I have struck up a nice e-mail dialogue with Dr. Cade Smith, President and Founder of The Claw. He’s a stand-up guy, hard core hunter, and I think he’s got a great product here. Cade was kind enough to answer some questions. ~Desert Rat
1. Tell my readers a bit about yourself.
Myself, Cade Smith, and my partner, Jay Lopeman, were born and raised here in Arizona, he in Show Low and myself in Mesa. We love Arizona and both have young families of our own that we are passing on the hunting tradition to. We have been good friends and hunting partners since 1997. You could say we are fanatics and are always looking for ways to improve our hunting skills and techniques. Hunting is a tradition that has been an integral fabric to all societies and it is that time tested, sacred tradition that keeps hunters even of today out in the field even in tough economic times such as these. In fact, it is in times like these when we, as hunters, appreciate our time in the field even more….perhaps we appreciate the little joys in life more. We as consumers, speaking personally, also become more aware of the money we spend and may limit our expenditures to equipment that is truly valuable and can contribute the most for the dollar. The Claw is a little piece of equipment that does A LOT and dollar for dollar can be the most valuable piece of equipment a firearm hunter can own.
2. How long has The Claw been on the market?
We started producing and selling The Claw in the Fall of last year, 2008.
3. How have sales been?
Being a small start up company and considering I have a very busy and time consuming primary career, sales have been very steady and promising. Up to this point and in this short amount of time, we have had a very conservative sales marketing approach. We both have quite a few friends and contacts in the hunting industry through our many years of hunting and up to this point most of our sales have been via word of mouth and referrals from happy users of The Claw. Currently, we have done three trade shows with a goal of doing more primary shows in the future. We have just started to branch out and do some advertising. Mossback has picked us up as a sponsor recently. We are really excited that they like and use our product because Doyle Moss and his guides have been very successful at what they do. They spend a lot of time in the field but they are also good, demanding hunters so when they use a product like ours it gives you confidence that you make a high quality, contributing product. We anticipate more growth like this to occur as time goes on and more and more hunters get a chance to use The Claw and discover all the advantages it has to offer.
4. Tell us a little bit about how The Claw went from a concept to a product on the shelves.
Well, the idea started when Jay and I were just hunting one day, glassing next to each other and somehow we got into a discussion about how nice it would be to utilize the tripod for shooting and not just for glassing. The tripods we use are high quality platforms that provide ultimate stabilization. It never did make sense to us to glass off of the tripod but then shoot off of a shooting support that was inferior in stabilization to the tripod, whether it be shooting sticks, a stock mounted bi-pod, or even a conventional non-gripping tripod. Additionally, we were always on the look out for a shooting support that was usable in any hunting situation. What we found was that there was not a product out there that was as adjustable and versatile and yet as stable as the high quality camera style tripods we used for glassing. That is the greatest advantage of The Claw system in my opinion, its versatility.
So from there it was a process of myself, having an art and design background, drawing up different designs that would make all the benefits we desired out of a shooting support possible. After many drafts, I finally came up with something that I felt would do just that. Then, it was on to making prototypes and doing much product testing and research with feedback and little changes along the way. We are hunting or shooting year round and Jay is a full time guide during the fall so there was a lot of product testing.
5. What was the hardest part of that process? Anything surprise you along the way?
The hardest part was finding the parts I needed to come up with the finished product. I am not a machinist so I had to do a lot of trial by error to come up with what I wanted, particularly in the prototype stage. Once the end product was discovered it was a matter of finding a machinist that could produce the units at a reasonable price. That was difficult in its own right. When we were getting the first batch of units made the economy was still booming and all machinists had a ton of work to do. The Claw is made of high quality CNC machined aluminum. We finally found a machinist here locally that we could work with that was reasonable enough in his costs to at least start fabrication. However, even at those fixed costs we had to start selling The Claw at a little higher price point than we wanted initially. We are now at the stage where we are getting ready to make the next batch of Claws and we anticipate being able to fabricate them for lower costs than the first batch so we just recently lowered the suggested retail price of The Claw with that in mind. Having said that, we will never compromise the quality of the product to make an additional buck. The MSRP is $120.00.
6. You’re a hunter – what do you like to hunt best? Where? What’s on your “dream hunt” wish list?
Being an Arizona native, my earliest boyhood memories of hunting are being in mule deer camp in Southern Utah with my dad at a very early age. So I am a Muley Nut for sure! However, since I was old enough to branch my hunting efforts out on my own I developed a strong passion for Elk and Coues deer hunting. I’ve always said that Heaven for me would be the peak of the elk rut year round! There is nothing better to me than chasing a rut crazed bull around in the woods.
