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How to Retain Young Archers at Your Range

When young archers visit your shop and express interest in archery, how do you hold their interest?
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Taylor Walston

Some young archers felt inspired to try archery after seeing an exciting movie or marketing campaign. They found your store online, came in for your “Intro to Archery” lesson, and couldn’t wait to keep shooting archery.

Now what? You won half the battle by getting them to your range, but can you sustain their interest and keep them coming back?

To keep sparking their curiosity, offer several types of lessons and league options so they can choose the path that most interests them. By expanding your youth options, their participation numbers will expand, too. Give them room to grow. They won’t want to repeat the same basic archery lessons. Make sure they can advance at their own pace. ATA members can visit ATA’s Resource Website to download our recommendations for program progression.

Lessons that cause steady improvement keep new archers engaged by increasing the challenges and information. After their basic introductory lesson, offer weekly lessons for six to eight weeks. As their skills improve, tell them about clubs, leagues and bowhunting; and encourage them to participate. Eventually, introduce them to state and national tournaments.

Nurture the youth archer's love of archery by allowing them to choose their path. Photo Credit: X10 Archery

Nurture Their Interest

If they want to shoot competitively, encourage them to register for events sponsored by USA Archery, which is currently offering free trial memberships for young archers. Archers enrolled in Scholastic 3D Archery, the National Archery in the Schools Program, and Olympic Archery in the Schools can also get free trail memberships. Those memberships provide access to local, state and national events, and include all member benefits.

If youths want to try bowhunting, direct them to the ATA’s Field to Fork Curriculum and Mentor Guide. Those documents guide newcomers through the bowhunting process, including how to select equipment, choose hunting strategies, field dress deer, and cook different meats. Connect aspiring bowhunters to groups that offer guided hunts and qualified mentors. If you’re an experienced bowhunter, consider mentoring the young archer.

Host an Explore Bowhunting or Explore Bowfishing course at your shop to engage your community in bowhunting. The curriculum explains the basics of each activity, and smoothly transitions beginners from target archery to bowhunting and bowfishing. Remind youths that archery covers several participation lanes, and your shops can help improve their skills.

Let your archers know that they can practice at your range outside of lessons. Photo Credit: Music City Archery

Make Your Range Accessible

Some young archers can’t shoot at home because they lack space to practice safely. They must rely solely on your range for practice. Share your open range times, and tell them when they can rent a lane. Welcome them in every time, and make sure they know their options.

Also stay prepared to help young archers when they’re ready for new gear. Stock gear that helps them grow, literally and figuratively. Make sure your youth bows have adjustable draw lengths and draw weights so they can “grow” as the youth’s archery muscles strengthen.

Offer themed events to keep things exciting. Photo Credit: BrocksClass.blogspot

Keep it Exciting

Themed shoots are great for generating foot traffic. Targets featuring zombies, holiday themes, or glow-in-the-dark faces attract new customers and engage existing customers. Your “regulars” will eagerly wait to see which exciting event you try next.

Never assume that young archers regularly visiting your range will become lifelong customers. Retaining their interest takes work. Pay attention to trends, and try to identify when and where young archers lose interest. Ask what they’d like to see at your range, and where/how your store can improve. Honest feedback from customers is the best way to gauge interest.

If you provide young archers with clear, varied paths for progress, their excitement for archery could last into adulthood. Give them realistic goals and they’ll visit your range often.

Questions? Contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s manager of range and retail programs, at nicolenash@archerytrade.org.

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