2020 ATA Show Recap

New programs from the Archery Trade Association and new archery products gave the 2020 ATA Show a positive vibe.

2020 ATA Show Recap

T.R.U. Ball/Axcel was awarded the prestigious 2020 ATA Impact Award.

The largest and most inclusive show in the world of archery, the annual Archery Trade Association Show, is a candy store for the stick-and-string masses. What makes the show so special? Nowhere else, for a period of three days, can manufacturers, retailers and media assemble under one roof and chew the archery fat.

This year, that roof was the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the dates were January 9-11, 2020. For the first time in the show’s storied tenure, media presence was denied on the show’s first day. Driven by the desire to promote commerce within the archery and bowhunting industry, the ATA wanted to provide a day for retailers to visit manufacturers with limited interruptions. How did that work? After visiting with multiple manufacturers, I can testify to the fact that the jury was split. While many manufacturers loved the idea, others were a tad bummed with the one-day media suspension.

“It’s such a great event,” said one manufacturer. “While our primary purpose is to meet with our dealers, we love having bloggers, magazine writers and the like pushing our upcoming products out to the public.”

“It was a bit refreshing,” said another. “We love working with the media, but over the years we’ve seen the event turn more into a media event than a buying show. We want to work with our customers, and we want to devote our time to preparing them for the upcoming selling season.”

Though the reasons people attend the ATA Show are many, manufacturers appreciate it from a selling and relationship standpoint.

“We love getting the chance to sit down and talk with our dealers face to face,” said QAD’s Kevin Fry. “They can sit down in our booth and get the rundown on new products. They can make their order for the year while they’re at the booth. Plus, it gives us a chance to develop new relationships with those new to the retail world. We want to get our products out in front of them, develop a relationship and foster that relationship.”

Of course, dealers love the show for the same reasons, and they enjoy getting a hands-on look at the new products.

“Yes, we see a lot of this stuff online before the show,” said one Missouri shop owner. “However, there are typically some launches that happen at the show, and we don’t want to miss those. It’s great catching up with the manufacturers and seeing what’s new. We also really love the shooting lanes. I want to shoot the bows I plan to bring into my shop.”

In typical ATA fashion, there was no shortage of goings-on at the show. Annual events such as the A.R.R.O Hot Show, NABA Super Show, Outtech Innovations XXII, Badlands Film Festival and Target The Heart Breakfast, to name a few, were a hit. Also creating some serious cheers were ATA’s Coffee Talk, the Best In Show Awards and a very well attended workshop on social media.

The New Product Launch was appreciated by show goers and created a daily buzz.
The New Product Launch was appreciated by show goers and created a daily buzz.

When it comes to product innovation and archery trends, several grabbed the attention of show attendees. While bow design continues to change and improve, the big story this year was centered on a single theme: Adjustability. I’ve never seen so many vertical bow manufacturers offer adjustable-without-a-bow-press cam systems. Dealers were thrilled. When the draw length of a bow can be altered without a bow press, customer setup is quick and easy. The dealer doesn’t have to worry about carrying a number of cam-specific bow models or various cams that need to be switched out. Things get simplified. Of course, a number of new horizontal bows that shoot faster, further and more accurate than ever before excited the crowds. 

Another room rumble was created by Hoyt’s addition of the Integrate Mounting System to its 2020 flagship models. In 2019, this system was announced in a partnership between drop-away rest kingpin QAD and Mathews Archery. In short, for the first time in archery’s history, the Berger hole located on the bow’s riser can be eliminated. The Integrate Mounting System, via a dovetail on the riser’s face and not the side, accepts the double-lock mount of QAD’s Integrate MX rest. This system prevents unwanted rest movement, ensures precise leveling/tuning and cuts down on overall rest weight.

PSE dropped a bomb when the company announced the launch of its John Dudley Bow Series. Dudley, a champion archer and longtime outdoor television personality renowned for his bow-tuning wisdom and incredible shooting, noted the switch (from his previous company, Hoyt) came after spending time with PSE founder Pete Shepley and his wife, Laura. Dudley mentioned Shepley’s passion for wanting to grow archery and get young people involved in the sport for his reason to leave Hoyt and join PSE. Dudley noted Shepley’s passion and energy for archery were contagious.

Another announcement that was inspiring and hard to ignore came from the Scent Crusher booth when longtime outdoor television personalities Mark and Terry Drury, after 30 years of filming hunts, gave away a farm. Yes, you read that correctly. This pair of whitetail gurus, as a thank-you to their faithful following, gave away a manicured-with-food-plots 60-acre northern Missouri property. The booth was abuzz with life as members of Team Drury as well as those from the Scent Crusher crew tossed prizes and the like to the cheering crowd.

ATA’s Coffee Talk allows presenters to create a discussion around a certain topic. Attendees are then encouraged to participate in the discussion.
ATA’s Coffee Talk allows presenters to create a discussion around a certain topic. Attendees are then encouraged to participate in the discussion.

After visiting with a number of manufacturers, dealers and media personnel, the general consensus of the 2020 ATA vibe was a positive one.

“I thought it was great,” said a Georgia pro shop owner. “The last couple of years, the vibe was very doom and gloom. I didn’t feel that this year, and that was refreshing. We have such a great industry, and while it may not be as strong as it once was, we can’t get negative.”

“I’m not sure about the attendance,” said the Pope & Young Club’s Rick Mowery. “The aisles weren’t very crowded, but I thought the overall mood of the show was very upbeat. People were having a great time, and that was awesome to see. The sport of archery and bowhunting has such a rich heritage, and we need organizations committed to maintaining and promoting that heritage.”

“It was good,” said Badlands’ Blake VanTussenbrook. “Dealers were upbeat and were writing orders. Our all-new Pyre line of cold-weather gear was very well received. I was really happy with the overall vibe of the show.”

According to ATA’s Maria Lewis, overall attendance for the 2020 show pushed the counter over the 8,500 mark, and that number included individuals from more than 31 countries.

“We introduced many new features at the 2020 ATA Show,” Lewis said. “It seemed that every one of those new features were well-received.”

“We had a buyer-only day,” Lewis continued. “On day one of the show, only retailers and exhibitors/sales reps were allowed on the show floor. This was done so each could focus on uninterrupted order writing, business planning and new product evaluations. Other events like the Best In Show Awards, New Product Launch Showcase, ATA Happy Hour, Social Media Workshop and on-the-show-floor manufacturer product demonstrations were also favored by show goers.”

One particular event, Connections: An ATA Happy Hour, provided a $5,000-per-day cash giveaway to retailers who wrote $5,000 in orders. The event was no doubt a great idea, and retailers seemed very satisfied with it.

For more information about the 2021 ATA Show or to become a certified ATA Member, visit www.archerytrade.org.

A shooter takes aim at the fun and entertaining Marky Sparky booth.
A shooter takes aim at the fun and entertaining Marky Sparky booth.

About the Author

Jace Bauserman is a former magazine editor and well-known freelance writer in the outdoor space. Bauserman lives in Colorado with his wife, Amy, and their three children, Hunter, Abbey and Brody. To date, Bauserman has hunted 16 different states along with a pair of Canadian provinces.

Photos courtesy of Archery Trade Association


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