By Lynn Burkhead
Most years, Petersen’s Bowhunting editor Christian Berg is like a kid on Christmas morning when the first few days of January roll around. He’s usually got venison in the freezer, a new set of antlers headed for the wall, and he is packing his bags to hop on a plane and fly to the American Midwest for the Archery Trade Association’s annual ATA Trade Show.
But that’s most years, not this year as the deadly scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause illness around the globe as well as societal and business upheaval across every avenue of American life.
Despite the fact that Berg and his editorial staff at PBH have known for weeks that there wouldn’t be an ATA Show at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis this week, that doesn’t mean that any of them have been taking it easy.
In fact, as 2020-21 bowhunting seasons have been winding down, they’ve been working harder than ever to gather information and produce best-in-class bowhunting content that will keep consumers informed as the 2021 ATA Show — which would have been the event’s 25th edition — goes virtual this year.
With the hard work of the PBH crew about to be unveiled in the next several days, Berg took a few minutes out of his schedule to tell readers and viewers what they can expect to see.
PBH Question: You’ve been a regular fixture at ATA Archery Trade Shows since the turn of the century. So, I guess the first question is how disappointed are you that the physical show has been cancelled this year?
Berg: I’ve probably been to about 17 or 18 ATA Shows previously, and it’s definitely a disappointment not to be going this year. For me, the biggest loss is not being able to see so many friends that I only see in person once each year. The archery community is absolutely packed with wonderful folks, and I always look forward to the opportunity to catch up with people, swap stories about the hunting seasons that have just wrapped up and talk about what we are excited about for the year ahead, both in terms of new gear and new hunting adventures.
PBH Question: While the physical trade show won’t take place this year at the Indiana Convention Center, the Archery Trade Association and Outdoor Sportsman Group have been hard at work in recent weeks to put on a cyber-version of the 2021 show. Tell us about that.
Berg: As far as product coverage goes, the shift to a “virtual show” probably does not impact Petersen’s Bowhunting quite as much as other media outlets. That’s because for even longer than my 15 years at the magazine, Bowhunting has been publishing its annual New Gear Guide as a special edition to coincide with the ATA Show. This means that, each year, our editorial team works tirelessly in advance of the show to coordinate with manufacturers, gather new product information and publish a comprehensive collection of new gear that can be distributed to show attendees. As a result of this process, we typically have “seen” most of the new products unveiled at ATA before the show. The show itself gave us the first opportunity to see the products in person, shoot the new bows, etc., but there aren’t typically as many surprises at the show for us as there might be for the average attendee.
PBH Question: What will Petersen’s Bowhunting coverage look like as the ATA Show shifts into the virtual world for 2021?
Berg: Thankfully, despite this year’s change in show format, we were able to continue with our regular New Gear Guide production schedule, and although we weren’t able to hand deliver this special issue to every show attendee, we were able to send it to ATA members via direct mail in advance of this year’s virtual show. So, just as we do each year, we are continuing to cover all the new products and give manufacturers the opportunity to highlight their new products with the ATA’s dealer and retail members.
Similarly, we recently put the wraps on our annual March “Equipment Issue” that will be mailed out to all subscribers in late January and hit newsstands nationwide in early February. So, even though there is no in-person ATA Show here in 2021, our audience can continue to rely on Petersen’s Bowhunting to keep them up to date with all the information they need on the latest and greatest new bowhunting products and technologies. And, we’ll still be bringing folks virtual wall-to-wall coverage of the show, with daily updates on our website at bowhuntingmag.com and through coverage of every new product category folks get excited about, from bows and crossbows to arrows and broadheads to new stands and blinds and the latest new camo field apparel, optics, trail cameras and so much more. Simply put, if you’re looking for a resource on the best new bowhunting gear, look no further than our magazine and website! As an added bonus, we’ve also been involved with the “ATA New Product Premier,” a made-for-TV special that will be airing Jan. 16 on Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel and giving folks a first look at many of the year’s most exciting new products.
PBH Question: Obviously, this year’s ATA Show will look and feel different than it has in previous years. Will the virtual effort provide bowhunters with the information they need to make wise purchase decisions before next fall’s hunting seasons begin?
Berg: I’d just say that as disappointing as the show not being held is, I also can’t help but feel it makes our jobs more important than ever. Without an in-person event, I believe more people than ever will be relying on us to keep them informed on what’s going on in the archery industry, and that’s exactly what they should expect from “The Modern Bowhunting Authority.”