Greetings from Louisville, Ky., as I get set to attend the 2016 Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Jan. 5-7. I’m excited to see what’s being unveiled for bowhunters and archery shooters this year, though I’ll need to move like a Kentucky Derby race horse if I’m to cover a 229,000-square-foot show floor packed with 615 booths and 9,500 other registered attendees. As the archery and bowhunting industry’s largest show, the ATA event drives commerce within the industry as an order-writing event so it is closed to the public. Of course, the beauty of being in the outdoor media is that my press badge gets me the scoop on new and innovative bows, arrows, broadheads and other gear. The McPherson Companies—Mathews, Mission, MXB Crossbows, Genesis Archery and Zebra Bowstrings—are joining the ATA Show exhibitors this year with their new products in tow, and old, innovative standards like PSE, Bowtech, Hoyt, Elite, G5, Bear and Martin—to name a few—certainly will draw their share of booth traffic. The fact I haven’t even mentioned arrow makers like Easton, Gold Tip, Carbon Express, Beman or Victory, or broadhead companies like No Limit Archery, Muzzy, Rage or Solid shows how wonderfully busy I’ll be.
As for the status of the industry, archery remains on the upswing. The ATA recently released results from a study conducted by the research firm Responsive Management showing that adult Americans’ archery participation continues to rise—to the point 21.6 million U.S. residents participated in 2014. This is a 14 percent increase from the ATA’s 2012 study showing that 18.9 million Americans participated. The numbers match statistics from USA Archery, the sport’s national governing body, which also cites strong growth from 2012 to 2014.
As for being in Louisville, it’s a great place to visit. Sports fans, of course, know it’s the home of the explosively powerful Louisville Slugger baseball bat. The Louisville Slugger Museum features a replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch bat—a steel version weighing 68,000 pounds and standing 120 feet! For more on sports, my husband, Phil, and I scored an invite to the Kentucky Derby this year so we’ll be returning to Louisville in May for “the greatest two minutes in sports.” But while a whopping 554 roses are used in the garland of roses presented to the Derby winner at Louisville’s Churchill Downs, perhaps an even more interesting fact is that 90 percent of the world’s disco balls are produced in Louisville each year!