I had the pleasure to attend the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show again in 2015. For all of you that are not familiar with the ATA Show, it is THE show for all the archery and hunting manufacturers to show off their products and try to sell them to all the dealers across the country. By dealers, I am talking about places like Cabelas, Bass Pro and even that little bait shop on the edge of town. They are all there looking to stock their shelves for 2015. So if you have a product you’re trying to get in the market for hunting, this is THE place to do it.
By being a manufacturer/dealer trade show, it’s not really a public event. Everyone there must be registered with the show and be able to prove that you are part of the industry by being a manufacturer, retailer, seller or even get in under the Press blanket like I did. I went to the ATA Show to cover all the latest and greatest products, the new innovative ideas and check out what is a must have for the new year. My primary focus is to see what the new guys on the block are bringing to the table. It’s called the Innovation Zone.
The Innovation Zone is a separate area of the show where most of the brand new companies are placed. These are the small companies that sometimes just show up with a dream and just looking for help to make their dream a reality. Others come with a full line of products, a great display and you can tell they have put everything they have into that 3 day show with hopes that some retailer will see how great their product is and want to sign that contract to have them on their shelves. But regardless of what they have, it’s usually something new, innovative and not being shoved in your face by every random celebrity that will pump anything for buck.
Marketing is always the name of the game with anything and it really stands out at these shows. The strategy is, get your product in the hands of the biggest celebrity names willing and use their popularity to convince the public (and retailers) that they need to own your product. It’s the best strategy because it works. MANY companies that may not have the best product, have made a lot of money because they spent the money up front in marketing. When people ask me what’s the best way to get their product noticed, I regretfully tell them that’s the best way. It really showed up at the show this year. I noticed certain celebrities that had their face plastered over way too many products, I noticed companies designing products based off celebrities and products being named in reference to a celebrity. Don’t get me wrong about all manufacturers and celebrities. There are plenty that are there for the sport and the real love of the hunt. But there are also plenty who are in it strictly for the popularity and the green kind of buck.
For the products coming out in 2015, the innovation pretty much stayed in the Innovation Zone. I went there looking for something that jumped out at me and said “Take me home now” and I really didn’t see that. Of course there were a few items that I was impressed with and there were a ton of great products I would love to own, but not much I had to have. Well maybe one or two I will be looking into getting soon, but past that, not a lot. It seems like a lot of new 2015 items were just lasts years with a slight tweak. Honestly, I can’t even begin to tell you how many broadheads are on the market now. Also for the most part, all the bows are getting all very similar, but we’ll cover that in another article.
Overall, I really did enjoy the show. No, I didn’t get to inspect every item there, didn’t look thru all the binoculars, didn’t flex all the arrows or talk to every vendor. That wasn’t my mission. I didn’t tell anything who I was or what I was doing there unless they asked. I was just being a silent spectator checking out the future of the lifestyle I love. Oh, I did shoot most of the new bows coming out. That article will be coming soon.
Thanks for reading my long, non-filtered, blunt view of the ATA Show. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.