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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Great Outdoor Show Falls Apart
Kodabow Shooting Lane - ESOS 2012
Yesterday morning, we determined that it was necessary for Kodabow as a company to withdraw from attending the 2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA. This was based on the last minute and unexpected change in the show's format involving the ban on modern sporting rifles. Yes - we are an archery company but we stand with Freedom and the 2nd Amendment. We join a growing list of celebrities like Jim Shockey, major companies like Ruger and Cabelas, all who have said "No" to this show's format. We have talked with many of our customers --- many who have taken the time to call us and say they strongly agree with this position and appreciate the support. Others have emailed and simply said "thanks!" Yesterday morning, I knew this would unravel fast unless the show management company, Reed Exhibitions reversed course. Not one person called Kodabow and said "please support the show" or "you are making a mistake by withdrawing." Calls we made to Reed Exhibitions were unanswered. We did not want to see the demise of this event happen in this manner.

Recognize that all of this is a tragic and shameful outcome for a great Pennsylvania tradition. Parents are now teaching their children that principles matter when they explain the reason that they will be doing something else during the period 2-10 February. Plans are being changed. Hotel bookings are being cancelled. Outfitters are sorting out how they will pay their bills without the bookings they generate at this show. Somehow, this terrific show transformed into an anti-gun event when the show operators offered a lame explanation that they were looking to avoid controversy by banning certain types of firearms and accessories. The opposite happened - they got plenty of controversy. A lot of opportunities will now be missed. We spent some time recently with Larry Weishuhn (aka. Mr. Whitetail) and looked forward to visiting with him in our booth. Companies like Kodabow are impacted by not only the potential loss of prepaid booth expenses measured in thousands of dollars but the inability to interact with our customers and future customers. In many ways, this show was our most important event of the year as a Pennsylvania company. We are heavily invested in the show and I know many sportsmen and women looked forward to visiting with us. We have made strong friendships at this show. During the past two years, we shot a single Kodabow crossbow with approximately 2,000 consumers at each show and really jump started our pathway to success. As a new crossbow maker, we felt we needed to go far beyond expectations to give hunters and shooters the confidence to buy our product and the Eastern Sports Show was a big part of making that happen. It was hard work but it paid off. We looked forward to doing it again in 2013. Make no mistake about this outcome. The path that has been taken is a rough road but we fully support our decision with no reservations. Those that would hope to use this great Outdoor Show to advance an anti-gun political agenda have won a skirmish by purposely placing the show in confused state and we suspect that there is far more to the story. The show operators clearly underestimated the feelings of the attendees - Reed Exhibitions was out of touch. The negative response they are receiving (but not listening to) is overwhelming. Shame on any local politicians or sponsors if they had a hand in this. The reality is that the local community surrounding Harrisburg will suffer the loss of millions in revenue as restaurants and hotels are unfilled. As an example, our Kodabow team stays at a hotel for 9 days straight and eats our meals at local establishments. Not this year. 
So where does this leave us.
(1) Find an outfitter that may have dropped out of the show and book a hunt with them to show your support. This might be the year for that bear hunt in Canada or the trip to Wyoming.
(2) Spend some time in the outdoors with family and wait till next year because we know we will come back strong with an Northeast US Outdoor Show that is aligned with our values.
(3) Spend some money with the companies that support your 2nd Amendment rights. They probably need it right now. Write your state senator and ask about what is going on at the Harrisburg Farm Show complex. Contact your Congressional representatives and ask them to support hunting and fishing policies and our constitutional rights. Tell them to stop portraying firearms as the cause of the problems in our society - they are surely not.
Update your NRA membership.
(4) If you are looking for something to do, visit Kodabow in West Chester, PA during the period 2-10 February. We will open our facility and indoor range and provide "1 on 1" crossbow shooting instruction and include hunting skill improvement recommendations. Kids are welcome. Coffee will be served. We will be around. Give us a call at 610-620-4352. 
Thank you for your consideration and support.
Chuck Matasic