Author: Cassie Gasaway
Ask yourself: Do you want to grow participation numbers? Do you want your business to flourish? Do you want others to love archery and bowhunting as much as you? Do you want to see the bow-and-arrow tradition live on?
You probably do, and so does every other person and company in the archery and bowhunting industry. It’s easy to get so caught up in your day-to-day tasks that you forget about the big picture: We’re all working toward the same goals.
“When business is bad, you’re worried business is bad,” said Jeff Adee, president of Headhunter Bow Strings Inc. and vice chair of the ATA board of directors. “When business is good, you’re worried about keeping up and keeping your customers happy. It’s always easy to be exceptionally busy in the business world and forget to step back and care about those things that you value in life.
“The number of hunters has decreased or flatlined until recently,” he said. “I’m worried about elk, deer, habitat, conservation. If we’re not creating more hunters going forward, there will be less dollars generated through license sales and federal excise tax funds. That’s less money available to those people (DNR folks, biologists, etc.) who take care of the parts of the world that I like, which is the woods, water and critters.”
Jeff Adee coaches the Milton High School archery team. They practice at Hunt-N-Gear LLC. Photo Credit: Jeff Adee
That’s why Adee encourages all ATA members to collaborate on projects and efforts.
“It’s like the saying ‘rising water lifts all boats,’” Adee said. “If we’re all doing what we can to grow the industry, we’re all going to benefit from it, but you can accomplish more by working together. Everyone in our industry is so passionate and we all have a passion for the same thing. That passion makes it easy to connect and collaborate with people.”
Adee said there are many groups and organizations in the outdoor industry that ATA members can easily pair with and support. Retailers, manufacturers, conservation organizations, distributors, press members, state wildlife agencies, parks and recreation groups and others are all good candidates. Simply look in your surrounding area and start connecting.
Headhunter Bow Strings is in Milton, Wisconsin, and Rinehart Targets is in Janesville, Wisconsin, about 10 minutes away. That’s what prompted Adee to speak with James McGovern, of Rinehart, about creating a community archery range. The idea is in its infant stages, but Adee is excited about the potential and the effect it would have on the area and industry.
Adee also created and coaches an archery team at the Milton High School. He went through the principal and school board and learned about athletic codes, parental permissions and club requirements to make his idea a reality. His team follows the Scholastic 3D Archery model and practices at the local archery pro shop, Hunt-N-Gear LLC. He’s working on creating three other teams at school systems in the surrounding area. He hopes the teams will be able to compete against one another. Adee is also talking with other archery and bowhunting companies in Wisconsin to see if they can replicate the effort in other parts of the state.
As a business owner, doing things outside of your normal daily tasks shows you care about the industry and sets a good example for your employees. It also improves the community and likely creates opportunities for individuals to get involved.
Get creative as you start conversations about working together. You might be surprised by where the collaboration takes you, but the biggest thing is to start.
“Don’t be afraid to knock on the door and walk in, or make a blind phone call,” Adee said. “In the beginning you might not even know what it is you’ll work on, but if you come in and you’re genuine and open, people will pick up on that and they’ll be more willing to share or entertain your ideas.”
Lancaster Archery had a booth at a Barnstormers baseball game. Photo Credit: Lancaster Archery
Sample collaborative efforts include:
- Co-marketing efforts.
- Mentoring new hunters.
- Creating fun, promotional archery videos.
- Hosting a Saturday “battle of the towns” archery tournament.
- Hosting a booth at a local fair or market.
- Cleaning up a local community archery range.
- Teaching educational classes about products, hunting strategies or shooting tips.
Adee said the biggest challenge industry members will face when attempting to collaborate is finding time and energy. However, he said, it’s imperative that you do.
“We’re all working 60 hours a week and I’m forcing myself to go for three hours, once a week to coach my archery teams,” he said. “It reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing (for my business). It’s fun to see kids of all shapes and sizes pick up archery and have a blast. It’s great for them, but I forgot how good it is for me to be exposed to that. It’s invigorating and it gives me a reason to keep going.”
Find something you’re passionate about, and then collaborate with another person or business that’s equally passionate. Doing that will help your business and the archery industry — and you’ll find that it helps you, too.