Exclusive Interview – ATA CEO Matt Kormann

WTR Matt | Bowhunting


Every hunter knows that hunting is fun regardless of what tool you use. Matt Korrmann, the CEO and President of Archery Trade Association (ATA), shares how bowhunting got him to his position. He recounts his journey about becoming the president of ATA and how he finally said yes to presidency. ATA as an organization has a strong vision for the group, and Matt states that the officers exist to serve the group and its members. Matt also talks about the Innovation Zone, an area for new businesses introducing new products, and narrates how he got into whitetail hunting.

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Exclusive Interview – ATA CEO Matt Kormann

WTR Matt | BowhuntingI’m with Matt Kormann. Matt is the CEO and President of ATA, Archery Trade Association. They are the heart and soul of the archery industry and that hails out of Marietta, Georgia that has an interesting career from rocket road to Freeman. If you’ve ever gone to a conference, