Straight Talk - Interviews
Straight Talk - Fred Pape
By Frank Addington, Jr.
Jul 19, 2007 - 3:48:43 PM

Fred Pape with the Asprin Buster, Frank Addington, Jr.

FA:   Fred, first of all where were you born and raised?
I am a Louisville Kentucky native, now living a few miles from where I grew up.
FA: What was your family's background?
 My parents grew up in Louisville also. My father was an avid outdoorsman hunting and fishing, my mother even did some small game hunting in her early years and fished with my father until his death. I started hunting small game with my father in 1951 at age 8. In those early years there were no deer or elk left in Kentucky. In the early 1950's the state's stocking program was underway. By the middle 1960's there was a hunt able size deer heard. I started rifle deer hunting in 1965. I got hooked on bowhunting in 1969 because it allowed me more time in the woods.
FA:  Did you go to college? If so where and what was your major?
I attended the University of Louisville taking only selected business courses.
Hunting American Whitetail.

FA:When did Pape's get started and when did you get in the archery business?
My father started Pape's after Word War II. After the war ended there was a shortage of fresh meat so he started a hatchery and feed store so people could raise their own food. He later added hardware and sporting goods. As the supply of meat became readily available he discontinued the hatchery and added outdoor power equipment.  In 1970 as a result of my getting hooked on bowhunting I convinced my father that we should add archery equipment to our sporting goods department. I figured I could target the local archery and sportsmen's clubs and be quite successful. I was right an we soon grew to the largest archery outlet in the area. My father passed away in 1976 and I purchased Pape's in 1978. I soon closed out all the hardware lines to concentrate on the sporting goods lines and began wholesale archery sales. In 1983 I sold the retail outlet as I did not believe it was proper for a wholesaler to compete with its dealer base and Pape's style as it is known today began.

Talking turkey.

FA: How did you participate in the sport of archery?
   After getting started in archery via bowhunting I really enjoyed shooting the bowhunter animal rounds before there was a thing called 3-D, I also shot some field archery. I enjoyed spending cold winter nights participating in the local winter indoor leagues, but my first love was and is bowhunting.
FA:  You have recently hosted your first Dealer Only Trade Show. In light of the annual ATA Show, why a Pape's Dealer Show?
   The Pape's Show allows dealers to look over the great product lines that Pape's stocks, over 22,000 items in stock and available to ship with same day service. Also anything the manufacturer makes is available on a drop ship basis at the show. All of this plus the best prices and terms of the year are available during the show. Many manufacturers offer "Show Only" special pricing and we pass this on to our dealers. Still the main reason for dealers to attend a show is to see all the new items the manufacturers has to offer and to get first hand information directly from the factory personnel. The show gives Pape's personnel time to visit with our great dealers, many have become good friends over the years, more like family than business. The Pape's Show is very affordable, with favorable room rates, central location and easy travel.   
FA:  Do you see your show as competition or compliment to the annual ATA Show?
   We see the Pape's Show as a compliment to the ATA Show. The Pape's Show will be a more a stable regional venue staying in Louisville in lieu of moving all around the country. The ATA Show is open to any manufacturer who has a product to sell. The Pape's Show is only open to established companies with a proven track record and the proper liability insurance to protect our dealers in the event of any problem.        
Hunting Africa

FA:  I was the entertainment at your first show. Tell me how the weekend went and your dealer's response to your efforts.
   The first show was a great success, we learned a lot and received great input from venders and dealers alike. Next years show will be at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, the show will be two days long, have more exposition space with easier access and parking.
Fred with bull elk mount.

FA:  What do you feel is your personal and your company's greatest achievement?
I feel my greatest achievement is putting together the great staff we have at Pape's, together we have grown Pape's into one of the most respected companies in the archery industry.
FA:  What has been your business philosophy in guiding Pape's?
Our philosophy is to give our dealers the best service and selection available at a fair price. Our customer service people are instructed to always be honest with our customers and make sure they follow through and do what they promise.
FA:  Fred I understand many of your employee have been with you a long time. How important has it been to hire and retain good people?
The people are the company, and we have an outstanding staff of dedicated, caring people. A company's people is its greatest asset. Our supervisors average 18 years of service!   

