The Texas Recreation and Park Society launched the Archery Trade Association’s Explore Bowfishing program at its March conference in hopes of helping instructors, educators and program leaders teach youths basic bowfishing skills.
The program was modeled after ATA’s Explore Bowhunting program, which teaches youths basic bowhunting skills. Both programs fill educational needs that industry leaders identified in the bowhunting market.
Explore Bowfishing launched in West Virginia in October 2016, and gained traction at the January 2017 ATA Trade Show. The ATA and its Texas partners hope the program sweeps through the Lone Star state to reach a new, but existing audience of anglers to boost archery participation statewide.
Explore Bowfishing helps instructors, educators and program leaders teach youths basic bowfishing skills. The program fits into states’ recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts by targeting a new demographic – anglers – while expanding the market for bowfishing-specific archery equipment. Photo Credit: Nicole Nash
Travis Glick, community archery specialist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, coordinates Explore Bowhunting for the state, and attended the TRAPS conference for the Explore Bowfishing workshop. He works with Emily Beach, ATA’s senior director of outreach and education, and other ATA staff to promote archery and bowhunting programs in Texas.
“We really like Explore Bowhunting, and we wanted to keep it going,” Glick said. “Explore Bowfishing looked like a really fun expansion opportunity. We hope it helps promote the sport of bowfishing, especially along the coast.”
Glick also hopes the program gets people interested in archery.
“There are a lot of hunters out there, but people who bowfish aren’t necessarily hunters, so this is an opportunity to expand the archery community,” Glick said. “It will help us reach another demographic.”
Beach agrees. “Explore Bowfishing will bridge the gap between introductory archery programs and hunting, while reaching new consumers in the angling market,” she said. “Bowfishing is a fun, social and interactive activity that can be done at night or during the day. And, often times, people can succeed in bowfishing much quicker than they can in bowhunting because there are more opportunities to shoot, and the season is much longer. When someone gets hooked on the sport, they usually get hooked on the sport of archery altogether. It’s a win-win.”
Glick and his state-agency counterparts are enthusiastic about the program. They plan to introduce Explore Bowfishing to educators this summer and fall so it can be added to outdoor education programs as soon as possible.
The Texas team expects schools to teach the program. They also expect it will help parks and recreational centers offer more opportunities for people to try archery and bowfishing. Meanwhile, Explore Bowfishing should help state wildlife agencies in other ways.
Bowfishing is a fun, social and interactive activity that can be done at night or during the day. Often times, people can succeed in bowfishing much quicker than they can in bowhunting because there are more opportunities to shoot. Photo Credit: Paul Sherar/ATA
“Explore Bowfishing and Explore Bowhunting fit perfectly into a state’s recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts,” Beach said. “Plus, the program will create revenue for state agencies through license sales and equipment purchases, which generate funds through federal excise taxes. Those FET revenues return to states through the Pittman-Robertson Act.”
Although Explore Bowfishing remains in the pilot stages, state wildlife agencies and ATA members now have access to the program. As state agencies jump aboard, ATA’s outreach team will visit them to teach workshops that prepare educators and instructors to launch the program.
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If you’re interested in acquiring the program for your state or archery shop, please contact Josh Gold, ATA’s education programs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (321) 537-3140.