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Top 3 Failed Archery Products I Have Encountered Over the Years

Posted by Jason Meade on 3/3/2017
Archery is a sport loved by many and it continues to grow every year. Over the past 20 years the overall efficiency of bows and bow equipment has improved drastically. Bow hunters all over the world have been treated to incredible things such as faster bows that somehow shoot smoother than ever before. We have seen sights hit the market that are capable of tool-less micro adjustments on the fly. We even have freaking arrow nocks that glow like the sun once we fire them and we can now follow our arrow in real time as it streaks down range towards whatever target we flung it at. At this point no one can deny how awesome some of these accessories have turned out to be.

Unfortunately they cant all be winners though! It does not happen often but occasionally something will hit the market that simply does not stack up compared to other accessories like it. This could be for one of many reasons, but it does tend to happen sometimes. A lot of these products sound incredible on paper but when you go to actually try them for yourself it turns out the idea of the product just does not work. Other times products can just suck! Either way you go, the end result is the same, the product fails and most of the time they vanish from the market forever. With this in mind, I have decided to make a list of the products I can best recall standing out the most after they hit the market and failed for whatever reason. With all of that said, here are my top three picks for failed archery products that stand out most to me.
This is something that happens in every corner of the business world. Someone will come out with a ground breaking idea and they will start to make some serious money because of it. Others will see this and inevitably want to get a piece of the action. This will almost always lead to some attempt at a knockoff of the product in question. Sometimes knockoffs are pretty decent and they can save you money while giving you similar results. Unfortunately some knockoffs are not done so well and they can lead to poor results with a feeling of regret for having purchased it in the first place. This would be my best guess for what happened here with the Whisper Disc. The name alone is pretty reminiscent of the Whisker Biscuit. As we all know, The Whisker Biscuit is consider to be the most widely used and one of the most trusted arrow rests to ever hit the market. Anytime you have a product with such popularity, you will probably see some attempts at knocking it off from time to time. The Whisper Disc is a rest that I did not personally get to spend much time with but Daniel, the production manager here at Hunter's Friend, is very familiar with it. When I asked Daniel if he could recall any failed products that stand out to him the Whisper Disc was brought up in seconds. The more he told me about the rest, the more I understood why it didn't do so well on the market.
whisper disc
All it takes is a passing glance to see that the Whisper Disc is extremely similar to the Whisker Biscuit in a lot of ways, even down to how the product is displayed in the packaging.
whisker biscuit
This is the Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit!
According to Daniel, the Whisper Disc was not very effective when it came to paper tuning a bow and in his opinion this was largely due to what he considers to be the biggest issue with the rest, and that was the "disc". "The problem was with the overall design of the disc itself" he said. Apparently the foam inside the disc was stiff and the idea was for your vanes to pass through the openings between the foam triangles. Unfortunately these openings were very small and required you to use straight vanes on your arrows. Having such a small gap to pass through was just asking for trouble in the first place. Arrows tend to spin a little before they even make it through an arrow rest and this made it virtually impossible to set the rest up in such away that the vanes would not contact the foam triangles inside the rest. If the vanes managed to make contact then it would end up being a major issue. The foam(ish) material inside the rest was just stiff enough that when the vanes did make contact the vanes themselves would take some serious damage and would sometimes even get ripped clean off. Other times when the vanes made contact with the triangles inside the disc something worse would happen. Sometimes the triangle would actually break out of the disc and go flying down range a little ways. This obviously caused a lot of headaches for a lot of people.

According to Daniel we stocked the Whisper Disc here at the shop for a short time but we had to drop it. The reason why is kind of obvious and even if we did manage to get one to tune on a bow here at the shop it would go on to cause immediate issues for the customer that had purchased it. At the end of the day this particular arrow rest was just way more trouble than they were worth.

I do want to point out that I am not attempting to take away from this product because I know some people were big fans of it and it worked well for them. I am just simply talking about our experiences with this product. The Whisper Disc was later discontinued and is no longer available to my knowledge.
NUMBER 2 - The Octane Hijack Arrow Rest!
This one has always fascinated me a little. I will give you a bit of back story on this situation just to make sure we are on the same page before I go into details about what went wrong. The Octane Hijack is an example of a product manufacturer trying to improve their own product but somehow managing to make it worse instead. The Octane Hijack hit the market several years after Octane obtained the rights to an arrow rest called the Catawba. Not too long after purchasing the design of the Catawba, Octane changed it up a little and then came out with what we all now know as the Octane Hostage. The Octane Hostage is considered by many to be an extremely good arrow rest and it is still used by countless shooters to this day, including myself. We currently stock the Hostage and we include them with many of our bow packages every single day. They tune well and thanks to how the rest is designed there is zero fletching contact between the vanes and the rest itself. The fletching will simply pass through the openings between the brushes without hitting anything (when installed properly). There are a lot of people that actually prefer the Hostage over the Whisker Biscuit for this very reason.
This is the Octane Hostage!
For a while it seemed like Octane may had actually managed to create the perfect containment arrow rest. The Catawba had piggy backed on the idea of the Whisker Biscuit but by getting rid of the fletching contact between the vanes and the bristles it had managed to be different enough to be special. Before long there was one major complaint that kept getting pulled into the spot light about the Hostage. The complaint was a reasonable one though. Apparently the brushes of the Hostage would easily wear down in time and this would cause problems with tuning and consistency. I do want to chime in here and mention that I have never personally had this happen to me and I have never really seen it pop up here at the shop either. We have used Hostages for years and if the bow is properly tuned the brushes becoming wore down just didn't seem like something that should happen. Unfortunately, for what ever reason, it was happening and it was happening a lot.

