Many die-hard bowhunters dream of making a living doing what they love. Some dream of owning their own archery shop or filming their hunts, others may think about putting on their own 3D shoot or maybe even developing their own archery products. My buddy Steve Speck is doing all of the above.
I first met Steve when I ordered my TightSpot quiver from his archery shop. Then, when I was in the market for a new bow sight I contacted Steve with some questions; we got to talking about hunting, gear, the industry, etc. Since then Steve has become a great resource for me to bounce ideas off of, ask questions, and get gear advice.
Check out the following interview with Steve and be sure to see the end of the post to enter the giveaway for a copy of, “The Unfinished Season”, the latest DVD release from Pure Elevation Productions.
You are involved in the business side of the hunting world, but first and foremost you are just a passionate bowhunter. How did you get started bowhunting?
I got a fairly late start in bowhunting compared to other friends of mine. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school; I was at a really good friend’s house and he showed me his bow and asked if I wanted to shoot it. All it took was one shot and my passion for bowhunting started.
I think within a week I had bought my first bow, a Hoyt Magnatec, and I shot that bow every single day for 8 months leading up to elk season. Since then I doubt a week has passed by where I haven’t shot a bow – to say that day was a life changer would be putting it mildly.
What would you say has been the highlight of your personal hunting success so far?
My bull I shot in 2010 was an awesome experience. It was the first year of filming for Pure Elevation Productions, and Lenny and I worked our tails off to earn that guy. (Author note: Steve was too humble to mention that this bull was an absolute stud and it graced the cover of Eastman’s Bowhunting Journal.)
I have to say the highlight of my bowhunting success was the cow elk I killed that first season of bowhunting. My buddy Keith and I had hunted extremely hard all season long and it came down to the very last day. My dad and I went up into a basin that seemed to always have a couple of elk in it, and in the last 30 minutes of light I spotted a cow feeding out into a clear-cut. I ran as fast as I could, got up in front of her, and put an arrow right into her lungs as she passed by. I watched her run 50 yards and expire.
“I just remember thinking how cool it was to be able to go out and actually harvest an animal with basically a stick and string. Being able to share that experience with my dad was icing on the cake.”
What was your first step in taking your passion for bowhunting and turning it into something that you did for a living?
Elite Archery is actually what got me into the business side of archery. I had bought a bow from them when they very first started out in Washington. The one local shop we had at the time did not carry them. I remember being so impressed with them that I thought, “I should start to sell these.”
I called them up and found out what it would take to get a dealership set up and started the ball rolling. The first few years I worked out of my garage in the evenings and weekends and loved every second of it. Next to shooting a bow; working on, tuning and tweaking a bow is definitely my second passion.
S&S Archery is a local shop in Boise, but you also have an online store. Which side of that business do you enjoy more?
This is actually a tough question to answer. If I could make enough money running a pro shop full-time, without running the website, I would do it in a heartbeat. But as most guys know, pro shops come and go all the time. It really tough for local shops to be successful; the reality is that there isn’t as much profit in a bow as most guys think. The business side of me stepped in and I realized that to keep this going I had to develop a website. That started in 2009 and over the last three years it has grown exceptionally well – to the point where I do very little work locally and focus nearly everything on the website.
How do you decide which products to carry and sell through S&S Archery?
I have been extremely picky about the products I sell on my website, sandsarchery.com, for many reasons. The main reason is simple – I take the same approach as I would if it was gear I was actually going to buy and use myself. I have upset my share of sales reps and companies over the years wanting me to sell their products and I just plainly told them there is no way I would sell them. I am not a fan of cheaply made products and prescribe to the buy it once and buy it right philosophy, which I apply to the products I sell on my site.
I have no desire to sell products that won’t last and hold up to the rigors us bowhunters put them through. From a business standpoint it also doesn’t make sense to sell products where I would be dealing with quality and warranty issues all the time instead of focusing on more important things.
There isn’t a product on my site that I haven’t personally tested.
It also really helps when a customer calls up with a question, I usually ask what type of hunting they will be doing and what they think their needs are. Based off my experience with the products I can give them a really good recommendation. Sometimes I recommend a product that I don’t sell, which usually catches them off guard, but I don’t want to sell them a product that won’t work for them.
In addition to your archery shop, you also are involved with Pure Elevation Productions. Tell me a bit about that project.
Pure Elevation Productions started in late 2009, early 2010. I had been filming my hunts for the last few years and wanted to take it to another level. Again, being brutally honest, I was sick of seeing all the TV shows and DVD’s that did not represent how 99% of us REAL bowhunters hunt.
I am not a big trophy animal guy and wanted to see more of the story behind the hunt and not just the 30 seconds before and after a kill shot. My goal in starting Pure Elevation was to take my two favorite passions; bowhunting and backpacking and combine them.
