Vapor Trail Archery was founded in 1993 by Jarrod Fondie, “a shooter [who was] frustrated with the consistency and quality of the archery equipment available,” says his brother and dedicated business partner Steve Fondie. “His peep sight alignment, for example, would vary each time he pulled the bowstring to full draw, making precision shooting very difficult.”
Jarrod was not a man to simply accept an aggravating situation. Actually he does not think of himself merely as a perfectionist when it comes to archery. He says he is an “extreme perfectionist” and this image translates to a commitment to his customers who, he believes, “want to spend their time shooting and hunting, not working on equipment. So it can’t just be ‘Good Enough.’ It has to be ‘Absolutely Right.’” And Jarrod—a bowhunter who has shot his way to victory in the Minnesota State Pro Championship an amazing 10 times—understands the difference between “Good Enough” and “Absolutely Right” when it comes to his archery gear.
As the company began to take off, he recruited his brother, Steve, who is also an avid hunter and outdoor enthusiast. Steve brought “unconventional thinking” to the Vapor Trail party. “It’s a way to move from a situation that is ‘just fine’ or ‘good enough’ to one that is ‘a whole lot better,’ Steve Fondie said. “Some people call this thinking ‘outside the box,’ but quality, integrity, and customer service are priorities at Vapor Trail. I believe they are the keys to developing long-term customer relationships.”
Jarrod Fondie, who serves as president of Vapor Trail, credits his search for a consistent string that was also supple and strong for his decision to get into the business of archery. He recalls that in the “old days,” he would install a new string and “shoot it in,” but if the weather changed—becoming hot or cold, too wet or too dry—the string would change dimensions and shooting characteristics.
“When I began making strings, I wanted to ensure that peep turn, string stretch and weather-related instabilities became a thing of the past,” Jarrod says. “Our pre-stretched custom strings and cables have a break-in period of less than 10 shots and are exceptionally durable. “Plus, we can make strings and cables in more than 300 color combinations. If one of your customers wants a red and black string, for instance, with a solid orange serving and blue and pink cables, we can probably make that—and we also price our custom strings very competitively.” Vapor Trail offers guaranteed three-day shipping on string and cable (as well as arrow rest) orders. Besides strings, the Fondies have developed some truly exceptional drop-away arrow rests. Perhaps this is a natural step as the arrow shaft only comes in contact with— or should only contact—the string and the rest.
“Every arrow rest has its pros and cons,” says Steve Fondie. “Typically the more ‘user-friendly’ a rest is, the less-accurate it becomes. That’s why you don’t see many 3-D archers shooting a Whisker Biscuit, or many bowhunters with ‘tiny prong’ arrow rests. Our limb-driven technology lets archers choose the traits they need the most in an arrow rest, without sacrificing accuracy.”
Limb-driven technology allows an arrow rest to combine many features, beginning with total fletching clearance. Vapor Trail believes the limb-driven element matches the ideal speed of the shaft moving forward with the drop of the free-floating, spring-steel yoke or armature. Of course, arm tension is adjustable, but a properly tuned yoke supports the arrow through 70 percent of the shot cycle.
The Original Limb Driver ($100) uses a flexible and adjustable steel tongue or yoke, whereas the new Limb Driver Pro-V ($130) is equipped with an adjustable self-centering arm or “elbow” inside a self-contained U-bracket—offering bowhunters “full-containment” security.
The Pro-V lets a hunter dial in the amount of force that works best with a set-up. Nock travel or cam timing inconsistencies, and shooter flaws introduce arrow flight problems that the spring-supported arm of the Pro-V minimizes. When the arrow rest arm can move with the arrow, it can return it to the original flight plane, without ‘bouncing’ during the shot cycle. By gently returning the shaft to its original horizontal plane, the Pro-V ensures that an arrow launches with the least amount of vibration and gyration, resulting in a greater kinetic energy load and, ultimately, tighter groups down range.
And company vice president Steve Fondie says that because Vapor Trail “is tight with an anodizer,” color accents can be added to the basic black drop-away rest.
Steve is not only a bowhunter and outdoorsman, but works with the business and operations ends of Vapor Trail. “2012 marks a sort of paradigm shift for Vapor Trail. We don’t have a big box presence, so we are making several changes to our operations to focus on pro shops. We have added an inside account manager to focus on independent dealers. Our MAP enforcement is being stepped up to help protect our dealer margins, we are implementing price breaks for larger orders, and offering some pre-ATA specials to try to grow that dealer business.
“We have also implemented a no-risk, freight-paid ‘try it before you buy it’ program on our limb driven rests,” Steve continued. “The technology is very new to most dealers, and until you play with one to discover the ease of installation, speed of tuning, and improved downrange accuracy you are not going to stock them. The trial program has been a success in 2011 with zero dealer returns, and lots of new Vapor Trail equipped bows.”
And the future? Steve Fondie believes the sky is the limit for ingenious product backed by great customer service—people who understand and really care. The one thing Vapor Trail can talk about right now however is development of rests that use Mathews Lost Camo patterns, and special bracketing and set-up operations for Mathews bows. Stay tuned for more.
For more on Vapor Trail Archery go to www.vaportrailarchery.com; the Fondie brothers can be reached at (763) 862-8870 or (800) 310-8110.