ENTERPRISE — Fox Archery north of Enterprise moved to a new location. Bowyer Ron King has relocated his business from Wallowa to what once was the Oregon Department of Transportation’s snowplow facility on Highway 3 about 27 miles north of Enterprise.
Although business is on the upswing, the reason for the move is personal for King.
“A lot of what made this transpire was because I lost my wife (Deborah) to breast cancer in 2019. We did a lot of this stuff together,” King said. “My house was in Wallowa and my shop was in Wallowa, so when she passed, I had a big, old two-story house and I just couldn’t wake up to it every day and thought, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’”
He said they’d considered the place on the Lewiston Highway prior to her illness, but when that happened, they had other priorities.
“After she passed in March 2019 — she did a lot of Fox Archery paperwork and we’d been married for almost 34 years, high school sweethearts type of thing — I needed a change,” he said.
Trying to keep Fox Archery going in Wallowa while getting the new place ready wasn’t easy. He made the move in August.
“It needed a lot of work, and I’m one of those who can, luckily, do a lot of things,” King said. “I was able to be able to get it back on its feet and running after being down for seven years.”
There is no power line nearby, so he relies on a diesel-powered generator. He is hoping to install it soon. Even cellphone and internet are new and only relatively reliable.
“It’s all off-grid,” he said. “The closest power pole is 5 miles away.”
And the COVID-19 pandemic caused problems.
“This whole thing with this virus, it put a damper on me big time. A lot of people who said, ‘Hey Ron, I lost my job, can you hold off on the bow build for a little bit?’ So, I had quite a dip when that happened,” he said.
But now, business is coming back. He sends disassembled bows to Italy, Switzerland and Germany. The hardest part of his foreign trade is translating the types of wood customers want in their bows.
King makes six models of recurve bows, as well as longbows and hybrids. He does not do compound bows, most of which are machine-made, he said.
As the only full-time bowyer in Wallowa County, King has built quite a following.
“I’ve been doing it for 25 years,” he said, “so I have a lot of people who trust me and say, just go ahead and make it.”
Fox Archery is 27 miles north of Enterprise on Highway 3, just after milepost 16 on the right. There’s no sign yet, King said, but that also is coming soon.
The shop is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.