The 2017 ATA Trade Show drew 9,599 attendees for three fast-paced days of business, networking and new-product excitement at the Indiana Convention Center.
The Jan. 10-12 event drew the Show’s second highest attendance in its history, and filled 531,600 square feet of exhibit space, the largest amount since its start in 1997.
“The Show’s overriding mission is to bring our entire archery and bowhunting industry together under one roof to network, write orders, talk about the market, strengthen friendships and build new relationships,” said Jay McAninch, president/CEO of the Archery Trade Association. “On all those fronts and more, our Show has always accomplished that mission, especially this year.”
Rick Valdez from Rick V Hunt Adventures in Payson, Utah, has attended the Show for 20 years. He said he returns each year for many reasons.
“It’s nice to come here and see old friends, new products and what the market has out there,” Valdez said. “The Show has been great this year. It’s huge, but easy to navigate. I’ve seen a lot of new, interesting stuff that I think will advance the sport of archery.”
The ATA Trade Show is geared toward business and efficiency to maximize time and opportunity for companies attending. It’s considered the industry’s main buying and selling show. Photo: Shane Indrebo
Valdez said the Show gives him new ideas for his shop, lets him see what his competitors are doing, and gives insight on manufacturers’ new products. He said a previous Show prompted him to add indoor and outdoor ranges to his store. Those additions “definitely enhanced our business,” he said.
That’s music to the ATA’s ears.
“When I hear a retailer’s business is thriving because of the Show, I’m thrilled,” McAninch said. “Retailers are the front end of our business where archery and bowhunting meet the public. That simple expression is really rewarding for us to hear, especially given the last couple of years.”
Eric Michel of Ozark Feather LLC in Carthage, Missouri, said the Show has been great for business. The company’s booth on the main aisle gave Michel access to heavy foot traffic and helped flag down many customers.
“The Show gives us lots of opportunities to interface with our customers,” Michel said. “It also provides a platform and a forum to present new products in the feather world like new cuts, new colors and new-product packaging like our Swag Bags. We love talking with shop owners and distributors because they’re the people who can ultimately convince the shooter to try our products.”
In addition to hundreds of manufacturers exhibiting at the Show, the ATA showcased its important business, archery and bowhunting programs for retailers in the Show’s Member Services Area. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo
In addition to hundreds of manufacturers exhibiting at the Show, the ATA showcased its important business, archery and bowhunting programs for retailers in the Show’s Member Services Area.
“Visits to that area were by far the highest we’ve ever seen,” McAninch said. “That tells me retailers are responding positively to our efforts to help them make their businesses competitive in today’s world, where most things start socially and digitally online or on smartphones.”
McAninch sensed much optimism at the Show and believes 2017 will be a good year.
“Whether it’s from a new administration or from retailers saying they’re going to be positive and bring archery and bowhunting back to their community, I saw positive attitudes, especially among retailers,” McAninch said. “That’s going to bode well for 2017.”
Statistics for the 2017 Trade Show’s main member categories are listed below. To see how this year’s Show stacks up to previous shows, download the comparison table here.
The 2017 ATA Trade Show featured:
- 1,057 retail and distribution buying companies;
- 9,599 total attendees;
- 653 exhibiting companies;
- 239,378 square feet of brands, products and innovations.
The 2017 ATA Trade Show filled 531,600 square feet of exhibit space, the largest amount since its start in 1997. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo
Read what retailers and manufacturers at the Show said about the industry when contacted by ATA staff:
How was the Show for you?
Ani-Logics Outdoors, Manufacturer
We want to thank all the people at ATA! You guys are great to work with and put on an excellent show! It was a terrific show for us! We took quite a few orders and are excited about the traffic we had through our booth.
Robinson Outdoor Products LLC, Manufacturer
It is always a pleasure to see the friends of the industry every year at the Show. I can attest that the value grows every year attending, and this year was no exception. I gave a seminar that was well received, and kicking off the show with 40 minutes of follow-up conversation is greatly rewarding. For the first time I was able to spend an hour and walk part of the show floor and see other vendors, and other displays and products. Excellent!
