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News From the Archery Trade Association


Returning from Indianapolis yesterday I reminisced about the 2015 Archery Trade Association’s annual trade show. This is a dealer only show, when the manufactures in the industry introduce all of their new products for the year. As always there were some surprises, some disappointments and some so-so moments.

First the so-so moments. It seems that every year there are ten more “new” manufacturers of broadheads emerging and trying to get into the scene. I cannot for the life of me see how or why someone would try and sell some broadhead for $100 each! You read that right, I will not name the company, but it looks like a broadhead, flies like a broadhead, cuts a hole and they want $299 for a three pack. Who in their right mind would spend that much money for a broadhead, I mean can it really cut that much of a better hole? Can the deer be ‘more dead’ if you use a $100 broadhead verses a $10 broadhead?

Then there were the start-up camouflage companies. Granted this is a saturated market with the top two brands commanding a full 92% of the market, which leaves fifty some odd companies competing for the remaining 8% of the market. Again, how and why? There was a lot of game killed with red plaid before the big boys showed up. Having said that, I loved the return of Mossy Oak Bottomland. The original pattern that started it all is making a comeback and I for one love it and will be spending some of my money on new ‘old’ camouflage.

Lastly in the so-so category is the plethora of deer attractants emerging. Powders, pastes, blocks, granules, liquids, solids, hybrids. Hanging attractants, screw into tree attractants, screw into the ground attractants. Vanilla, peanut butter, corn, acorn, syrup, corn syrup, molasses, salt, minerals, grape flavored, blackberry flavored, white oak acorn flavored, chestnut flavored – there was so much attractant in the Indiana Convention Center I was amazed we were not over run by deer stampeding into the center.

Now to the disappointments – without question the most disappointing items at this year’s ATA was *pause for effect* the bows. I know, but it was, except for a few that I will mention in a minute, I left the show, having seen hundreds of models, shooting dozens of styles and models and leaving with a feeling of disappointment. It seems as if they major manufactures have plateaued in their design and advancement. While I am sure some engineer can explain how the cam was improved by removing (or adding) one ten-thousandths to the weight. Or how the handle thickness was adjusted to fit more men who were between five feet seven and five feet seven and a half inches. For the shooter and hunter there was very little noticeable differences in the bows this year. And I shot a lot of them – all of the top brands (except Mathews who does not attend) were represented and all of them with a few exceptions was a major disappointment. I can honestly say that for the first time, I left the ATA not ‘wanting’ a new bow.

The other disappointment was in the accessories category. I know the industry has grown exponentially over the past few years and keeping up and improving is difficult at best. However, when the demand is so high and prices are at a premium, we expect more.

Now to the good news. Thankfully there were several excellent items that stood out at this year’s show that I feel compelled to share with you. Some are actually not new items, it’s just the first time I had to really inspect them closely. Others are new and innovative.

First: Twisted Timber Tree stands. I know this brand has been out for a while, but I could not get my head around how they could make this work so well. So I made an intentional effort to inspect closely and I am so glad I did. Curt Fast the founder and designer is such an unassuming gentleman. He has created the only hang on stand you should ever buy. This is such a simple, yet solid design that if you see it and use it you will be a convert. I assure you that all of my future hang on stands will be Twisted Timber stands. No more looking for the perfect straight tree. https://twistedtimbertreestands.com/

Next is the Ultralight Bino harness by Rick Young Outdoors – This is one of those ‘why didn’t someone think of this sooner’ items. It is so simple, so versatile and so affordable. We have grown accustomed to the around the back binocular harness but this design by Rick Young is the ‘better mouse trap’. It is versatile, light (under 1 oz) and affordable coming in at under $20. I am sure when you see this, you will be ordering several. http://rickyoungoutdoors.com/

For the crossbow hunters, Zeiss has introduced the perfect optics for the crossbow hunters. The Terra XB 75 Crossbow scope is designed specifically for the crossbow hunters. This scope is complete with a ballistic reticle for their scopes. In theory, (and actuality) sight in the scope at 20 yards then make the adjustment on the speed dial and the remaining reticles are zeroed in at their respective yardages. http://www.zeiss.com/sports-optics/en_us/hunting/home.html

The new Prime One STX was an interesting bow, so was the Hoyt Carbon Spyder, these two bows were by far the best of the best. They are expensive – both well over a grand. But in a year of disappointing bows, these two stood out as the ones to look at for a future investment. http://g5prime.com/  http://www.hoyt.com/

It seems that every year the bow manufactures are increasing the costs with little innovative engineering.  Somewhere soon they have to hit the ceiling. Top grade bows are listed in the $1200 range and mid-range bows are being listed at close to a thousand. In a market where the products seem to depreciate faster than burgers disappear from teenagers the increasing prices of these bows has to stop soon. Rather than introducing different models with lower cost, make the top models affordable to the average shooter.