Author: Jackie Holbrook
Summer. The season can’t arrive soon enough, but once it does it goes too fast. The summer months mark a busy season for archery retailers. Between hosting events and preparing for hunting season, your shop and schedule are full.
Summer is also the season for archery camps. Don’t let getting ready for your summer camp become a last-minute scramble. Prepare in advance to maximize success.
You may also find success hosting a topic-specific camp, such as bowhunting or bowfishing, or a discipline-specific camp, such as Olympic recurve or 3D. Photo Credit: ASA Cullman, AL.
Make a Plan
What kind of camps do you plan to host? Archery camps can serve a variety of audiences; Who will you target with your offerings? With school out of session, summer is the perfect time for a youth camp. But there’s a big difference between a camp for elementary school students and one for high-schoolers.
Also, don’t forget about the adults. Beginning archers may be interested in a summer camp-style learning experience. You may also find success hosting a topic-specific camp, such as bowhunting or bowfishing, or a discipline-specific camp, such as Olympic recurve or 3D. Nail down your audience for a strong start to your plan.
Summer plans fill up fast, so set your date and times as soon as possible to allow people to plan accordingly. Consider the dates of other popular camps in your area to avoid competition and maximize the number of campers. During these weeks, approach the other camps about a partnership to bring campers to your range for field trips.
If you’re hosting a youth camp, factor in convenient drop-off and pick-up times for working parents. Also, consider the camp timeframe. One-day camps are less time-intensive for everyone, but you will make more money and build a better foundation with a one-week camp. You can still operate extended camps if you don’t have the staff or time availability. For example, modify the timeframe by hosting a week-long, half-day camp.
Select an Instructor
As you finalize your summer archery camp schedule, line up qualified archery instructors. It will benefit both your shop and students to have certified instructors teach at camp. Certified archery instructors have the training and capabilities to lead with safety, confidence and skill.
If you’re hosting a camp covering topics like bowhunting or bowfishing, contact your state’s fish and wildlife agency to see if an expert can come to your camp. Local sportsmen’s groups, such as the National Wildlife Turkey Federation or Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, can provide a subject matter expert as well.
Explore Archery focuses on introducing beginners of all ages and abilities to the lifelong sport of archery. The program’s curriculum includes options for a one-day camp, one-week camp and six-week camp and includes 30 fun activities for learning archery. Photo Credit: mdc.mo.gov.
Once plans for the camp are in place, it’s time to develop camp curriculum. If you or someone teaching at your camp has at least a USA Archery Level 1 instructor certification, you have access to Explore Archery, an innovative educational program. Explore Archery focuses on introducing beginners of all ages and abilities to the lifelong sport of archery. The program’s curriculum includes options for a one-day camp, one-week camp and six-week camp and includes 30 fun activities for learning archery.
ATA members also have free access to Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing curriculum. Explore Bowhunting is a program designed to spark youth’s interest in bowhunting. The curriculum is perfect for camps. It provides hands-on experiences to help archers develop a passion for interacting with wildlife and the woods.
Exploring Bowfishing helps instructors and educators teach youths and beginners the basics of bowfishing. Participants learn about gear, fish species and the habits best suited for bowfishing.
People can’t register for your camp if they don’t know it’s happening. Promote your camp as many places as possible to reach your target audience. Advertise to both local customers and in locations that will attract new customers. In addition to your website and social media, consider an ad in a local paper. Post fliers in libraries, gyms, recreation centers and other places that have bulletin boards.
When marketing to new customers, make sure your promotional materials appeal to an audience that doesn’t know much about archery. Emphasizing the safety, inclusivity and fun of archery will help reach new audiences. Including information about safety will help ease any fears and answer questions parents may have.
ATA members also have free access to Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing curriculum. Explore Bowhunting is a program designed to spark youth’s interest in bowhunting. Photo Credit: ASA Cullman, AL.
We’ve been talking about planning ahead for your camps, but you also need to think about what happens afterward. The camp experience is designed to grow new archers, so don’t let the momentum stop once camp is over. Make sure your shop is stocked with the right archery equipment for campers who are ready to make a purchase.
If your camp is a success, you will have an audience of engaged and excited archers looking for the next opportunity to shoot at your shop. Be ready with your fall events and league schedule by the time camp starts. Inform parents about your plans for fall, winter and spring break camps; also remember any no-school days offer a good opportunity. Follow up with email or mailers with your campers to keep them up to date on what is happening in your shop.
To talk to other retail shops about their camps, join ATA Connect, a secure online platform designed to give retailers the opportunity engage with other retail shops.