossbow, and Matasic took great pains to school me in the impressive failsafe aspects of Kodabow’s trigger design.
While Matasic admitted that the company is still building a distribution network, most of the their current marketing strategy relies on word of mouth and the internet. The world wide web has given Kodabow global reach, which helps explain the international sales referenced at the top of this column. In fact one Kodabow claim to fame came after Jim Aken, a bowhunter from New Mexico (who, like many Kodabow customers, discovered the company online) purchased a Kodabow crossbow and subsequently travelled to Africa where he downed the Safari Club International’s number one world record crossbow hippopotamus — an animal weighing over 6,000 pounds — with his trusty Kodabow.
“And none of that hippo meat went to waste,” Matasic added.
Kodabow also boasts an indoor archery range where they test, sight-in, and tune their crossbows and also teach traditional archery skills. The range is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and also on Sunday.
During my interview with Matasic on Friday, he invited me to take a few shots with a Koda-Express 185 model crossbow. Weighing around 8 pounds with excellent balance, this bow spits out arrows at speeds in the 310 feet per second range.
I shot the bow from a bench rest at a range of 20 yards. The target: the head of a golf tee (imagine a tick on a dog). The bow proved to be spectacularly accurate. It was the fault of the shooter that I missed the tiny target by a few bare centimeters with both attempts.
Matasic’s shot, on the other hand, smacked the tee with no problem, smiled, and cited the words of Fred Bear, often considered modern bowhunting’s foremost pioneer: “Nothing clears a troubled mind like shooting a bow.” Our shooting session was an impressive display of a precision product. I should add that, before shipping, each bow is tuned in until three consecutive shots are grouped dead center at a range of 20 yards — all essentially tearing through the same hole.
Matasic reported that, not surprisingly, customer satisfaction is very high. This results from personalized service, a quality product, and affordable price.
“I think we are in the zone as far as price goes,” added Matasic. “A Kodabow costs around $899 on average. That includes optics. For just under $1,000, you can get our complete Kodabow package that includes nine arrows, sling, quiver, spare bowstring, and bow wax, pretty much everything you’d ever need.”
For more information on Kodabow (along with links to some awesome videos) check out the website at www.kodabow.com or e-mail Matasic at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story written by: Tom Tatum[box type=”bio”] Tom Tatum is a writer from Pennsylvania who currently contributes to the Daily Local News, Pennsylvania Game News, and Coastal Hunter Magazines.[/box]