6.14.11 | Increased Business, Recruitment are Directly Proportional
It's no surprise that the future of archery lies in recruiting younger shooters to keep the sport alive, and that community programs hold the key to more participation. Not only will recruiting invigorate the sport for generations to come, but it's also directly proportional to increased business. The more you recruit, the more shooting supplies people need. In turn, the more business comes through your door.
With this in mind, archery retailers are increasingly finding opportunities to grab the attention of young people and turn them onto bowhunting and archery through communities, agencies and organizations nationwide. Together, these groups have launched and maintain several programs aimed at involving kids.
In fact, the Archery Trade Association created its Explore Bowhunting curriculum to help make young people aware of wildlife, habitat requirements and basic outdoors skills most urban kids never experience firsthand. Meanwhile, archery and bowhunting participation appears to be growing as youth-oriented initiatives like the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) continue multiplying.
By staying proactive and investing time and effort in youth programs, archery retailers often discover it's a sound business investment. During recent ATA Summit meetings, retailers described how youth-based archery programs inspire young archers and their parents to buy equipment so they can shoot together after school and on weekends.
"It's not only new people getting involved, but it's also the cobweb of archers," said Ricky Davis of Van's Sporting Goods in Cullman, Ala. The recently completed archery park in his town rekindled interest in archery. "You wouldn't believe how many old bows I've repaired, and eventually a lot of the customers buy new equipment."
This is great news for retailers in other cities who are considering - or have completed - archery parks. Besides finding a location with good business traffic, storeowners must select and finance an inventory that satisfies a range of archery appetites, skill levels and ever-changing trends. Turning over that inventory in a timely manner is a constant challenge, and retailers are increasingly hopeful the youth market will grow large enough to increase their chances for success.
Even so, most retailers realize young people are not likely to wander into their business to buy equipment on a whim. Most potential customers have whetted their shooting appetites by participating in youth archery programs through their school or community, or through classes and events offered by retailers themselves.
"To recruit and retain new archers and bowhunters, it's important to have local programs and shooting facilities that are readily accessible to them," said Michelle Doerr, director of archery and bowhunting programs for the ATA. "A program like NASP is great for introducing kids to the sport and sparking their interest. Kids need some follow-up options after that."
NASP alone has introduced about 1.5 million kids to archery nationwide, and the ATA works with state wildlife agencies and local organizations through its community archery strategy to develop programs and build facilities.
"Local archery retailers can play an important role in building these kinds of partnerships, and the payback can be almost immediate," Doerr said. "There is a lot of satisfaction in seeing kids succeed at something they really enjoy, and a number of them will become long-term customers of their local retailer."
Although target shooting is growing in popularity in many areas, bowhunters continue to pour the most fuel into retailers' financial tanks. And, bowhunter numbers continue to climb or hold steady in many states. Wisconsin, for example, sold 260,239 archery licenses in 2001, just months before discovering Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) among white-tailed deer in its southern counties. The state's archery license sales tumbled to 227,124 in 2002 because of CWD, but rebounded to a record 266,435 by 2008. Whitetails are the No. 1 species targeted by bowhunters in most states, and with deer herds at or near all-time highs in many areas, bowhunters enjoy many recreational opportunities. In addition, bowhunters are becoming increasingly important for controlling deer numbers in urban settings where firearms aren't allowed.
But to sustain bowhunter numbers, training and education must start early. Jay McAninch, ATA president/CEO, is convinced a wave of fledgling archers could create a surge of prolonged opportunity for archery retailers.
"For that to happen, it's important for retailers, state agencies, communities and local organizations to work in partnership to develop programs and facilities for kids," McAninch said. "It's all about providing opportunity, and the ATA is eager to help communities establish strategies that create those opportunities."
For more information about how the ATA can help, visit www.archerytrade.org.
Did You Know?
The ATA is a charter member of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, which works to advance the agenda of hunters, shooters and conservationists in the Congress and with the White House.