What makes an archery range successful? Is it how many bows they sell? How many people are on their range? The number of followers for their social media accounts? While all those things are tangible markers of success, the true hallmark is what businesses give back to their community. Numbers and figures are great, but public perceptions of your business and what you’re contributing to the archery and bowhunting communities — the unseen connections you can’t put on a spreadsheet — make for the kind of success that is immeasurable but invaluable to a business.
We interviewed two archery retailers that have booming businesses and an equally booming connection with their communities. Check out their advice below on how their community presence has led to the success of their shop and range.
As the name suggests, Archery Connection in Columbus, Georgia, connects with its community through a robust social media presence, warm customer service and a free bow tech services policy.
Archer generates a lot of excitement in the shop and online. Photo Credit: Archery Connection
A lot of the foot traffic to Archery Connection comes from word-of-mouth referral, and the shop airs commercials on TV, but owner Steve Smith also attributes a lot of the attention they get to their strong social media presence. As we’ve mentioned in previous social media articles, posting content that engages your customers is key, and one thing that garners the most engagement on Archery Connection’s pages and in person is dogs. The Smiths have a resident shop dog, appropriately named Archer, who visits with customers and takes naps in his bed in an open display case. They post pictures of him often. “We take a picture of Archer beside a bow, or put a hat on him, or he’s looking at something on the floor, and we’ll say ‘Archer-approved’ or ‘Archer paws up on this.’” They’ve noticed that those posts really grab attention and seem to perform the best.
Whether or not your shop has a dog, posting engaging content is a great way to connect with your community. Archery Connection also posts photos of customers posing with their new purchase and product videos showing customers what’s new in the store or what to make sure they remember before hunting season opens. These posts also perform very well.
Salvation Army Christmas food and toy drive!! Stop by HobbyTown and AC to donate. #christmas #donate #salvationarmy
Posted by ARCHERY CONNECTION on Monday, November 14, 2022
In addition to their social media presence, Smith is happy with their bow tech services policy. Once you buy a bow at Archery Connection, you’ll receive complimentary bow tech services for life as long as you own the product. Smith noted that retailers might think offering bow tech services for free is losing out on a potential money stream, but it has the potential to boost your profits in other ways. For example, offering free repairs and tuneups will bolster a sense of trust with your customers and keep them in the shop. “Instead of them walking in and saying, ‘Oh man, I paid $35 for a paper-tune, I’ve got to go,’ they go ‘well, let me have a look around,’” Smith said. “You change the whole demeanor, that whole conversation, that whole everything just changed when you said ‘Hey, dude you don’t owe me anything.’”
Another way Archery Connection gives back to their community is by hosting an annual toy drive for the holidays in partnership with the Salvation Army. During the toy drive they accept donations of toys and canned food. The Smiths also own the Hobby Town next door to the range, so during the toy drive, all 35,000 square feet of space, between the range and the Hobby Town, receives a lot of foot traffic.
Archery Connection doesn’t host many tournaments, which might sound counterintuitive to an article about connecting with your community, but it still proves a point: Knowing what your community doesn’t need is as important as knowing what it does. If you’re an archery retailer who has unsuccessfully tried to host tournaments at your shop in the past, that’s OK. You don’t need to force it. If your community isn’t looking for tournaments, acknowledge that and focus on what they do want: lessons, a wide assortment of products, a large range, etc.
Nock It Archery Center in Rhome, Texas, connects with the community through participation at local events and by offering a wide range of lessons for kids, adults and archers of all skill levels.
When Nock It Archery began, it wasn’t a range at all; it was owner Bryan Murphy and his wife, Theresa, supporting daughter Makenzie’s archery pursuits. Makenzie got into archery when they lived in Colorado, and she started practicing target archery regularly. When the Murphys moved back to their Texas roots and discovered there weren’t any archery opportunities in Rhome, they decided to create their own opportunity. Murphy had practiced archery when he was younger, and he became a Level 1 USA Archery instructor so that Makenzie could continue to receive coaching. To make things official at the school, Murphy approached the FFA instructor about potentially starting an archery team, and the instructor loved the idea. Then they approached the principal and asked the school to sponsor the club if the Murphys provided the funding, which the school agreed to, kick-starting their journey.
They started off using the rabbit barn at the fairgrounds with no air conditioning. The club started with five students and after two months grew to 15 students. Members represented a wide range of ages, so the Murphys quickly realized their club was bigger than a high school club. So, they turned it into a USA Archery Junior Olympic Archery Development program. Once the club grew, they rented a 1,000-square-foot, air-conditioned space. Bryan Murphy graduated to a Level 3 USA Archery certification. The increase in the club’s popularity led to a greater demand for equipment. This increased demand led to Murphy’s realization that they needed a retail shop, and the Nock It Archery Center came about.
Nock It Archery offers an array of lessons for archers of any age and skill level. Photo Credit: Nock It Archery
At one point in 2020, the Murphys almost lost the range due to COVID-19, but a building opened up right when they needed it on 8 1/2 acres. When presented with hardship, they realized they couldn’t quit; they knew the community was relying on them and they had a responsibility to the kids, so they persevered. So, Nock It Archery went from being a small high school club, to a small retail shop, to a full-service professional retail shop and range all in the span of four years. And all of it stemmed from the Murphys’ desire to keep their daughter’s passion for archery alive.
“I wanted to create a team environment from an individual sport, and there was nothing like that out there for these kids,” Murphy said. “We went to the community and the first year we ended up with over $7,000 in funds. We were able to supply our kids with jerseys, towels, hoodies, and helped families and kids who couldn’t afford it. We had sponsorship money to help put them with bows and equipment.” In a way, Makenzie’s need for a youth archery program ended up creating a youth archery program: a full circle moment.
In addition to the competitive team, the range now provides coaching for home-school classes, recreational classes and special needs classes. The center provides monthly programs for archers of all ages. They have some families that have three generations practicing archery with Nock It Archery.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP THE INDUSTRY, TO HELP INDIVIDUAL BUSINESSES GET THE MOST OUT OF THE INDUSTRY, AND TO HELP YOU.
Nock It Archery takes their trailer to many different local events. Photo Credit: Nock It Archery
Local business owners and community leaders practice at the range, and the shop remains involved in the community. “Churches have come to us to do events,” Murphy said. “We have a trailer and some rolling bales, and we’ll go out to churches and businesses and daddy-daughter dances. That has been one of the biggest things because we’ve seen so many customers come in from that.” One church event they’ve taken the trailer to is a chili contest, so never think an event isn’t a good fit for archery. Get involved in your community even if you think the event doesn’t make sense for you. Host events at your own range; people will come to support you. Nock It Archery hosts date nights where they provide a whole meal as well as range time. Consider these kinds of events for your own community.
Bryan Murphy has a number of injuries that only get tougher as the years go on, but he doesn’t let that stop him because he knows what Nock It Archery means to the community. “When you coach these kids, and you have a responsibility to the community, you just push it and you go,” he said. This range is a great example of a community giving back to you what you give to them.
Whether they’re hosting toy drives or launching youth archery programs, these retailers know how to connect with their community. They know what the community needs, and they provide exactly that. Keep up a solid and engaging social media presence, listen to your community’s needs, attend local events and host your own. Give to the community what you’d like to get back. If you put out positivity, it will come back to you twofold. We hope these stories inspire you and provide some guidance in your own archery retail pursuits.
Questions about programs? Contact Nicole Nash, senior manager of outreach, at (507) 233-8146.