The complaints continued for a few years but the sales of the Octane Hostage and Octane Hostage Pro (pro level version) were still very strong so nothing was really being done by Octane to address the problem. Eventually Octane introduced a brand new arrow rest called the Octane Hijack. It kind of seemed like it was being advertised as an all new idea but it seemed pretty clear that it was meant to be a solution to the brushes wearing out on the existing Hostage rest. This new rest was clearly similar in design to the Octane Hostage but it had one major change, instead of brushes, it had these new soft felt pads for the arrow to sit on. Could this new rest be the solution for all those people that wanted to use the Hostage but were to afraid of the brushes? Would this be the perfect rest that the Hostage could have been? Nope! Negative!
This is the Octane Hijack!
While it all seemed like the perfect plan on paper, it did not translate so well into an actual real life arrow rest. The Hijack had everything that was considered to be good about the Octane Hostage, minus those pesky old brushes. So what was the problem? It turned out the problem was the very thing they used to solve the last problem in the first place. It was the new soft felt arrow pads. These new soft pads were really nice to the touch and were clearly going to be very smooth to shoot an arrow off of but would they hold up well? The world soon found out those pads not only didn't hold up very well but they were actually falling apart within a couple of days of use. We had started installing the Hijack on bows here at the shop and it did not take long at all before we started getting bombarded with phone calles complaining about the felt pads. They would either get wore out very, very fast or they would simply get ripped off of the arrow rest all together. We had to send out the old Octane Hostages to replace the Hijacks just as a way to prevent our customers from going without a bow.

Like I said before, this was a case of a manufacturer actually trying to improve a product, one loved by so many, but it just did not work out. I personally do not see this as a failure by Octane as a whole. Sure the product failed but the big thing to take away from this was that the company actually tried to solve a problem instead of just leaving people high and dry with their complaints about the Hostage. It didn't work out but they get an A for effort anyways.
I am pretty confident to say that I am not alone in wishing this next product had worked. The awesomeness would have been through the roof of any sky scraper had this product managed to take off and work out the way I wish it would have. Just think about that for a second. A laser grip... FOR YOUR FREAKING BOW. Just the idea of being able to aim your bow at something, click the button on the grip, and see that red dot pop up down range is enough to get me excited. When I first heard of this I remember being thrilled about it but I knew that if a manufacturer was willing to attempt this idea it would have to work perfectly in order to be a success. At the time I had no idea how it was going to play out. On paper it all seemed like it was going to go over just fine and from what I could tell at the time, this thing should work. We had talked about stocking the Laser Grip but we decided to only get a few at first and see how the market treated them.
laser grip
Once we received our Laser Grips we decided to try them out. Once we finally got a chance to play with them something interesting became clear pretty fast. The product actually works. The grip was able to shine a laser down range to help mark the spot you were aiming at, much like you would see on a pistol. We actually had a lot of fun playing with them here at the shop. At short distances we were able to dial the laser in and shoot decent with it. It was a blast at first but at a certain point we realized it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Once the excitement wore down a little we started to look a the grips from a practical standpoint, and that is when we realized there was a huge problem. The problem was not with the grips themselves but it was with the person using the product. It turns out that there was a byproduct of using the laser as a reference point and it was an unexpected problem to say the least.

While using the laser grip shooters would tend to forget about the importance of the peep sight and that is a big NO NO! The extremely important process of lining the peep sight up with the sight pins in order to make sure the back of the bow was lined up with the front of the bow before firing a shot was being completely over looked by the person shooting the bow. Now that they had this bright red reference point on the target shooters would just sort of focus on that instead. This caused the form of shooters to become terrible and ultimately made it impossible to hit what you were aiming at. This was not the only problem the grip had though. Another major problem with the grip was how sensitive it was to movement. If the person gripping the bow so much as blinked too hard the laser would bounce all over the place on the target. It literally seemed like it would move every time your heart would beat. This made the laser grip extremely hard to use and impossible to shoot a consistent group with. If you combine the peep sight problem with the laser bouncing around problem you will end up with a very horrible outcome.

All in all the grip itself actually worked really well when you consider a couple of things. The grip looked good, it fit well, and the laser it produced was awesome and easy to see. It was just that once you try to actually use the grip any of your small shooting flaws while holding the bow would be amplified drastically.

In the interest of being completely honest I will stop there because we did not test it out much beyond that. We were just waiting to see how well it did on the market. Unfortunately the product came and went very quickly, so fast in fact that most people have never even heard of it. I have seen a few floating around on eBay and on Archery Talk over the years but other than that the Laser Grip is all but extinct. It is a shame too because I would have been a buyer for this one if the product had stuck around long enough for the small issues to be ironed out. This is just an example of a good idea that simply could not be translated into a practical product for our industry. Maybe the market was simply not ready for such a tool at the time but who knows what they will come up with in the future.
These have been my picks for the top three archery products that have crossed my path over the years and failed to catch on. It is always interesting to watch the birth of a new idea grow from the "new product" stage all the way to either sticking around or vanishing all together. I am looking forward to seeing what else comes my way in the future as archery continues to grow and thrive.