I’m at the Archery Trade Association Show in Louisville, sitting on the floor against the back wall of the Kentucky Exhibition Center. There are about 100 people in line next to me waiting to buy $5 hamburgers.
At times like this, the economy seems fine.
The show is the annual gathering of the archery industry. Manufacturers are here to unveil the latest and greatest and then write orders with dealers. Dealers are here to plan their stock for the year. Writers are here looking for stories, and it seems like every Joe Bob with a video camera is here promoting his new television show.
Most of the major companies in the hunting industry have impressive booths. BowTech Archery drew a huge crowd when it unveiled the newest bow in its line, the Experience. Traditional archery seems to be making a surge at the show this year. Undoubtedly, it is springboarding off the back of successful movies, like “The Hunger Games” and “Brave.”
Clothes are still a big deal, too. Realtree, Mossy Oak and Scent-Lok remain major players.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland for quite a while. We had an interesting conversation about being prepared.
“I’m not talking about the crazy doomsday type of prepping, but I’m interested in learning more about how to take care of one’s self and family if necessity arose,” he said. “I mean, look at Katrina. People there didn’t have water. How many people know how to attain or collect fresh water?
“I think there is a lot of room in the media markets for educating people on how to take care of themselves in the wake of a disaster.”
Cuz is one of the most forward-thinking individuals the outdoor industry has ever had the privilege of calling its own. If he sees a market, it needs to exist. It got me thinking. I can hunt and fish, but can I make a fire from stick and string? Can I collect fresh water? Can I preserve food? The answer is probably no, not well enough. So even among all these gadgets, knowledge is still a hot commodity.
One of the categories that surprised me here is coolers. A few years ago, Yeti launched an aggressive marketing campaign to promote its high-end line of coolers. It seems the competition has taken notice.
I have counted six manufacturers here selling their line of coolers. It makes sense, though. Of all the gear a backcountry hunter needs, coolers are important for preserving your animal. This new age of coolers promotes keeping ice for up to two weeks.
My old coolers hardly keep ice for an afternoon. Being able to keep food and drinks cold on a weekend camping trip with a single bag of ice would be nice.
The marketing has worked. I see the need. Guess I’m going to have to buy a new cooler.
Walking the aisles here at the show is always a thrill. It’s great to be surrounded by so many who love bows and bow hunting.
There are a bunch of gimmicks and many first-time exhibitors who won’t be around this time next year, but the core of the archery industry is solid.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Saturdays in the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.