Create a Profitable Archery Escape Room

Plum Creek Archery’s archery-themed “escape room” generates extra revenue while introducing more archers to the sport.
Photo Credit: Ian Goldsmith

Author: Taylor Walston

“Escape rooms” are trendy, exciting games that can generate extra revenue at your archery shop. A thrilling, time-restricted escape room can easily feature several archery tasks, puzzles or challenges for customers to complete to flee the room. You can also feature a simulator and ask participants to shoot their arrows into the correct answer on the screen, or hit an on-screen monster in a fatal spot.

Tom Goldsmith, co-owner of Plum Creek Archery in Dyersville, Iowa, was seeking ways to attract more people to the store and get more use from their popular BowSim simulator. He soon had a solution: Combine archery with recent interest in escape rooms to introduce newcomers to this fun sport.

Now that they had a concept, they had to create the game and its scoring system. That meant running tests with archers of different skills to determine the appropriate levels for completing each challenge. “Developing the theme, scripts and videos came after we knew we had a good working concept,” Goldsmith said.

He also partnered with his son, who is in the film industry, to develop the story behind the escape room. Then they created content for the simulator and used it in promotional materials.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Plum Creek Archery’s escape room was getting reserved multiple times weekly. Unfortunately, the shop then closed for two months during the mandatory shutdown. Reservations were slow to resume once the Plum Creek reopened, but Goldsmith remains optimistic.

“I expect it will do much better once this pandemic subsides, and people are getting out and about,” Goldsmith said.

Since the escape room’s launch in early 2020, it has engaged participants and helped spur two of them to buy archery equipment. Another participant booked a birthday celebration after seeing partying archers use the lounge and simulator.

Even if the escape room doesn’t trigger equipment purchases or party bookings, it’s boosting foot traffic and sparking discussion. Goldsmith said new archers who try the bow simulator ask about archery, including specifics about the bows and arrows they’re using.

Archers can choose the level of difficulty based on their skills. Photo Credit: Plum Creek Archery

“Customers, both new and experienced, are positive in their responses,” Goldsmith said. “We have different levels, including one where they can use their own equipment, so more experienced archers enjoy it because it’s a welcomed change from shooting at static targets.”

He also said the videos add some entertainment value, and participants feel the suspense of having limited time to escape.

“The feedback has been very positive on the fun-o-meter,” Goldsmith said. “Each challenge/room in the theoretical castle is different, so the game is fresh all the way through.”

Make sure your escape room requires participants to use a bow and arrow, not just solve puzzles. Photo Credit: Ian Goldsmith

Goldsmith said the BowSim simulator was a big help in creating the escape room. After all, it requires videos, game design, and scoring components to produce the full effect. If the game generates interest, Goldsmith said he would create a startup package with all their creative material for other retailers to feature in their shops.

If you have a creative side, consider designing the puzzles and creating the story. If you like the escape room idea, but don’t know how to create the material, Goldsmith said he would offer advice.

“If other shops are looking to add an escape room, make it an archery escape room so it introduces more people to the sport,” Goldsmith said. In other words, require participants to use a bow and arrow; not just solve puzzles.

Plum Creek Archery shows that archery-themed escape rooms can generate profits. They can also attract nonarchers to your shop and introduce them to fun, engaging archery games. That’s a win for any retailer.

For general questions about retail programs, please contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s manager of range and retail programs, at or (502) 649-0944.

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