Having said that, hunting in general is my passion and its always been the case that I get addicted to hunting whatever animal I am hunting at the time. I seem to get just as crazed over javelina or turkey when I am hunting them. Its the process of scouting and all the experiences along the way leading up to harvesting an animal that gives me joy. That’s why I love The Claw. The Claw allows me to be such an efficient shooter that when it comes time to making the shot on the animal I have targeted and worked so hard to harvest, I have the confidence that I can shoot anytime, anywhere that animal presents itself. That is worth a lot to us.
7. What has been the biggest challenge related to marketing and sales?
There are many challenges in any business with respect to marketing and sales, especially with a small start up company. It is a challenge to know how much you want to invest in marketing and you want your marketing dollars to stretch as far as they can or in other words get as much as you can for as little as you can. There are so many avenues for marketing that are presented to you that deciding which are best for your product can be a daunting task. Like I mentioned before, so far, we have taken a pretty conservative route in marketing and have had quite a bit of early success just by word of mouth. As with most companies, I imagine the more product we sell and the more the demand increases we will branch out to more and more marketing opportunities. Those opportunities have already presented themselves and we have some exciting things in the works so expect to see more from The Claw. I think the key though is to take advantage of marketing opportunities that you have more knowledge of or control of as the product maker. Know what your market is and then advertise in a way that your market will be most exposed to your product. In my opinion, the most inefficient marketing is the strategy of just advertise as much as you can and see what happens, the shotgun approach. That works for very common, universal products but not a specialized product such as The Claw.
Personally, I am someone who has a need for detail. I guess that’s why I am in the profession I am in. But I have that desire to give detail to everyone that buys a Claw. It is a real simple concept and device but we are continually realizing more and more uses and techniques for it out in the field. Its like the saying, “its the gift that keeps on giving”! I would love to have a tutorial session with everyone that buys a Claw. In fact, I try and do that with any local consumer where that is possible. My biggest frustration is that obviously this is not possible in most cases, although I do spend a lot of time on the phone going over techniques with customers or just talking hunting. So, we are currently putting together a Claw video that we will provide with every Claw purchase. It will primarily be a “How To”, tutorial video but it will also have footage of The Claw in action on hunts. We have some amazing hunting footage to share so we are real excited to get the video finished.
8. What’s down the road for you? Do you plan on sticking with one product, or do you hope to diversify?
The Claw was born out seeing a need and our passion for hunting. So if we continue to discover needs for hunting or shooting equipment we will try and fill that need with high quality product. Specifically relating to The Claw, we are in the process of working on some prototype equipment that will add to The Ultimate Shooting System of The Claw. Just little things that we feel will go a long way. The Claw is kind of like that. Not real tricky but just a little thing that provides a WHOLE lot.
9. What do you want the public to know about The Claw? Why do they need this product?
Well, I have kind of touched on this in my other answers but let me try to sum it all up. The Claw allows the shooter to tap into the versatility and stability of a high quality camera tripod. By actually affixing the firearm to the tripod the shooter is afforded MANY features and advantages that simply CANNOT be afforded by ANY other shooting support, period! Here is a list of just some of the more obvious advantages:
1. Bench rest like shooting platform!
2. Unparalleled panning and tilting capabilities-all the
movements a tripod can make!
3. Maintains your firearm in ready/fire position!
4. Place cross-hairs on target and lock in place to wait an
animal out or allow another person to make the shot!
5. Reduces recoil of shot by more than 50%!
6. Eliminates the need to carry an additional shooting support!
7. Shoot from any position, prone, sitting, and standing!
8. Shoot on any ground surface or ground angle with improved
9. Rapid target reacquisition on multiple shots!
Reading this list, ask yourself, are there any other shooting aids out there that can proclaim all these benefits? We tried for years to find something out there that could do all those things and we couldn’t find anything and so The Claw was born. Already, I personally have killed or helped others kill animals, and in most cases their largest animals to date, using The Claw that if we were using any other shooting support would not have been able to kill the animals either due to terrain or animal behavior. Simply, The Claw allows you to shoot your target, when and wherever the target presents itself!
Look for more info and photos in future posts. Maybe even a review. In the meantime you can also buy The Claw ONLINE.