The Burt Coyote Co.Inc. (Lumenok)
(by David Wilkins)
For most of us, hunting and fishing and enjoying the outdoors are a way of life. Our calendar is based on moon phases and season openings rather than holidays and birthdays. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to make our living in the outdoors as well. Eric and Curt Price from Burt Coyote are just such people. Growing up in Illinois, and coming from a family of outdoorsmen and archers, it was only natural that the two brothers would find themselves in the woods on every possible occasion. I personally find that things never happen without a reason. I also find that the “right place, right time” thing also seems to follow some unseen pattern. If this were not so, on a cool fall morning in 1998, a nice Illinois buck would not have been standing in the right spot in front of Curt, intently watching him draw his bow and release the arrow. What turned out to be a clean miss right over its back lit a spark in Curt and from there fate took over.
Now I don’t know of many people who have never missed a shot at a deer. Like most people, Curt spent the drive home from that hunt re-living that shot trying to figure where it went wrong. If only he could have seen the flight of the arrow towards the deer. If only he could have quickly found his arrow to confirm the miss rather than wasting hours in the brush. “If only.” Funny how those two small words start things moving. Fate very rarely takes chances. That “if only” thought had probably crossed the minds of countless archers all the way back to some guy wearing bear skin and chipping a new arrowhead from flint after missing a shot on a Mammoth (OK, Mammoths are pretty big and hard to miss, but it was the first pre-historic animal that came to my head and it got stuck there). So what was different about this “what if?” Curt just happened to be a Union Electrician and his brother was a machinist with a flair for problem solving. They were also at the time working on lighted devices for nighttime catfishing to indicate a strike. A quick trip to his brother Eric’s house, a few hours, some quick sketches and some coffee, and the idea for the first Lumenok was born. Within a week the first pro- totypes were flying down range and The Burt Coyote Company took its first few steps. Fate’s pretty good at choosing the right people, isn’t she?
Having gotten yelled at for destroying the coffee table with fletching glue myself, I know what it is like to have a home based business. For a while Eric and Curt did just that, assembling and packaging their Lumenoks from their homes and gradu- ally getting the name out to the archery industry. The Burt Coyote Company , named after Curt’s name being misspelled “Burt” in a local newspaper and a noto- riety that in high school track he ran as fast as a coyote, got a huge boost at their first ATA show in 2002. A few days of non-stop marketing and displaying their illuminated nocks left Burt Coyote with a new problem...too much business!! They had built the proverbial “better mouse trap” and with people beating a path to their door, a major expansion from Curt and Eric’s living rooms were in order. By mid-2004 an old Laundromat had been gutted and converted into the new home of Burt Coyote and Lumenok.
A lot has happened since then. Lumenok has grown to include 20 employees, a huge dealer network, and has been at the forefront of the illuminated nock industry. Surprisingly, their nock is a very simple, reliable unit. It works because carbon arrows are great conductors of electricity. At the base of the nock are two small con- tacts. When the nock is wiggled out of the arrow (note: not twisted out, but wiggled out) the nock breaks contact with the carbon shaft and the nock turns off. When the bow is shot the nock pushes into the arrow, the contacts touch the shaft, and the nock turns on. To turn it off, you wiggle the nock out of the shaft again. Pretty simple, huh? No complex or expensive circuits, no magnets or gimmicks, just a clean, bright, reliable nock that lights up and stays on for about 40hrs. That’s pretty much where the simplicity ends.
I spent quite a bit of time chatting with Jim Crane, Marketing Director of Burt Coyote, and the discussion was rather “illuminating” (sorry, I could not resist). Being a retailer myself, I have heard of the occasional “did not turn on when I shot it” or “works some of the time” comments from people with illuminated nocks. The issue is that though the nock itself is very simple, the installation is not. You would think it would not be a big deal. Pull out your old nock, put in the new one and shoot it right? Well, boys and girls, there is a bit more to it than that. There is even a note on their website that states “Real men read instructions!” That says a lot right there. Proper installation is the num- ber one issue with any illuminated nock and Lumenok is no exception. Let’s look at a few things that we need to consider before installing Lumenoks.
How flat is the back of your arrow? Would you be surprised to know that on average factory production arrows are out of square by .010”-.030”? Basically most are cut almost on a bevel. That does two things. One, it does not shoot straight. And two, it is hit or miss that the contacts will touch carbon when they are pushed into the arrow when shot. This is one of the main reasons that Lumenoks either don’t work or work intermittently. So what do we do about it? Well, we need to square up the end of the shaft. There are a few arrow squaring tools on the market that work quite well...on a raw shaft. But most arrows that you are going to put Lumenoks into are already fletched. That is a bit more of a pain. No worries, Burt Coyote manufactures an arrow squaring tool specifically designed to be used with fletched arrows. Called the F.A.S.T. (Fletched arrow squaring tool) it is a simple, well-built squaring tool that gives you plenty of fletching clearance. A few seconds spinning your arrow on the F.A.S.T. and both accuracy and Lumenock function are enhanced. I personally retired my old tool because this one was stinking cool!
