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Emerging Entrepreneurs: From baseball to bows, a local entrepreneur faces adversity head-on

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May 14, 2024

ROSENDALE – Sam Munson, owner of Sambows Archery (105 East Division St.), said for him,the parallels between baseball and archery are substantial.

From his time as a professional baseball player to now business owner, he said the biggest lesson and connection between them is simple – “if you can slow the game down, learn to enjoy it and become one with it, it’s going to be way better for you rather than just speeding through it all.”

Entrepreneur by accident
The story starts with Munson’s love for the outdoors, from hunting to fishing to baseball.

Munson said he never imagined starting his own business – noting his real dream was to play professional baseball, playing throughout high school and college.

It seemed as though the Fond du Lac native’s dreams were coming true when he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 23rd round in 2011.

After playing professionally for a couple of years, Munson said the unthinkable happened – he tore his ACL.

“I had to call it quits,” he said. “I was getting a little too old as well.”

At that point, Munson said his life plans pivoted slightly.

He said his father, who had always been in the outdoor industry, opened his own company, Tuffy’s Outpost, where he worked for a bit until it closed.

After Tuffy’s shut down, Munson said he went to work at ACE Hardware in Waupun to design its archery section and worked there for three years.

He said one of the owners at ACE wanted to branch out and bring compound bows into the store.

“We started small and built it up piece by piece,” he said.

Around his three-year mark at ACE, Munson said he started thinking about creating his own business.

“Through building the ACE archery, I gained a bunch of clientele, which was good, so when I opened Sambows, I had a good client base from the get-go,” he said.

Munson said business is going well as he slides into his third year of operations.

And even though his professional playing days are behind him, Munson said he still enjoys the game and coaches his son’s team.

“He’s seven years old and on a travel ball team,” he said. “There’s something about being on a baseball diamond for me.”

Turning passion into action
Munson said his passion for baseball is equally matched by his passion for archery – both of which have required a great deal of dedication and hard work.

“(Similarly to being a professional athlete), being an entrepreneur means busting your butt – there are no days off,” he said. “Even on days off, you’re constantly thinking and doing something about it.”

Munson said he’s constantly asking himself: “What can we make better? How can I get my name out there more?”

Though being an emerging entrepreneur means “trading the 9-5 to work 24/7,” Munson said there is also an inherent freedom.

“It’s one of those things where if I want to close up the shop and have a family day, I do it,” he said. “Because I’m my own boss and I can.”

Munson said he often looks to his father as an example of a successful business owner.

“He’s a personable guy,” he said. “He’s laid back, can talk to anybody, doesn’t get rattled and works hard.”

Munson said he recognizes how his father instilled that same gene into him.

“My dad was unbelievable at what he did,” he said. “He was a well-known guy around the area and was always nice to people.”

To Munson, he sees that as one of the biggest things when it comes to owning a business.

“Be nice,” he said. “It doesn’t take that much to be nice to somebody.”

Munson said it also helps that his family and friends supported the shop from the get-go.

“Ever since I got done with pro ball, I jumped straight into doing this,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve learned a lot from my mom and dad, even the guys over at ACE Hardware as well.”

A learning curve, but rewarding
Though he’s thrilled with where he is today, Munson said owning a business is not always a walk in the park.

“The selling part, the fixing things part – that’s easy,” he said. “It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that nobody ever thinks about, that is the learning curve.”

That being said, Munson said the rewards for him far outweigh any challenges he’s experienced throughout the last almost three years in business.

Sambows Archery is located at 105 East Division St. in Rosendale. Submitted Photo

He said the biggest reward for him is seeing people excited to shoot their bow because everything is working correctly on it – something Sambows prides itself on.

“I have people come in who have bought bows elsewhere and been upset with the setup,” he said. “It doesn’t leave my shop until it’s shooting tack sharp.”

In addition to the obvious – sales – Munson said he measures success by seeing customers successful with whatever they were hoping to accomplish from buying from him, whether that is in the field or on the practice range.

“I don’t have to shoot the buck to be successful,” he said.

Keeping it in the family
The business name, Munson said, is an ode to the nickname he’s had since he was young.

When brainstorming business names with his father-in-law, he said “Sambows” came up in discussion.

He said he knew right away it was a perfect fit.

“I felt good putting my name on the building,” he said. “It was a sense of pride to me.”

Munson said the building is about 1,700 square feet and features an 11-yard range – which he said is used for tuning purposes – enough to see if everything is flying perfectly straight.

Looking to the future, he said one of his “would be cool” goals is to add a range on the back of the building.

Munson said he would also like to add a bar so people can enjoy an afternoon of shooting arrows or host leagues.

These are offerings, he said his father had in his store, and it brings back fond memories.

The building the shop is located in, Munson said, also has a familial connection – as it belongs to his wife’s grandparents.

“Once I heard it was going to be empty, a lightbulb went off, and I knew it would be perfect,” he said.

Munson said the location is prime as well, located on the corner of Highways 23 and 26 – “it’s always busy.”

“I get a lot of guys from Green Bay who are driving by and stop in‚ ,” he said. “I get a lot of people from everywhere.”

With him and his wife being from the area, Munson said, “they know everybody” – so when he first opened, he felt at home because he knew about 70% of the people who were coming into the store.

What will you get at the shop?
For compound bows, Munson said Sambows Archery carries Matthews, Mission, Hoyt and Elite.

On the crossbow side, he said he carries Raven.

Arrow offerings, Munson said, include Easton, Victory and Altra.

He said Altra is a new brand he brought in recently.

In terms of services, Munson said he does all-around fixes on bows and offers custom fletching arrows as well.

He said he builds a lot of customized arrows for customers.

Munson said bow hunting is huge in the State of Wisconsin, and that brings in a lot of business. According to the Department of Natural Resources, of the approximately 600,000 hunters in the state, about 42% utilize archery of some sort, whether that’s crossbow or compound bow.

And given his prime location, Munson said, it makes sense why business continues to grow for him.

When it comes to hunting, he said, “everybody’s definition of a trophy is different.”

“That’s the crazy thing about hunting especially,” he said.

Whatever that success looks like, Munson said he’s proud to be a part of helping his customers achieve theirs.

For more on Sambows Archery, check on the shop’s Facebook page.

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