Every January the Archery Trade Association (ATA) gathers together in one gigantic extravaganza to conduct business.
This is where manufacturers announce new products, retailers place their orders to fill their stores, where magazines sell their ads and television shows sign their sponsors.
This year, the trade show took place Jan. 6-8 in Nashville, Tenn. It was unbelievably cold outside, but the archery industry was soaking up the heat of recent blockbuster movies, like The Hunger Games, that have driven an increase in industry business.
In the Hunger Games, Katniss shoots a traditional bow. At the ATA Show, there was definitely an increase of companies bringing products to market to fill the demand for bows like the one Katniss shoots in the movies. To see the industry responding to the positive growth potential coming out of Hollywood for the archery industry was cool to experience.
Another product I noticed a trend in was cut-on-contact broadheads. For many years, it seems that chisel point broadheads have dominated the market. A few years back, legendary bowhunter Bob Foulkrod showed me how much easier it is to push a cut-on-contact broadhead through a piece of leather compared to a chisel point. Solid is a new broadhead company owned by the same folks who own Elite bows. Their broadheads were very impressive looking with wide cuts and razor sharp blades.
Crossbows continue to grow in popularity. Native Crossbows is an Indiana-based company that experienced significant growth over the last year. The owner credits his made in the U.S.A. commitment to being a big part of the company's success. Crossbow accessories, like the XBolt cases from Game Plan Gear, were also prevalent at the show.
One of the most interesting topics I seemed to keep overhearing is a decrease in interest in outdoor television. The hunting television explosion of the last decade has been both good and bad for the sport, in my opinion. It brought a lot of exposure to hunting, but it also exposed a lot of the more unappealing aspects of the sport, specifically competition and treating animal like nothing more than trophies. It seems there is a major shift to online video taking place these days.
I just about can't stomach how so many people talk about bucks anymore, as if there is nothing more to deer hunting than adding up the inches of antler on top of a big buck's head. I guess I'm getting older, because all the flat bill hat wearing hipster young hunters drive me absolutely crazy as they brag on their 170, or sheepishly comment on their "just 140." Television "celebrity" hunters aren't completely to blame, but they deserve the majority of credit.
When outdoor television really started to roll in the late 1990s, it was awesome. We were watching entertaining hunters travel the country introducing us to new places and styles of hunting. But then the number of shows just spiraled out of control. Now we have the Pigman, Hollywood Hunter, ex-pro wrestlers, Hall-of-Fame baseball players, musicians, hipsters and many more with no real reason to be informing anyone of how to hunt all trying to cash in on the deer antler inch craze and it's gotten ridiculous. Thankfully, major sponsors, like Relatree and Nikon, both reported to me reductions in television show sponsorships. Hopefully this weeds out some of the worst.
See you down the trail ...
Brandon Butler is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.