It would be a fair statement to say Trophy Taker was born out of failure. Not company President/Founder Dan Evans’ failure—but the rests he used while bowhunting.
“In the winter of ’97-’98, I designed an arrow rest with no more intent than putting it on my bow,” Evans remembered. “I wasn’t in the industry and really didn’t have any personal interest in selling archery accessories. I had worked in a archery pro shop for a few years prior and simply wasn’t happy with the arrow rests I had been using. So, I decided to take a stab at making my own.
“I was an engineer and liked playing with designs anyway,” Evans continued. “As it turned out, I was out of work that winter and had plenty of free time. I filled it sitting around thinking and drawing designs and playing with my bow setup. It was during this time that I came up with the design we call the ‘Original Fall-Away.’” Although that rest is no longer in the catalog, Trophy Taker still gets a fair number of customers requesting them.
A couple of years passed before everything started falling into place—and Trophy Taker really began looking like it was going to be a business.
“My wife and I scraped together enough money to have the first 200 rests made; we decided to see if there was any interest in the market,” Evans recalled.
Evans was an avid bowhunter and archery competitor at the time. “While traveling and shooting several 3-D tournaments, I’d say it probably took about a year-and-a-half to sell—give away really— that first 200 rests,” Evans chuckled. “Somewhere along the line the whole thing just really went viral and by about the year 2000 manufacturing and selling arrow rests was my full-time job.”
For the next few years Trophy Taker really took off and the business grew at a furious pace. Then in 2004, Trophy Taker made the leap from the kitchen table to a new building in Plains, Montana—where the company continues to call home today.
In 2011, Trophy Taker produced its first limb-driven arrow rest.
“My first experience with limb-driven rests was in Las Vegas back in the ‘90s,” Evans recalled. “Several competitors from Europe were using them. Over the years, I experimented with a few limb-driven designs, but it never seemed like a big enough deal. And besides, we were still working to get the standard fall away to be accepted. Then in 2010, the limb-driven concept was gaining popularity again, so we introduced the original SmackDown in 2011 and the Pro Series for 2012.”
The SmackDown Pro Series marks several improvements over the original including a 30-percent weight reduction and a new cord tensioner that makes installation and timing much easier. “In addition to those features, the Pro Series has dual internal bearings for a much-smoother action,” Evans related. “We also contoured the containment ring making it much smaller with a lower profile. This allows the SmackDown Pro Series to work on carbon models, particularly those from Hoyt.”
Also new for the SmackDown Pro Series is a feature Evans calls the “Bristle Gate.” “We received requests from customers who wanted the ability to nock the arrow before loading it into the containment ring. So far, the buzz from our customers and dealers has been very promising,” Evans said.
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“I met Randy Ulmer years ago at a trade show, but it was actually his brother Rusty who brought me the idea for a new mechanical broadhead design,” Evans said. “Rusty and I bumped into each other back in about 2004, while hunting elk. Last year, he called me and said he had an idea for a new design,” Evans related.
Several years ago, Evans had tried expandable broadheads and was never that impressed with the performance, but figured it might be worth a look. “I went into it with a lot of skepticism, but Rusty showed me all of the features—blades that lock into the closed position for practice without affecting the cutting edge for one — but it was the testing Randy had done that really sold me. Of course Randy Ulmer is a real stickler for accuracy and seeing the long-range performance and testing that Randy had done on the head really impressed me.”
Beyond the flight performance, the Ulmer Edge has some other unique features. “The blades are rear deploying, and when the head enters the animal and the blades deploy, they actually lock into the open position, with a really unique locking mechanism,” Evans explained.
Evans had shot moveable-pin sights for 3-D competition for years—and on occasion had even used them for hunting. But he’d never really felt any available moveable hunting models offered enough durability—or compared with all of the features of the best target models. Soon, the HeartBreaker Pro was born.
“Over the years, I found several features that I always wanted to incorporate into a hunting sight,” Evans explained. “One of the first things was the thumb roller on the back of the sight. This makes adjustments in the field and on the fly very easy. The front assembly of the HeartBreaker Pro is totally adjustable and ‘locks in’ your 20-yard setting. At that point you have a firm, 20-yard setting and can slam it home without glancing down at the sight,” Evans concluded.
Contact: Trophy Taker, (406) 826-0600; www.trophytaker.com