“Most hunting is done in low light, the first hour of the morning or the last hour in the evening. That’s when game are moving,” said Terry Whitford, who should know since he has been hunting most of his life and bow hunting since 1975.
He’s also a retired professional photographer, a skill that came in handy when he decided to solve the problem of shooting game in low light. He applied his knowledge of optics with the needs of a bow hunter to create a special peep sight with an amber lens—the same color used in shooting glasses.
“I fooled around and came up with this idea, got it patented and the rest is history,” he said.
What he invented is the Red Hawk Archery Low-Light Peep Sight. A peep sight is a small disk placed in the string of a bow. The archer aims through both the peep sight and the main sight attached to the bow to accurately hit a target. His sight is made of amber colored optical grade plastic with 14 layers of anti-reflective coating. The lens cuts glare and reflections while increasing contrast.
Whitford has been making his sights for moee than 14 years. Mac Molding in Sunset Hills manufactures the housing for the sights and Whitford creates the optics with a computer operated milling machine at his home in High Ridge. The milling machine can punch out a hundred tiny amber shaded disks from a single sheet of plastic. He assembles the sights and packages them himself.
He also makes a telescopic target scope for bows, but he said the inexpensive peep sight is his best seller. The sight only costs $20 and he sells them online at Red Hawk Archery and locally at in Fenton.
He said that marketing the sight was more difficult that inventing it.
“You can have the best product in the world, but if you can’t sell it...?” he pondered. He said Cabela’s was the first retailer to pick up his sights and now they are carried by most archery distributors.
Bow hunting season for deer will start September 15 in Missouri, which means now is Whitford’s busiest time.
“Right now, I got boxes all over the house,” he said.
Business tapers off after bow season is over in January, but Whitford has plenty of other activities to keep himself busy. He takes time to do his own bow hunting for deer and turkey in Missouri and elk in Colorado. He took up target archery again and recently won his age range in the Show-Me Games. He’s on the pro staff for Bear Archery. And if all that isn’t enough, he plays a little handball and is the head freshmen baseball coach for Webster Groves High School.
“I’ve been working for myself for 30 years," he said. "I don’t know what retirement would be like."