The Archery Trade Association Show (ATA) is for dealers, manufacturers, press and media and is not open to the public. I was fortunate to attend this year as support for a manufacturer as I am a Design Engineer for Ethics Archery Spin Points. My experience with Trade Shows has been Security Trade Shows as well as the Shot Show so when people told me I would be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the ATA, I thought that it would have to be huge to even compete with the likes of the Shot Show. Needless to say I was not overwhelmed at all. It was big, but not that big. So to get things under way I thought I would write about what I thought about the show overall, the color of the badges and the numbers of individuals wearing these badges, my thoughts on the trends of our industry and then finally my impressions of where the industry is going. So sit back and enjoy this read as I will lay it down for all of you to behold.
Overall, the show was fun and the venue was adequate. I think the numbers were down based on what I was hearing from vendors and patrons alike. There were all manner of products ranging from the gimmicky to the well thought out and well-presented products. It wasn't hard to tell who had the money to spend on floor space and who was testing the ATA waters. Another indication of a well-funded company was the carpeting and how much padding was underneath. I have to say that I felt like I had been walking on Lego's the whole time I was there and a week after I got home. The whole show was split basically into two halls with no rhyme or reason to where things were, which said to me that the owners picked their space and were not guided to an area where say other Arrow products were. There of course were concession areas but as usual the prices were deplorable.
The badges that everyone is required to wear are color coded to identify which category you represent. Blue and Black were media and press, with red being Manufacturers and yellow being buyers and shop owners. So since I was there as support for a manufacturer working in the booth, I was looking for yellow badges to show my product (Ethics Archery Spin Points, Look for a write up next month) and sign new dealers and sell product. What I found were far too many red, black and blue badges and not enough yellow, and of the yellow badges that I saw, there weren't a high percentage of people that could actually make decisions. This meant that a lot of people had badges given to them so they could come to the show as a vacation. This is of concern as people with yellow badges that are there for fun essentially waste a manufacturer's time who should be talking to buyers and shop owners. Now the ATA has been trying to crack down on this practice in order to get the right people to the show so that they can make informed decisions on what they will sell in their store, but one can only do so much before it become fruitless.
My last two topic points are really worthy of one paragraph as they are tied together. In the past the hunting industry has dominated over the target side but with the dawn of blockbuster movies like Hunger Games, Brave and The Avengers and television shows like The Arrow I am finding more kids wanting to get involved as well as couples. The target industry is growing rapidly as shown by the growing numbers in the JOAD Programs and tournament numbers. We are witnessing a steady growth every year at Vegas and Lancaster just to name a couple. While this is fantastic news it comes with the fact that we are losing Pro Shops daily in this country due to things like MAP pricing and the policing of MAP pricing. With big companies selling directly to Amazon and others who are selling the product at far less than the local Pro Shop can, how can they stay in business? The big box stores are selling the same bows sometimes but with less than adequate techs, and people are finding that the bow doesn't fit them well, it wasn't tuned properly or or or or...... The real Pro Shops end up seeing these people (sometimes) and have to charge them set up fees to get them on track again. People get mad and it's the true Pro Shop that suffers because the big box store did what they wanted to do and got the sale right then. The Pro Shop hopes that by fixing the problems and getting these people set up correctly that they might get the return business but who knows. By using a true Pro Shop you are bound to have a good experience and keep coming back again and again. This same online buying attitude has damaged the golf and tennis industry and we are on that track as well.
Look people, THESE ARE MY OPINIONS, no one else's and this is what I am seeing and hearing from many around the country and if you know me, you know I travel and go to as many shops as I can whether on vacation or travel for work. I hope you get something from this article but most of all I hope that you understand that buying local is more important than ever.