Author: Cassie Scott
A $5.8 million world-class shooting-sports complex at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro has boosted archery retailing and participation across the state’s southeastern region since opening in September 2015.
GSU has three campuses, nearly 27,500 full-time students, and the state-of-the-art Shooting Sports Education Center, which attracts thousands of visitors annually. The SSEC facility, its programs and its relationships with nearby archery retailers strengthen the area’s archery community. The center’s partnerships with college archery programs also demonstrate how retailers across the United States could boost business in their communities, too.
Construction began on the 30,000-square-foot facility in November 2013, and it opened in September 2015. About $3.3 million in. Photo Credit: Easton Foundation.
Creating an Archery Facility
GSU partnered with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources about six years ago to build the shooting-sports center. The SSEC’s mission is to train and educate hunters and archers to be responsible shooting-sports enthusiasts while promoting safe firearms and bow-handling skills.
Construction began on the 30,000-square-foot facility in November 2013, and it opened in September 2015. About $3.3 million in.
Also helping financially was the Easton Sports Development Foundation, local city and county governments, and several other donors. The ATA, which contributed $150,000 in operating funds, also provided resources such as its Archery Park Guide, and staff members to teach instructors and help develop the SSEC’s programs.
The SSEC quickly established itself as an elite shooting sports facility. It hosted 52 camps, classes, tournaments and special events during 2017. The archery program also tallied 13,185 “participations,” aka the number of times archers shot at the facility that year.
Boosting the Archery Community
Nearby residents and university students participate in various educational and shooting opportunities at the SSEC. The facility offers private lessons, beginner archery classes and next-step programs like Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing. It also offers fun recreational archery activities such as day camps for youths and date nights for adults.
Matt Horst, the SSEC’s director, said lessons, classes and other recreational archery programs make the sport accessible to university students, as well as youths, adults and families.
“We offer Explore Archery as an introductory program,” Horst said. “It teaches the foundation of safe shooting with recurve and compound bows. The class helps us show that archery is fun for the whole family.”
Archery classes also draw prospective students to Georgia Southern, giving them opportunities to learn a lifelong skill. Horst said archery improves stamina, concentration, body control and mental development in all participants.
Contact local colleges, universities or technical schools to discuss your options. Determine what skills, money, resources and knowledge you can exchange or combine to achieve your mutually beneficial goals. Photo Credit: GA Southern University.
The SSEC and Retailers: Working Together
The SSEC, much like archery-specific facilities, also boosts equipment sales in the community, which strengthens the archery and bowhunting industry. “The SSEC has a very good relationship with several archery retailers in our area,” Horst said, noting that retailers promote SSEC events and programs, and the SSEC encourages archers to visit retail shops to buy equipment.
They also help each other reach different audiences. “The retailers have more contact with hunters, and we have more contact with target or competition shooters,” Horst said. Having multiple places to pursue archery ensures greater participation in the sport.
The Power of Partnerships
The SSEC model also shows how strategic partnerships help businesses become community hotspots. By partnering with other companies or organizations you’ll attract new customers and generate more revenue. Overall, partnerships boost your profile and help share responsibilities that grow the sport.
Contact local colleges, universities or technical schools to discuss your options. Determine what skills, money, resources and knowledge you can exchange or combine to achieve your mutually beneficial goals.
Click here to find a nearby collegiate archery program. Nothing in your area? Don’t worry. Consider other potential partners such as clubs, teams, schools, agencies, park-and-recreation departments, and chapters of Quail Forever, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Most such groups strive to increase archery participation while recruiting, retaining and reactivating hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts. Partnering with them on classes, events and programs can boost your business while creating stronger, more unified archery and bowhunting communities.
ATA staff can help you arrange introductions and connections with its partners. For more information and tips on collaborating with potential partners, email Josh Gold, ATA’s education programs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.