If you’ve spent much time talking to crossbow hunters or have wandered through a sporting goods store, you’ve probably heard the name Excalibur Crossbows. As a leader in the recurve crossbow market, their name has become synonymous with quality. However, their reputation today belies their more humble beginnings, and a look back at the history of Excalibur Crossbows is an interesting journey into how recurve crossbows have remained viable in the face of increasing innovation in compound crossbows.
The Beginnings of Excalibur Crossbows
The story of this exalted archery brand started back in 1983, with the husband-and-wife team of Bill and Kath Troubridge. Like many great companies, it began in the owners’ garage, in the city of Kitchener, Ontario, an hour west of Toronto. Bill and Kath’s goal: produce efficient, accurate, and reliable crossbows they could be proud of. What started in that garage was the beginning of a revolution, as they succeeded in their goals and have built some of the most impressive recurve crossbows the sport has ever seen.
Excalibur Becomes a Household Name
Their company quickly picked up steam, and over the next two decades, Excalibur moved from that little garage to a 400,000-square-foot factory. But Bill and Kath never forgot their roots, always working to innovate and produce the highest quality recurve crossbows possible. In 2004, Excalibur released the Exo-Max, which was the first recurve capable of exceeding 350 feet per second. At the time, it was believed that only compound crossbows were capable of shooting that fast, and hunters who were concerned about getting the most knockdown power were quick to dismiss recurve crossbows as too weak. Shortly thereafter, the company adopted a motto that reflected their vision for the future: “Recurve, Simply Tough.” The company was committed to building on the simplicity of the recurve design and pursuing further innovation to keep their crossbows comparable with compound models when it came to speed.
Acquisition of Excalibur Crossbows and Further Growth
In 2013, Bowtech, the U.S. archery company that also owns the Diamond, Octane, and Stryker brands, acquired Excalibur. While some purists were displeased to see this distinctly Canadian entity bought out by a larger American corporation, the deal ultimately lead to even further growth for the company.
Just a year after their acquisition, Excalibur beat their previous record by creating the Matrix 405, the first recurve bow to exceed 400 feet per second. A year later, they rolled out the MICRO Gen II CRT limb system, the most compact recurve system on the market. In 2017, they released the Sound Deadening System on their MICRO Suppressor, making it one of the quietest recurve crossbows ever made. These advances changed how people thought about recurve crossbows, making them comparable with the smaller, quieter, and faster compound crossbow models.
Excalibur: Moving Forward
If history is any indicator, we can expect many more innovations that will move the recurve crossbow market even further forward: higher velocity shots, increased durability, and quieter releases, all while utilizing the same general design that worked for our ancestors for thousands of years.