More Like the Imitation Zone…

"Heartland Archery | Winnipeg" (CC BY 2.0) by jrladia

I know ATA has been over for weeks and I, the Gear Editor, haven’t written anything. That’s my fault. I apologize. But only kind of. There are some things coming, and some good connections were made, but walking the floors of ATA, largely, one thought dominated my mind.

This is boring.

Most readers have already commented that I’m a spoiled hack having worked in the industry as long as I have and don’t REALLY appreciate ATA for what it is. Some of you already stopped reading. For those who hung on, let me explain. Are you ready?

It was really boring.

I spent 30 minutes walking the “Innovation Zone,” the playground of the newest and hottest items that are supposed to have me revved up for bowhunting or hunting in general in the coming year.

There wasn’t anything innovative. Not that I found. Not that excited me. There were some items with different price points than I might expect or are used to seeing. There were some items I haven’t seen before. But there wasn’t anything that made me say “where has this been all my life?!”

It could be that I’m just that jaded. That having been in the industry I’m just too close to it to appreciate it. I’m willing to accept that point, because I admit that I see some of that in myself. The flip side, however, is that I hear the same thing from too many of you to think I’m crazy.

Rather than really innovate, the same stuff is trotted out with a different “celebrity” hunter’s name on it. Or a slick new sizzle reel with more slider shots of sunsets and two new slow motion arrow impacts on management bucks.

Aren’t we beyond that? Don’t you expect more than that from a company?

The industry has some problems. It’s locked into thinking from two decades ago. The world has changed and this industry continues to hang onto outdated principles of product development and marketing. You have companies who still think the best way to market to women is to “shrink-it and pink-it.” Still others think social media is a waste of time. I saw a lot of sizzle in Indy, and not much steak.

The industry has an honesty problem, and an authenticity problem. People who point this out are trying to change that, and largely remain unemployed (talking about myself here folks).

I’m not alone. I heard this from more than a few people who attended. More importantly I hear this talk from a lot of you. I hear it. I’m not the one pretending that this sentiment doesn’t exist.

I enjoyed my time at ATA. And I saw some products that I liked. You’ll see my coverage of them soon. Just promise me one thing.

If I use words like innovative, revolutionary, game-changing, or paradigm-shifting, please, send hate-mail immediately.

Trent Marsh - Gear Editor
Trent Marsh spent much of his childhood in the woods and lakes of Northeast Indiana. He has long had a passion for the outdoors. He transferred that passion into a career as the marketing manager for an optics company the last five years. In a short amount of time Trent has become a respected outdoor marketing professional and one of the next generation of outdoorspeople. When not hunting or fishing Trent is can usually be found tending his garden or chickens, or travelling the world with his wife.


  1. Trent, I had the same feeling at SHOT. I even asked several colleagues, “What was the best thing you found?” To which there was pretty much the sound of crickets. Those who did find something they liked found the same old stuff with new colors and such. I think part of it is that several firearms manufacturers released their new products last summer and last fall, so really we already knew about them before the show.
    BUT WAIT! As a woman, I am pleasantly surprised by Sitka and Kryptek’s new women’s camouflage! I know. I know. That’s not exciting to you. 😉

    • Sitka gear is super EXCITING-very technical and well thought I out.
      I have not seen Kryptek’s… I’m looking forward to it.


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