Hunting Industry Poser Alert!

Sadly, some people — perhaps an employee at your archery shop — could be using you for no other reason than to push their own hunting industry agenda.

Based on the numerous emails I’ve received concerning the last three issues of Archery Business, it seems the actual business-related articles we’ve been striving to provide have been well received. Good! That was our hope. Of course, we will continue to provide you with industry trends, cutting-edge gear, top-end equipment reviews and the like, but we also know that your shop is your livelihood, and we want your livelihood to thrive.

In our September/October 2018 issue, Phillip Perry penned a piece titled “Family Business Trusts: Protecting Valuable Assets.” The positive response to that piece has been overwhelming, and I’ve heard from multiple shop owners letting me know they plan to meet with an attorney and get the revocable trust process rolling.

These shop owners are looking to protect themselves and their family in the event they become incapacitated or, sadly, pass away. With that noted, you also need to strive to protect your shop and its reputation from the masses of hunting industry posers out there looking for nothing more than a free ride to the 2020 ATA Show. Let me explain.

The hunting industry has become an attractive one to many, but sadly, not for the same reasons that pulled in you and me. Many are simply looking to get their hands on free gear, continue to build their false social media following, and push an agenda that has nothing to do with helping you make your shop better. Because the ATA has done such an outstanding job with its get-into-the-show media screening process, these posers are looking for a new angle to get a free trip to the Show, and that angle is you.

hunting industry
The annual ATA Show is a wonderful place to see the latest archery gear. Unfortunately, a few attendees attend only to push their own agenda.

I don’t get a lot of time to wander at the Show. I have many responsibilities, and my to-do list is long, but on the Show’s final day, I keep my schedule light. I like to get out and roam the Show floor, talk to shop owners and mingle with manufacturers. I also like to sit in the food court and simply listen. The conversations are fascinating, and having spent 9 years in a fifth-grade classroom, I’m pretty good at simply blending in and picking up on gossip.

They were both young men, likely in their early 20s, and boy were they excited. Their YouTube channel, which I looked up while listening to them, had just received follower number 300. Their Instagram and Facebook accounts were growing. They were posting pictures left and right of themselves and hunting industry celebs, and laughing about how the trip was costing them nothing. Sadly, the duo had even duped a few manufacturers into sitting down in, as they called it, a “sponsorship meeting.” These boys were living high on the hog.

The problems with the above paragraph are many, as the ATA Show was specifically designed to be a meeting place for archery retailers and manufacturers. These two jokers, and their aggressive personalities, take away from the business that is supposed to be done at the Show. Worse, both were supposed to be out hunting down hot products, shooting new bows, and providing advice to the shop owner who brought them along. So gross!

When a fellow hunting industry friend and marketing director for a popular bow maker sat down at my table and started talking shop, the pair took notice. When he left, they wasted no time coming over and introducing themselves. They quickly spewed out their rehearsed lines, showed me some kill photos, pointed to the number of Instagram followers they had, and asked if they could text me a link to their YouTube channel. I played along. They let me know that at this time next year they were going to be the biggest thing in the world of whitetails, and that I could get on the train early by doing an article on them. Again, I played along.

We moved to quieter space in the food court where I could conduct an interview. My first question: “How are you liking the Show, and how did you get here?” They were only too eager to answer. Talking over each other constantly, they let me know the names of every hunting industry celebrity they had met, and also let me know they worked for an archery shop, and were here to help the shop owner. They told me multiple times that the shop “gig” was just a “short-time” thing, and they really had no interest in staying there. I was fuming on the inside!

Question No. 2: “I’m also doing another article, and I was wondering if you two could tell me a little bit about how you used a shop owner to the fullest to gain admittance to the ATA Show to push your own agenda?” Their eyes grew wide, and they left the table.

Here’s the deal: I’ve been waiting a year to write this column. I was so mad and upset. I actually called the shop owner after the show and had a long discussion with him. The two men had come into his shop only a few weeks after the conclusion of the previous year’s Show. They basically gave him a very false resume, and being the smooth talkers they were, gained quick employment. They were popular bowhunters in the area, had a few fake sponsors (yep, they lied) and had a growing social media following.

Sadly, these hunting industry posers are everywhere, and just like those looking to steal an identity, they are looking to use you to get to the Big Show. They are super patient, and will gladly work for a year or two just to earn a trip to the Show. In a follow-up article, I’ll give you the 411 on how to easily identify these posers. Stay tuned!