October 11, 2021
By Jeff Waring
John Musacchia wasn’t the type to sit around. A hard-working Brooklyn native who had retired comfortably with his family to Marathon, Florida, after selling off a very successful New York-based restaurant, he soon had other adventures in mind.
John had been shooting stickbows since the early 1950s and had taken a slew of North American big game, but now he dreamed of settling his aim on African plains game, and maybe a Cape buffalo. And that’s exactly what he did in the summer of ‘72 in the brushy grasslands of Mozambique.
While John and wife, Barbara, had a mostly tranquil trip to beautiful Southeast Africa, his encounter with a big buffalo ended with a rifle shot and left John understandably shaken. His broadhead-arrow combo just couldn’t handle the buffalo’s thick, nearly impenetrable ribcage. So, upon return to the States, John set out to find a superior setup. His search took the better part of a decade to take shape, but eventually he found his answer in a unique new broadhead system — one of his own design.
The new “Muzzy System,” as it came to be known (Muzzy was John’s nickname), was based on razor-sharp, replaceable blade inserts that fit a slotted ferrule that then screwed into a hardened-steel Trocar point, locking everything solidly in place. Combined with the Muzzy Arrow, a specially built, partially solid shaft drilled to accept the new head, and a hunting archer now had a system tailor-made for taking on the absolute toughest big game.
By the early 1980s, John and machinist friend Dick Frye were turning out various prototypes of this integrated system — including the four-blade Muzzy Matador, Muzzy target head, Judo point, and Turkey Thumper — and by 1984 Muzzy Products, Inc., was up and running out of a small trailer on John’s property in the Florida Keys.
That’s when Bear Archery President Bob Kelly arrived on the scene, curious about this new Muzzy System. He knew a good thing when he saw it, and in a move that’s nearly inexplicable in terms of today’s business practices, he not only suggested moving Muzzy closer to Bear’s headquarters in Gainesville, Florida, for obvious business synergies, but he also set the Muzzy team up with his personal assistant, Shirley Bonamie, who was retiring from Bear but had time to lend her ample professional know-how to the fledgling company.
“Before long we were working out of a 3,000-square-foot building behind the Alley Katz bowling alley in Gainesville,” remembers John’s daughter Michele Eichler (yes, that Michele), who had graduated from college and begun working alongside her dad and younger brother, John Jr. “It was a big move for us, and we also attended our first SHOT Show that year (1985) in Atlanta, Georgia.” Perhaps not ironically, in only a few years the company would move to the Atlanta area, settling in Kennesaw.
By the early ‘90s, Muzzy’s original 4-blade system had evolved into a series of heads offered in a variety of weight ranges from 90 to 150 grains. But in 1992, Muzzy introduced a 3-blade head in 125 grains, and that head quickly became a bestseller. Two years later, the company that already had earned a reputation for creating broadheads that were “Bad to the Bone,” adeptly followed market trends and, for their 10th Anniversary, introduced a 100-grain version of that popular 3-blade head (and later, even a lighter 75-grain head). Orders soon doubled, and the increasing demand called for more manufacturing space and a move into a new 8,000-square-foot building in Cartersville, Georgia.
Sadly, Muzzy Products lost its founder in 1996, when John Musacchia passed away at 78 years of age. But the company was well on its way to becoming the top fixed-blade broadhead company in the world, and John left Muzzy in very capable hands, with daughter Michele running the business and son John Jr. focusing on manufacturing. Taking on the attitude and qualities of its enterprising founder, the Muzzy Products team continued to introduce a host of innovative new broadheads (think Muzzy MX and Phantom and Phantom MX heads), a comprehensive array of truly specialized bowfishing tackle, and a variety of other accessories.
Muzzy entered into a long period of steady, unprecedented growth, and its industry leadership extended well into the 21st Century (with Michele representing Muzzy on the ATA Board, becoming one of the longest tenured Directors and first female Chair). By 2012, however, Muzzy had attracted the attention of a private equity firm that had recently picked up the industry’s top mechanical broadhead maker. It was a natural fit for the two companies, and rival brands Muzzy and Rage soon fell under the expanding umbrella of Superior, Wisconsin, based archery products powerhouse FeraDyne Outdoors.
But lest you think Muzzy is going to play second fiddle to Rage, you need only look at the brand’s recent stretch of successful new broadhead launches, from the Muzzy Trocar and Trocar HB and HB-Ti hybrids, to the super-solid (and Stainless) Muzzy One, to the Trocar-tipped true mechanical — the Muzzy Shank. Clearly the Muzzy family tradition of building bone-defying broadheads is going to continue for a long, long time to come, and for that the Bowhunter Magazine & TV team is extremely grateful.