Connections: An ATA Happy Hour welcomed all Show-goers for an evening full of free beer, food, games, entertainment, networking and educational opportunities.
From 6 to 8 p.m. Exhibit Hall J was stuffed with all member types smiling, laughing and chatting. People said they enjoyed the event’s activities and laid-back atmosphere.
The event’s main attraction was a sudden death shootout competition between elite archers and bowhunting celebrities. Competitors used their own equipment and shot 50 meters at The Block Bullseye targets.
Attendees witnessed Jimmy Lutz beat Steve Anderson, and Reon Van Tonder beat Chris Bee in a single elimination semifinal round. As a result, Lutz and Van Tonder went head to head in the final round. The crowd silenced as both archers released their arrows. Lutz won the one-on-one shoot out event and won… bragging rights.
Select elite archers also trialed a Mixed Team style competition to give attendees a taste of what they’ll see in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Mixed Team showdown is a new event that will premiere in the 2020 Games. Casey Kaufhold and Doug Denton shot against Mackenzie Brown and Jacob Wukie. Each archer shot two arrows, one for Round 1 and one for Round 2. Kaufhold and Denton scored 18 edging out Brown and Wukie who scored 16 in their first round. In a quick turn of events, and two well placed arrows by Brown and Wukie, they took the lead and the title with a final score of 32 to 34.
The crowd cheered for more, so Lutz and Denton stepped to the line. Lutz won. Then, the competition’s announcer George Ryals IV (Griv) unexpectantly volunteered Matt Kormann, ATA’s CEO and president, to shoot. He welcomed the challenge. Kormann borrowed Anderson’s bow, leaving his opponent to borrow Wukie’s bow. Kormann relaxed and made a slow release while Anderson fired downrange in hot pursuit. His arrow missed the target and smacked the curtain backdrop, making Kormann the round’s winner.
In an attempt to redeem himself, Anderson challenged Denton to a round. Fortunately, Anderson hit a bull’s-eye, winning the match against Denton. In the event’s final individual shoot off, announcer Griv challenged Kaufhold. Kaufhold made a good shot, but Griv hedged her out by a few centimeters.
Attendees were able to shoot against the elite archers for a unique opportunity. Photo Credit: ATA
Attendees also got the chance to shoot with, learn from and interact with the elite archers, while playing one of four Explore Archery activities, including Horseshoes, Balloon Art, Inside the Rings and Group It Cup Shoot. Many event attendees said that was their favorite part of the evening. Stacy Laviana, owner of No Limits Archery in Chadsworth, Georgia, was among those believers.
“What other chance will I get to shoot against Mackenzie Brown?” Laviana said. “I hope the ATA does this event next year because I want to go get everyone and bring them to do it. It’s an awesome experience.”
Marco Martinez with M2 Outdoor Sports LLC agreed and said it was a really cool opportunity.
“Being able to shoot with Steve Anderson was the highlight of the event [for me],” Martinez said. “Shooting at the ATA Show was something we’ve mentioned before. You can shoot in the practice lanes, but for a lot of dealers, the bows are already out so we’ve already shot them. This was a unique and special experience that we haven’t see at any other buying show.”
Martinez’s teenage son Benjamin said shooting with Anderson was cool and nerve-wracking at the same time because he’s always liked watching him shoot at tournaments.
Gordon Trieu traveled from North York, Ontario, with Canada Archery Online to attend the Show. He was introduced to the Explore Archery activities and curriculum at Connections. He enjoyed playing Horseshoes and thinks the Explore Archery program would be a great way to show kids how fun archery is.
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Attendees had the opportunity to sit in an Indy Car simulator. Photo Credit: ATA
The event also had two Indy Car simulators, and a third Indy Car branded with the ATA logo. Attendees were invited to take a digital lap around the track in an effort to get the fastest qualifying lap. Gus Dumm with Dumm’s Outfitters in Nicktown, Pennsylvania, hasn’t driven a racecar but said the simulator was like what he imagined it would be like to drive a real car.
“It was pretty awesome,” Dumm said. “The only thing I’d recommend for next year is to have six of them.”
If one things certain, it’s that members agreed they hope to see the Connections event return in 2021.