Millennials are killing traditional gyms. Here’s why that might be a good thing for your archery range.


increase archery range income

Photo: John Hafner

Millennials have been blamed for the death of a number of industries. Apparently, this generation is not a fan of paper napkins, light yogurt or fabric softener. They’re also not all that into traditional gyms.

What is it about gyms that younger consumers don’t like? A better question might be, what is it about gyms that older consumers do like? Most require commitment in the form of a membership. (Ever try to get out of a gym membership early? You pretty much have to fake your own death to escape.) If you hit the gym at a busy time — say, before or after work — you might have to wait for the machine you want. And while many offer classes, if the class times don’t work for your schedule, you’re stuck designing your own workout.

(Full disclosure: I have not been inside a gym since I left graduate school. I don’t know that I’d call myself a trendsetter, but…)

A new way to work out

Instead, fitness enthusiasts are signing up for specialized classes at boutique studios. A study from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association found that specialty studios made up a whopping 42 percent of the fitness market in 2014, an increase of 100 percent over the previous year. Those who want to work out now have a seemingly endless array of classes and programs from which to choose.

That’s bad news for gym owners, but it could be good news for those archery retailers with ranges. If you can design archery fitness classes, you can appeal to consumers looking for ways to spice up their workout routines.

And why not archery? Archery has much in common with yoga, which, according to a study by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, saw participation growth of 50 percent from 2012 to 2016. It also has a good deal in common with climbing, which saw a huge increase in participation over the last decade. In an article in The Denver Post, several climbing afficianados outlined the benefits of climbing. See if any of this looks familiar:

Sewell, Harris and Candelaria rattle off climbing’s perks with little prompting: It’s social, providing easy opportunity to build friendships. It’s a year-round activity — no snow or rain or lightning delays. It’s approachable, open to many body types, ages and athletic abilities. It’s challenging, allowing people to overcome fears and to set and achieve goals. It’s universal, letting parents climb with their kids. And it’s fun, Sewell added — more interesting than running on a treadmill for exercise.

Turning the fitness trend into income

One of the Archery Business 2017 Dealers of the Year, Phil Mendoza of No Limits Archery, has already started taking advantage of this fitness trend. He partnered with a local CrossFit gym to create a unique workout program tailored to meet the needs of hard-core Western bowhunters. You may have similar opportunities in your community. Look for established fitness programs that might complement an archery class.

Don’t have anything like that in your town? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Simply market your existing archery lessons with an eye toward attracting fitness buffs. Play up the physical benefits of archery. (Need some help? This article from Archery 360 touts six health benefits of archery: focus, strength, coordination, exercise, confidence and relaxation.)

If you decide to offer archery fitness classes (or simply market your existing classes toward the fitness market), make sure you have plenty of rental equipment for students to use. They’re not going to buy equipment, at least not right away. Also, remember that these particular consumers aren’t looking to be tied down by a long-term commitment, so make it easy for them to sign up for a handful of classes.

Millennials may be changing a number of industries in big ways. But, at least in this case, the traditional gym’s loss may be your gain if you reframe archery as the latest trendy workout.