Since the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s recent announcement that they were partnering with Grand View Outdoors on a new exhibit area for SHOT Show-an archery area- there’s been a near constant whisper of a single question: “does this mean the NSSF’s going after the Archery Trade Association and their show?”
It’s a rumor that was getting lots of discussion at the recent Safari Club International show in Nashville. One of those conversations included a rather abrupt one I had with an industry person who I quickly discovered was a very loyal supporter of the ATA and their annual event in Indianapolis.
Rather than speculate, I simply reached out to someone who could either confirm an impending conflict or drive a figurative arrow through the rumor: Chris Dolnack, the NSSF’s Senior Vice President/Chief Customer Officer. Not coincidentally, he’s “the guy” when it comes to SHOT Show.
His response to my asking “is the NSSF going after the ATA Show” was as direct an answer as I’ve ever gotten:
“We don’t need, want or have room for their exhibitors.”
So there you go. There isn’t a war brewing between the two trade groups. But that doesn’t mean the NSSF’s not recognizing an opportunity when it comes to archery.
SHOT and the ATA Show have many things in common, not the least of which is a number of major companies that don’t attend.
The reasoning varies, but for some companies, especially those brimming over with government contracts and/or flush existing retail orders that meet or exceed their manufacturing capabilities, there’s simply no reason to attend. And that money can either be saved or applied to other needs.
A majority of ATA attendees are traditional, small archery retailers. And ATA is focused on the needs and purchasing abilities of those traditional shops. That show definitely has more of a small store feel than SHOT’s miles of aisles and nonstop activities.
If ATA’s a locally owned shop, SHOT’s the biggest of big box retailers.
There are fundamental differences between ATA and SHOT. ATA offers a more collegial atmosphere for hanging around (top) but SHOT is better characterized as “miles of aisles.” OWDN photos.
And that’s where the potential rub between the two originates.
SHOT Show isn’t just larger than ATA; it’s exponentially larger. The mere size of SHOT means there is a significant potential crossover between companies and buyers.
When I talked with Dolnack about the inevitability of crossover interest, he responded with a simple rejoinder: “So, there’s crossover, but why not both? Why couldn’t a company do both shows?”
Why indeed. I mean, it sounds good, but there are time, travel and cost factors in play. And it’s magnified for the smaller companies that comprise a majority of archery manufacturers. Working two shows, essentially back-to-back, takes a toll on workers -at home and on the road. And the costs of transporting exhibits between two shows isn’t insignificant.
And, SHOT Show is more expensive than ATA. But as the old saying goes “price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
Last year, SHOT Show had more than 17,000 qualified buyers in attendance. Of that number I’m told that twenty-four percent, that’s 4,200 potential customers, expressed interest in crossbows and crossbow sales.
So, why wouldn’t NSSF/SHOT put together an archery pavilion?
Not doing something with archery would be ignoring products buyers in which buyers have already indicated an interest.
So there will be an archery component to SHOT 2024. But it will be housed in the Archery Business Pavilion - with a capacity of approximately 100 10x10 spaces.
That’s not much, especially when it’s considered relative to the 816,000 square feet and 2,500 companies exhibiting at SHOT in January. But it is designed to allow attendees to showcase -and experience -“the latest in archery technology and products.” I’ve been told a number of companies have already confirmed their attendance and have assigned booth spaces. I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with any of them directly, but I’m told the new Archery Business Pavilion’s initial target companies are not current ATA exhibitors.
I’m also curious as to whether any of the companies exhibiting at ATA have made either/or or both-decisions regarding the two trade show opportunities.
When I do, we’ll let you know.
So it appears there’s not an “inevitable” showdown brewing in the archery space. At least not anytime soon.
As always, we’ll keep you posted.
— Jim Shepherd