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CEO Blog: COVID Cancels ATA 2021, but Archery and Bowhunting Remain Strong

Matt Kormann discusses the cancellation of the 2021 ATA Trade Show and looks ahead to #ATA2022.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Matt Kormann

Since the close of an incredibly successful ATA 2020 in Indy, your ATA has been working hard toward an even better ATA 2021. When the world changed for all of us in March, your Board and staff began strategizing for many possibilities. We agreed it was wise to pause key steps in trade show planning until July. During the summer, as we learned more about how businesses were responding to the pandemic, it seemed obvious to see if our exhibiting members had a desire to attend the show in Indy six months later.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Frankly, it exceeded the expectations we’d set before the impact of COVID. Learning that, we knew we had to determine if retailers wanted to attend. As we opened registration last month, response was strong. We saw a decrease, but that’s common this time of year.

As we neared October 1, things began to change. We began to hear more and more from key members that their employees were concerned for their safety. We heard that business owners were unsure of attendance, and therefore concerned about the ability to do the kind of business that would make their participation worthwhile. In the past two weeks, many of those who expressed concern opted to cancel their participation. Many more shared that they were likely to do so.

In consultation with your Board of Directors, ATA staff shared all we knew – registration and participation data, positive and negative feedback we’d gained from phone calls, emails, and meetings, and the realities of both hosting a smaller event and canceling outright.

Ultimately, we arrived at the conclusion that we hope best serves the industry we love: Foregoing ATA 2021 in an effort to ensure the future of the ATA and the trade show that brings us all together. This is not a decision taken lightly by anyone involved. Each of us very much wanted to meet in a few months. Unfortunately, the more we learned, the more it became apparent that a hard decision would have to be made.

It’s important to understand that your ATA 2021 show is not alone in its cancellation. Nearly every other event in the outdoor recreation industry has either canceled or been held virtually. In fact, most if not all large trade shows and business events in America have made the same decision. This fact was also taken into consideration as we determined the best course of action.

On behalf of your ATA, I’m extremely disappointed that we can’t get together in January, and I know I speak for all of us when I say that. I appreciate your patience and understanding as we worked through a necessary process to reach this decision. Much more information will be shared in the coming days about how we’ll work to share both education and business opportunities in lieu of a face-to-face gathering.

Thanks to all those who worked so hard for more than 20 years, your ATA is in as stable a position as we could be to weather what comes next. I’m confident in our ability to continue the important programs, government relations, partnerships, education, and messaging that have helped create new bowhunters and target shooters, remind others why they should come back to the sport they love, and ensure those who’ve never left know how to help grow these sports.

The bright side – and there is a big one – is that our industry appears to be stronger than ever. While retailers and pro shops have been particularly hard hit from inconsistent shutdowns, mandates, and policies, many are reporting record months, quarters, and even some years. Similarly, virtually every manufacturer with whom I’ve spoken reports the same: Incredible interest in our sport. State agencies are largely reporting both record license sales and harvests. All of this speaks to the bright future ahead for archery and bowhunting.

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