Author: Patrick Durkin
Whether they’re trying to boost sales, fine-tune their products, or introduce the next revolutionary invention to archery and bowhunting, the industry’s latest innovators often achieve their goals through the Innovation Zone at the ATA Trade Show.
Jim Coots Jr. of Countryside Shadow, for example, waited until the January 2020 ATA Show to introduce the Aim-3 Tracking Broadhead, which carries a razor-thin GPS tracking device with a 2.4-mile range that transmits its location for 72 hours. A smartphone app detects and monitors the broadhead’s location. The broadhead uses forward facing hooks on each blade to keep the head inside the animal.
The GPS device can also be activated by the hunter’s partners or family members on their smartphone if they need to learn the person’s location. This safety feature can quickly guide rescue teams to the scene if the person is hurt.
Coots said he’s glad he got a booth in the IZ. “It took me 10 years to get here, and 90% of the people who stopped by said they’ve been waiting for someone to invent something like this,” he said. “I’m also receiving good advice and ideas on how to make it even better. I’ll be exploring those options. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Show.”
Eric Ravenna plans to move to the Show floor next year. Photo Credit: ATA
Eric Ravenna of Southwest Archery in Riverside, California, brought 14 models of his custom recurves and longbows to his booth in the IZ, including youth models and a take-down with matching recurve and longbow limbs. The limbs are the same length (64 inches) so they can use the same string.
This is Ravenna’s third year in the IZ, and he plans to rent a booth on the Show’s main floor in 2021. The custom risers feature beautiful handcrafted laminates of oak, tigerwood and other hardwoods. The youth models include full risers of tigerwood, which are popular choices among the 100-plus kids participating in Southwest Archery’s JOAD program each year.
Dave Avery celebrates his first year in the Innovation Zone. Photo Credit: ATA
MD-50 Gear’s Dave Avery, a retired science teacher, made his IZ debut with lightweight, packable training aids called the Archer’s Shot Saver and Archer’s Release Trainer. The devices are made of thick, brightly colored rubber tubing with internal handles to build “archery strength” and fine-tune an archer’s release.
Previously, most archers used wide stretch bands, which had to be knotted or unknotted to increase or decrease the resistance and draw length. The Shot Saver is available in three sizes: 29 inches, 32 pounds; 28 inches, 27 pounds; and 26 inches, 22 pounds.
Avery said he wanted to create something that was lightweight and packable so he could take it along on all-day back-country hunts. “I like to stretch and warm up by drawing my bow, but I hate risking a dry-fire,” he said. “Stretch bands don’t have handles and they don’t duplicate the draw as well, so I came up with this device.”
Avery thinks the IZ will help him get his products into more stores. “I made a lot of connections at the Show,” he said. “Our products are now in 30 states and several countries, but I’d like to get into more archery pro shops. That’s why I’m here.”
Kirby Moore has a product geared toward small-game hunting. Photo Credit: ATA
Kirby Moore, creator of the “Slobberknocker” small-game hunting head, is making his third and final appearance in the IZ. His blunt hunting head is made of a hard urethane, and designed to fly like a field-point but hit like a sledgehammer. “There’s no coming back when a squirrel or rabbit gets hit with it,” Moore said. “It blows a hole through them the size of a 50-cent piece.”
Randy Koster, owner and creator of the Bowslinger from Innova Archery, used his hunting afield to create an adjustable, easily detachable sling for compounds and crossbows that makes for comfortable, convenient carrying.
This was his first time exhibiting in the IZ, and he’s glad he did. “I’ve received a lot of positive feedback, and I’ve had lots of stores coming over to check it out,” he said. “I’m considering going out on the Show’s main floor next year.”
Lindsey Klingbeil, who handles sales and marketing for the Burr Paw Sticker Remover, said the company is making its second appearance in the IZ. The Burr Paw quickly removes all sizes of burrs and stickers from gear, clothing and pets with one swipe. It’s also easy to clean and store after each use.
Klingbeil said the company hopes to expand its presence in retail shops and stores, where the Burr Paw’s qualities can be easily demonstrated. The Burr Paw drew enough interest from archery retailers this week to make Klingbeil consider moving to the Show’s main floor in 2021.
Erik Swanson, operations manager for Spencer Gear LLC offers hunters the Stand Guard Decoy, which is making its second IZ appearance. This “decoy” imitates a human outline, and easily mounts in treestands. Its purpose is to get deer accustomed to the shape so they aren’t alarmed when a hunter eventually sits there.
This is Swanson’s second appearance in the IZ. He said retailers have shown enough interest to justify returning. “You can’t just show up once and expect everyone to notice,” he said. “We plan to come back next year to see if we can get the orders needed to keep going.”