By Kevin Reese
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- The Archery Trade Association (ATA) show, held every year in January, has its challenges both on and off the showroom floor.
Last year scores of registrants and attendees either had flights cancelled or otherwise could not break through the blizzard-like conditions to get there to begin with or once ATA ended, just about pulled their own teeth trying to get back home.
While this year the weather was much more cooperative, although temperatures were still harsh to say the least. My first evening in Indianapolis brought temperatures as low as -9 to -11 degrees with a wind chill of -30. The following day brought more subzero temps with wind chill forecasted as low as -25. On another night while walking back from a meal in downtown, the temperature was -1 with a wind chill of -16.
At one point during the walk back my good friend, Clinton Ashby, a Maine outfitter and archery retailer, quipped, “I feel like I’m going to l crumble into a pile on the sidewalk out here.”
When you’ve walked mile after mile on a showroom floor day after day and follow those efforts up with severely under-dressed 1.5 mile roundtrip walks in subzero temperatures for a decent meal, you start to wonder what exactly it is that draws you to the big show… and why the heck it’s scheduled for northern locations in January!
That said, I knew the answer before I asked it of myself. Even while the stinging cold and wind bit at my cheeks I was excited by the revolutionary new products drawing me to booth after booth.
Indeed, if there has ever been a show that demonstrates the innovative ingenuity of archers and bowhunters, the ATA show is it.
And, when I say bowhunters and archers, I mean it. Consider HHA Sports and their new King Pin Sights. Both the Hunter and dovetail Target model are game-changers. While I already consider HHA to be the best sight on the market for bowhunters like me, they have found yet another way to leave the competition trailing behind.
Even better, their sights are comprised of American parts and designed and built entirely in the U.S.A. by bowhunters, for bowhunters! Everyone at HHA Sports, with the exception of two employees, is an avid bowhunter! Set your sight on www.HHASports.com to learn more about the KingPin and other awesome products!
Another amazing product line blowing the minds of broadhead manufacturers and bowhunters alike comes from the lethal mind of Thomas Loa, an avid bowhunter himself and the owner of Xecutioner Broadheads.
Xecutioner Broadheads blew away competing broadhead technology with field-point-accurate 2.5-in. cutting diameter cut-on-contact mechanical broadheads! Now, their offerings include a bone-crushing hybrid comprised of a two blade cut-on-contact fixed head atop Xecutioner’s infamous mechanical blades.
Another new broadhead design features a large two-blade fixed head with four integrated bleeder blades. Still, all that innovation wasn’t enough for one show. Loa also unveiled the Tim Well’s Slocker! The Slocker is a small game collar than can be used with a field point or behind any of the broadheads I mentioned. The Slocker has been shot and hunt proven to
ensure field-point accuracy and is certainly going behind my Xecutioner broadhead of choice this spring for that ol’ boss tom! Loa also suggested greater things are to come for archery turkey hunters – more on that later.
For now, I’ll let Thomas Loa and Xecutioner Broadheads bask in ATA glory as the clear leader in broadhead innovation… and blood trails. Start your blood trail at www.XecutionerBroadheads.com!
Right next to Xecutioner Broadheads, I ran into Larry Bay, owner of Clean Shot. While I loved and intend to use his truly unique lighted nocks which are ultra-bright, long lasting and include a refreshing, long awaited, game changing practice mode, I was really excited to see his new bowfishing arrow tip complete with integrated laser! As an avid bowfisher, dealing with refraction and where to aim at varying depths is always a major challenge.
Missing is an inherent part of bowfishing, like most people I bowfish with, I do well but still miss more than I hit. Clean-Shot offers a phenomenal tool in this laser arrow tip to practice shooting and gain awareness as to how much refraction and indeed deflection you’re really dealing with. This laser arrow tip also simplifies instruction for new bowfishers, and for guides, can help their guests, often inexperienced, boat more fish! To learn more about Clean-Shot, visit www.Clean-Shot.com!
Saving the best for last, the final day of the 2015 ATA Show drew me away from the epicenter of the show to explore the smaller booths. To me, these are often the best booths to explorer. Smaller companies often come with the coolest products at ATA and even better, the owners are often the only ones in their booths and filled with passion for their products, an attribute often missing from the larger exhibitors.
It was at one of these booths I ran into Sam Wood, Melissa Orson and Corey Wood of Bad Ass Slingshots. Interestingly enough, I had talked about this technology just days before leaving for the ATA Show but had never seen it. Bad Ass Slingshots, therefore became my first experience with a slingshot that launches full sized arrows with enough weight, speed and kinetic energy to easily take down big game (check your local hunting regulations). Sam showed off several versions of his Bad Ass Slingshots but all were designed for target shooting/hunting and bowfishing. The target and hunting slingshot models range from 55 to 70 lb. draw, the Hunter is adjustable, and up to a 45-lb. draw on the Beast bowfishing slingshot or lower on yet another bowfishing model. Truly, Bad Ass Slingshots offer models to fit a variety of draw weights. Visit www.BASlingshots.com to learn more!
While I detest the idea of heading north for the deep winter freeze of the annual Archery Trade Association Show, these products are the reason I go. Moreover, the people behind those products are the reason I brave the extreme subzero elements and tricky travel with a smile on my face. Indeed, I work in the greatest industry the world has ever known and with some of the most creative and integrity driven people on Earth. Even in stinging subzero temperatures I know I’m blessed to be a part of it all.
Come rain, shine, sleet or snow I’ll see y’all next year!