Each year the Archery Trade Association (ATA) takes the temperature of the archery and bowhunting industry at its annual trade show, held this year January 10-12. It’s an opportunity for the trade group to actually talk to industry leaders, face-to-face, during the only time of year when so many influencers are gathered under one roof.
This year, not only did ATA members weigh in on the value of the show itself, but some offered their viewpoints on crossbows and how they’ve impacted the bowhunting community and industry. Here’s an excerpt:
Tryin’ Hard Outdoors, Retailer
Just walking around the Show, I noticed crossbows are coming on strong. It’s the wave of the future. I doubt the vertical bow will go away, but if you ignore the crossbow numbers, you are going to lose because there are an astronomical number of hunters picking them up. But, the crossbow market isn’t like the vertical bow market, where the technology is advancing every year. It seems every other year there will be a big change, and it takes the industry a year to figure things out. In 2016, that change was the crossbow. People are starting to figure things out now, and next year manufacturers won’t produce something as earth shattering and the trend will even out.
Elite Archery, Manufacturer
I think the crossbow market is here, and it is here to stay. I think we must accept that crossbows are a part of our industry and there is a place for them. I’m more along the lines that there is going to be a place in the industry for vertical bows and crossbows.
FeraDyne Outdoors, Manufacturer
2016 was a tough year. Some of our brands had a really good year. Some of the other brands didn’t do as well. Honestly, I think the influx of crossbows has a lot to do with that. Our broadheads and things like that did really well. Our sights and releases struggled a little bit. I think that’s directly related to the crossbow sales. We had a really strong end of the third into the fourth quarter. We’re really positive looking out into 2017.
Captain Chuck’s II Inc., Retailer
It was a really good year. We saw our bow sales increase 20 percent; overall service and labor sales were good. We didn’t see a decline in bow sales due to crossbows. We still have a lot of people that shoot vertical bows and we see a lot of new people getting into archery.
I still believe vertical bow sales are about what they were ten years ago in terms of total, annual vertical bow sales. Crossbows are touching a different consumer or the same consumer who chooses to buy both products, and that’s a healthy thing for our industry.
PSE Archery, Manufacturer
I think PSE invented the first compound crossbow in 1978, and for years we couldn’t get anyone to bite. Now, people want something easy and fast and are reaching for the crossbow, which has devastated the compound bow market because crossbow archers generally don’t recreationally shoot, get lessons, or consume equipment. I think that’s what is hurting the industry. There is not a lot of experimentation, which limits money flow into retail.
Now after a couple of years of crossbow bowhunting, we hope that we can get some of those crossbow guys back into vertical bows with a different level of challenge and a little more dedication. I think with 2017 and the excitement of our new president, and American jobs being returned in a year or two, I think we are going to see a different 2017.
Corrine Yohan Bundy
Mathews Archery Inc., Manufacturer
Crossbows have been getting a lot of attention. I don’t think the crossbow negatively impacted the market; I believe the election had a lot to do with it. Consumers were putting their money elsewhere because of their concern for the second amendment right and the political landscape. That was something we all had to power through, but hopefully we don’t have to worry about that anymore and archery can continue to prosper.
Archers are increasing and we are excited about that as it helped the whole industry, but bowhunting license sales are declining and that’s a concern. The crossbow was good for our industry. It came in and presented another opportunity for guys to get out. No matter which bow, vertical or crossbow, as long as they are hunting, we want to help them accomplish the best experience possible for them.
If you’d like to read more insights from retailers and manufacturers who attended the trade show, you can check out the full article archerytrade.org.