Screaming Eagle Archery Alaska, based in Wasilla, took a shot at opening its second location in the Interior – and hit the mark, according to Fairbanks store manager Andrew Wilson.
“We had been doing quite a bit of business up here via mail, and it looked like there was a need here so we opened a store,” Wilson said. “Business and traffic have been very good.”
The original Screaming Eagle store opened in Wasilla in 2009, and was purchased by its current owners, Chris and Beth Alderman in 2012.
They opened their Fairbanks location in November, according to Beth Alderman.
“We had a ton of people calling us in Wasilla needing stuff,” she said.
Other stores in Fairbanks offer retail services, but Screaming Eagle takes point as the sole specialty store as a pro shop offering maintenance and custom-tailoring services.
“We do all maintenance on all brands such as replacement strings and sightings,” Wilson said.
Alderman said the intent is to expand what it offers over time.
“Our goal is to build Fairbanks as big of a shop as possible as the one in Wasilla,” Alderman said. “For example, we have a huge kids program in Wasilla and we would like to offer that in Fairbanks.”
The Fairbanks store is still a one-person show, but is actively recruiting for another person so it can eventually expand its services.
The last archery store to service Fairbanks was Precision Archery, which closed its doors in 2014, when it merged with Bear Paw Archery in Wasilla.
Screaming Eagle Fairbanks currently doesn’t offer services associated with its parent store in Wasilla, but it does provide a personal sales experience.
“We can help pretty much anybody from a brand new starter to someone who’s been doing it for 30 or 40 years,” Wilson said. “We have a small range in the back of the store for people who have never shot a bow before to set them up with the right size.”
Wilson said he also “fits the bow to the person” and walks people through different accessory options and decides on what type of bow, whether recurve or compound.
Some of the best advice he’s learned for people wanting to start archery has been to go to a pro shop.
“I always recommend going to a local pro shop so people aren’t wasting their money and get the right item,” Wilson said. “They will be able to set people up correctly.”
Shopping online can present risks such as buying the wrong bow size or buying a used item that could be damaged.
“There can be a host of not-good-things that can happen and if you don’t know what you’re buying, it can be a pretty big gamble,” Wilson said.
A sport for everyone
Wilson practiced archery when he was a child, stopped when he was 10, and then resumed at 18 as a serious endeavor, including sports and hunting.
“It’s a sport that literally anyone can do,” he said. “The instructor at our main store in Wasilla works with special needs kids to help them shoot archery.”
People with disabilities or people who are wheelchair bound can also participate, he said.
“I shot Matt Stutzman a couple of times at tournaments in the Lower 48,” Wilson said. “He has no arms; he holds the bow with his feet and uses a special harness. ”
For beginners, he said, the best start would be to learn from an experienced archer or instructor, who can point them in the right direction.
Alderman, in Wasilla, said the buying of the original archery store in 2012 showed her and her husband Chris that archery creates a sense of community.
“We met a lot of friends and people we now call family through the archery store,” Alderman said. “It has given a lot of opportunities we otherwise wouldn’t have had if we didn’t own an archery business.”
A little of everything
Screaming Eagle Fairbanks carries a wide assortment of compound and recurve bows for both target and hunting purposes.
“We carry most of the top manufacturers, including ones from Matthews and ones from Hoyt or Elite,” Wilson said. “We carry a full line of accessories, recurve products.”
The shop’s main arrow selection is from Easton, but carries arrows from Victory and Gold Tip. Most of the arrows are carbon. “There are some variations, but almost all your arrows on the market today are carbon.”
Price ranges vary as well, depending on the type of bow.
“If you’re just starting out, a recurve bow will typically be a little less expensive to get into pricewise, and sometimes people just want to do traditional archery,” he said.
Prices vary depending on the experience level and a person’s spending range, but arrows are typically re-usable.
“It’s not like guns, where you spend $ 50 on ammo and have to buy more,” he said. “You can shoot arrows until you break them.”
IF YOU GO
What: Screaming Eagle Archery Fairbanks
Where: 409 College Road, Suite # 3, Fairbanks
Hours: 11 am to 7 pm Wednesday-Saturday