Call it a mindset, a business plan or a blueprint for success. No matter what you call it, the Retail Archery Academy is opening doors to new opportunities for customers and archery shops alike.
Although the Archery Trade Association (ATA) didn’t create the Academy in response to archery’s increased popularity from "The Hunger Games," connecting the movies with the Academy attracts potential customers. You might think of the Academy as a business plan for recreational archery, or a full menu of techniques for increasing your income from recreational archery.
“Most archery retailers know the bowhunting business really well,” said Michelle Zeug, ATA director of archery and bowhunting programs. “However, most of them don’t know the recreational side really well.” The Academy is designed to educate retailers about recreational archery and help integrate it into their stores.
Think of recreational archery as a puzzle, with websites, classes, Daily Deal sites, merchandising and other marketing as pieces of that puzzle. The Academy helps retailers assemble those pieces into a strategic plan.
“It’s a mindset,” Zeug said. “We want to help retailers change how they think about their businesses. We still want to serve bowhunters and grow bowhunting, but we also want to bring in recreational archers.” Retailers are not pressured to adopt Academy practices in their stores. It’s a voluntary program for retailers who want to capture the recreational archery market.
The program was conceived at the June 2013 ATA Board of Directors meeting when Randy Phillips from Archery Headquarters in Chandler, Arizona, spoke about his store’s Archery Headquarters Academy.
“Randy created a recreational market in his store that generates significant income,” Zeug said. The ATA adopted Phillips’ concept and recruited six stores for a pilot project to develop what became the Retail Archery Academy. The pilot project ran from July 2013 until the end of the year.
“Now we’re creating webinars and other tools to expand the program,” Zeug said. “These are steps retailers can take to accommodate recreational shooters.” In other words, implementing Academy principles doesn’t necessarily require new staff, a new range or long shelves of inventory.
“If all you can do today is make a few changes to your website, that’s great,” Zeug said. “But if retailers want to do more, I’ll walk them through everything we’re working on so they can collect more pieces of the puzzle. Later, I follow up with them. This is a process. The six retailers I worked with initially are still trying new things.”
One of the most important things the program has achieved is getting retailers to consider new ways to approach the recreational side of their businesses.
“Retailers are generating income with this program,” Zeug said. “In some cases, adopting some of these ideas simply changes how retailers spend their time. One retailer delegated staff members to run his range so he can spend more time doing what he does best: sell equipment.”
Implementing the Academy is a unique experience for each retailer.
“No two retailers are alike,” Zeug said. “We have a whole series of ideas, and we present that series to each retailer to use in their own time and in their own steps. We help each retailer customize these ideas for their market.”
Jay McAninch, ATA CEO/president, said the Academy is one of the most important programs the ATA has ever launched for archery retailers.
“The archery business I’ve seen in my 15 years with ATA has been built on bowhunting,” McAninch said. “For almost all our retailers, bowhunting has been the driving factor in their businesses. Today, with the surging interest in archery, we have an opportunity for retailers to build their businesses around archery, which is different from bowhunting but still a great fit. It can be a year-round program and attract a variety of demographic groups, especially kids and young people. It also isn’t predicated on waiting to see what wildlife agencies will provide in terms of tags, licenses or hunting seasons, which are huge factors in Western states. It’s driven more by shooting than by product sales.”
All of this means new profit opportunities for retailers.
“One big change for many retailers is that they can finally make money on their shooting lanes instead of just having a costly space where customers try equipment before they go hunting,” McAninch said. “Now they can rent that space to give lessons and run programs that generate profits year-round.”
For more information, please see the Retail Archery Academy page.