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Explore Bowhunting’s continued success inspired the Archery Trade Association to launch Explore Bowfishing, another educational program for students 11 to 17.

Much like Explore Bowhunting, which teaches youths basic bowhunting skills, Explore Bowfishing fills a need that industry leaders identified in the archery market.

The Explore Bowfishing program launched Oct. 25 at the Aquatic Resources Education Association Conference in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. As with Explore Bowhunting, this program helps instructors, educators and program leaders teach youths basic bowfishing skills.

In addition, Explore Bowfishing opens doors by targeting a new but existing audience – anglers – while expanding the market for bowfishing-specific archery equipment.

“Explore Bowfishing will help us reach a new customer base,” said Katie Haymes, ATA’s senior manager of education programs. “We can grow participation in our sport by using different types of equipment like bowfishing’s specially designed bows, arrows and accessories.”

Jennifer Mazur, ATA’s director of archery and bowhunting programs, is confident the program will attract a new crowd. “Bowfishing offers a unique shooting experience,” Mazur said. “It’s a fun, fast-paced, multi-shooting activity that appeals to a wide audience.”

Bowfishing also has the potential to reactivate lapsed anglers and bowhunters, and create a gateway into bowhunting deer, turkeys and other game.

“Some people are more accepting of bowfishing than bowhunting,” Mazur said. “This could be a natural transition from shooting fish to shooting game animals.”

Haymes and Mazur are two of seven team members who created the program, and they have high expectations for its future. At the recent AREA Conference, the Explore Bowfishing team held a four-hour workshop to teach aquatic educators about the curriculum with hands-on activities about safety, fish identification, fish habitat, water refraction, instinctive shooting techniques, and how-to lessons on bowfishing equipment.

Three state wildlife agencies – Arizona, Texas and Ohio – walked away with bowfishing kits, which feature a full lineup of bowfishing gear to use while piloting the program.

Introducing archery to state agencies’ fisheries programs will require more state-agency staff working to grow archery. Strategically, that’s never a bad thing.

To learn more about Explore Bowfishing and its curriculum, materials, activities and bowfishing kits, visit the Member Services Area at the 2017 ATA Trade Show, Jan. 10-12 in Indianapolis.

If you are interested in acquiring the program for your state, please contact Katie Haymes at katiehaymes@archerytrade.org or (804) 431-5390 for more information.

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