I thought that if I could find a way to capture all the little moments that happen during a hunt, we could bring the viewer into the backcountry with us and let them experience what it’s like to hunt out there. I have been all over the country hunting, and I will take a backcountry in Idaho hunt over anything in the world.
Pure Elevation truly began when I met Lenny Nelson. He was as passionate about backcountry hunting as I was and we agreed to start hunting together and filming it. Our first DVD “Ninety Percent” was released last year and the response we got from it was quite humbling. I think it hit home with a lot of guys who wanted to see an accurate portrayal of real hunting, which includes all the lows and frustrations along with the success.
We learned a lot about filming that first year and we are really excited to get our next DVD out there. (Check out the trailer and giveaway at the end of the interview.)
You have also taken some bold new steps in 2012. What is new this year?
Yeah, 2012 is going to be a pretty busy year for me – running S&S Archery, which in itself is a full-time job for 3 people that I do myself, releasing our second Pure Elevation Productions DVD, putting on the Bogus Challenge 3D shoot, and releasing my broadhead design to the market.
I also race competitively in cross country mountain bike races and have qualified and plan to race in nationals this year, which is July 5th. To top it all off, I am getting married July 20th. It’s going to be quite a year!
Tell me a bit about the Bogus Challenge.
I am not sure I am the most creative person, but I am really good at looking at something instantly seeing how to improve upon it. 3D shoots, at least here locally in Idaho, are pretty vanilla; if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all.
I saw a lot of potential to create an event that brings bowhunters together and not just a shoot where people show up and leave right after. There are going to be people who come to this shoot and do not have a good time because the hiking and shooting is going to be challenging, but that’s the point.
It always seems that when we leave our comfort zones and try something different is when something becomes special and memorable.
I want to challenge people to get out there, get in shape, and shoot their bows. I think everyone could agree that being in better shape and shooting your bow more will only help when hunting season rolls around. The shoot is coming up this weekend, June 23/24, and I am really excited to see it all come together.
To be honest, it has been a lot more work than I had originally thought. We have some really cool events going on like the Train to Hunt course which will be essentially a biathalon with a bow in hand. Additionally, Corey Jacobsen from Elk101.com will be doing an elk calling seminar on Saturday night.
You can get all the information about the event at BogusChallenge.com
The broadhead market is very crowded, and honestly, I thought you were a little crazy to build your own. That said, once I saw the design and construction, I knew you were bringing something fresh to the market. Tell me about your broadhead design.
You are not the first person to tell me that, in fact just about everyone thought I was crazy and maybe I am.
In my opinion, the broadhead market is on this fad to produce more and more gimmicky broadheads. You can simply look at many of these designs and know it’s going to fly poorly or not hold up to any abuse. It simply amazes me some of the mechanical heads that are coming out, and even some of the fixed blade heads – I wonder if there was any thought put into the design to actually kill an animal or was it simply designed to look cool and therefore get people to buy it off the shelf. Don’t get me wrong though, there are some good heads on the market, but I had a few ideas that I knew would work and decided to go for it.
My first goal is that I want to change the perception that broadheads should be designed to be disposable. To keep costs low, many of these broadheads are made out of inferior materials like aluminum and brittle, thin razor blades.
My broadhead is 100% steel and I am using some of the finest knife grade steel (S30V) that you can buy. This head is designed and will last you for years on end; it is definitely not a one and done head.
At first glance it may just look like any other broadhead, but there is a lot of thought and engineering that went into every single part of it.
For example, I have four different “checks” built into the head regarding how the blades seat together, and how it slides into the ferrule, which all but guarantees it will spin true every single time. A wobbly broadhead won’t fly accurate and it can’t get much more important than a broadhead that hits where you are aiming.
When I sat down to design the head I wrote out six main principles that I thought every head should be designed after: It had to have outstanding flight, it had to be extremely strong and durable, it had to be razor blade sharp, it had to be quiet in flight, it had to penetrate when hitting bone, and it needed to be made out of superior materials compared to what is currently used on the market.
I am extremely happy with the final design of the broadhead and I know once these get out there and people get them in hand they will see and feel the quality that is in them and understand the price.
You can learn all about the broadhead design at Solid-Broadheads.com
I will be giving away a copy of “The Unfinished Season” DVD on Friday, June 29th. You have three ways to enter until then…
- Simply leave a comment below.
- “Like” Sole Adventure (HERE) and Pure Elevation Productions (HERE) on Facebook, and then leave a comment below stating that you did so.
- If you are Twitter, tweet this – “RT @SoleAdventure Giveaway & Interview with Steve Speck of S&S Archery, Pure Elevation Productions and Solid Broadheads http://ow.ly/bE8pb“, and then leave a comment below stating that you did so.
You can purchase the DVD from the Pure Elevation website.