The F.A.S.T. tool also can help in prepping the shaft by removing non-conductive ma- terial from the arrow shaft. What?? That expensive carbon arrow shaft you just bought is not all carbon?? Yes, the reality is that most shafts have some fiberglass or other “filler” material mixed in with the carbon. Since fiberglass does not conduct electricity even if the arrow is flat on the back the nock it may still not light. This material has to be removed prior to install- ing the nock. This is also explained in detail in the instructions.
OK...your shaft is square, and it’s all prepped with just carbon on the edge, but you’re not done yet. Lumenoks require 20-40lbs of pressure to push into the shaft to make contact so they light up. Though Lumenoks are made to very tight toler- ances, many arrow shafts are not. If the fit is too loose you may have to shim the nock using some of the cardboard from the packaging the nocks came in. I know, it sounds a bit weird, but surprisingly it works very well. All of this information is in video form on their website so you can be walked step by step right thru the install. I realize this can all be somewhat intimidating. Almost looks like it is more trouble than it is worth. Well, Burt Coyote realized that too and did something about it.
Burt Coyote introduced a complete line of fully assembled arrows with their Lume- nok nocks already properly installed in the ends. These high quality, 100% carbon ( no fiberglass filler ) arrows feature 4” vanes, a 92-grain brass insert, and all are hand ground, one at a time on their F.A.S.T. arrow squaring tool to insure proper operation of the Lumenok and maximum accuracy. Each arrow in the pack features fully installed and adjusted Lumenoks so when you pull them out of the package it is a simple matter to screw on a tip and go shoot. Named the Lumen- Arrow they are the first of their kind in a fully assembled, brain dead, go shoot something solution to illuminated nocks. You still have to read the instructions on how to turn them on and off, but other than that this is the best way to buy illumi- nated nocks for your crossbow. I got some in to play around with and each one flew extremely well and not once did I have the illuminate nock not light! Mind you, they don’t take kindly to Robin Hoods though. I destroyed the first two arrows I shot at 30yrds. Though breaking arrows can get expensive, it is nice to see that kind of grouping with an off the shelf arrow.
At a retail price of $54.95 for a three pack these arrows are actually very affordable. Considering you don’t have to do any prep work at all and you get an exceptionally nice arrow, it’s definitely worth consider- ing a ready to go set over retrofitting nocks onto existing arrows. They are available in 20” and 22” long sets weighing 338 and 345 grains each, respectively, with- out a tip. You can get moon or flat nock so pretty much everyone is covered. So where does Burt Coyote go from here?
For 2012 there are some cool changes for crossbow users. For one thing the Lumen-Arrows will be available fully finished in factory Barnett arrows and Excalibur Firebolts to match up with the ones you are shooting now! Hopefully more manufacturers will follow suit.
They also re-designed their Lumenok so it is now a machined rather than molded nock. That means the colors are not only brighter but they will be available in green as well as red. For some shooters green shows up better than red so that will mean less lost arrows for those of us with bad color absorption in that red color band. One big upgrade is all new Lumenoks will have replaceable batteries!! A quick twist and push and you have fresh batter- ies without having to buy a whole new nock! That is one very slick upgrade that more illuminated nock manufactures will be scrambling to keep up with. For those who want to install Lumenoks into their existing arrows Burt Coyote has expanded their applications to ten models so most everyone is covered.
It is nice to note that Burt Coyote is a fam- ily business where the same guys that were sitting around that kitchen table back in 1998 come to work each day and actually get their hands dirty. Proudly made in the U.S.A., Lumenok has earned a special place in the archery industry. Countless happy customers and bold innovation is sure to keep everyone employed at Burt Coyote. That old Laundromat got pretty small in 2006, so a new building opened right across the street and the Laundromat is getting renovated to house the tool for
their new process that will take the fully machined crossbow nock to a molded/ machined hybrid to allow the easy replace- ment of the battery. Their patent pending polymeric battery holder is a step forward in utility and toughness. And as Eric said, “Our commitment to continuously improve the product and the processes we use to manufacture it here in Yates City, Il- linois, will indeed keep these jobs at home and make them more productive. Made in America is not a hollow statement. It is a commitment to excellence.” I can’t say it any better myself. All in all, not too shabby for a company based on a missed shot at a deer.