Author: Matt Kormann
In my past life, I worked with folks who created and managed events for a living. I grew to accept that our customers might be experts in their jobs, but not necessarily in the fields those jobs supported. And that’s OK. Someone employed by a medical trade association to plan their meetings is an expert event planner – but I wouldn’t want them diagnosing medical conditions.
Some of the best salespeople in my previous career had no high-end technical knowledge about the services they sold – but they still exceeded their sales- and customer-satisfaction goals. Likewise, I have a friend who works for a large trade group that represents municipal services – but he’s never been a municipal employee.
When I joined the ATA nine months ago, I spent time with each member of our team. I asked them several questions. The first question, however, was the one most important to me:
“Why are you working for the ATA?”
Nearly every answer was a variation of a single theme: Passion.
"Our staff told me they’re here because they think they can help make a difference for an entire industry. They said they’re here because they love bowhunting and archery, and found a way to work within those sports," says Matt Kormann president and CEO of Archery Trade Association. Photo Credit Shane Indrebo.
Our staff told me they’re here because they think they can help make a difference for an entire industry. They said they’re here because they love bowhunting and archery, and found a way to work within those sports.
But what do we do when we’re not at work? I never gave that much thought in regard to the ATA staff until I bowhunted with them. To a person, they were passionate about the outdoors. That factor is easy to overlook. After all, when you need us, you need our expertise in the business of the archery and bowhunting industry.
The vast majority of ATA staff are bowhunters, and every staff member has shot some form of archery.
My curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to know more. I asked them how they participate in this industry we all serve. The answers appear in the graphic below. Some were surprising. Many of them painted pictures of the emotion I heard my first day on the job. But the bottom line is that – to a person – we’re all about the bow.
One staff member shared her favorite hunting memory:
“I was 24 years old and in my third year of bowhunting. I had permission to hunt private property about 10 minutes from my South Carolina rental home. Before the season the year before, I went door to door asking landowners if I could hunt their property. I asked at least 15 people, and Gene was the only one who said yes. That year I harvested my second bow-kill, and he graciously welcomed me back the next year. I went out one Saturday morning. I saw many deer that day but never had a chance to shoot. The temperature was rising quickly so I decided to call it a day. I lowered my bow to the ground and started to pack up. Then, suddenly, I heard a deer in the distance. I spotted a doe and two fawns 60 yards away. I looked down at my bow on the ground, and back up at the deer coming my way. I worked quickly to pull my bow up, nock an arrow and draw back. I didn’t have a second to spare. The deer walked down the trail and stopped 15 yards away just behind a tree. I could see her vitals and released my arrow. She ran 10 yards, fell, got up to run another 5 yards, and fell to her final resting place. Tears already filled my eyes. I’m always so thankful when all my hard work pays off. The scouting sessions, practice sessions, early mornings and late nights. Everything came together for me, and I was blessed I made a good shot. The deer died quickly and ethically, and I’d be eating nutritious venison in the months to come. In a conversation with Gene the night before, he said he’d be around to help if I shot a deer, but he didn’t answer my calls. My boyfriend was at work and, after moving 1,000 miles across the country on my own for a job, I had no one else to rely on but myself. That morning I dragged a 112-pound undressed deer through the woods about 200 yards. With my muscles exhausted and the temps rising, I struggled to get her into the tarp-lined trunk of my car. Nearly defeated, I sat to devise a plan. Lightbulb! I decided I’d use the terrain as my hoist. I backed my car into the steep ditch and carefully rolled my deer inside. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I did it all myself. Normally I’d like to process the deer on my own, but with the heat, I decided it’d be best to get the meat processed quickly by a professional so it didn’t spoil. The icing on the cake was the look on the processor’s face when I (a 24-year-old female) opened my trunk to deliver a 112-pound doe I harvested with a bow that morning. He was dumbfounded, and I was proud beyond words.”
“Archery is the perfect sport. It’s something you’ll never master, so every day is a test to try and get a little better. It teaches you about yourself and life. There’s a quiet moment at full draw when the world disappears and you’re completely consumed by the process. That’s my favorite part about shooting.”
It’d be easy to think of the ATA staff as a group of folks who go about their work lives, and then go off and do whatever it is anyone does when they’re off the clock. For so many of us, that means picking up the bow. Whether it’s to clear our heads or fill the freezer, I’d put our passion for archery and bowhunting up against anyone’s.
We’d love to hear about your bucket-list hunts or target activities. For me, it’s that bear hunt in Alaska, but I also want to shoot in the biggest national tournaments. What’s your target?