On September 10, 2012, Mission Archery unveiled the MXB-360 Crossbow after several weeks of speculation, Internet rumors, and a “First Look” signup on Mission’s website where visitors could registerfor a chance to win this unidentified “revolutionary new product.”

The MXB—short for Mission Crossbow—was designed by Matt McPherson, the Steve Jobs-like guru behind Mathews Solocam, Genesis Archery, Mission Archery and McPherson Guitars. McPherson proudly describes the MXB as the decathlon champion of archery’s ever-expanding crossbow field. That is, it’s not the industry’s fastest, lightest or smallest crossbow. But McPherson predicts bowhunters will judge it No. 1 after comparing its overall performance against all other competitors.

Here’s what McPherson had to say about the MXB-360, and more:

Archery Business: What prompted you to build a crossbow in 2012?

McPherson: Our dealers brought huge pressure the past three years. Before, we felt a lot of pressure to make a crossbow and a lot of pressure not to make crossbows. The debate reminds me of car racers and motorcycle racers. They’re both racers, but they don’t meet for tea. No matter their interests, people join cliques. Whatever you’re doing, your way is the best way. I see crossbows the same way. You’ve got crossbows, you’ve got compounds, and you’ve still got the division between recurves and compounds. I understand why some people won’t dig the crossbow idea. To be frank, I’ve never really been a crossbow fan, but that’s a personal preference, not a moral issue. If crossbows were immoral, I wouldn’t touch them. But as a competitive company, we try to maximize our abilities to generate revenues and make a difference. We’ve got a whole market now with crossbows that we never reached before.

AB: What did you consider “huge” pressure from your dealers?

McPherson: When pretty much 100 percent of the dealers attending our annual academies here in Sparta said, “Matt, you gotta build it. You’ve got to give us a crossbow.” We have about 170 retailers come here every year, visiting us face-to-face almost three days. We get real quality time with them. Crossbows came up at almost all roundtables the past three years, and it was from across the country. In almost every case, I’d say: “So, you’re telling me you don’t like crossbows, right? But I should build one, right?” Yep. That tells me their customers are demanding it. These are retailers who, in the past, never wanted us to build a crossbow. But by not competing in that market as it grew, they were losing revenue and so were we. If retailers can’t stay healthy, they can’t stay in business. They were leaving money on the table, and it was somebody else’s table.

AB: Did they give specific reasons for their change of heart?

McPherson: They said they needed a protected crossbow to keep their customers out of box stores. They can’t stay in business and serve our regular clientele—even with our regular bows—if we don’t keep them healthy. They trust us to give them great products and great service.

We owe something to retailers who work hard to make our name brand a household name. We also owe it to these thousands of people whose kids we literally help put through school, and put food on their table and make their car payments. Those are real obligations. So they really wanted a “protected” crossbow, something their customers couldn’t find in box stores. But I’ll say again: We don’t have to compete with box stores.

I think box stores are fantastic. A lot of the eyeballs going in those box stores aren’t yet archers. Until they go in there and buy a bow, they probably aren’t even aware of us or our retailers. Archery dealers produce different products for consumers. They offer service, dependability, and eyeball-to-eyeball contact. If dealers do their job, they’re looking at the same faces a year from now, two years, or five years from now. Box stores can’t do that.

AB: Before you said “yes” to crossbows, which pros and cons did you weigh?

McPherson: Man, there’s pros and cons to everything. The bottom line was this: I thought it’s time we do this, and we had to do a really, really good job. We try not to do anything poorly. We try to do things with all our energy and look at all the possibilities. When people shoot our crossbow side by side against anything out there, it clearly must be the best overall experience from cocking to shooting. So we looked closely at the crossbow market and then I jumped into it. I studied all the crossbows, everything from models costing a couple-hundred bucks up to $2,000. Frankly, I did not see a huge difference between the $500 and $2,000 bows to justify that $1,500 gap.