ATA Exhibitors Forecast Archery’s Top Growth Opportunities

Author: Scott Gieseke

After each ATA Trade Show, the Archery Trade Association surveys its exhibitors for feedback, which helps the ATA shape its programs and ensure the funding that grows archery’s sports, recreation and bowhunting.

“Each year the questions asked in the exhibitor survey vary depending on the Show’s location, what Trade Show decisions are coming up, and other industry factors,” said Maria Lewis, the ATA’s director of trade show operations. “Of course, we always seek feedback to improve the Trade Show, but the exhibitors’ thoughts also provide direction about how to shape programs and other member initiatives, within or outside of the Trade Show, especially considering the Trade Show is the primary fund generator for these programs.”

Answers to this year’s survey confirmed that the ATA’s many programs — and archery’s retailing and manufacturing businesses — are heading in the right direction. The survey also asked a new question: What are the industry’s greatest growth opportunities?

Let’s review the biggest opportunities for the industry, according to exhibitors at the 2016 ATA Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

According to the 2016 ATA exhibitor survey, 42 percent of exhibitors think there are opportunities for archery growth among youths.


Nearly 42 percent of exhibitors identified youths as a primary growth opportunity. That’s likely no surprise, given that the ATA and archery companies have worked for years to better serve the youth market.

The ATA’s Retail Growth InitiativeExplore Bowhunting Explore Bowfishing and Explore Archery, a collaboration between Easton, USA Archery and ATA) engage archers of all ages and skill levels.

In addition, in 2007, the ATA introduced its Community Archery Strategy, which targets densely populated urban communities. This program leverages a city’s or county’s infrastructure — like its parks and recreation programs — to make archery as accessible as “mainstream” sports like baseball or soccer.

USA Archery, the sport’s national governing body, saw memberships for youths under age 17 increase 12.5 percent between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons. Since 2009, youth memberships in USA Archery have increased from 235 to 7,586 – an astonishing 32-fold increase.

Twenty-five percent of exhibitors said women are a promising market for archery products. Photo: Paul Sherar/ATA


Further, 25 percent of exhibitors identified women as a market worth pursuing. That meshes with recent ATA-commissioned research that found archery participation in America climbed about 14 percent from 2012 to 2014, boosting the number of U.S. archers to 21.6 million.

This scientific study was conducted in February and March 2015 by the respected research firm Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The firm sampled Americans 18 and older using procedures similar to Gallup polls. The study followed up on a previous ATA-sponsored survey by Responsive Management in January and February 2013 that found 18.9 million Americans shot archery.

The ATA’s 2015 study also found 78 percent of archery participants were male (16.85 million) and 22 percent were female (4.75 million). That means male participation increased while female participation dipped since 2012 (69 percent male, 31 percent female), with young males making up much of the increase.

Although overall archery participation by women decreased between 2012 and 2015, USA Archery’s female memberships increased nearly 17 percent from the 2014-2015 season to the 2015-2016 season, and grew 5,900 percent from 2009 to 2016.

Why else is the women’s market so important? A recent article on Geekwire ( said women make 75 percent of household buying decisions in the United States, and represent $18 trillion in earnings worldwide. The same article highlighted a talk by Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft.

“Johnson asserted that women are an emerging market, not only in tech but in all sectors, and companies that fail to capture women’s dollars will lose out significantly. She also noted that making products for women is more than just making something in pink …

“In particular, Johnson pointed to ‘blinged-out’ smartwatches she found at CES this year and the Bic for Her pens that look the same as standard Bic pens.”

How companies in the archery industry and beyond pursue female consumers remains to be seen. Will we see women championed, as when “Field and Stream” magazine put Eva Shockey on its cover and RAM featured her in a truck ad? Or will states follow Wisconsin’s much-debated lead in legalizing “blaze pink” clothing for gun-deer hunting in hopes of attracting more women to hunting?

Twelve percent of exhibitors said there are opportunities to grow archery by leveraging social media.

Social Media

Social media came in third place in the survey, with 12 percent of ATA Show exhibitors identifying it as a top growth opportunity. Techniques for leveraging social media to grow or strengthen a brand is a hot topic beyond the archery industry. From engagement tactics to growing an audience for a startup business companies find endless advice about using social media.

Because social media can be a daunting topic, ATA provides tips via Archery Academy seminars, plus easy-to-follow steps such as these:

ATA also provides insights on marketing practices, and encourages members to share ATA content and take advantage of a Facebook plug-in that feeds content from Archery360 to a member’s home page to ensure fresh, relevant content.

Honorable Mention

Finally, 11 percent of exhibitors named growth of archery, innovative products and media/public relations as top opportunities for the industry, creating a three-way tie for fourth place in the ATA survey.

Call to Action

What do you see as the greatest growth opportunity in the archery industry, and how are you pursuing that market? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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