January 06, 2021
By Lynn Burkhead
As the COVID-19 pandemic steamrolled its way through 2020, life for many Americans changed drastically as family gatherings, daily work, group meetings, and even the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays were changed, postponed, and even canceled.
No one was immune to the disruption brought about by the deadly coronavirus sweeping the globe, including outdoors enthusiasts and the industry that they support. And now, with 2020 having finally given way to 2021, the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt with the dawn of a New Year.
And that includes a longtime fixture on the annual outdoors calendar, the early year Archery Trade Association trade show that was supposed to have occurred over the next several days during a Jan. 7-9, 2021 run at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.
Known to most as the ATA Show, ATA officials held out hope until mid-October that a way could be found to preserve what would have been the 25th such trade show. But in the end, the plug was pulled on the downtown Indy event as the ongoing public health menace continued to cause unprecedented problems across America.
But while the ATA Show will not visit downtown Indianapolis this year, the work of presenting new products and innovation in the bowhunting and archery industry continues on, thanks to a strategic partnership between ATA and Outdoor Sportsman Group.
That partnership is multifaceted, including the Jan. 11-15, 2021 launch of the ATA New Product Premiere, a virtual event that will bring to consumers all that’s new in the bowhunting and archery industry this year.
There will be additional new product information revealed in the coming days as OSG’s industry-leading bowhunting websites provide online coverage at Bowhunter.com, BowhuntingMag.com, and GameandFishMag.com. Capping the whole effort will be one-of-a-kind television coverage of the virtual ATA Show and its new products when a special Jan. 16 television presentation airs on Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel.
While there’s the obvious disappointment that the tightly knit bowhunting industry can’t gather this month in Indy, there’s also plenty of optimism looking ahead at the coming year.
In a mid-December Archery Wire Q&A session interview with editor Michelle Scheuermann, Mike Carney, OSG’s Chief Operating Officer for Publishing and Branded Media, pointed out the strength of the bowhunting industry heading into the New Year, including the fact that consumer demand and sales of archery equipment rose sharply through the pandemic as compared to figures in 2019.
That’s helping to fuel the ATA’s New Product Premiere as well as OSG’s own video and online content over the next several days.
“Throughout the virtual show week, you can count on OSG’s best-in-class editorial team to be fully engaged and responsive to the needs and interests of the marketplace’s largest consumer audience,” Carney said in the interview. “That’s what we specialize in doing.”
But the ATA coverage won’t stop in mid-January since the editorial staffs of Bowhunter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, and Game and Fish Magazine are all working hard to deliver even more timely information and product reviews in the coming weeks. Look for that material in the magazine brand’s upcoming issues, New Gear Guides, and ATA Product Roundups.
Curt Wells, fresh off a successful fall of filming action for Bowhunter TV show, says that he’ll certainly miss walking the show aisles at the Indiana Convention Center.
“It seems strange to not be packing bags for my 21st consecutive ATA Show, but then everything has been strange lately,” admitted Wells, longtime editor of Bowhunter magazine along with being the lead presence on the magazine’s TV show.
“I will miss seeing all my industry friends at the show and miss having the opportunity to make new friends. The archery industry is comparatively small so building a personal relationship with the people you work with is always important. Emails and Zoom calls just don’t get that done.”
While Wells is wishing he were at the silver anniversary ATA gathering, he is grateful for the hard work that all of his OSG colleagues and magazine staffers are putting in to make sure that this year’s new gear is covered in complete wall-to-wall fashion.
“I am looking forward to the “backup plan,” a massive virtual effort that’s being generated with the goal to inform archery dealers and consumers about all the new products this industry’s innovators have come up with for 2021,” said Wells. “It will be different, but we’re undaunted. We’re still going to start off 2021 with everything we need to be successful bowhunters this year, and in the future.”
Wells wasn’t the only Bowhunter magazine staffer to feel the pain of missing Indy or the excitement of moving ahead with online plans to inform the bowhunting world of what’s new in 2021.
“It’s disappointing that we’re not able to gather in Indy this year to see all of the new equipment in person, but as the saying goes, the show goes on, even in the middle of a pandemic,” said Brian Strickland, the Tried and True equipment columnist for Bowhunter.
“Last year was certainly tougher for manufacturers due to stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, not to mention supply chain difficulties, but America’s archery manufacturers were plenty busy and the results will be showing up over the next few days and weeks.”
While there won’t be a physical ATA Show until 2022 when the show returns to Louisville, Ky., Strickland and others have been hard at work finding out what’s new in the bowhunting world. Word is, there is plenty of new gear in bows, arrows, broadheads, treestands, blinds, boots, clothing, and accessories, all designed to make bowhunting more efficient and enjoyable in the months ahead.
From Strickland’s point of view, both as an outdoor writer and a successful archer who enjoys the compound bow and traditional gear, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic as 2021 begins to pull away from the starter’s blocks.
“The bottom line is that hunting participation appears to be way up across the board from most reports I’ve seen,” he said. “And from many—maybe even most—of the manufacturers that I’ve talked to, business was good for a lot of companies in the outdoors industry in recent months. Hopefully, we’ve weathered the worst of the pandemic storm—business-wise, at least—and there’s more good news and more good sales ahead in the coming months.”
Strickland promises that there is no shortage of new gear and column material for him to consider as 2021 unfolds.
“There’s plenty of new gear in the works now and in the future and that excites me as a writer,” he said. “And that should excite bowhunters who are already looking forward to 2021 hunting seasons.”
Everyone at OSG is excited about the unveiling of the ATA Show in 2021, albeit in a different form than most are used to seeing as compared to years past.
But with a lot of industry innovation, plenty of new product designs, an increasing bowhunting and archery base, and the best media platforms in the outdoor communication game, the next few days in January promise to be exciting for anyone who loves the modern game of the stick-and-string.
Get online, turn your television to the right location, and visit your mailbox in the coming days and weeks for the best ATA Show coverage in the industry and see if you don’t agree.