The history of modern archery development and indeed bow hunting in America is wrought with a plethora of interesting characters and stories of grand adventures, product innovations, business struggles and great successes.
For a lot of bow hunters and shooters of the last 50 years, the name Fred Bear often comes to mind. His iconic presence was noted all across outdoors America as the name in archery hunting. A classic photo of Fred Bear bore out in a personal encounter of mine always saw him in a time-worn Fedora felt hat, a flannel shirt, and canvas work pants. That image and his take with a black bear he arrowed was common. Fred Bear was archery and bow hunting.
Well certainly since Fred Bear, many others have come along to fill in the gaps. Even at the local levels in places like Jackson, Miss., there are those that have established their own histories in the archery world. One such icon is Bill Leamond of Bill’s Archery in Pearl. Once you have a single conversation with Bill you will come to understand how he has filled this role.
The Making of Bill’s Archery
Consider this. You’re 46 years old and you just finished a long stint with the U.S. Postal Service enough to earn retirement. What do you do now?
“I retired from the post office work and began to look around for another future. At church, I had a lot of guys asking me to help them with setting up bows and giving them tips on archery shooting and hunting. I began to see there was a demand for somebody to open a business to provide these services I was giving to my church friends. That was 26 years ago now,” says Bill Leamond of Pearl.
To be fair of course, Bill did not do all this single-handed. In fact, he is the first to point out that his wife of many years, Jan, was right there all along for the whole ride and still works in the shop today. To start and run a successful small business in today’s complex business environment takes a team and the help from many sources. Bill and Jan are not special in that regard except that they have survived the test of time and are still going strong…. very strong.
Today’s Archery Business
The Leamond’s today operate a 3,000-square-foot shop in Pearl at 810 Clearmont off Pearson Road. Their business has grown to the point that Bill now has a full-time shop manager and eight part-time employees to help out.
“Last year, we sold around 400 bows and all the setup gear and accessories. Today, we are the 10th largest Matthews bow dealers in the United States,” remarked Bill. In the archery world of today, the brand name Matthews is the hottest thing going. This position in this industry is quite a milestone for a small “morn and pop” shop in Pearl, Miss.
With nearly 200 bows hanging on the showroom display hooks, Bill’s Archery is well stocked with everything a bow hunter would need to get started or step up to the next level, no matter how high that level is. A look around the store shows tons of accessories and add-on items to make any bow a complete package for competition shooting or more likely for white-tailed deer hunting. Just try counting the arrows in this shop. Bring a calculator.
“I love selling bows. About January, they start slipping into the shop in the phase I call ‘show and tell.’ It’s kind of like kicking tires. Eventually, the summer bears on and a couple months before hunting season, they walk in the shop one day and slap the money down on the counter. It’s six months or more process for most to decide exactly what they want to buy,” says Bill.
Inside the shop is a wall of photos brought in by Bill’s customers from successful hunts and other shooting events. It is a sort of testimonial memorial to all the folks that have come through the door, bought just the right bow set up for them and then went out and lived out their archery goals. What can better story a business tell than proven customer successes?
“The best part of our business is now seeing customers’ grandkids come in for their first bow. Watching these kids grow up and become successful archery shooters is a very rewarding sidebar to this business. I also immensely enjoy seeing the increased number of lady bow shooters come into the shop for a new bow, a bow maintenance tune-up, or some new accessories,” Leamond remarked.
Bow hunting continues to be one of the most popular and fastest-growing forms of hunting in this country. Picking a new bow, getting it properly fitted and decked out is not a process to undertake without proper guidance. At Bill’s Archery in Pearl, customers can feel confident in the help they receive in selecting the best archery equipment. Just spend a little time studying the wall of customer photos for verification.