Author: Cassie Scott
As baby boomers quit hunting or reduce their time afield, archery stores must replace them with new customers. To get the longest, most profitable return on their recruiting efforts, savvy archery retailers target youngsters. According to the 2010 U.S. census, the United States is home to 74.2 million people under age 18. That’s 24 percent of the population, and their numbers will likely increase to record highs.
Let’s review four ways to attract these potential archers to your shop.
Youths often have short attention spans, so keep them engaged with games and exciting targets, such as balloons or fake money. Photo Credit: ATA/Lester Photography.
Host Youth Events
Today’s youths see many archery-themed movies and TV shows, but they still need good coaches or instructors for a fun, exciting introduction to the sport. A great way to engage them is to host classes, leagues, birthday parties, group lessons and summer camps; or family-focused events like a field-to-fork course or a party to watch a televised archery tournament. These events introduce large groups of young people to archery, and create memories they’ll share with friends, which sparks their peers’ interest in archery.
Youths often have short attention spans, so keep them engaged with games and exciting targets, such as balloons or fake money. Also, stick to the basics, which means focusing on safety and shooting form while remaining patient and supportive. Engaging young archers takes time, practice and supervision.
Not sure where to start? USA Archery’s Explore Archery program introduces beginners of all ages and abilities to the sport. It’s available to all ATA-member retailers who have earned USA Archery Level 1 instructor certification. Contact USA Archery to obtain the curriculum. In addition, the ATA’s Retail Growth Initiative offers resources and documents for teaching classes or creating programs. Contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s member-outreach manager, at (502) 640-0944 or firstname.lastname@example.org to receive RGI materials.
Sell Youth Equipment
Selling youth-specific equipment might seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Many youngsters can’t pull back an adult bow, nor can they enjoy the sport if they struggle to hold a bow that’s as tall as them. They need equipment tailored to their size and skills. If you don’t carry kid-approved gear, your potential customer might look online or visit your competitor to buy gear. Stock equipment they can try, and sell high-quality clothing and equipment designed for them.
Julie McDonald, co-owner of Young Guns Archery LLC in Dayton, Ohio, said their business is dedicated to improving the youth market. She said the key to retention is pairing youths with a bow they like shooting. Youngsters who feel comfortable shooting, and consistently hit the target, are more likely to stick with archery and buy more equipment.
Retailers can also sell youth-focused games or activities related to archery or bowhunting. The ATA’s board game, “The White’s Tale,” for example, was created for the Explore Bowhunting program. This fun, educational game is professionally designed, and features high-quality packaging that displays nicely alongside other top-shelf games. Once youths open it at home, the game grabs their attention and encourages them to go hunting.
Publicize your business and support youth programs like Explore Archery, Scholastic 3-D Archery and the National Archery in the Schools Program. Photo Credit: ASA Cullman, AL.
Once you’ve booked your schedule with youth events and stocked your shelves with youth equipment, you must advertise everything strategically to increase foot traffic and sales. Take time to create a marketing plan that promotes your programs and services.
Even tight budgets provide plenty of ways to advertise. Use your website or social-media accounts to promote events and highlight youth equipment. Videos and photos do more than plain-text posts to boost engagement. Media outlets like TV, radio and newspapers are good options, but you should also post signs, distribute fliers at schools or libraries, and pin leaflets to public bulletin boards and other hotspots. Don’t forget email marketing either!
Choose your words and graphics carefully. When advertising “fun, safe” archery events, your images should look inviting and show happy participants, with youths and youngsters holding equipment correctly in clean, controlled, well-lighted environments.
Your advertising must appeal to parents and their children. Few parents will enroll kids in a class that looks sketchy. Also, be sure to promote your certified archery instructors. If your staff isn’t certified already, get them certified before offering lessons and programs.
Many local organizations already have strong youth participation. Share your resources with them to recruit even more participants through partnerships, which include two or more parties working together to achieve common goals.
View these partnership ideas to get started.
- Publicize your business and support youth programs like Explore Archery, Scholastic 3-D Archery and the National Archery in the Schools Program.
- Volunteer to run an archery activity at a YMCA, family event or the park-and-recreation department’s summer camp.
- Invite church groups, the 4-H Club, home-schooling groups, the Girl Scouts or the Boy Scouts to shoot at your store’s range.
- Work with local chapters of Quail Forever, Pheasants Forever, Quail Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Whitetails Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation to co-host an “Intro to Archery” class.
For more partnership ideas for your archery business, click here.
Working with the 18-and-under crowd can be a rewarding, revenue-generating experience. Tailor your events, equipment and advertisements to the next generation, and watch your business grow alongside them.