Something about Africa...

FA:  What are your goals for the future?
Our goal is to never let down on our service and commitment to our dealers.
just keeps you coming back.

FA:  Who are some of your archery heroes?
   Fred Bear would top the list, Tom Jennings, Gail Martin, Andy Simo, Pete Shepley, Matt McPherson all are innovators who have accomplished great advancements to the sport.

Fred with the Legends of Archery; Tom Jennings and Papa Bear.

FA:  I recently ran across a photo of you at Grousehaven with the late, great Fred Bear. What was your experience in sharing a hunting camp with this legend like?
The two Freds at Grousehaven.

For ten years I had the honor and privilege to annually share hunting camp at Grousehaven with the late, great Fred Bear. I think Fred more than any other person did more to get bowhunting started when archery was in its infancy.  I remember the first time I met Fred, it was October 1977.  I had arrived in camp in the early afternoon and was greeted by Bear Archery personnel. They told me to get in my camo and I could hunt that afternoon. Within minutes, I was ready to go. To save time they took me to a stand just west of camp. The stand was a built in place stand, high in a spruce tree. I remember the stand was a little tricky getting into, you had to climb out and over the platform to get in place. Well I got into the stand and pulled my bow up and settled in for the evening hunt. At about 6 PM I heard a twig break me underneath me.

As I looked down to see what was there, I saw looking up two blue eyes - Fred Bear. Upon seeing me Fred softly said "sorry" and slipped out from under the tree and vanished into the woods. That evening as I met Fred (for the second time) he was apologizing to me for walking under my tree stand. It turns out the Bear factory people in their haste had put me in Fred's personal tree stand not knowing he was going to hunt that evening. But Fred was letting me know he was sorry he had disrupted my hunt. That was Fred, who wanted to be just one of the guys in camp. But every evening Fred would be called on to share a story about one of his many hunts. That first year I was at Grouse Haven Fred was still in good health and I had the opportunity  to scout and hang stands one on one with Fred, he even cut shooting lanes for my stand while I directed from my  tree stand.   

The immortal Fred Bear.

Hunting at Grousehaven was quite an adventure; you never knew who was going to be there. Over the years I met several  astronauts, pro football players, movie stars, rock stars, congressmen, some of Fred's old hunting partners, corporate presidents, plus a who who of the archery industry. With all of this Fred still made everyone feel comfortable while in camp with his great hospitality.                                 
FA:  In ten words or less, how would you describe Fred?
Legend, innovator, entrepreneur, intelligent, witty, and the greatest bowhunter.
FA:  What do you think we need to do to get the next generation interested in archery and away from spending so much time in front of video games, TV and computers? Is Pape's doing anything particular to help spread the sport?
The kids of archery are our future.

I think NASP, the National Archery in the School Program is the best thing ever to happen to archery. NASP is now in 42 states. This program started here in Kentucky with cooperation of the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education and a few archery industry people. This program is introducing thousands of kids to archery each year.

The NASP program is improving school attendance, is a program in which virtually every student can participate on a level playing field, is a program that teaches archery as a lifelong physical activity that can compete with computer games and TV, is a program that has the ability to touch, transform, lift, and change individual lives forever.

As I said this program originated in Kentucky, currently we have around 800 schools participating. As good as that sounds, there ore over 2800 schools in Kentucky. This program is not mandated by the state, NASP has to "sell" the program to each district or school. To this end a group of Kentucky individuals have got together to form a 501c3, Kentucky NASP Foundation, to raise money to promote NASP. I am proud to be on this board, our goal is to raise the money to support a staff of regional coordinators and grant money to get NASP in every school in Kentucky. Pape's has supported NASP from its conception, now our Foundation plans take it to the next level.
FA:  Fred, any disappointments/regrets over the years?
No, not really I try to do the best I can every day. I am enjoying life, doing what I like and plan to do it for a long time.
FA:  Ok, now its time for any last words of wisdom or advise for our readers:
If you have I dream, go for it.   

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