We are on the verge of a fundamental transformation in the sport of archery, one that will profoundly change its form but preserve and dramatically extend its essence and its joys.
Some will wonder how these changes will affect conventional archery. In particular, how will they affect the sales of conventional archery equipment.
After all, if millions of arrows will be virtual, what will happen to the sales of “real” ones?
Let’s have a look at the three major archery industry products: bows, arrows, and targets.
Virtual Reality Archery will obliterate the venue limitations which are the greatest barriers to archery’s growth. In doing so, the demand for bows will rise because there will be many more places to use them.
And, though VR Archery will have virtual arrows and targets, physical arrow and target sales will increase simply because many more people will become involved in archery and many of those will become new conventional archers at conventional venues.
To understand what is to come, it helps to look at another basic change in 20th century life: typing.
What does it mean to “type” a letter?
It means to “send” the image of letters and therefore words and sentences onto a surface on which others can see and read what was written.
For about a hundred years, this meant to strike ink onto a piece of paper with letter-shaped elements using a human interface: the keyboard.
The three essentials of typing were keyboards, the inked elements, and paper.
“Typing” used to mean this…
This is the first commercially manufactured typing element, The Hansen Typing Ball.
And this is the Hansen typewriter [1870s]:
Eventually “typing” came to mean this…
It’s the last commercially manufactured mechanical typing element: the IBM Selectric type ball.
The similarity is incredible… who knew?
And this is the IBM Selectric typewriter [1970s]:
A lot happened in the hundred years or so between that first typing ball and the last one.
Scholes & Glidden… the first commercially successful typewriter.
Underwood Champion… favorite of generations of journalists and copywriters everywhere.
Remington-Rand… a staple of corporate document production.
Then – after that IBM Selectric typewriter had seen its day – this happened:
Word Processing. See the Selectric? It became just a printer in the new electronic system.
And so many documents that before were only paper, became this:
Then, less than ten years later… “keyboards” became this:
For years, people announced The Paperless Office, and the decline, if not the end, of paper in the office.
But more paper was used than ever, because so many more people were typing… in so many new ways, and in so many new places, and so many of those words still ended up on paper.
To quote The Economist: “The global consumption of office paper more than doubled in the last two decades of the 20th century, as digital technology made printing cheaper and easier than ever before.”
The world of “typing” had gone through a revolution… because of technology… but there were more keyboards and more ink [printer toner] and paper than ever.
The same will happen with bows… and arrows… and targets, the three essential elements of archery.
There will be more bows because the bow is the essential human interface for archery, whether conventional or virtual.
And there will be more physical arrows and targets because there will be so many more people doing archery, and many of those will take up conventional archery.
The rising tide of new archery will lift all equipment boats: virtual and conventional.