LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With the familiar and melodic refrains of nearby Churchill Downs’ call to post – and a stirring rendition of My Old Kentucky Home – echoing through the halls of the spacious Kentucky Expo Center, the curtain came up on Tuesday morning for the 2016 ATA Trade Show.
First held in Louisville in 1997, this year’s 20th anniversary edition of the ATA Show is making a return to the sprawling Kentucky community lying on the banks of the scenic Ohio River.
While the host city is the same as it was two decades ago when the inaugural show attracted more than 6,000 attendees, much else has changed since then. In fact, this year’s version is welcoming more than 600 exhibitors utilizing a record 229,000-square feet of booth space.
For those keeping score at home, that’s the equivalent of four NFL football fields laid goal post to goal post or more space than is found on the 4.5 acre flight deck of the USS Harry S. Truman.
As Truman was fond of saying, the buck stops here, and in the case of the ATA Show, that’s certainly true today.
“I’ve been in this business over 30 years and worked every show there is,” said Jimmy Primos, chief operating officer for Primos Hunting Calls, in a news release. “The ATA Trade Show has become one of the country’s premier, first-class trade shows.
“If you’re going to be a player in this business, the ATA Show is a must attend event.”
While the early years had some rocky times, Scott Schultz, owner and president of Robinson Outdoor Products says that now, the ATA Show is a model for other trade shows to follow.
“Today, the ATA is the hallmark of all trade organizations,” said Shultz in a news release. “The ATA Trade Show is a benchmark that all others envy and aspire to. It’s among the best run, most organized and most profitable of any trade show on the planet.”
Bruce Hudalla, president of Hudalla Associates, agrees.
“The ATA Show has become this industry’s Super Bowl, its World Series,” he said. “Everyone wants to attend. It’s changed the industry.”
“Before the ATA Show, the SHOT Show was the must-attend event,” added Hudalla. “But now our show, the ATA Show, is the industry’s main buying and selling show. It’s where the industry kicks off the new year with its latest products and pricing.”
ATA Show Benefits Archery
According to an ATA news release, over the past decade, the annual show has generated upwards of $13 million dollars in funds that have helped grow the sports of archery and bowhunting.
In fact, an ATA news release indicates that thanks to the annual trade show, some $5 million is in the bank by way of reserves to protect, promote and fund projects for archery and bowhunting.
“By attending the Show, everyone invests in our sports’ futures,” said Jay McAninch, the CEO and president of the Archery Trade Association, in a news release.
“Today, each Show generates net proceeds of about $2.2 to $2.3 million to help grow archery, bowhunting and the industry itself.”
What’s more, McAninch says that money is achieving some great results.
“Between 2012 and 2014, our sports grew from 18.9 million archers/bowhunters to 21.6 million, a nearly 15-percent increase,” he said. “Since we began this effort, the number of Americans shooting bows and arrows has increased by nearly three times.
“Every ATA member should take pride in those numbers,” he added.
Bowtech Launches New Products
While the trend in recent years is for many major bow companies to introduce their new models prior to Christmas, Oregon-based Bowtech continues to use the ATA Show as the launching pad for its new line of bows and crossbows.
That was evident on Tuesday morning as the show opened to a sizable crowd of several hundred show attendees, television show hosts and hunting personalities gathering at the company’s spacious booth to announce nine new products for 2016.
One such model is the company’s flagship model, the BTX compound, a Bowtech bow that comes with a couple of cam options that allow for different draw length possibilities.
With multiple and simple micro-tuning options able to be made by bowhunters, the new Bowtech offering is able to provide reliable shooting and sizzling speeds up to 350 feet per second according to press reports.
“This is the greatest treestand bow that’s ever been made, I think,” said television personality and Bowtech celebrity Jim Burnsworth.
Other bow unveilings at the Bowtech booth included Eva Shockey’s signature Bowtech compound, now available in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country, and the Diamond Prism model in a variety of different colors.
In addition, the parent company unveiled the Matrix Bulldog 400 crossbow made by sister company Excalibur, a model that can propel bolts at speeds of up to 400 fps.
Mathews Reports Brisk Business in Return to ATA Show
With bowmaking giant Mathews making its return to the ATA Show for the first time in nearly a decade, business was brisk as the company’s spacious booths dedicated to the iconic bow brand and its sibling companies.
“It’s great to see Mathews back to the Show, signifying that everyone is here again and the Show is back to being the industry’s only archery and bowhunting trade show,” said ATA CEO and president Jay McAninch.
One reason that the booth was busy – in addition to the company’s return this year – was the appearance of Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, pro-staffers for the company who helped introduce the company’s flagship bow for 2016, the Halon.
“We’re super excited that Mathews (is back) and has a booth this year,” said Tiffany, who along with husband Lee, signed hundreds of autographs and gave away a new Halon bow to a lucky winner on Tuesday.
“We’ve been shooting the new Halon all year and we can’t wait (to see the crowd’s reaction to it) in the Mathews booth.”
Day One Odds and Ends
One of the more popular booth attractions on Tuesday was the 300-inch non-typical whitetail taken this last fall in Ohio by Dan Coffman. The huge buck made appearances in the Browning Trail Cameras and the Banks Outdoors booths.
One of the more entertaining booth events was the dunking booth operated by Easton Archery. Among other bowhunting celebrities, Fred Eichler of Easton’s Bowhunting TV was one of several hunters to take a plunge into the chilly waters of the tank as contestants won raffle drawings including the chance to dunk Eichler.
The Hoyt Archery booth was a busy place as a heavy-weight lineup of bowhunting celebrities paraded through to sign autographs and promote the company’s 2016 flagship bow, the Carbon Defiant. Among others, such Hoyt pro-staffers as Michael Waddell, Nick Mundt, Travis “T-Bone” Turner, Cameron Hanes, Bill Winke, Jordan Shipley, Chuck Adams, Randy Ulmer, Fred Eichler and Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo greeted fans.
What makes the ATA Show unique?
“I’ve been doing this 29 years, and one thing has stayed the same: the people,” said Pape’s Inc. vice president and marketing director Malcom Snyder about the bowhunting and archery industry. “This Show has truly genuine people. They’ll fight you in the marketplace during the day, but give you the shirt off their back at night and on the weekend. They’re direct competitors, but they’ll still share a drink after the Show closes. They’re all cut from the same cloth.”
By attending the ATA Show year after year, you see how dynamic this industry is,” said Mike Ellig, president of Black Gold, Inc. “Change happens fast. A company can own a market for years, but be gone two years later.”