Like it or not, running smooth, well-organized archery leagues requires extensive bookkeeping and plenty of clock-watching. Not only must you record individual and team scores, averages and handicaps, you must get them right the first time you post them, and post them when people expect them.
And if you run video-based leagues with assigned shooting times, you must keep the shooting schedule on track. If shooters too often find themselves waiting when they're supposed to be shooting, they'll find other ways to spend their evening.
Here are some tips from archery retailers for running a smooth operation:
• "To decrease no-shows, require two-person teams. Teams keep people interested, and peer pressure increases attendance. It's easier for one guy to skip a night if he's not letting anyone down." (Bill Pellegrino, Bill Pellegrino’s Archery Hut, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
• "To build flexibility into your TechnoHunt league schedules, create at least one league for three-person teams. Then, when scheduling shooting times, allot 15 minutes per shooter, and mix a three-person team between some of the two-person teams. If a machine malfunctions or a team falls behind, you’ll have some cushion from that 15-minute window after the three-person team." (Jeff Mueller, Badgerland Sports, Portage, Wisconsin)
• "I use the Martin Archery League Manager computer software program, probably because I developed it 15 years ago. It's a good way to keep leagues organized. It also keeps things interesting with all the data it tracks, whether it's highest average by week, month or season; highest score above individual average; most improved shooter; and just about anything else you want to know. The more trivia you share with shooters about themselves, the more fun they have in leagues." (Jim Kneeland, Archers Afield, Tigard, Oregon)
• "I had a guy build me a computer program for all our league stats. It probably gets a little confusing at times, but only because I probably had him overdo it. It figures averages, handicaps, standings; everything they want to know. We want our shooters to get all that information weekly to keep things interesting." (Jerry Bedor, Archery Specialists, New London, Wisconsin.)
If you operate fun, well-organized archery leagues, your shooters are probably already delivering word-of-mouth endorsements, which is the most effective advertising campaign possible for promoting leagues.
But don't put that entire responsibility on your customers. Post league info on your store's website, send fliers to customers on your mailing list, e-mail electronic fliers to customers in your e-mail directory, post fliers at conservation clubs and on public bulletin boards, and post sign-up sheets in your shop.
What about radio, TV and newspaper advertising? Much depends on your market. Jeff Mueller at Badgerland Archery in Portage, Wisconsin, said he had little response to ads in local newspapers. However, he generates a worthwhile response with ads in a statewide newspaper, the "Wisconsin Outdoor News."
Sometimes, though, you must start at "Square 1" and make more people aware of your pro shop. Bill Pellegrino at the Archery Hut in Colorado Springs has had success with the old "sandwich board" ads people display on their front and back.
"They're called 'waddlers,' and for $10 an hour and 15 hours a week I hire a guy to advertise my store out on the highway a block away, and it really works," Pellegrino said. "We're located on a private drive three buildings back, so all those people on that busy highway wouldn't know we're here otherwise. Our waddler sends me six new customers every week for $150. That's a great deal. Newspapers didn't work for me, and radio did a little better, but the waddler outperforms everything else I've tried."