If your winter league was lackluster or your regular league needs something, consider offering a team or couples league this spring.
Bryan Schertz, owner of On Target Archery in Canton, Texas, started a couples league four years ago, and it’s been a hit ever since.
“(Customers) love it,” he said. “They always want to know when the next one is. It’s pretty wild. And it helps develop more diverse archers. We get pure bowhunters in here who’ve never considered shooting an indoor 5 spot, but they shoot it in the league and ask about competitions. They get interested in it, like it and buy other equipment to be more competitive.”
Schertz walked us through how the league works and why it’s great for customers and his business.
League winners receive prizes. Photo Credit: On Target Archery
He started the league to introduce people to different archery disciplines and developed it to include a little bit of everything. When he started, he had participants shoot an indoor five-spot target half round, a half round on the TechnoHunt system, and part of an outdoor 3D range setup. Schertz’s league lasts for 12 weeks and is broken down into six two-week sessions. Partners shoot individually whenever they’re available during the two-week window, and their scores are combined for the team score. At the end of the season, the top three teams are announced.
The couples league had multiple benefits for participants. Archers got to try something new, meet new people, improve their skills and shoot consistently. The league averages 12 to 15 teams, but Schertz has had as many as 30 sign up and compete. He has five or six committed couples that regularly shoot in his league, as well as at the national level.
Schertz hosts the league in spring, which is when business at most pro shops is traditionally slow. He charges $20 per couple and $10 per person. He said he doesn’t make much money from the league itself, but it keeps people actively shooting and visiting the shop, which results in equipment repairs and purchases.
You do not have to be an actual couple to join the league or even have a teammate. You can compete with friends and family members, or On Target Archery will pair you up with a teammate. Photo credit: On Target Archery
People who join in a pair aren’t always romantically involved, but having true couples in the league makes the competition more exciting and entertaining because they usually work really well together or egg each other on, Schertz said. He also allows individuals to sign up and pairs them up to compete. Teammates often bond and become friends.
The league also creates a more connected archery community and allows people to network, which Schertz said is great for the pro shop atmosphere, environment and reputation. Team members push each other to do better in the league, and they encourage one another to get involved in events and competitions outside the league. Oftentimes, Schertz said, they practice together at his range and carpool to competitions.
He uses a scoreboard in the shop to keep participants updated on league scores. This also serves to promote the league by drawing the attention of curious customers – who often ask how to get involved.
“People want to be a part of something,” Schertz said. “Once you develop the community, everyone will want to be a part of it. That’s the biggest thing.”
Schertz encourages pro shop owners to start a couples league and let it develop over time with customer input and feedback.
“Get something going and be flexible,” he said. “Customers will tell you what they like and don’t like. Don’t be afraid; just start it, even if it’s not perfect. People will get tired of the same old stuff, so you just have to change.”
Schertz said he has altered the setup of his league over time, and it’s better because of that. He took out the TechnoHunt element because it wasn’t “real enough” for participants, who get very competitive. He replaced it with a long-distance shoot to give them a different challenge.
He hopes to add more twists (like a handicap) and variety (like field archery) in the future. Mixing it up and keeping things fresh helps people stay engaged, so he’s kicking around several different ideas and their logistics but hasn’t yet decided on what he’ll do next. He looks to other archery shops and games for inspiration.
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Archers receive tickets toward a prize drawing every time they compete in a league. Photo Credit: On Target Archery
Schertz also tries to do something fun at the end of each league. He might order pizza or give away awards. And he gives participants a ticket each time they shoot, plus 10 tickets to the winning team each two-week period. The tickets are good for prizes during his annual customer appreciation event, where he gives away about $7,000 in prizes, many of which he receives as free promos at the ATA Trade Show.
Create a couples league and encourage your customers to team up. It’s double the fun, excitement and intensity. Use the ATA’s Event Planning Workbook to get started. It was designed to help archery pro shop owners launch and manage archery and bowhunting events that generate revenue, build brand awareness and attract new customers. The workbook describes the planning process and provides tips and insights for making important decisions. It includes an overview of an event, including budget, timeline, checklists, marketing plan, attendee list, equipment and supplies, and follow-up and evaluation. It even includes bonus tips, which are hot insights from retailers and ATA staff. The workbook’s pages also provide space for writing down ideas and taking notes.
To use the free workbook, log in to your MyATA member dashboard and click on “Download Free ATA Resources.” Search for “Event Planning Workbook,” and download the document. Then, print it and add it to a three-ring binder to start planning.