Corrine Yohan Bundy
Mathews Archery Inc., Manufacturer
This has been a great Show. We weren’t here for ten years, so it’s good to get back and know that our customers can shake our hands and feel who Mathews is. They can feel those intangible things about this company and see who we are. This is a big family, and we are in a room full of great people. We are all thankful for the ATA and the opportunity to be here.
Bear Archery, Manufacturer
The ATA Show is different from other shows because everyone there has a common interest and a shared passion. Most people are there to accomplish the same goals. Everyone has a love for the outdoors and, more specifically, a love for archery. The archery community is a very close, tight-knit group of supportive individuals.
To me, what drives us to the ATA Show every year is the face-to-face conversation and those handshakes with dealers, partners, friends and other people in the industry. I don’t think there is anything more important than knowing somebody’s first name, and when you go to the ATA Show, you start to learn that.
It’s a good opportunity to get your face, name, brand, logo and products right in front of the customer. They’re the closest link you have ultimately to the consumer. My advice to new guys is to get out there, make yourself known and take advantage of the smaller booth size. As long as you think outside the box, and put some time and effort into your booth space, you’ll stand out among the crowd of 10x10s, and you are going to get noticed.
Tell us: How’s business?
Morrell Manufacturing Inc., Manufacturer
This was a great Show. We could have used 12-15 salespeople in our area! That’s great for business because the 2016 year started out really slow. For the first time in my 30 years of business, I thought I was going to have a down year. I think people were waiting until last minute to do anything and for that reason, there was a late push and we did really good in the fourth quarter. I wound up being up 2.6 percent and I’m grateful.
HECS LLC, Manufacturer
We’ve had a tremendous growth curve ever since we first started, but the last two or three years have been phenomenal for us and it continued through 2016. We see no reason to believe things might slow down. With the industry being down, we are very fortunate to have ended up like we did. We see more and more customers who wear our clothes and see the HECS effect in action. We advertise on television, but our customers’ word-of-mouth advertising works really well for us, and we continue to see an increase in sales growth.
T.R.U. Ball Releases, Manufacturer
We finished our fiscal year in September and were about a half a percent up. I think we are a whole lot better than most people in the industry, but we worked hard to get to that point. We reached out to our dealers by phone or social media and tried to help them in any way we could.
Dirty North Archery, Retailer
It was definitely a year of growth for us. More on the service side than anything else. We also got into custom string building and more in-house tech stuff. As far as sales of products, it was comparable to 2015. We saw a push for higher-end and higher-quality technical work. As we are seeing more new stuff come out for bows and technology, the demand for the tech service is increasing.
I’m optimistic about 2017. I don’t think we should assume it is going to rebound right away, so we must work hard, but I do think there is an optimistic view (for 2017) and the last few months of 2016. After the election, we started to see some more optimism with retailers because we will have a better economy. Retailers started to breathe a little bit more and got a little bit more comfortable with maybe what the future looks like, and I hope that transcends through the rest of 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Wabanaki Wilderness LLC, Retailer
I had one of the better years in 2016. Our slow year was last year (2015). From what I’m hearing from other retailers across the country, they had a rough year.
Scott and Rebecca Pace
Back 40 Archery, Retailers
We were even in 2016. There was maybe a little growth, but not much. I didn’t see any marked downturn or uptick, just steady out of 2015 into 2016.
Corrine Yohan Bundy
Mathews Archery Inc., Manufacturer
The 2016 year was phenomenal for us. We are super thankful because we know that wasn’t the case for all the manufacturers out there, or at least that is what we have heard and are led to believe. We broke into niche markets and expanded our line to include something for everyone, and that’s exciting for us.
We had a very solid year. I would say it was a consistent year. We introduced some new products that did very well. And considering the state of the union in the archery market, I would say that we probably beat the curve.
Dealers, distributors and manufacturers attend the annual ATA Trade Show to write orders for the industry’s latest and greatest outdoor gear, including bows, arrows, optics, cutlery, accessories and more. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo
How have crossbows impacted the industry?
Tryin’ Hard Outdoors, Retailer
Just walking around the Show, I noticed crossbows are coming on strong. It’s the wave of the future. I doubt the vertical bow will go away, but if you ignore the crossbow numbers, you are going to lose because there are an astronomical number of hunters picking them up. But, the crossbow market isn’t like the vertical bow market, where the technology is advancing every year. It seems every other year there will be a big change, and it takes the industry a year to figure things out. In 2016, that change was the crossbow. People are starting to figure things out now, and next year manufacturers won’t produce something as earth shattering and the trend will even out.
