The future is in the hands of the next generation, and archery retailers know just how important it is to recruit customers at an early age. We asked retailers from across the country how they recruit youth archers to their shop. Here’s what they had to say.
Full Draw Archery / Omaha, Nebraska
We see the most results from our small-group “Intro to Archery” classes. Each class is 1 hour.
From there, if youth archers are interested, we invite them to our JOAD program. We run two sessions weekly. To participate in JOAD, participants must have attended a private lesson or our intro class so they understand the etiquette and safety aspects of shooting on the range with other people present. Participants without equipment are welcome to use our equipment. We offer Genesis and Mini Genesis bows, and we also have recurves available to use.
We run our JOAD program on a 3-week rotation. We shoot “tournament style” every third week, so they learn about scorecards, how to score arrows and how to be comfortable shooting a tournament. We believe that encourages them to participate in the archery clubs that are actually running tournaments. The 2 weeks between our tournament-style JOAD shoots are purely instructional.
Rather than run the JOAD program on a 6-, 8- or 10-week basis, ours is ongoing. That helps people plug in when it works for their schedule. Youth already have so many week-after-week activities and we don’t want to compete with them. Our ongoing program offers flexibility. The only downside to it is that we don’t know if 5 or 25 people will show up.
When youth express interest in bowhunting, we try to give them one-on-one attention. Nebraska offers a very active youth-mentored bowhunting program. It’s a lot more involved than other mentored hunts. Kids get to go hunting with a mentor a minimum of five times, but most go more than that.
My wife, Deb, and I are certified hunter-education instructors, and that obviously results in some sales for us. But that’s not why we do it. It’s our duty as instructors to make sure kids are taught archery and bowhunting safely and correctly. We don’t instruct these classes to sell equipment, but if that happens, it’s an opportunity for us to outfit them correctly. As far as youth bowhunting bows, we sell many Mission bows.
Archery @ The Glenn / Allentown, PA
We start youth archers with low-poundage, recreational recurve bows, and then take them where they want to go from there. We have a selection of the finest youth bows — recurve and compound — available. Proper-fitting equipment is a must.
We offer an entry-level youth program, and we also run a JOAD program. We’ve been offering youth programs since 1999, and they’ve been growing ever since. Kids are a huge part of our business and archery in general.
Whether they’re ready to step up to bowhunting really depends upon the interest they show in our programs. Our job is to introduce archery first. Then we can talk about bowhunting. If the youth pay close attention and continue learning from our classes, then we know they’re serious about possibly advancing to the next level, be it competition or bowhunting.
We live to teach youth this lifestyle. We believe in our youth programs and are very proud of them. Our youth are instilled with important skills that help them shoot archery correctly, including using proper shooting form. Many youth come here as beginners and progress all the way to the expert level.
We’re fortunate to have a big, beautiful range here, and clubs and organizations — 4-H, Boy and Girl Scouts, etc. — come in to utilize it. We offer leagues almost year-round. We even offer a family league, which is great because it’s a fun way to get entire families involved with archery. It’s a powerful force that helps to grow this great sport.
Spot Shooter Archery / Holly, Michigan
First, we carry many youth bows. Second, I’m a member of several area archery clubs. I support them by offering merchandise discounts for their youth programs. Third, I’m now offering classes through the Michigan Parks and Recreation. Plus, I offer advanced private lessons. I promote youth programs heavily via Facebook. And, with all of these great options, everyone has something to choose from.
When a youth wants to try archery, I have a closed range where I can work with them to determine what specs they need in a bow. The bow they shoot must fit or they simply won’t enjoy archery. Then they can either purchase a bow from me, or I can refer them to one of the local archery clubs that offer equipment with their programs. JOAD, specifically, is a great program that I highly recommend, especially for the more serious youth archers.
Archery interest, in general, has been down some, especially the last couple years. We’re offering more classes to try to drum up more interest.