Recreational Archery Today

We asked three veteran retailers: “Is recreational archery as popular today as it was 8 to 10 years ago, when it grew roots as a mainstream pastime?” Here’s what they had to say.

Recreational Archery Today

Photo: Genesis Archery Facebook

Tom Goldsmith

Plum Creek Archery

Dyersville, Iowa

My short answer is no, but I do think recreational archery is on its way back. We’re seeing a lot of youth participation. The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) is highly instrumental. Kids get to experience archery through NASP, and then they often look for more after that. Our store is a great avenue for them to take the next steps. Our range is open to any and all archers when we’re open. Of course, we close it for JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development Program), tournaments and things like that. 

Covid-19 generated interest in archery as something to do outdoors, and we saw quite a few customers come and buy their first bows in 2020 and 2021. The idea was to shoot recreationally, but then most of them wanted more and looked for 3-D shoots.

When we’re outfitting a new archer with equipment, we make sure they know it can be affordable. We sell a lot of bows in the $299 to $450 range to newcomers. We also sell some Genesis bows strictly for recreation, and those are a little less expensive.

If I were to put a number on it, I’d say approximately 80 percent of customers who begin with recreational archery take it to the next level with competition and/or bowhunting. The other 20 percent basically lose interest at some point.

We’ve noticed an uptick recently in birthday parties at our range. It gets a lot of kids together to shoot archery, and once they try it, most of them love it. We also created what’s called the PCA Escape. It’s a merger between archery and an escape room. Rather than solving puzzles and things like that, there are archery challenges. It’s a great family or double-dating activity. It has been very popular.


Rhonda Crabtree

Corner Archery

Glendale, Arizona

Actually, I think it’s even more popular. When the movies featuring archery came out, we saw a lot of kids coming in. During Covid, we still had a lot of kids, but we were getting their parents as well. Now that the Covid scare has settled down a bit, we’re seeing a big influx of customers in the older generations.

We get retired folks who’re looking for something to do. We get folks who shot archery when they were younger and now want to get back into it. Our adult program has really taken off in the last 6 months more than it ever has in regard to purely recreational archery. Some are wanting to bowhunt, but a lot of it is just recreation due to age and physical limitations that keep them from going hunting.

For recreational equipment, we sell a lot of $120 recurve bows. Of course, it gets up to around $200 or slightly more with accessories. When we sell compounds for recreation, they’re usually lower-end models like the Diamond Edge XT or Bear Cruzer. With the influx of interest from the older generation, these bows are great because they can be set to nearly any draw length or draw weight, and the bows themselves are good quality, lightweight and affordable.

A lot of our customers have to shoot here because they live in communities where houses are close together and don’t have yards. A lot of them live in apartments or trailer parks, too. They’re needing places to shoot, so they’re coming here. On lunch hour during the week, we often have eight archers who come in to shoot. It isn’t just about archery. They socialize and gently harass one another all in good fun. It’s great camaraderie, and archery just happens to be the platform.


John Landrith

A-1 Archery

Hudson, Wisconsin

I think it’s more popular. Movies such as “The Hunger Games” that sparked the recreational-archery movement don’t go away. They’re watched and rewatched constantly. Interest in recreational archery has grown exponentially in our shop since the Covid-19 scare downscaled, especially among women and kids.

The most common bow price range that recreational archers begin with is $550 to $850 all in. Being a Mathews dealer, we do particularly well with selling Mission bows. We keep some recreational recurve bows on hand, too, but only about 2 percent of folks buy those. Most are hooked on compounds the moment they experience the let-off, a peep and a sight.

People can come to shoot recreationally any time we’re open unless a league is going. We always have staff on hand who can guide newcomers through an archery experience in our range. The key during this process is to minimize pressure to buy equipment. We make it all about the experience and soft-sell it. Nine times out of 10, they either buy equipment that day or come back another day.

The retention rate is very strong. Folks get started with intentions of recreational archery, but about 80 percent either advance into shooting tournaments or bowhunting. The other 20 percent continue shooting recreationally, which is great. It’s called archery. Bowhunting and competitive archery are facets of archery. Look at it this way: We shoot our bows 12 months a year, and 3 months of the year, some of us go hunting. It’s called archery, and the direction folks want to go with it is their choice.


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