6 Ways to Improve Community Presence

Get outside of your archery shop to leave a positive impact within your community and beyond.

6 Ways to Improve Community Presence

When running an archery-retail shop, it’s easy to focus so intently on everything happening under your roof that you sometimes forget there’s a world around you. You spend most of your time in your shop grinding away. That’s where you make money, so why wouldn’t you put all of your eggs into that one basket? Because that’s what folks who are uninterested in taking their businesses to the next level do.

Look, I’m not condemning you for working diligently. Not at all. It’s important to show up for work daily, take great care of your customers and keep the lights on. But, if you’re known solely by your customer base and not the entire community, it’s difficult to grow your business. Putting yourself in the community eye will help you cultivate new circles of friends who can become future customers.

Real quick, I’ll advise that doing this just for show or solely to get new customers are the wrong motives. Be willing to sacrifice time and step outside of your shop’s confines to volunteer or contribute to good causes. Folks will notice your genuine efforts. Again, you’ll make new friends and stand out in the community eye.

In this article, I’ll discuss six specific ways to become more involved in your community.

1. Sponsor Positive Events, Fundraisers and Illness-Benefit Banquets

Financially supporting good causes is an excellent way to foster a solid community presence. Selfish folks could look at giving financially as money lost, but you’ll gain so much if you give generously and with the right motives. More importantly, you can make someone’s day, week, year or life.

Sponsorship for each cause is conducted differently, but there is generally some measure of recognition provided in return for money contributed. Often, sponsors are mentioned in radio ads and their logos appear on the event’s promotional materials. When your store is associated with a positive event, you’ll gain a good reputation in your community.

If you spend any amount of time in the community, you’ll learn about these types of causes and happenings well in advance and be able to contribute financially. If you’re not financially positioned to give, consider donating your time. Do what you feel led to do, and then do it willingly. You’ll stand out and build strong rapport, which is always good for business.

2. Offer an Intro-to-Archery/Bowhunting Class at a Public Venue

Many folks know about archery, but how many get the opportunity to try it? Not nearly enough. In part, this is due to archery’s complexity. Folks who’ve never shot a bow before often have no clue how or where to begin. Consequently, it never escalates beyond a looming interest. However, you can give these folks the opportunity and then teach them how to do it correctly.

Find a neutral community venue and hold an open-to-the-public archery- and bowhunting-introduction class. Assemble a bulleted list of important archery fundamentals to present, and then offer a time of questions following your presentation so everyone leaves knowing what they came to learn.

If the venue and insurance allow, bring bows, targets and backstops to the class and help folks shoot their first arrows. If this isn’t possible, hand out postcards following your presentation that invite attendees to your shop where they can shoot a bow for the first time. You’ll hook people on archery and make lots of new customers this way.

3. Take Kids Hunting for Deer or Turkeys

If we pay attention, we all know a kid or several who won’t get the opportunity to go hunting unless someone takes them. Maybe their parents don’t hunt, or perhaps they’re from a broken family. Either way, you can take them hunting (with their parent’s or guardian’s permission, of course). This can powerfully impact their life. For some, the opportunity to go hunting is a dream come true. Why not be the vehicle to make their dreams reality?

While mentoring, be responsible and be a great example. Don’t swear, chew, smoke or drive irresponsibly. When someone young is watching, everything you say and do can leave an impact — negative or positive — on them. Be above reproach and show them the best time you possibly can. It could change their life forever. Plus, they could become a lifelong customer because you gave them an opportunity to do something fun and meaningful.

In many cases, kids don’t have a bow or firearm to use, so as a mentor, you’ll need to provide one. Crossbows open a new arena for kids to experience an enjoyable bowhunt without the complexity of a compound bow. Having a crossbow or several dedicated for mentoring is more practical for both you and your mentee.

4. Host a Kicking Bear Adventure Day

Kicking Bear Foundation is a non-profit organization with this mission statement: Put a bow in a kid’s hand and lead their family to the Lord one on one. Kicking Bear’s founding servant, Ray Howell, said, “Kicking Bear is pulling kids right off the streets and giving them the opportunity to shoot archery for free. We hold Kicking Bear weekend camps all across the map, but archery shops can partner with us for a 1-day event called Adventure Day.”

Coyote Creek Archery of Rochester, Minnesota, has been doing this on the second Saturday of February for the last 6 years. “We’ve had as many as 3,500 people attend,” Howell shared. Everything is free. Some archery shop owners automatically think, “I can’t afford to do something that involved for free,” but the fact is Coyote Creek is building its business for the future by hosting Kicking Bear Adventure Days.

From face painting to shooting BB guns, Kicking Bear’s Adventure Day shows kids the best times of their lives. And, they get the opportunity to try archery. These events pull kids off the streets and show them a better way of life.
From face painting to shooting BB guns, Kicking Bear’s Adventure Day shows kids the best times of their lives. And, they get the opportunity to try archery. These events pull kids off the streets and show them a better way of life.

