Author: Matt Kormann
I recently spent the evening watching the television coverage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final from Moscow. It made me reminisce about my family’s experience with target archery, and the times I’ve been fortunate to see the world’s best archers competing in person. Most impressive were the two five-time Finals champions, Sara Lopez and Brady Ellison, climbing the top of the podium. Both have had incredible years, and seeing their performances really lit a fire to get into the backyard and fling some arrows at 50 meters.
Of course, it wasn’t long before I was pulling the card from my game camera and scouting the whitetails I’ll be eyeing later this fall. How quickly we can adjust from target shooting to thoughts of stalking deer! That’s one of the things I love most about our sports – how interlinked they are, while being so very different.
Target archery and bowhunting are interlinked and archery shop owners can cater to both. Photo Credit: Matt Kormann
Wrapping my head around upcoming hunts for suburban deer, Georgia hogs, and Kansas whitetails also has me thinking about our industry. The question I am asked most frequently? “What’s the state of the industry?” My answer has remained the same for a couple of years, which is a little surprising. The state of the industry really depends on who you ask.
A strong first quarter gave way to a challenging second quarter. I’ve heard from manufacturers who are feeling significant pressure, and others who are enjoying a record year. I’ve seen the reports of pro shop closures, while also reaching out to new members, many of which are retailers. I’ve heard from salespeople who have said “September is the new July,” referencing a strong month ahead and the later start for the hunting sales season. At the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable board of directors gathering last month, we heard similar stories by just about every other industry represented there. We’re definitely not alone. Many of the factors that will influence our industry are out of our control.
Our consumer campaign strives to generate foot traffic in stores. Photo Credit: ATA
What we can control is how we approach our businesses. Your ATA is actively recruiting new customers through a digital media campaign that has already driven several thousand potential customers to our member pro shops. We’re improving the process of bringing new members into the ATA so they know what we’re doing on their behalf from the day they join. We continue to work with our partners across the outdoor recreation industries to ensure a brighter future for tomorrow’s hunters and target shooters.
As the next generation of hunters and shooters take to the field, it’s incumbent on us to make sure they understand that bowhunting and target archery aren’t as hard to begin as they might fear. I’ve learned that lesson about bowhunting firsthand. The hardest step was asking someone to teach me. We’ve all seen it in target archery, as new faces have rocketed up the world rankings just this year. A major youth movement appears to be underway in some of the most competitive disciplines.
Most importantly, as ATA’s Kurt Smith reminded me in a post to our retailers just this week, it’s important to reach out to us if you face a challenge. In some cases, the law won’t allow us to engage. But if we can assist, we’ll do all we can to help you overcome an obstacle to growing your business.