Ek Archery’s Development of Crossbows for Women

After three decades of pioneering manufacturing solutions for the product lines of North America’s major archery brands, Poelang Enterprises evolved past its OEM/ODM roots with the decision to bring its own innovative designs to the archery market. With a well-experienced team of designers and production engineers bristling with new ideas of how to improve crossbows from the manufacturing perspective; a new branch of the company, Ek Research Archery, set out on the odyssey to become a full powered OBM contender. 

From the onset, a core group of the company’s archery enthusiasts promoted in-house shooting activities for the office staff and the craftspeople of its manufacturing facilities with the goal of building an affinity between the company’s employees and the products that pass through their hands. These archery activities quickly revealed an important gap in company’s product line. As most of Ek’s designs were created for the North American hunting market, much of the female staff felt that cocking the crossbows without a winch-style crank was a rather arduous task. The design team saw that there was a market niche for a line of crossbows for female archers. 


One for the Ladies

To collect the views of non-designers Ek Archery assembled a female focus group of huntresses, field archers, and casual shooters to inform the iterative design process. The product designers integrated trends from the North American market that focused on slimness, compactness and handiness. The mechanical engineers focused on ergonomic aspects of design to match the product to the end-users’ physical characteristics. Unfortunately, as a functional prototype evolved, a strong difference of opinion developed between the product development team and the focus group.

“We introduced our prototype bull-pup style compound crossbow to the focus group,” says CEO Matt Liu. “After difficulty cycling the device for a few hundred shots, one of the more outspoken 3D shooters in the group showed me a picture on her phone of a young female combatant holding a well-worn Type 56 AK-47 and remarked, “This is what we had in mind; egalitarian and hard-hitting. We don’t need a crossbow designed just for women. We don’t need it water-dipped in pink camouflage. We don’t need limbs in appealing colours. We don’t need soft contours. Why can’t you design a hard-hitting crossbow that can be operated by anyone, even teenagers and the elderly?”

“It was a bit of a shock for the both the designers and the engineers, but I understood the focus group’s viewpoint,” Matt continued. “Coincidentally, another group of young engineers working on a parallel project were there for the test shooting and asked the focus group to reconvene so they could pitch their new design.”


Follow Your Arrow Where It Points

The focus group had insisted that unwieldy cocking ropes and winch systems were only applicable to their needs for single long-range shots on high powered hunting platforms. And at the next meeting the young engineers presented a prototype of a carbine crossbow that was cocked using the mechanical advantage of integral cocking lever. 

“The new crossbow created quite a buzz within the focus group, we had pry it out of their hands,” says Matt. “It was quite a watershed event and the entire design staff almost immediately realigned their mentality to focus their efforts on non-gendered designs that emphasized ease of use and simplicity. It was really a “two-birds with one arrow kind of moment”. We realized that we weren’t going to bifurcate our products into two gender groups but rather we were going to design from the perspective of universal usability and we actually had the potential product to demonstrate this concept.”


A Star is Born

The brainchild of this process are the now famous R-Series compact crossbows. The R9, RX, RX Adder and Siege 300 crossbows can be broken down into small components for transport in a small backpack and then rapidly reassembled without the need for tools. The R-Series crossbows are all easily cycled using a patented built-in cocking lever and the R9/RX/Adder feature interchangeable 90lb, 110lb and 130lb recurve limb sets suitable for every type of shooter. The new Siege 300 is a compound crossbow with all of the ground-breaking design and ergonomic attributes of the R9/RX but has a new reinforced cocking arm and hardened components to strengthen the device to the rigors of firing at faster speeds. The Siege’s limb bolts can be adjusted to produce draw weights between an easy 118lb and a stiff 150lb. The Siege also ships with a pair of preset 90lb limb bolts that allow almost every age of operator the ability to cycle the device.

Ek Archery adheres to the old adage, ‘Good archers are not known by their arrows, but rather by their aim.’ Equity on the range and in the field with a crossbow for anyone that wants to enjoy shooting. 

W: www.ek-archery.com