On September 10, 2012, Mission Archery unveiled the MXB-360 Crossbow after several weeks of speculation, and Internet rumors.
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.
Here’s what McPherson had to say about the MXB-360, and more:
AB: How easy is it to change the MXB’s string?
McPherson: You can replace it in the field with an Allen wrench. Service is something our dealers brought up a lot. Crossbows can be difficult to work on. But because our limbs are adjustable, you can turn the weight down till the limb bolts are flush with the barrel, push down, and pop the string off.
The cool thing is that once you replace the string and you bolt everything back together, as long as the rotation is correct, you should still be dead-on. Changing the string shouldn’t affect anything.
AB: What kind of arrow speeds can you get from the MXB?
McPherson: At the bow’s maximum weight, 160 pounds, we hit speeds of 360 feet per second with a 22-inch, 400-grain Mission arrow. We also got 311 feet per second at 125 pounds, and about 271 feet per second at 100 pounds, the bow’s minimum draw weight.
AB: In designing, engineering and building the MXB-360, did you learn anything that will improve your vertical bows?
McPherson: No, vertical-bow engineering helped me make the MXB, and it will help us make even better crossbows in the future. A lot of crossbows have been stuck in the caveman days. I think you’ll see a tremendous amount of advancements in the future, and we’ll try to be the ones who bring them to you. This was our first shot out of the gates, and I feel we beat everybody with this, and at a good price, $899. We’ll offer more in the future when the time is right. We’ll sell no crossbow before it’s time. (laughs)
AB: Do you plan to build a crossbow for the Matthews line?
McPherson: I don’t know yet. It may end up that we do and it may end up that we don’t. If we do, it may only be a McPherson offering. That’s kind of where we’re at.
AB: In the past, you’ve discussed the importance of not getting too far out from your customers with new models and designs; that you must bring customers along gradually or risk losing them with radical ideas. Will you follow that guideline with crossbows?
McPherson: I’ve got some really, really far out ideas, crossbow-wise. But we’re a ways from that. The key is to build something a little better than anybody else is building. It doesn’t have to be worlds better. People might not accept worlds better because it’s too ‘concept’ looking. We have to kind of walk people that way, start them down a path. We’ll continually to build the best crossbows we possibly can for the price-points we choose.
AB: Are you worried that the MXB’s price, $899, is $200 more than Mission’s highest price compound, the Voyager XT?
McPherson: The MXB is kind of a high-end offering for Mission, but it hits a perfect market for crossbows. It’s a separate category for Mission, and it’s right where it needs to be. Now, a lot of crossbows are sold cheaper than that. But if you shoot the MXB and then you shoot that (pointing to a competitor’s crossbow), I think you’ll figure out how to sell that old four-wheeler or whatever to buy our crossbow.
AB: Are you concerned that some of your more traditional Mathews shooters will get upset that you built a crossbow?
McPherson: Yes. That’s one reason it took this long for us to build one. Hey, I’m one of those guys. I’m mad at myself right now (laughs), but we have to get over the fact that we can’t make everybody think like us. This is a free country. Everybody has different opinions. We must allow people to have their opinions.
I don’t care much for crossbows myself, but we just built the best crossbow in the world. That’s what we believe. Crossbows are here to stay. The MXB is not going away, but nobody will make you sell crossbows, shoot crossbows or hunt with crossbows.
AB: You’ve tried many things the past 20 years. Your guitar business is obviously doing very well and so is Mission. Other attempts, like your Justin Charles long-underwear line, Genesis sleeping bags, and Conquest recurve bows are no longer here. Why is that?
McPherson: That’s a good question. What happens is, when you’re doing well in a business you look for other areas that can generate new money. We started making long underwear. We made some of the best stuff. A lot of people today still say we made the best long underwear ever.
But no matter what it is, there’s always a huge learning curve. We just realized we could play in this and keep making it work, but I don’t like it. It wasn’t really a good idea for us to be in this anymore. But you have to experiment. Nobody hits the ball out of the park every time they play ball. Or, if they do, I want to meet them.
The crossbow, though? It makes so much sense. It’s new money for us. It was money we were leaving on the table. These retailers already know us. The consumers already know us. If we come out with a crossbow, they know it will be good. I mean, we produce good stuff. And so it’s kind of a shoo-in. The deal is this: We only have so much energy and resources. Let’s stick with products we know are going to work. At this point, it’s the crossbow.
AB: What’s next for Mission Crossbows?
McPherson: The MXB is at $899, right? We haven’t built a $2,000 crossbow yet. Just wait. We waited a long time to build this crossbow. Maybe longer than we should have, but we waited because of anti-crossbow pressure.
Bowhunters don’t want crossbow people sharing their hunting season. I get that. But ultimately, crossbows will make our sport healthier. They’ll make Mathews a healthier company. They’ll allow us to have (research & development) departments like nobody has ever seen before. We’ll produce even better crossbows, and do even cooler things with compound bows. This isn’t just about crossbows. This is about everything we build.