“Kids get to try archery, but many also return to the shop to purchase their own archery equipment from people they’ve learned to trust,” Howell continued. “This benefits both the hunting community and the archery shop. More importantly, families learn archery is something fun that they can do together. Archery shops can easily become Adventure Day hosts simply by e-mailing Kicking Bear at info@kickingbear.org. Our one requirement is that we get to shut down all events during the middle of the day and share the Gospel. It’s been highly successful.”

Craig Reichel of Coyote Creek Archery shared that all facets of Adventure Day events are entirely constructive. “It’s been nothing but positive,” he said. “I initially got involved with Ray because he’s a Christian and because he’s selfless. He’s a rare guy who gives more than he takes. That’s the standard we strive for with our shop. We do a lot of free things to help grow archery participation.

“During the event, Ray shares a message about how he grew up, does a devotion and then prays,” Reichel said. “There hasn’t been so much as a whisper of somebody disliking it. Everyone sits still and listens. Parents and kids all have their ears tuned to what Ray shares. Some folks have never been part of anything like this, and it really impacts them.

All activities shut down during midday at Kicking Bear’s Adventure Day, and Ray Howell shares a message about his childhood and his faith.
All activities shut down during midday at Kicking Bear’s Adventure Day, and Ray Howell shares a message about his childhood and his faith.

“Adventure Day is a great mission-driven event that also get folks in our door and gives us exposure,” Reichel continued. “They can come and get something to eat for free. Plus, there are eight to 10 different events throughout the day. From face painting to tomahawk throwing to archery, we show everyone a great time. It really holds their interest; these are things that many kids wouldn’t otherwise get to do.

“We make people comfortable and build relationships during Adventure Day,” he added. “Parents often return and buy their children bows. They don’t always become bowhunters, but they become archers, nonetheless. Following our first Adventure Day, many parents returned and purchased bows not only for their children, but for themselves, too. Yes, we put on the event for free, but we get lots of follow-up business afterward as a result.”

Anthony Schmidt of LaCrosse Archery, located in Onalaska, Wisconsin, also said that Adventure Day has done nothing but help his business. “All brick-and-mortar retailers face the challenge of getting foot traffic in our stores,” he said. “A special event like Adventure Day has been bringing 300 to 400 faces through our doors within a 5- to 6-hour window. These generally are children and families who wouldn’t otherwise come to our store. We get to introduce a lot of folks to archery via Kicking Bear’s platform. And, we run a sale on kids’ bows and equipment during the event, which is right before Christmas; it creates the perfect situation.

“Further, it’s a great program to support that aligns with our values,” Schmidt continued. “We provide multiple activities and experiences. Chances are that when 400 people come to an event like this, most haven’t shot a bow or BB gun, and if they have, it’s likely that they didn’t receive proper instruction. With good safety and proper instruction, we almost guarantee a positive experience, which makes it likely they’ll become lifelong archers. Adventure Day gives us the ability to positively influence the next generation.”

5. Volunteer Your Time for 4-H Archery Instruction and Equipment Inspection

When my family previously owned our archery pro shop, the local 4-H clubs held archery shoots every summer. We were thrilled to step up to the plate when the leaders asked us to inspect each bow and make notes on potential dangers or suggested fixes that could help the bows shoot more safely and accurately.

I also spoke to the groups a couple times on how to maintain a bow and how to identify common maintenance needs before they became dangerous. I took questions following my seminars to ensure everyone was well informed. When the leaders introduced me at the beginning, they also mentioned our shop name, which was good, free promotion. Folks learned I was a credible source, and that our shop could meet all of their archery needs. It was worth stepping outside of my everyday workload to do.

6. Volunteer Your Building for Hunter Safety Classes

My wife attended a hunter safety class at the archery pro shop my family previously owned. The new owners opened up their doors for the instructor, and it gave youth and adults in the class a reason to step through the pro shop’s doors.

You can do this, too. It makes your store look good when you host things like hunter safety because attendees assume you provided space out of the kindness of your heart and to help grow the sport. That’s good for business. 

Any way that you can bring neutral folks into your store is the chance to make new friends and prospective customers. Don’t limit yourself to hunter safety alone, though. Watch for other opportunities to donate space for positive events. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to make sure you’re covered in these instances.

Many children are interested in archery, but few are given the chance to try it. How aggressive will you be to make sure they get the opportunity?
Many children are interested in archery, but few are given the chance to try it. How aggressive will you be to make sure they get the opportunity?


Have you become so engrossed with keeping your business’ wheels turning that you’ve confined yourself to your building’s four walls? If so, you’re missing out on growing your business. Becoming active in your community isn’t expensive, and when it does cost money, you’ll often see it return in one shape or form down the road.

Follow the six steps I’ve outlined here and you’ll set a positive image for yourself and your store in the community eye. That will position your business to gain more customers every year. Even better, you’ll change lives.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.