New Ulm, Minn. — The Archery Trade Association is partnering with the National Rifle Association to help promote archery and bowhunting in February during the NRA’s new Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa.
This nine-day event – scheduled for Feb. 1-9 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center – replaces the former Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show, which shut down earlier this year after its owner, Reed Exhibitions, sparked a boycott by banning AR-style rifles and high-capacity magazines at the event.
The NRA announced in April that it was launching its own show to fill that void. The NRA has more than 140 years of experience producing large shows, including its annual meetings and exhibits. It also exhibited at Harrisburg more than 30 years ago.
The NRA decided to resurrect the Harrisburg event after hearing from many exhibitors and NRA members who were concerned about the show’s lost economic impact on the region. About 900,000 of the NRA’s nearly 5 million members live within 300 miles of Harrisburg.
Therefore, the NRA’s decision to relaunch the event as the Great American Outdoor Show was unanimous. Soon after, it contacted the ATA to help boost show participation by archers, bowhunters and archery manufacturers. In turn, the NRA will invest show proceeds into archery, bowhunting and shooting programs across and near Pennsylvania.
Jeff Poole, managing director of the NRA’s shows and exhibits division, said the NRA-ATA alliance allows the show to expand the archery and bowhunting hall as well as add shooting lanes and an all new archery range. ATA-member manufacturers can rent exhibit space in the Archery Hall, and attendees will be able to shoot bows and arrows on nearby shooting lanes, some solely dedicated to youth and new shooters.
The show is expected to feature more than 1,000 vendors. Jay McAninch, the ATA’s CEO and president, hopes many of them will be ATA-member manufacturers and retailers. McAninch said the Great American Outdoor Show is a great way for the archery industry to show its products and share its programs with the roughly 200,000 outdoors enthusiasts who attend the Harrisburg event annually.
“This is a great opportunity for ATA members to grow our sports while promoting their brands and products to a strong group of Eastern hunters and shooters,” McAninch said. “Whether they’re manufacturers or retailers, our members now have another great way to reach customers directly. For its part, the NRA will promote even more youth archery and shooting programs in Pennsylvania and surrounding regions. Partnerships like these are solid, substantial investments in our sports’ future.”
Poole said the NRA will maintain the show’s commitment to boating, fishing, recreational vehicles, outdoor products and hunting/fishing outfitters. But because the NRA considers archery a vital shooting sport, and realizes its own expertise lies with firearms, it only made sense to align with ATA.
“When the NRA talks about the shooting sports, we include all shooting sports; not just firearms,” Poole said. “We have the same attitude about hunting. The NRA is the world’s largest hunting club. We have a hunters’ services department and many hunter-related programs. That means we cross over into archery all the time. This alliance allows the NRA and ATA to work together so everyone benefits.”
Poole also believes many firearms owners are interested in learning more about archery. “The environment at a show like this is great for exhibitors,” he said. “Many future archery customers are already gun owners and firearms hunters. That's’ a market segment archery manufacturers can tap into, and there’s no better place to do that. Where else can you get firsthand access to 200,000 pre-qualified outdoor consumers?”
The Great American Outdoor Show will cover 650,000 square feet of exhibit space. Its schedule also features archery competitions, hunting seminars, concerts, demonstrations, fundraising dinners, speaking events and celebrity appearances.
For more information about the show, call (866) 343-1805 or visit www.greatamericanoutdoorshow.org.