Grow archery

Could Recreational Archery Programs Help Boost Your Business?

Bowhunting is seasonal, but recreational archery programs can be run year-round. It's profit waiting to happen.
Photo Credit: Scopeshq.com.

Author: Cassie Scott

Recreational archery is truly about having fun, being challenged, and participating in a year-round sport. As a retailer, have you considered creating a recreational archery program at your shop? Now is the time! By reaching out to those who want to shoot, but don’t necessarily want to hunt, you can diversify your business, boost equipment sales and increase in-store traffic.

“Recreational archery programs will make your business more profitable,” said Teresa Johnson, ATA’s senior director of communications and administration, who spent four years as the programs director at Hall’s Arrow Inc. in Manchester, Connecticut. “Bowhunting is seasonal, but recreational archery programs can be run year-round, indoors and outside, and focus on field, target and 3-D archery. These kinds of programs can increase your profit on leagues, competitions, class fees, archery ranges, equipment sales, equipment upgrades, and private and group lessons. It’s profit waiting to happen.”

Recreational archery is the latest arrow-slinging craze. A Responsive Management study found that 9.9 percent of Americans 18 and older shot archery sports in 2015. That’s 23.8 million Americans! Of the 9.9 percent, 6.5 percent shot archery only, with 2.3 percent doing both bowhunting and archery. That means most archery participants shoot just for fun. Photo Credit: Bob Magnusen.

Cade White, owner of Alabama Archery Academy, got it right in the recent ATA Members Speak article about what’s happening in retail now. He’s only 21 but has keen business sense when it comes to the archery trade. “The industry needs to push the recreational part of archery just as much as they do bowhunting,” White said.

Why? The industry prospers when retailers expand outside of their hunting customer base. By promoting recreational archery, you:

1. Increase your opportunities for year-round sales.

2. Introduce more people to the sport and expand your customer base.

3. Give people the chance to compete in a life-long sport.

4. Give bowhunters the chance to practice shooting during the off-season.

And we can’t forget the numbers. Recreational archery is the latest arrow-slinging craze. A Responsive Management study found that 9.9 percent of Americans 18 and older shot archery sports in 2015. That’s 23.8 million Americans! And of that 9.9 percent, 6.5 percent shot archery only, 1.2 percent hunted with a bow exclusively and 2.3 percent did both. That means most archery participants shoot just for fun. If you’re not targeting recreational archers, you’re probably missing the mark.

By reaching out to those who want to shoot, but don’t necessarily want to hunt, you can diversify your business, boost equipment sales and increase in-store traffic. Photo Credit: Lancaster Archery Academy.

White started his business as an Academy, but expanded to a full-line retail archery shop that tailors to bowhunters and recreational archers. He said the decision to market to both audiences has paid off, because the seasons offset each other.

“Our youth program and recreational archers keep us busy during the bowhunting off-season, and when that traffic dies down during summer, the bowhunting traffic picks up,” White said. “It works out well for us.”

While we know bowhunting is critical to our industry, recreational archery provides a social advantage that expands opportunities for your shop and the community.

Imagine this scenario: An adult customer, Allen, signs up for your “Archery 101” class online. He comes in, meets your certified archery instructor, has a positive experience and later joins your shooting league. After a few weeks, he talks to his friends and provides referral business.

One of his friends, Kim, admired Katniss on “The Hunger Games” and signs up immediately. She likes the activity so much she now brings her husband, Tony. After hiring a sitter for a week, they notice your business has classes and programs tailored to children. She signs up her son and daughter, and archery quickly becomes a weekly family affair. They enjoy the camaraderie of the sport and spending time with family and friends.

If you are interested in getting a recreational archery program off the ground, the ATA has created a four-step plan to get started. It also offers free programs to ATA members, such as Explore Archery, Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing. Photo Credit: Wilderness Archery.

Then, Kim and Tony decide they’d like to shoot archery on the weekends to improve their skills. With your help, they purchase personal equipment from your shop. As they improve, they’re busting nocks and going through targets like hot cakes. They stop by often to replace equipment and buy additional targets. One day they buy a setup for their nephew’s birthday. After a year, they ask to upgrade their gear and explain they’d like to start bowhunting.

How does that sound? Do you envision the wear and tear on your cash register from this and similar scenarios?

If you are interested in getting a recreational archery program off the ground, the ATA has created a four-step plan to get started. It also offers free programs to ATA members, such as Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing.

Stay tuned for more information in Part II of the “Creating Recreational Archery Programs” article, as Jennifer Mazur, ATA’s director of archery and bowhunting programs, and Kurt Smith, ATA’s senior manager of retail programs, offer additional tips and advice on how to create a successful (and fun) recreational archery program.

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