We spoke with retailers from across the country to find out what archery products had them excited this year. Here’s what they said. (Click here to read the first installment of this two-part series.)
Hole ‘N’ the Hide Outfitters is a small, two-employee archery shop that operates in a 1,600-square-foot building in Oxford, Mississippi, a city with an approximate 23,000 population. Hoyt is the shop’s sole bow line. The small-shop atmosphere allows owner Ronnie Cannon to be more personable and spend more time with his customers to ensure their satisfaction. Cannon himself is a bowhunter, and he has approximately 20 years of experience in archery retail.
“We no more than returned from the 2018 ATA Show when we got bombarded with questions regarding the new Garmin Xero A1i bow sight. Our customers have been asking, ‘Did you see it?’ and ‘What’s it all about?’ We’re getting lots of questions. Its futuristic appearance and the integrated rangefinder are a big deal; it’s virtually a single-pin sight that automatically adjusts itself for yardage at full draw. There’s nothing else like it on the market.
“Most high-end bow sights are $300-400, but the Garmin is several hundred dollars higher, so the price will definitely be an objection for some customers, although what’s a few hundred dollars when customers are already spending $1,000 or more on a bow alone? We’re a bow-only shop, though, so guys aren’t dropping thousands on firearms here. Our high-end customers come here to buy the best archery equipment they can, so the price probably won’t hinder those folks from buying the Xero A1i.
“We’re obviously planning to stock the Xero A1i, but we’re currently jumping through the hoops to get approved by Garmin. I hope we get to bring the sight in, because it has already generated so much interest, and the interest will snowball if/when we get a display model in the store. That will allow us to physically show customers how it works, which will help us sell it.
“The Hoyt Carbon RX-1 also made a big splash. Of course, that bow was launched well before ATA, but customer interest in that bow hasn’t fizzled yet.
“Another standout product is the QuietKat electric bike. It’s a game changer for hunters who like to travel light and cover some ground quickly. It lets the user travel deeper on public hunting land (where legal) to get away from hunting pressure, but it’s also a good tool for hunting private property. As the name implies, it’s super-quiet. We have one on display here at the shop, and it gets a lot of attention, and moves our customers to ask questions about it. It’s an expensive toy, but it’s a good toy.”
Tom “Big Bird” Ciak
Tom “Big Bird” Ciak of Big Bird’s Bait & Bows hasn’t missed an ATA Show yet. In fact, he’s been attending since the late 1990s when it was still called the AMO Show. Ciak is currently battling cancer, so his focus was a little different than usual during the 2018 ATA Show. It was less on product and more on visiting with old friends. Over his tenure as a pro-shop owner, Ciak has made tons of friends in the archery industry, and he annually helps a manufacturer or two set up their booths.
“As I deal with this cancer and the uncertainty of the future, I decided to order lighter than usual at the ATA Show this year. I focused heavily on catching up with old friends. However, I did see several products I think are worth noting.
“The folks at Vanguard are good friends, and they launched the VEO 2 AM-234TU Shooting Stick this year. It’s a lightweight, yet sturdy telescoping monopod compatible with both crossbows and firearms, but by removing the U-yoke, it can be used with cameras or spotting scopes, too. It’s very versatile. I ordered a number of those.
“Victory Archery’s new XTORSION arrow shaft also stood out. It’s designed to compete with the other carbon/metal arrows that have long been on the market. However, it incorporates a slightly different construction than traditional carbon/aluminum shafts. Layers of stainless-steel mesh encompassed by high-modulus carbon fiber create an arrow that maintains its straightness over a longer period of time than conventional carbon/aluminum shafts. I’ve always sold lots of Victory arrows at my shop, and this one should sell extremely well.
“I’m always interested in Barronett Blinds. They build bigger blinds at affordable prices. The Ox 5 was a popular blind last year, but the new Ox 4 is a little smaller to accommodate the average-sized bowhunter. It has a good window system and sets up easily. Great blind.
“I did spend some time in the Innovation Zone, and the TreeStand Wingman jumped out at me. It’s an emergency-descender system that works with any TMA-approved harness. It has a fully adjustable fall speed that lowers you safely to the ground if you happen to fall out of your treestand.
“To conclude, I can’t thank the industry folks enough who have prayed for me and spoken kind words during this most difficult time as I go through cancer. I’m so amazed with how tight-knit this industry really is.”
Greenville, North Carolina
Greenville Marine Outdoor Shop operates in an approximately 6,000-square-foot building. The store recently suffered from a previous bow technician who hurt the archery department’s reputation. Bow technician Jonathan Heath has plans to start some leagues in the future, but for now, the focus is to re-establish customer trust and loyalty. Heath wants to see the archery department succeed.
“This was my first year attending the ATA show, and my main goal was to learn as much as possible. I met all the sales reps I could, and also looked at lots of products.
“We have a lot of turkey hunters in our area, so the new Double Bull SurroundView blinds should be a hot seller. In my eyes, that was probably the most outstanding product I saw at the Show. It’s night and day compared to other blinds. The worst thing about standard ground blinds is that you feel like you’re in a box. It can be challenging to see game approaching. With the SurroundView 360, there are no blind spots.
“The next standout product at the Show were the new Garmin sights. I’d really like to put one on my bow and try it for a year to see how it performs in real-world hunting conditions. It’s definitely a unique sight with the rangefinding capabilities.
“Hoyt revamped their carbon bows, and I’m very pleased with the Carbon RX-1. It’s a little pricey, but it’ll definitely sell for us. I feel that Hoyt made the biggest jump in bow technology this year. The Elite Ritual also seems very nice. I don’t see a monumental technology leap from last year’s Elite line, but the Ritual does have a newer look, and it shoots well.
“On outdoor TV, most of the celebrities are now hunting from enclosed, hard-sided blinds. It can be an advantage because you can be more flexible on wind direction and hunt places where there isn’t a good tree for a stand. However, 90 percent of hunters can’t afford to buy one $4,000 blind, let alone several, for their hunting property. Hawk Hunting introduced the new BattleBox (see video below). It’s classified as a hybrid blind. It only weighs 50 pounds and folds down for easy transportation. And, I can sell it to our customers for $399 MSRP. It seems legit, and I’m bringing some of those into the store.”