Author: Jackie Holbrook
If your shop has a range, you can boost your profits by teaching classes and running leagues.
Classes and lessons attract new customers, maintain your current customer base, and help you sell more equipment. Lessons are also great ways to encourage people to try archery, and steer them to your leagues once they’re hooked.
But don’t stop there. If you offer beginners-only lessons, too, you’ll create and attract your own customers. Let’s review four reasons you should offer a class for beginners.
New and Intimidating
Trying anything for the first time can feel intimidating, especially when you’re surrounded by experienced people. A class exclusively for beginners assures everyone they’re in the right place. Every participant knows immediately that all questions are welcome. Chances are, if they have a question, someone else does, too.
Get a certified archery instructor to teach the class. An instructor with credentials brings credibility to the shop, and they’re trained to work effectively with beginners. Instructors at the introductory level serve a dual role as teacher and customer-service representative. It’s their job to hook customers on archery through positive experiences. They put newbies at ease by making the class fun, safe, comfortable and welcoming.
Make sure the archers know the safety rules, but keep the energy fun while they're learning. Photo Credit: ATA
Focus on Fun and Safety
Few people pick up a bow for the first time and hit the bull’s-eye. Beginners should feel free to suck. Encourage them to just have fun, and reassure them that they’ll quickly improve if they stick with it. Instead of first focusing on proper form, let students enjoy shooting a bow and watching their arrows hit the target. Provide armguards to protect their forearms while they learn the right form.
“We put students in front of a target at 7 to 8 yards, and make sure the environment is conducive to fun,” said Anthony Schmidt, owner of La Crosse Archery in Onalaska, Wisconsin.
La Crosse Archery has held “Intro to Archery” classes the past six years. “We have people in their 70s taking archery for the first time,” Schmidt said. “Maybe they shot in high school or middle school with a recurve, so it’s neat to circle back with archery. It’s truly a lifelong sport.”
Before students take to the targets, make sure they understand your range rules. “We touch on safety the first five minutes to make sure their experience is positive and safe,” Schmidt said. Explain the rules, whistles and verbal commands. Be sure students understand the target, waiting and shooting line. Encourage questions if they’re unclear about safety issues. Once everyone understands the rules, they’ll feel comfortable and enjoy the experience.
For more tips on how to set up a class read “How to Teach a Successful Archery Class.”
Beginners Don’t Stay Beginners
The goal of a beginners course is to foster curiosity for archery. If students enjoy the class, encourage them to get more training. Offer introductory classes that teach basic form and shooting steps. Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing are great programs for beginners. The curriculums are fun and interactive, and available to ATA-member retailers. Make students aware of your leagues and recreational opportunities. Schmidt said many of his beginners go on to join the shop’s recreational leagues.
Groupon is a great way to attract newcomers. Groupon reaches a demographic that would otherwise ignore archery. Discounted rates push people to try something new.To learn how Groupon can help , read “Case Study: How Groupon Can Boost Archery Shops’ Business.”
Use the Explore Archery curriculum crafted to help you maximize your lessons. Photo Credit: John Heinz
Explore Archery is Here to Help
USA Archery’s Explore Archery program attracts and engages new archers. The program was created by USA Archery and the Archery Trade Association, with support from Easton Foundations. Certified archery instructors have access to the curriculum.
“Intro classes are investments of time, and many owners say they don’t have that time,” Schmidt said. “If you don’t have time to do it, hire someone who has the passion.”
If you have questions about how to start a beginners program, contact Nicole Nash, the ATA’s manager of range and retail programs, at (866) 2776 ext. 116, or firstname.lastname@example.org.