Combat archery games have existed alongside paint ball and lasertag for many years, but it has recently exploded in popularity. This is partially due to the rise of franchises with bow-and-arrow-wielding characters, such as Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings. 2011 saw John Jackson invent a formalized version called “Archery Tag”. He has now licensed his concepts and gear to more than 170 locations.
There is an opportunity to develop a year-round attraction, either by licensing from an existing combat archery company or establishing a new brand particular to the region.
Predicated on dodgeball, “combat archery” sees participants shoot safe, foam-tipped arrows at each other using a bow. Similarly to paint ball, there are obstacles and objects on the field of play behind which to hide and strategize. The scoring system is commonly points-based or elimination-based, but opportunities exist to tailor the game’s goals into different challenges or modes.
The competition occurs within a restricted time frame, usually along hour-based increments. The games operate with a team-based model. Groups can book private sessions or participants can join public play and be assigned to a team.
Upon arrival, participants are provided with access to a training area and instruction. This serves both to emphasize safety rules and procedures as well as teach the techniques required to fire the arrows from the bows.
This is also when players are introduced to their safety gear, most notably a protective face/eye mask or helmet. These masks tend to have anti-fogging abilities. Sometimes chest and wrist guards are provided as well.
The most common form of gameplay sees the two teams aligned along opposite sides of the arena. At the signal, they race towards the center where all the bows and arrows are lined up to be claimed.
Retreating back to their own sides, participants take strategic cover. In this “elimination” version, players are out of the game when they are hit by an arrow or when an opposing team member catches an arrow shot by them.
There are also options for other types of game play. For example, using a points system that permits all players to remain “active” in the game for the duration of the time frame.
The game is notable for its rapid learning curve. Participants of all ages are able to easily wield the specialized bows and arrows. The bows have a maximum of thirty pounds of “draw weight”, ensuring accessibility as well as safety. Often the range is between ten and twenty pounds of draw weight.
Usually, there is a spectator area which enables participants who are awaiting their turns, parents, or interested visitors to watch the games. Establishing a “private” room for parties and other bookings is also common.
The region is primed for the introduction of this growing sport. The ability to establish arenas of play both indoors and out leads to a wide variety of possible settings and themes. The region also has a notable opportunity to expand the traditional, smaller training area into a larger, stand-alone experience. This would expand the offerings to those seeking less of an adrenaline-charged or competitive atmosphere. Target-based challenges or single-player obstacle courses could supplement the “classic” arena-based team play. There are also companies that specialize in mobile combat archery installations which enable the game to be played in fields, gyms, or even office buildings. Costumes and themes are becoming increasingly popular as well, from movie-focused to historical.
Archery tag is most often played at an indoor location to allow for year-round availability and to limit the impact of the elements on play.
Potential indoor sites for archery tag locations include gymnasiums, indoor sports fields, warehouses, and office buildings with high ceiling clearance. Sites with these facilities are more likely to be located near town centres.
Air-supported domes are also often used for archery tag and these structures can be built on agricultural land. However, these structures can be rather cost-prohibitive. Archery tag is, therefore, normally combined with indoor driving ranges and indoor sports fields in air-supported domes to make this type of venture more feasible.
The site will require both road access and electricity. As most archery tag locations include a change room, access to running water is also likely needed. A small parking lot or access to street parking will be required.
The following checklist should be used when determining site eligibility:
- Check zoning
- Ensure proper permits are in place
- Confirm business can operate on the designated land
- Check environmental regulations and species protection
- Determine legal and insurance requirements
First and foremost, combat archery is a family-friendly, accessible sport that provides the stimulation of the ever-popular paint ball but without the physical pain and danger. The charm of the bows and arrows creates a more wholesome environment than the use of paint ball guns as well.
The ability to quickly learn the techniques has been demonstrated across all age groups. It also has a more gender neutral appeal than dodgeball, with many more co-ed groups participating as teams than are seen in municipal dodgeball leagues. The strategizing, teamwork, partnership and physical engagement as well as competition lends itself to professional group activities.
It is easily tailored to groups such as birthday parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and even summer or winter camp activities. The nature of the inflatable obstacles also provides a wider range of options in terms of locations.
The main expense for archery tag is determined to be the venue, on average costing $5k/month. Archery tag equipment will be a one-time cost of $11k, while insurance and operations will be $20k. It is estimated that an average of two staff members will be needed each day at a rate of $15/hour for 8 hours.
The fee for an average archery tag session is $24. For the purposes of this financial analysis, it is assumed that an average of 40 individuals will play each day and that the business will operate year-round.