Author: Cassie Gasaway
If you want to attract new customers and boost your profits, consider adding target archery to your business.
Ronnie and Caira Aldridge of Richmond, Kentucky, opened In-Range Archery in 2013 as a small store with a 20-yard indoor range. They started with target archery, and added Scholastic 3D Archery in 2013 and the National Archery in the Schools program in 2014. They quickly received their S3DA certification and their Basic Archery Instructor certification through NASP. Those offerings brought many children and families to their shop.
Ronnie Aldridge said the area’s growing love for archery encouraged them to expand their range and offerings.
“Our community and surrounding communities showed up in a big way to push our decision to expand the retail shop and range,” Aldridge said. The Aldridges built a 9,000-square-foot, 50-yard indoor range in late 2014 to host leagues, tournaments, indoor spot shoots, 3D competitions, and Archery Shooters Association qualifiers. More adults got involved and their customer base grew.
They joined the National Field Archery Association in 2019, and recently added a Junior Olympics Archery Development club to give youngsters more opportunities and better chances of meeting college recruiters.
Aldridge said focusing on target archery allows In-Range Archery to welcome all archers. They cater to pros, beginners, hunters, recurve archers, traditional archers, and anyone else desiring to shoot bows.
Nicole Nash, ATA’s range and retail program manager, said the great thing about target archery is that it provides opportunities for everyone.
“Bowhunters can do target archery to expand their skills and season,” she said. “Likewise, if someone doesn’t want to bowhunt, they can do target archery at whatever capacity they choose, including recreationally, competitively, or in a club or league. Target archery creates a well-rounded archery home.”
Aldridge said the most difficult part of expanding the shop and adding target archery was balancing the extra paperwork, scheduling and new participants while satisfying all customers. He said the transition was worth it because target archery increases revenues, and enhances people’s lives.
“There’s so much more to this sport than shooting a bow,” Aldridge said. “We’ve seen the love of archery unite people; create lifelong friendships; improve someone’s focus, discipline, confidence, patience and coordination; and help people relax, and set and accomplish goals.”
Can you follow the Aldridges’ path to target archery? Start with these five steps:
Step 1: Conduct a Market Analysis
Nash said retailers should conduct a market analysis to determine if their area needs a target-archery program. This analysis assesses the market by gathering information on current and potential customers and competitors; and analyzing data on buying patterns, family incomes, and business information. This analysis lets you see what the market has and what it needs to fill gaps. It also helps identify potential business challenges and realistic expectations if you take the next step.
Contact the state coordinator for target-archery organizations like ASA, S3DA, NFAA and USA Archery to discuss your location and nearby competitors.
Nash said these conversations can help you figure out if your community can support target archery. Such talks also give you a feel for each organization’s goals. The representatives will help analyze your surroundings to identify nearby clubs and offerings, and determine if your community needs their organization’s help. If so, they can help create sustainable programs.
Gauge interest in your community by posting polls on Facebook and talking to current customers. Photo Credit: In-Range Archery
Step 2: Consult Your Customers and Community
Once you connect with those organizations, try connecting with current and potential customers. Will a new target-archery program help your community? Can it create after-school activities? Could it generate newcomers and increase income for nearby businesses or restaurants? Start by contacting current customers, and asking what archery-program enhancements they want. Get your staff’s input, too.
Also try to collect comprehensive data about your community’s demographics, and residents’ desires and thoughts on target archery. Ask your customers if target archery interests them. Put out feelers and conduct surveys in your community and nearby communities. You could also conduct a Facebook poll.
Nash suggests working with a marketing agency if you lack the time or expertise. Good research helps you make good business decisions, so don’t skip this step.
Step 3: Choose Your Route
After analyzing your findings, you’ll have two options:
-> Route A: If the market has potential, your community is interested, and your staff agrees it’s a good move, move to Step 4. But if you sense hesitation, conduct follow-up research. Ask those representatives of target-archery organizations more questions. Resolve your concerns or learn how to address them before taking Step 4.
-> Route B: If you find your market saturated, or your customers lack interest in target archery, or you lack the time or resources for target archery, accept it. If you explored your options and the possibilities, your conscience should be clear. But don’t shut the door and lock it. Revisit the process in a year or two, and restart at Step 1. Time can change desires and situations.
If your community has the need, consider joining ASA and hosting qualifiers like the one pictured above. Photo Credit: In-Range Archery
Step 4: Evaluate Your Options
Once you commit to the idea, commit to a path. Determine what type of target archery you’ll offer. Consider your research and all your options, including 3D, field archery, recreational archery, indoor archery, and outdoor archery. The styles you choose will influence whether you join ASA, NFAA, S3DA or USA Archery. After narrowing your options, poll customers to learn their preferences. Talk to the organizations to discuss the details of your commitment, including fees, certifications and requirements. Understand their expectations, and how you’ll work together to determine the best fit for your business.
You can start with one organization or program, and grow over time as the Aldridges did. If your community needs a JOAD club, start there. You might find your shop also needs ASA or NFAA. You don’t need to join all the organizations immediately, and you don’t need to stick with the one you first picked. Grow and adapt as you go.
Step 5: Go for it or Talk it Over
If you feel confident about the decision, go for it! Create a dynamic team from your staff, organization representatives, and volunteer customers to create and execute a plan. Identify someone to handle logistics. Create goals and a plan to launch and run the program. Ensure the plan has small, specific tasks; not large, broad ideas.
If you need advice or someone to discuss your plans or indecision, we can help.
“This is my job. This is what I love to do,” Nash said. “Call and ask me questions. I can also help you get started. That’s the benefit to having an ATA membership. You have access to ATA staff and resources. We’re on your side. We’ll help you with whatever you need.”
Contact Nash at email@example.com or (866) 266-2776, ext. 116, for more information.