Elite Archery, Manufacturer
I think the crossbow market is here, and it is here to stay. I think we must accept that crossbows are a part of our industry and there is a place for them. I’m more along the lines that there is going to be a place in the industry for vertical bows and crossbows.
FeraDyne Outdoors, Manufacturer
2016 was a tough year. Some of our brands had a really good year. Some of the other brands didn’t do as well. Honestly, I think the influx of crossbows has a lot to do with that. Our broadheads and things like that did really well. Our sights and releases struggled a little bit. I think that’s directly related to the crossbow sales. We had a really strong end of the third into the fourth quarter. We’re really positive looking out into 2017.
Captain Chuck’s II Inc., Retailer
It was a really good year. We saw our bow sales increase 20 percent; overall service and labor sales were good. We didn’t see a decline in bow sales due to crossbows. We still have a lot of people that shoot vertical bows and we see a lot of new people getting into archery.
I still believe vertical bow sales are about what they were ten years ago in terms of total, annual vertical bow sales. Crossbows are touching a different consumer or the same consumer who chooses to buy both products, and that’s a healthy thing for our industry.
PSE Archery, Manufacturer
I think PSE invented the first compound crossbow in 1978, and for years we couldn’t get anyone to bite. Now, people want something easy and fast and are reaching for the crossbow, which has devastated the compound bow market because crossbow archers generally don’t recreationally shoot, get lessons, or consume equipment. I think that’s what is hurting the industry. There is not a lot of experimentation, which limits money flow into retail.
Now after a couple of years of crossbow bowhunting, we hope that we can get some of those crossbow guys back into vertical bows with a different level of challenge and a little more dedication. I think with 2017 and the excitement of our new president, and American jobs being returned in a year or two, I think we are going to see a different 2017.
Corrine Yohan Bundy
Mathews Archery Inc., Manufacturer
Crossbows have been getting a lot of attention. I don’t think the crossbow negatively impacted the market; I believe the election had a lot to do with it. Consumers were putting their money elsewhere because of their concern for the second amendment right and the political landscape. That was something we all had to power through, but hopefully we don’t have to worry about that anymore and archery can continue to prosper.
Archers are increasing and we are excited about that as it helped the whole industry, but bowhunting license sales are declining and that’s a concern. The crossbow was good for our industry. It came in and presented another opportunity for guys to get out. No matter which bow, vertical or crossbow, as long as they are hunting, we want to help them accomplish the best experience possible for them.
Tell us about price points for new products.
President – Plano Synergy, Manufacturer
I believe innovation is the key to convincing people to buy a new crossbow or vertical bow. It takes creativity, boldness and originality to make someone want to spend $300 to $2,000 to rig out a bow/crossbow – especially when their bows are shooting well already. Admittedly, I think 2016 lacked some innovation. We probably missed out on bringing some new technology to the market, but we’ve made great strides so far in 2017. This year, our leading innovation is the TriggerTech trigger. It’s basically a high-end rifle trigger, and we’re putting it in almost every model of our Barnett crossbows. That’s a $150 to $200 upgrade in a mid-price crossbow, free and pre-installed in Barnett crossbows. TriggerTech also features a nock sensor that detects if the bolt is placed incorrectly in the crossbow, assisting dry fire prevention. That’s the kind of innovative technology and safety measures we’re bringing to market in 2017 and will continue to bring in 2018 in a major way. The industry needs more innovation, and Plano Synergy brands will continue to set the bar high.
Bonnie and Keith Struble
K & B Archery, Retailers
Our highest sales were probably youth and mid-price bows. It was tough to sell high-end bows. Most new customers don’t understand the advantages of the newer, higher-priced bow.
If you compare the price of the higher bows to other things, I think the general public attitude is that they think they are expensive. Accessory costs have also increased and everything adds up, so consumers lean toward the mid-range bows. We hope things turn around for the upcoming year, but it’s going to take some time.
Elite Archery, Manufacturer
There’s a lot of sensitivity around price right now. And it certainly does come up as you see prices creep up. I think as an industry we need to provide ways to get beginning archers and bowhunters into bows at every price point.