By Bryan Gentry
Back in January, Kip Campbell ’04 collected three Golden Moose Awards — “redneck Oscars,” as he calls them — for “Red Arrow,” a reality hunting show that started as his senior project at Lynchburg.
It was the second year in a row he won the Outdoor Channel’s awards for best series, favorite host, and best bow-hunting show. He said his show succeeds because it lets his personality and hunting prowess shine.
“They watch ‘Red Arrow’ and they see someone they would enjoy hunting with,” Campbell said.
Hunting is a way of life for Campbell. He started hunting with his dad when he was a kid in Fork Union, Virginia, but he got hooked once he got his hands on a bow and arrow. “Bowhunting brings you back to reality,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you learn a whole lot about yourself. It makes you appreciate life more.”
While playing lacrosse at Lynchburg, he became friends with Chad Day ’06, a fellow bowhunter and communication studies major. They made hunting videos for many video production class assignments, and Campbell cut together their best clips to construct a pilot episode of “Red Arrow” for his capstone project.
He sent the video to the Sportsman Channel, and the network asked for more. “I think they were starving for content at the time,” Campbell admitted.
More than a decade and more than 100 episodes later, “Red Arrow” is one of the most popular shows on the Outdoor Channel. Campbell travels to different states and countries to hunt whatever is in season while camera crews follow him around. Everything edible that Campbell shoots either goes on his family’s table or is donated to programs that use game to feed people in need.
His wife, Kat Campbell ’04, manages the office, and Daniel Reed ’10, ’11 MBA handles marketing.
But spending so much time in the wild has its hazards. A few years ago, a tick bite gave Campbell Lyme disease, which causes fatigue, heart problems, and arthritic symptoms. After antibiotic treatment, Campbell thought he was fine. But then new problems emerged.
“I was feeling bad and didn’t know why,” he said. “I just attributed it to stress and being on the road all the time. … I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, my heart beating out of my chest.
“I got all the way down to making my peace with dying.”
Eventually, Campbell found a doctor who concluded Lyme disease was affecting him again and that he needed more holistic treatment. Campbell took a season off.
“There were a lot of things I needed to do differently, but I would never slow down enough to look at everything,” Campbell said. “It kind of forced me to put the things in order that needed to be in order.
“Putting God first, then your family, and then everything else can fall into place after that. It really let me prioritize and restructure how I operated. It’s been tremendous.”
With his life refocused and his health back in shape, Campbell had new ideas and new energy for his business. He is rolling out more “Red Arrow”-branded merchandise, including a quiver he designed. He filmed a miniseries about bowfishing. He’s talked with the show’s sponsors about new ideas and he sees “Red Arrow” reaching new heights.
“I think the show quality is just going to improve,” he said. “It was almost killing me to get it done. Now that I’ve had a chance to step back, I’ve got a fresh start.”