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June 10, 2020

Explore Archery Grants Bring USA Archery Programming to 10,000 New Archers in Michigan

Information and photo attributed to the Michigan Out-of-Doors Summer 2020 edition, By Shaun McKeon, MUCC Education Director

In 2017, USA Archery established a partnership with mParks to grow archery at the community level in Michigan. With the generous support of Easton Foundations, Explore Archery grants were awarded to twelve different communities in Michigan. Each grant, valued at $4,000, provided a complete equipment kit and the Explore Archery program curriculum, materials and achievement awards. Two staff members from each community were also certified as USA Archery Level 2 Instructors.

Two years later, those initial programs have grown to over 15 current programs in Michigan that have introduced nearly 10,000 new archers to the sport and have generated over $2.6million of archery equipment sales.

Brian Farmer, the Deputy Director for Parks and Recreation for the City of Farmington Hills, is one of the original archery instructors in the area. Their program began almost a decade ago, with camps and basic instruction from 2011-2013. In 2015, the city community secured a permanent archery range, and Farmer’s continued to expand his vision. In his mind, "Parks and Rec are one of the best recruitment opportunities to reach more people directly in communities, as that is where people look for the activities of interest in most communities."

Municipal recreation departments serve as a gateway for trying new activities. Residents are familiar with their programs and may even know many of the staff from participating in previous programs. The barrier to entry for a seven-week program is low, and it allows class participants to learn techniques, build skills and try equipment before deciding to continue by purchasing their equipment. Based on survey data collected, Brian began to see a trend in people trying recreational archery and wanting to continue to learn. They introduced archery camps, where participants learn about archery, hunting and conservation.

Enter the USA Archery Grant in 2017. At the end of 2019, just two years later, the initial programs and the new ones that grew from those asked their members to respond to a survey on participation. A snapshot of their results:

  • 9,640 people participated in parks and recreation archery programs throughout fifteen communities in Michigan.
  • 6,970 (72%) people had never shot a bow before or had not shot a bow in a long time. 2,670 (28%) people shoot a bow regularly.
  • 4,754 (49%) participants purchased target archery or hunting equipment in the last 1-2 years, spending a total of $2,684,726.
  • 7,653 (79%) people are interested in target archery or competitions.

Based on the success of this focus group, the Michigan DNR intends to build two to four more archery ranges in local parks each year. Increasing the opportunity for local communities to support their residents through archery bodes well for long-term recruitment goals.

Learn more about the Explore Archery Program and USA Archery Grant Opportunities.

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