Tony Girt, 51, owns and operates Koteewi Archery in Noblesville, Indiana. He’s been an Archery Trade Association member for 22 years, and he’s a savvy, passionate and dedicated businessman. Those qualities help him attract over 10,000 customers to his store each year, and his business is still growing.
Girt grew up in the outdoors. His father taught him how to fish and hunt small game. He recalls being too young to carry even a BB-gun on his first rabbit hunt, so he carried a stick. His brother David introduced him to deer hunting when he was 14. They spent hours reading magazines, watching hunting videos and observing mentors before finding success.
When the Girt brothers ventured into competitive archery, they met up with their cousin Doug at a tournament. Doug worked part-time at an archery shop, and introduced his cousins to the idea of working in the industry. A few months later, the trio and Doug’s father, Floyd, opened an archery range. That was 1997. Girt was 21. He said their love of hunting and desire to be self-employed drove them to their archery-industry careers.
Girt worked in the archery trade 22 years before opening Koteewi Archery three years ago. The store has evolved and transformed since then, and is now better than ever.
- Averages 1,000 visitors monthly, and about 70 percent of them use rental equipment;
- Has five ranges and 8 miles of nature trails spread throughout 800 acres;
- Has five certified archery instructors who teach classes, private lessons and special events;
- Runs a Scholastic 3-D Archery club and a traditional club called the Hoosier Traditional Hunters;
- Hosts tournaments, birthday parties, corporate outings, team building events and more.
Girt’s favorite aspect about his shop is its diversity and community involvement.
“We’re focused on the whole community and have a diverse clientele,” Girt said. “We introduce people of all ages, races and religions to archery, and then watch them walk away with a smile on their face.”
Girt said archery lets everyone participate, and he’s fortunate to serve everyone in surrounding communities, including those with special needs. Koteewi Archery is ADA certified, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and has a motorized track chair for those who need it to explore the facility and its property.
“We make everyone feel welcome,” Girt said. “Offering everyone an opportunity to enjoy a new activity is the key to our success.”
Girt and his staff attend community events and festivals, including school socials, summer concerts and 4-H Club fairs, to introduce people to archery and encourage them to visit the store or shoot at the range.
By offering rental equipment, as well as classes and lessons taught by certified archery instructors, Koteewi Archery can “introduce hundreds – if not thousands – of new shooters to archery each year. Photo Courtesy: Koteewi Archery
Koteewi Archery’s central location and community involvement helped make its classes and lessons popular, which keeps the shop busy year-round.
“Our range is within 20 to 30 minutes of about 1.5 million people coming from three counties in all directions,” Girt said. “Some of them don’t have a safe place to shoot. Others want a safe place to learn. We accommodate both types of people.”
By offering rental equipment, as well as classes and lessons taught by certified archery instructors, Koteewi Archery can “introduce hundreds – if not thousands – of new shooters to archery each year,” Girt said. “We no longer rely on retail sales to keep us in business. However, our retail sales are up due to increased use of the range and all the new archers we have from lessons.”
Although classes and lessons attract new customers, keeping them requires good customer service and knowledgeable staff. According to customer reviews, Koteewi Archery has both. The store has earned a 4.7 out of a 5-star rating on Google.
“Staying current is essential to success in the archery industry,” Girt said. He said product designs regularly change or get updated with new technology. It’s important to know when those changes occur.
“Our customers come in and ask our opinion on new items, so it’s important to stay up to date on what’s available and what benefits new products provide,” he said. “That knowledge could be the difference between keeping a customer or losing one.”
Girt leans on manufacturers and sales representatives to stay informed. To stay atop industry changes, he also reads articles, pays attention at the ATA Trade Show and, most importantly, listens to his customers’ needs and desires.
“Everything we sell in our store can be bought online,” Girt said. “That fuels us to stay current. Our customer service and product knowledge are the most important advantages we have in keeping up with online sales.”
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Girt focuses on building relationships with other organizations because partnerships increase public awareness and usually benefit everyone. Koteewi Archery partners with Backwater Legacies, a Christian-based nonprofit group that specializes in youth development and outdoor education. Photo Courtesy: Koteewi Archery.
Reading industry-based articles isn’t his only resource for staying competitive.
“One of the most obvious differences our business has is our partnership with the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department, and the unique relationships we’ve formed with other organizations,” Girt said. “Our relationship with Parks changed our whole outlook on running an archery shop.”
Girt focuses on building relationships with other organizations because partnerships increase public awareness and usually benefit everyone. Koteewi Archery partners with Backwater Legacies, a Christian-based nonprofit group that specializes in youth development and outdoor education. Girt and Koteewi Archery teach youths about archery and, in return, Backwater Legacies provides volunteers to work tournaments and special events. The shop also works with schools, and the 4-H Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and more.
Girt considers the ATA another valuable resource.
“We attend the ATA Trade Show to see the latest products and receive discounts on merchandise,” he said. “We always take advantage of the free seminars at the Show. We often send two or three employees to different seminars, so we can catch as much information as possible. It seems like we always get one or two new ideas to try.”
He also follows the monthly ATA newsletter to stay informed year-round.
Koteewi Archery’s success reflects Girt’s dedication to teaching archery to newcomers. He said one of his proudest moments was introducing his nephew Josh to archery and watching him grow as a deer hunter. In fact, hearing the excitement in Josh’s voice when he shot his first whitetail is one of Girt’s fondest memories. Those memories encourage him to keep spreading archery’s joy.
Girt hopes to add a bowfishing club and Junior Olympic Archery Development club to his shop’s menu. He also hopes to host more events and strengthen the business’s partnerships.
For information about business practices mentioned in this article, or to learn more about an ATA membership, contact the ATA’s business and membership office at (866) 266-2776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.