Looking to into the future is no easy task. Trying to predict the future of archery is no different.
Why do you hunt? How often do you hunt? Where do you hunt? What species do you hunt?
These are all questions folks in the outdoor industry pay close attention to. By understanding the trends of hunters, they can be in a better position to suit people’s needs and offer products best suited for consumers. Knowing your consumer is good for making short-term predictions like what design feature to focus on in next year’s model, but also helps companies see the future. When looking at the future of archery, some predict major challenges ahead.
One major voice in the archery world is Jay McAninch. He is the CEO of the Archery Trade Association, and recently wrote in a blog post about his views on the future of archery. The overall message of the post; expect changes in the upcoming years and be prepared for some major challenges. It’s certainly not a rosy picture, but isn’t all doom and gloom either.
In McAninch’s view, there are several factors working together that will have a big impact on outdoor sports, specifically archery. Demographics have a lot to do with the shift, and the changing of America’s society. Baby boomers, Generation Xer’s, and Millennials, all have different motives for hunting, and hunting plays a different role in their lives. For many baby boomers who grew up hunting, it was just part of life. As that group of people age, their equipment is reshaping. For some boomers, not all, this means shifting gears away from vertically drawn bows, to different weapons. One sport benefitting from that movement is the crossbow industry. Crossbows have a few features older shooters seem to appreciate. McAninch also points to big uncertainty with Millennials. How will, or more importantly, will, this group of Americans hunt in the future? That question looms large in Jay McAninch’s mind.
Later in the post, McAninch also points to rising costs as another factor that could deter potential archers from entering the scene. As some archery gear gets more expensive, outdoorsmen are choosing between fishing, archery, and other outdoor gear. If fewer hunters are buying archery gear, that is obviously bad not only for the industry, but for the future of the sport. Fortunately, not all gear is expensive.
McAninch ended the blog post on a positive note, saying the industry could really benefit from new technologies and data driven production. By using cutting edge business research strategies, and looking at the numbers, if companies can predict changes in the future of archery, they can stay one step ahead of the curve.
I think McAninch’s words should be taken seriously as archers around the country. As individual archers, we should take the future of the sport seriously. Our ability to get out and enjoy our great sport is no doubt threatened if numbers fall too quickly. The world we live in is not the world of old. There are many opponents to shooting sports, and hunting in general. Archers represent a large portion of hunters, with nearly 12 million bowhunters toting their bows in the field, so that should help us moving forward in keeping our rights secured.
Another right we currently have is the access to millions of acres of public lands to hunt. With strength in numbers we could hope to thwart efforts to sell them. As outdoorsman in general we should cling to these places with all our strength. It not only makes it easier for us to enjoy archery and bowhunting, but would protect future generations from foolish decision making.
One thing we have in our favor as we move forward, is the rightness of our cause. Archery is a noble sport and it really sells itself if you can just get a bow in someone’s hands. Introduce a kid to the sport, offer some advice, maybe help them with some gear, and then just step back and watch the sport take over. Young people today are great people, and love hands-on activities like archery. Sure, they do spend an awful lot of time on their phones and computers, but give them something real and they really do enjoy it. In my experience as a teacher,I’ve noticed kids are very social on their phones, but there may be more interest now than ever into primitive sports like archery. If we can get their attention we would not only help them out, but would also secure our sport’s future as well.
Sure, the future of archery may be unclear. The world is changing so fast though, predicting what will happen next week can seem challenging. Personally, I believe that if we do our best to introduce young kids to the sport, the problem will largely fix itself. They want to learn about the world, they want to experience something real, and they will be mesmerized by the flight of an arrow as all generations have been since the first shaft was cast so many millennia ago.