Author: Cassie Scott
Archery Trade Association staff are addressing the 11 strategic-planning priorities crafted in August by themselves, the ATA Board of Directors, and key industry members. ATA’s outreach and education team is overseeing three of those initiatives.
Let’s review their efforts to improve the archery and bowhunting industry.
There will be a guide for everyone to use that will give them the tools to create archery range events. Photo Credit: ATA
Archery Range Toolkit and Grant Program
The ATA created the Archery Park Guide in 2012 to help cities, counties, universities, ATA members, and parks-and-recreation agencies build safe, accessible archery parks. To make that resource even more productive, the ATA is revising the guide into a three-part series and renaming it the “Archery Range Guides.”
These guides will help ATA members and partners develop ranges in their communities to boost access and participation. The first guide, which is finished, targets state fish-and-wildlife agencies. The second guide will help retailers, and the third guide will help those building temporary ranges in parks or communities. The three-guide series should be complete by March 31.
“We’re always creating or updating resources,” said Nicole Nash, ATA’s range and retail programs manager. “We want our partners and members to have all the tools they need to reach their archery-programming goals. We encourage educators and ATA members to reach out and let us know how we can help.”
The ATA is also completing criteria for a range grant program, which will be introduced by Summer 2019.
The Pulaski County High School girl's archery team poses with their third place trophy for the KHSAA Archery Championship. Photo Credit: Commonwealth Journal
Sanctioning Archery as a High School Sport
The ATA is exploring how to sanction archery as a high school sport in more states. Archery is sanctioned in Kentucky and Mississippi, and West Virginia is in the sanctioning process. Each state approaches the task differently.
The ATA is gathering information and trying to identify five states interested in sanctioning archery by July 31. That homework includes looking at E-sports, aka video games, which were recently sanctioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations. ATA staff are studying how to replicate that process.
Some ATA members, however, worry that sanctioning archery as a high school sport could limit participation. Depending on the ATA’s research and findings, it might recommend states designate archery as a “sport activity” instead.
Not having a mentor is often the only thing keeping someone from entering the world of archery or bowhunting. Your ATA is looking to help close that gap. Photo Credit: ATA
ATA staff know selecting equipment, locating hunting sites, and learning how to bowhunt can intimidate newcomers. Mentors help beginners learn safe, responsible bowhunting skills and tactics, which builds their confidence to pursue hunting independently. Therefore, ATA staff are creating a guide to help bowhunters mentor beginners.
The ATA will partner with the Quality Deer Management Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to use the QDMA’s Field-to-Fork program as a basic curriculum for newcomers. ATA staff will modify the program to make it easier for mentors to use.
Staff are also gathering other mentoring programs for the ATA’s resource website, which debuts in February. The documents provide best practices for mentors, and encourage ATA members to partner with community groups to recruit bowhunters.
Josh Gold, ATA’s senior manager of R3 and state relations, said mentor guides help members and partners increase bowhunting participation. “It aligns directly with the ATA’s mission to ‘increase participation’ and its vision ‘to increase the recruitment and retention of new, current and once-active archers and bowhunters,’” Gold said. “Connecting our members to local efforts provides a better infrastructure for new participants. If we can provide a positive and educational experience for someone who wants to hunt, we can increase their chances of participating throughout their life. Just as important, they’ll likely spread their newfound interest in hunting with friends and family. We can all play a part, and it starts with taking someone afield.”