Explore Bowhunting: Archery Hits Auburn University
Auburn University may be known as the home of a powerhouse SEC football team, but in July the university was transformed into a learning center for those interested in archery. The ATA and Alabama Division of Wildlife and Fisheries hosted an Explore Bowhunting workshop for teachers, instructors, retailers and anyone else who was interested in learning more about the program.
More than 70 people attended the Auburn University workshop and were introduced to the program. This was followed by a workshop in Indiana where more than 30 people attended. Each Explore Bowhunting program is an educational opportunity for young people, but it's also a marketing opportunity for local archery shops. By teaching the curriculum and/or building relationships with other Explore Bowhunting instructors, retailers and employees often become a valuable expert and equipment resource.
"Explore Bowhunting is such an integral part of what we refer to as the recruitment pathway," said Mitch King, ATA director of government relations. "We first introduce young people to archery through school archery programs and other introductory shooting programs, and then take advantage of that interest with Explore Bowhunting. It's the sort of tool we use to get kids excited about bowhunting, the outdoors and wildlife. It's a great way to help them bridge the gap between recreational shooting and bowhunting. If we just introduce them to shooting, it's certainly a positive step, but it leaves them hanging halfway across the river, so to speak. With Explore Bowhunting, we're bridging that gap and helping them all the way across the river."
So far, Explore Bowhunting has been implemented by eight states across the nation and offers participants the opportunity to learn about bowhunting. And for some retailers, the Explore Bowhunting program has been coupled with increased sales.
In Alabama, for instance, archery equipment sales jumped 83 percent for one ATA member-retailer in Cullman, Ala., one year after ATA worked with city administrators and the state's wildlife agency to open a community archery park near an archery shop. And just last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a resolution that federal excise tax money can be used to fund Explore Bowhunting through the Pitman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.
"Explore Bowhunting helps maintain the tradition of bowhunting in general," King said. "Through a survey, we found that roughly 60 percent of kids involved in NASP said they were interested in bowhunting. And in a 2007 member survey, the members said the second most important thing they wanted the ATA to do was grow archery and bowhunting. That's what we're attempting to do through programs that introduce them to shooting and bowhunting."
Explore Bowhunting is an educational program designed to help instructors, program leaders and educators teach students 11-17 years old the basic skills of bowhunting. The ATA created the program to spark an interest and passion for bowhunting in today's youth and it's a great next step to further the passion kids gain through school and other shooting programs. Through these hands-on experiences students gain confidence interacting with the natural environment and strengthen their appreciation for wildlife and the woods.
To read more about the ATA and how it's community archery strategy, including Explore Bowhunting, have boosted sales in Alabama archery shops, download a 2011 ArrowTrade column here.
Did You Know?
The ATA estimates that as of 2004, 36 percent of archery sales were for bows, $192 million; for arrows, $100 million for arrows, $88 million for accessories, $37 million for crossbows and $35 million for broad heads.