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Cashing in on the 3-D phenomenon.

If you aren't convinced that carrying a line of archery products in your gun shop will draw enough customers to turn a respectable profit, consider these facts furnished by the American Archery Council, as reported by the Archery Manufacturers Association:

* There are nearly three million licensed bowhunters in North America

* Annual retail sales of archery-related products hover near the $300 million mark

* An average bowhunter spends about 44 days and nearly $1,000 each year pursuing the sport

* In 1991, archery was the 37th most popular sport in the U.S., with more than four million participants.

Weigh these impressive facts against other recreational activities. Even those who belong to a friendly Tuesday night bowling or softball league generally engage in the sport for only a couple of hours a week. There is no real preparation required other than a warm-up, and equipment is relatively low-maintenance.

But 44 days and $1,000 a year devoted to archery - that's a major commitment to the hobby. Keep in mind all that time is not spent in the woods chasing whitetails or mule deer. Like shooting handguns or rifle hunting, extensive practice is required to be successful, and for many bowhunters, that practice comes in the form of 3-D competitions.

What is 3-D Archery?

3-D shooting involves a realistically designed course placed in a natural, wooded setting, where life-sized foam targets including deer, bear, turkeys, javelina, and other animals are situated. The targets are marked with the animal's vital areas, and would-be hunters can practice "picking a spot" at which to shoot. Like actual hunting, but unlike other archery competitions, distances to targets are unknown.

Precision is the name of the game in 3-D. Shooters must estimate the distance to the target; if they misjudge, the arrow falls short. During an actual hunt, the game would be lost, as a whitetail is not likely to hang, around to give a hunter a second chance. This is how 3-D archery actually benefits the hunter.

While 3-D shooting by itself is not an advent to the industry, the fact that it has gained such popularity is the real phenomenon, says Bob Ridenour, national sales manager for Hoyt U.S.A. in Salt Lake City, Utah.

3-D shooting has been touted as the fastest-growing segment of the archery sports because it most closely simulates actual bowhunting. But regardless of how close the actual mechanics of shooting are, bow, arrow and accessory requirements can be vastly different for 3-D shooting than for hunting. So what should you stock for your customers?

Gear For The Game

Bows for 3-D shooting are used significantly more than those used during the few weeks of hunting season, thereby enduring substantially more abuse. Often hunters wear out their bows even before hunting season begins. For that reason, an increasing trend is for bowhunters to purchase two bows - one for hunting, the other for 3-D tournaments and practice.

Hunting bows differ aerodynamically and tend to be longer, heavier and a little slower, providing more stability for a broadhead, says Ridenour. The hunter is not focused on hitting close groups; he just wants to hit his target.

3-D archers typically want a "faster" bow because they are most concerned with precision. Greater arrow speeds means more accurate shooting.

The various archery organizations such as the International Bowhunters Organization and the Archery Shooters Association dictate specific limitations on bow speeds and sizes permitted for use during 3-D competitions.

For example, the ASA has set an arrow speed limit of 280 fps, so a shooter can use whatever type of arrow he chooses as long as he stays under that limit. "Most shooters in this arena will choose a short, high-performance bow with a medium-weight arrow," says Ridenour.

3-D shooters can work magic with any number of combinations of bows and arrows in order to arrive at the optimal speed.

In addition to short bows with a 39" to 41" range, other accessories that 3-D shooters require include high performance sights with close pin gaps, and overdraws, which pull the arrows behind the bow itself, making it possible to shoot shorter, lighter arrows.

Dealers should be sure to stock bows for both disciplines; nearly all major archery manufacturers offer both.

Hoyt U.S.A., for example, markets an entire line devoted specifically to 3-D, including its Super Slam FastFlite bows, and FastFlite cables and bowstrings. Brightly colored bows seem to be a trend in the sport; the camouflage pattern still remains popular for hunting bows.

Take advantage of the 3-D fever to sell twice the gear, and encourage your bowhunting customers to return even after hunting season is over.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:archery
Author:Smith, Ann Y.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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