USA Archery – the governing body of U.S. Olympic teams – experienced a 77 percent membership surge the past 12 months, which is good news for the archery industry and the Archery Trade Association.
In addition, the new Explore Archery program – a joint effort between USA Archery and the ATA – is poised to ignite even more growth within the archery industry. Explore Archery further expands ATA outreach programs such as Archery360.com, Explore Bowhunting, Explore Bowfishing and Release Your Wild.
Here, USA Archery CEO Denise Parker explains the flood of interest in USA Archery, the sport and more.
How does USA Archery’s growth relate to ATA members?
Denise Parker: It’s important to the archery industry to have a strong membership organization that provides events, forms teams, provides competitions and captures interest, all of which feed into local archery shops.
Q: How has USA Archery changed in recent years?
DP: USA Archery has grown tremendously from just over 3,000 individual members in 2008 to 12,700 individual members now. I’ve never known USA Archery to have that many members. A lot of changes have taken place, which are sometimes difficult for members to understand. But I’m confident we’re promoting archery in a quality way. We share Jay McAninch’s (ATA’s CEO/president) vision of making archery a mainstream sport that’s presented like other sports programs.
Starting in 2008, USA Archery went through a major transformation. The Board of Directors was restructured and every bylaw, policy and program was reviewed. I was hired around that time, and found that ATA, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Easton Foundation played instrumental roles in revitalizing our programs.
In 2011, I spoke with Jay McAninch and Greg Easton (president of Easton Technical Products Inc.) about how our industry needed a next step for new archers. Everyone at ATA has recognized a need within the industry, and they were excited about developing grassroots archery programs. USA Archery was poised to become the membership-based organization that would excite and educate new archers.
In 2012, USA Archery began building programs and a staff, and we hired Mary Emmons as director of outreach. ATA provided funding, and Emily Beach – ATA’s manager of education and curriculum development – helped develop Explore Archery, our introductory program. It is active now, and materials for our revamped certification program will be available by the end of 2014.
Why has archery interest boomed?
DP: Archery resonates as a sport and on a social level. People want to shoot archery, wear archery jewelry, watch archers on TV, and talk to other archers on social media. It’s an exciting and engaging sport.
USA Archery hasn’t created the surge of archery coverage on TV and in movies, and media alone haven’t generated interest. During the past decade, the combined efforts of USA Archery, ATA, the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), state agencies and other partners positioned the industry to accept and foster growth.
That surge in interest could have easily died down when there were no opportunities for people to hold a bow and try the sport. Because ATA has focused on building community archery parks, and other partners have worked to provide classes, new archers now have ways to continue learning about the sport and improving their skills.
USA Archery is celebrating its 135th anniversary in 2014. Why is this significant?
DP: It’s rare to find organizations that have been around so long. Sports come and go in popularity, but archery is unique in that it continually reinvents itself. It’s a testament to how much people enjoy archery that it’s still around and thriving.
For more information, visit: http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Archery/Archers/Explore-Archery/Getting-Started.