Archery Trades Association CEO Jay McAninch recently blogged his opinions on the past, present, and future of bowhunting.
In general, he did a spot-on job of describing the changing participation of segments of the hunting world.
I read and re-read his comments then sat back to think about just how relevant they are to not just archery, but to the entire outdoor industry. His comments on the generational divide, although slightly shortened for space, follow.
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Participation by baby boomers (50-plus years old) is rapidly changing.
Many in this age group hunt less and/or hunt with easier-to-use equipment, which means purchasing behaviors have changed — and those changes are reflected in sales of different gear and equipment.
For instance, baby boomers drove bowhunting’s growth through the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, and their buying behavior fueled much of the archery industry’s great success.
That’s changing rapidly for baby boomers as bowhunting’s financial and physical challenges increase with age.
Outdoor industry teams are questioning how much longer it can count on the baby boomers’ contributions to the industry.
Bowhunting participation by Gen Xers (35-50 years) differs in many ways from baby boomers, and those differences directly affect manufacturers in the outdoor industry. Instead of hunting weekly or several times a week as many in baby boomers and previous generations did, Gen Xers often hunt more periodically.
It’s more often a few days here or a week there, but then they don’t hunt at all for periods of time during the long season.
It’s not known how much this behavior impacts the Gen Xers’ purchasing behavior, but indicators appear to be significant.
Millennials (18-34 years) are the toughest generation to gauge yet. As of 2016, they are collectively the largest generation of adult Americans.
Many of them are immigrants, which means that much information about all facets of hunting isn’t available in their native language.
They might have little or no access or opportunity to participate.
As information about millennials develops, it becomes apparent that young people go afield with different motivations and aspirations than do baby boomers, and their measures of success differ by generation.
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Although the above comments were, for the most part, comments focused on the archery industry, they are just as important to all hunters, fishers, bird watchers and all others who treasure the outdoor experience in any way.
It has become more important than ever that we involve ourselves in activities and efforts to preserve our heritage.
Thanks to McAninch for bringing this important topic to our attention.