DALE PERRY – Creator & Designer of Grave Digger Broadhead
HERE’S MY STORY AND I’M STICKIN TO IT…
I started hunting at a young age, around 12, with my grandfather and uncle. I spent as many summers as I could helping out at my uncles archery shop. I learned everything there was to learn about archery. I was like a sponge, I just couldn’t get enough.
Compound bows were just starting to take hold in the market. The arrows were having a hard time keeping up. Just like now, everything was about how fast you could get an arrow to fly. Everyone was experimenting with different kinds of overdraw and cable guards. The overdraw allowed you to shoot a shorter arrow which, in turn, made it lighter and the end result was faster. The pure science of having a fast arrow was… let’s just say “gray” at best. It was great to have a fast arrow because there were no range finders, well at least none that were even remotely affordable. The problem with a fast arrow was getting the big cutting fixed broadheads to fly at the amazing speeds of 280 fps, that’s right 280 fps back then. Thus came the advent of mechanical broadheads. They were very crude back then. Not from the lack of ideas but, without today’s manufacturing techniques they just couldn’t be built.
At the age 25, I kind of fell out of hunting. I was working more and had met the love of my life, Kelly. We got married and started our careers and our family. As with most young couples, money was always at the forefront of our needs and hunting just wasn’t part of my life anymore. I always kept up with my uncles hunting exploits but I never took the time to go myself.
Fast forward 18 years, I made a move to Arizona with my wife Kelly and two daughters, Brittney and Courtney. While at a Men’s Sporting Expo I met some guys at the show representing an archery shop. I was very intrigued with the bows that were there and the advances they had made. At that moment, I knew I needed to get back into archery. After going to the shop and purchasing a bow I felt like the kid that was back in my uncles archery shop, I wanted to learn as much as I could. Being a little old school and having never really shot anything but fixed broadheads, I was shocked to see that most of the broadheads on the shelf were mechanicals. I have always made things to fit my needs. Anything from work to recreation, if I saw something that could be improved upon I would change it.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE CONCEPT
After much debate, I ended up going with a small fixed blade broadhead on my first hunt with a friend. We were both shooting the same small fixed broadhead, the fixed blades were, and still are, small because that’s the only way you can get them to fly out of today’s bows with speeds in excess of 350 fps. During the hunt, he got an opportunity at a deer from 40 yards but the shot was a little far back. The arrow zipped though the deer like it wasn’t even there. To my amazement, we watched the deer run, then casually walk over a ridge a half mile away. This is when I realized what the large cutting mechanicals had to offer. I went home and couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. I kept going over it in my mind…”What if he made the same shot with a large cutting mechanical?” Would it have done enough damage to get close enough to get another arrow in him? But I couldn’t get past the fact of, “What if it failed?” The next time I went to the archery shop I asked if anyone made a combo “Fixed & Mechanical”? The answer was no. I asked “Why not”? They said that a few had been made but they never flew that well, nor did they work that well. So, they just stopped making them. I told them I could make one, the reaction was “it could never be done”.
Well, I am just not the guy you tell that to. I then went to work. Having a good working knowledge of how things need to be designed so they can be machined and assembled in a cost effective manner, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I constantly ran into disappointment. See, anything can be made but the trick in broadheads is if you can make it strong enough, cost effective, fly great, penetrate well and let’s not forget, weigh exactly 100 grains.
MEET YOUR MAKER
After 3 years of frustrations and successes, I finally had some working prototypes that friends and family could hunt with. Then came the real problem that I never even thought of, getting people to switch broadheads. I figured if I just asked they would say “sure I’ll give it a try”. This idea could not be further from the truth. With many phone calls and a lot of begging, I had enough people to try the broadhead. Every time the phone rang, I always wondered what the results would be. For me, that was the hardest part. With some share of successes and, yes, some failures, I decided that the broadhead I had developed could not stand up to the rigors I wanted. Not to mention, they couldn’t be made and sold cheap enough to compete with existing companies. After a redesign, while keeping the general concept, the Grave Digger was born.
The Patented locking system was developed even after some engineers said my idea wouldn’t work, again not the guy you tell that to. After the initial run of Grave Diggers were built in China (because not one USA company would even talk with me) I was not happy with the quality that I was getting. I was introduced to Nick Fisher, from AAE, in Prescott, Arizona and he thought he could help me out with the production of the ferrule. With Nick’s working knowledge of machining and archery in general the quality skyrocketed.
Today, all our ferrules are manufactured by AAE and the new Ringer release is made in Phoenix, Arizona. It feels great to have companies coming to me, wanting to produce our products, knowing that we will always be at the leading edge in quality innovation and customer service.
Not only is our technology top quality but we always put an emphasis on genuine customer service. You all have my wife, Kelly, to thank for that. She takes charge of all the books and customer service we provide. Believe me when I say, I make the products and she does the coordinating. I often get amazing feedback that our service is “second to none” and she certainly takes pride in extending that to every one of you.