Author: Cassie Scott
In Part 1 of ATA’s coverage on creating recreational archery programs, you likely realized adding a recreational archery component to your shop offers many benefits. If you’re on board, but aren’t exactly sure where to start, don’t worry.
ATA staff members Kurt Smith and Jennifer Mazur are here to offer tips and advice on what you need to begin, and what you’ll need to sustain a successful (and fun) recreational archery program. Let’s start!
ATA’s Archery Park Guide also offers guidelines for range setup, like establishing an area for spectators and clearly marking safety lines. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
If you have shooting lanes in your shop or an outdoor range, perfect! If not, check into using a community archery park or the range at a local shooting club. If you don’t have access to a range, don’t get discouraged. There are other ways your shop can increase profits.
Wherever you host your program, make sure the facility is clean and family friendly. Ensure you have a safe range by following these seven tips. ATA’s Archery Park Guide also offers guidelines for range setup, like establishing an area for spectators and clearly marking safety lines. You should also be sure participants know and understand range etiquette rules.
Listen to and Certify Staff
If you want the archery program to excel and grow, you need buy-in from your staff, said Kurt Smith, ATA’s senior manager of retail programs. Staff members should place as much value on recreational archery as they do on hunters and high-level target archers. They also should strive to serve customers and teach them to shoot properly, if you want a successful recreational archery program.
Consider hiring someone who can focus on the recreational side of your business, but can still interact and serve the needs of all customers. Ideally, all employees should know how to set up all bow types, including recurve, crossbow and compound. Look for someone who’s energetic, organized, responsible, familiar with archery and has good people skills. Those characteristics are important.
Collaborate with members of your staff and listen to their ideas when determining your program structure and prices. After listening to their ideas, invest in proper training. Getting staff certified to teach archery adds value to your retail shop and can help turn your business into a profit center. Check out “5 Reasons to Become a Certified Archery Instructor” by Jennifer Mazur, ATA’s director of archery and bowhunting programs. A certification helps your employees learn how to teach beginning archers proper form and techniques, and ensures positive early experiences with the sport.
Plus, an archery coach or certified instructor can become your best salesperson. Because students trust their teacher’s judgment, they’ll likely buy what their instructor recommends.
Determine Your Program and Prices
You’ll want to spend time playing with pricing that maximizes your program’s potential and makes money to offset program costs. Check what other local businesses charge for lessons and activities to ensure your price range is appropriate. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
This topic could fill an entire article on its own – in fact that story already exists. ATA’s four-step plan on how to offer archery programs and classes will walk you through instructor certification (mentioned above), how to teach a beginner archery program, how to select an archery program that matches your vision, and what options are available to you.
Mazur said it’s important to have a progressive plan, especially if your goal is to sell equipment. Customers need to move from an introductory archery class or event to a multi-week program.
You’ll want to spend time playing with pricing that maximizes your program’s potential and makes money to offset program costs. Check what other local businesses charge for lessons and activities to ensure your price range is appropriate. Note: People will pay more for higher level coaching or instruction. That’s another benefit of archery certifications!
Stock Your Inventory
Once you’ve established what your program will look like, you can decide what products you’d like to stock to complete a recreational archery section in your shop. There’s a fine balance between too much equipment and not enough, Smith said. Consider the size of your program and aim to have enough variety in your equipment to suit the needs of different types of archers.
Smith recommends offering bows in several sizes and styles, with different draw weights. Get arrows with the correct spine to compliment the bows you sell. Make sure you have the necessary components such as nocks, fletching and field points. And, don’t forget about targets. Recreational archers want targets for their backyard that are big and inexpensive. Provide several options to choose from, so participants don’t get bored shooting at the same thing.
Smith also suggests you listen to your customers, especially if you have a few “regulars.” Ask what equipment they’d like to see on the shelves or what products they’d never consider buying even if they’re available. This insight can help you cater to your customer’s needs.
Give Your Entire Shop Some TLC
All your inventory should be well-organized, clearly marked and displayed in appropriate places so customers see it. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
Customers will enter your shop and make their way to the range, but you don’t want them tripping over boxes or wincing at dusty shelves. If you want people to buy recreational archery equipment, it can’t appear to be an afterthought. All your inventory should be well-organized, clearly marked and displayed in appropriate places so customers see it. Don’t be afraid to dedicate some real estate to recreational archery products.
Merchandising comes into play here. Read ATA’s article on merchandising tips to up your shop-game and sell more of the products you’ve stocked.
Market Your Programs
Unfortunately, you can’t just create a recreational archery program and expect the masses to come. You also can’t rely on word-of-mouth advertising to attract potential customers. Take some time to create an advertising plan that promotes your new program.
Even if your budget is tight, you can find plenty of ways to advertise for free or a small fee. Add a page to your website and if possible, set up your website to allow customers to enroll online and pay through a secure provider. Make sure your webpage and recreational archery program include these four things.
Use social media to promote leagues, classes and competitions. Take photos on league nights, publish them on Facebook and encourage your customers to tag themselves and their friends. It doesn’t hurt to work with local media outlets or write a press release, either. Check out this how-to guide on working with the media by Teresa Johnson, ATA’s senior director of communication and administration, to get you started.
Marketing to millennials can produce a good number of participants, especially because millennials make up one-fourth of the total U.S. population, according to Forbes. Use these marketing tips to your advantage.
You can also partner with a local camp or parks-and-recreation program. Offer an introductory class at a nearby camp and hand out fliers for your next group class.
Make it Fun
Make sure your certified archery instructor is creating a safe, fun environment. Chances are, if your instructor loves archery and is energetic about the activity, their passion for it will be evident and radiate to participants. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
Don’t let people get bored shooting at the same thing week after week. Get creative and make archery exciting by changing up the class dynamic, using different targets or having participants shoot for prizes.
Make sure your certified archery instructor is creating a safe, fun environment. Chances are, if your instructor loves archery and is energetic about the activity, their passion for it will be evident and radiate to participants.
Leagues and tournaments are good ways to make recreational archery exciting. The events will engage participants in friendly competitions, especially if you provide options for different skill levels. Competition also motivates archers to keep practicing and improving.
Also consider hosting social events along with your classes and leagues to get people in your store, buying gear and shooting their bows. Some examples include end-of-season parties, holiday get-togethers, and watch parties for Olympic and World Cup events. If your merchandise and accessories are displayed well, you’ll benefit from point-of-sale purchases from all of that traffic, too. ATA’s article on how to host archery summer camps offers some transferable information for creating a successful recreational archery program.