Is Archery Participation on the Rise?

More archers means more business for archery shops, so we checked with three dealers to see what’s happening in their neck of the woods.

Is Archery Participation on the Rise?

Youth shooters at Bucks & Bulls Archery in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

We asked three veteran retailers: In your immediate area, is archery and bowhunting participation increasing, decreasing or remaining stable? Here’s what they had to say.

Chris DiPerna

Creek Archery

Ruffs Dale, Pennsylvania

Definitely increasing. Youth and younger females are joining the sport at a rapid rate. We’re seeing lots of females in their early 20s becoming bowhunters. I think the leading reason is due to the increase in 3-D shoots offered in the area, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission lengthening the bow season. There’s more time for everyone to get out there and hunt.

Our shop has a greater following among bowhunters, but 30 percent of my customers are also target archers. Many are bowhunters who want to stay sharp throughout winter, and some are more dedicated. We get 60 to 70 shooters per week during our winter leagues, which I feel is pretty solid participation.

We work to cultivate greater participation by working closely with JOAD. We also work with 4-H and school programs to make them aware that archery exists. Some of the school programs are now competitive, which they previously were not. That’s gaining good traction. We do everything we can to get kids involved. Outside of that, I do a lot of shows and advertising to keep stirring interest.

Archery does have some threats. Adults really need to get their kids involved. Even though we’re gaining new youth archers every year, we do seem to be losing some occasionally. As a shop owner, I’m focusing my efforts toward youth programs. It’s important not just to get kids involved, but to teach them that archery isn’t merely a hunting sport. They need to understand it’s also a shooting sport that can be done recreationally. I’ve already seen that if I can get youth interested, parents who weren’t previously archers want to try it, too.

I feel strongly that participation will only continue growing in the next 5 years. Pennsylvania’s Game Commission has legislation on the table to open Sunday hunting. If that goes through, I think participation will grow substantially because many kids are tied up with sports on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. It will offer them more chances to hunt.

Gary Hintz

Bucks & Bulls Archery

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

It’s hard to tell with bowhunting, but archery participation is increasing at my shop. We’re seeing a lot more youth and also adults based on league attendance. Our summer youth league had 138 kids, which is nearly overwhelming. The first year I offered that league, I had only 30 kids sign up. Our winter league, which primarily consists of adults, grew from 70 to 110 shooters in 3 years.

I spend a lot of one-on-one time with kids and teach them how to shoot back-tension releases. Several have become state and even national champions. It’s contagious. Word gets out that our process here works, and an increasing number of kids want to come and learn how to shoot competitively.

Bucks & Bulls Archery focuses on bringing newcomers into the sport.
Bucks & Bulls Archery focuses on bringing newcomers into the sport.

Word of mouth is probably the largest contributing factor to the increasing archery interest, especially for our youth leagues. When kids come here and enjoy their time, they tell their friends about it and soon their friends start coming here, too.

I’ve also been able to promote archery alongside the school programs. I distribute flyers to the school archery programs to increase interest. Kids respond pretty well to those flyers. If they shoot archery at school and want to do it again after school, they can come here to shoot.

I believe archery participation will continue increasing here over the next 5 years. I have many repeat customers who shoot at my range, plus numbers keep climbing annually. If that trend continues, I’ll eventually run out of space.

Bowhunting participation could obviously fluctuate based on regulation changes like antler restrictions or reduced tag allotments, but right now everything indicates bowhunting participation will continue increasing.

Jonathan Heath

Greenville Marine Outdoor Shop

Greenville, North Carolina

It’s increasing and has been for 15 years. Maybe participation isn’t increasing as fast as I’d like, especially in the younger crowd, but it is going up steadily. Those most actively joining the sport are ages 25 to 35, with upwards of 98 percent being men.

I believe outdoor TV is one of the biggest influences to get people to try bowhunting. YouTube and social media influencers also seem to be attracting folks over to archery and bowhunting.

To promote archery, we use Facebook quite heavily. We’re also planning to hold an archery day of some sort.

We’re also working on a YouTube channel. We’ll begin with tutorial videos and then venture out from there. We offer fishing products, too, so it won’t be just bow-related content. Our main purpose for doing YouTube is to grow archery and bowhunting.


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