To make it simple, because of you! Many local archery clubs opened in the 80s-90s as bowhunting grew as a whole. 3D archery became a great way to spend a weekend with your friends practicing and competing to become better at archery and ultimately, bowhunting. In the last decade they are failing and closing at a rapid rate.
Why is this happening? Are there too many competing hobbies? Is archery dying in general? Is bowhunting less popular?
Well, as a matter of fact, bowhunting and competitive archery numbers have continued to rise over the past several decades. So, what could be the cause? Sure, some of the blame for your local club disappearing could stem from those new bowhunters being crossbow shooters, less interested in spending all summer practicing. Or maybe all of the local shooters are now ultra-competitive and would rather travel to a large, organized tournament than the local club down the road. I won't deny that SOME potential 3D archers may fall in those categories, but that is a very small piece of the pie.
The real reason is that as a person who shoots 3D, you just expected the club to be there, as it has been for decades. You didn't volunteer to take over for the aging club members. You didn't spur excitement about upcoming shoots and help advertise. You didn't bring in competitive organizations to draw a larger crowd. You didn't talk to local businesses about the potential advertisement possibilities. You didn't invite your friends and family to spend a weekend together.
The older generation that started many of these long-lasting clubs have gotten to an age where it is more difficult to keep up... and if no one is stepping up... the club dies.
Luckily, here in Central Illinois, I have seen a strong rebound by some of these clubs as young men and women have caught the drift. Locals that love 3D and the time spent with friends and family have found that by taking a little responsibility, they could make their local club their own and carry on the tradition of the club for the next generation. For example, some amazing volunteers in our area are now invested in refreshing and evolving Wolf Run Bowhunters in Roodhouse, IL. Once a few found out the club was in trouble we rallied to save it, grow it, and protect it. We continue to attract more shooters each year and the future is much more promising than just a couple short years ago. The shooters were there already. They just didn't know about the club, or were not excited about the club, because no one told them about it. Archers are everywhere, and if you can set up a situation that is exciting for folks to come and spend some time... it will grow. Just remember, if you are going to a local shoot and loving it, ask if there is anything you can do for them. It may be that all they need is for you to keep coming out and spread the word, or it may be more serious than that. Just remember, if you don't ask now, you may be asking yourself later, "what happened?".
JOIN US AT WOLF RUN BOWHUNTERS - ROODHOUSE, IL