Archery Trends In 2020

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The market for archery equipment, including gear used in competition, recreational shooting and bowhunting, has been holding its own in recent years with some analysts forecasting up to 8.5% growth through 2022.

The National Sporting Goods Association’s participation survey data further reveals steady growth in the archery segment: up 107.2% from 2003–2017.

An influx of women shooters, not unlike the firearms industry, is contributing to market trends. Additionally, governments, schools and various archery federations are part of an institutional bulwark to promote development and growth of stick-and-string activities.

We asked three retailers what they are seeing and stocking, and how they try to meet the needs of this important market sector.

The Kure Hunting Bow features Elite Archery’s revolutionary S.E.T.
(Simplified Exact Tuning) technology. The tuning system allows for
micro-adjustments to the angle of the limb pocket pivot and to the
attitude (or lean) of the cam — without the need for a bow press.
(Image: Elite Archery)

Archery In The Wheelhouse

John’s Sport Center has been a Pittsburg, Kan., mainstay outdoors retailer for decades, serving both firearms enthusiasts and archers. Jess Austin manages the archery component of the business and he says the key to meeting the needs of today’s customers is keeping up to date with the newest products and technology — whether it’s the latest broadheads, arrows, rests, targets and releases to more diverse products like ozone generators and field sprays featuring new scents.

The store carries more than 800 SKUs, ranging from bows and accessories to treestands, blinds and trail cameras. What they don’t carry, they can quickly order.

“We’re a full, one-stop hunting shop, and archery drives 21% of our sales,” Austin relayed.

Further east, in the Maryland Eastern Shore town of Princess Anne, Wink’s Sporting Goods caters to a customer base keen on flinging arrows. Archery represents 30% of their business and the related stock assortment reflects this — with more than 2,000 SKUs on display in-store.

Jamie Wink works in the decades-old family business alongside his father and other relatives. While bowhunting remains popular, he sees the number of 3D shooters increasing. The NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) is also increasingly gaining favor. A balanced stock assortment covering these major interests, coupled with an Archery Pro Shop, helps Wink’s serve everyone from the most inexperienced novice to the local expert.

With the help of a bow press, Bass and Bucks Bow Technician Brook
Stevens dials in an Athens Exceed Riser for a customer. To ensure
employees are staying on top of trends, the store sends its bow techs
to the ATA show each year and regularly communicates with
manufacturer sales reps.

Established in 1999, Bass And Bucks Inc. is a family-owned and -operated sporting goods store located in Wabash, Ind. The archery market is squarely in their wheelhouse and they maintain an indoor 19-lane range with a variety of targets, outdoor 40- and 30-target 3D ranges, plus a sight-in practice range.

Archery Manager and Tournament Director Josh Butcher shared the store carries a whopping 12,500 archery SKUs, representing 50% of the entire business.

Butcher said they stock all of the top brands, including 20 different bows and crossbows and leading accessories in their 4,000-square-foot archery showroom. They also sponsor a Scholastic 3-D Archery team, plus a youth travel team. Six bow technicians are regularly on duty each week. Business is brisk.

One trend Butcher sees is growing attendance at shooting events, but declining numbers of “fun shooters.” Still, he said, “We stock items our customers request regardless of the category.”

Austin said most of John’s Sport Center customers are bowhunters, but they also serve some competitive shooters. He shared their regional NASP program is among the strongest in the country and monthly 3D shoots in the area have good turnouts.

Mathews TRX40

Ravin Crossbows R29X

Bear Archery Eko Edge

Top Gear

John’s Sporting Goods lists Mathews, Hoyt and Bear as their top-selling “vertical bows,” with Ravin and Mission leading in crossbows. Genesis Original Bows are also popular. Whether you’re looking at hunting or competition, Mathews and Hoyt are the leading brands at Bass And Bucks, according to Butcher.

Wink said Mathews, Hoyt and Bowtech are their top bows with TenPoint and Mission setting the pace with crossbows.

Butcher said it’s important to carry entry-level packages for beginners, such as those offered by Bear, Hoyt, PSE, Mission and Diamond. Bass And Bucks also offers lessons to help new shooters get off on the right footing.

Austin’s customers usually ask about speed (feet per second capability), as well as axle-to-axle length and weight.

“We also encourage them to shoot the bow as each model has its own unique feel such as draw cycle, hand shock and/or trigger pull. It seems most customers are always looking to maximize range capabilities,” he added.

Wink likes to offer novices a bow with a lot of adjustment potential in both draw length and draw weight. “We want to make sure it fits them correctly,” he said, “plus it’s easy for resale if they either don’t like it or want to really get into it with a top-end setup.”

Crossbows are increasingly popular, especially with hunters.

“We are selling more and more every year as the stigmatism of using crossbows diminishes,” Austin observed. “It extends the hunting season for the rifle hunter and is popular to use to get youth involved in hunting as the season is longer and can be warmer.”

At Bass And Bucks, compound bows generate around 70% of current sales with crossbows making up the rest.

“Some hunters prefer the crossbow as it’s more of a tool to put meat in the freezer and they don’t have to practice as much with it. Crossbows also work well for families, as the whole family can use the same equipment,” Butcher noted.

In Maryland, Wink shared dedicated compound shooters can be diehards, but crossbows have been “a big deal” when it comes to getting people into the woods who want to hunt but don’t have the time it takes to master a compound. Maryland’s long archery season also helps keep people engaged and interested.

Using a stand to hold everything in place, C.J. Wink of Wink’s Sporting
Goods accessorizes a new bow — outfitting it with a sight, stabilizer and
wrist sling. Wink’s maintains a robust inventory of 2,000 archery SKUs
and has an on-site indoor range for testing.

Optics

Archery optics continue to evolve. Similar to firearm optics, some shooters opt for high-end while others accept “good enough.”
Bass And Bucks’ customers are about split, according to Butcher, so they stock all options and then try to walk the customer toward a “best-informed decision for their equipment.”

In Kansas, Austin is seeing an increasing openness toward higher-end optics.

“The price point of the equipment they’re buying or bringing in — in most cases — will dictate the level of accessories they want to purchase. We carry a wide range of price-point accessories and have good luck with all ranges,” he said.

Wink’s customers who purchase high-end bows are going all-in on the best sights, with budget-conscious consumers sticking to lower price points.

Top Services

All of our retailers surveyed here said they focus on delivering full-service experiences, from the basic bow package to adding accessories, set up, tuning and training on their own in-store ranges or shooting areas. All have trained bow technicians on staff.

John’s Sporting Goods considers each customer’s individual needs. While they like to sell a complete package, they understand some people shop for accessories to either upgrade an existing bow or to setup a bow bought elsewhere.

Bass And Bucks offers free setup of bows and accessories purchased from them. “We do get some sales from customers who bought a bow from an individual, whether it was online or local. We charge (them) a setup fee but we end up winning them over as a long-term customer. Most of them didn’t know about us before they made their online purchase,” Butcher said.

The archery industry is dynamic, with an ongoing evolution in terms of gear and technology. Staying current requires commitment.
Bass And Bucks sends their bow techs to the annual Archery Trade Association show to test new products. They also give new offerings a thorough evaluation when manufacturing reps bring new products to the office.

“We communicate with our reps often to see what is going on in our area to make sure we are stocking the items our customers need. We also get training by them to make sure our techs are as knowledgeable as possible,” Butcher said.

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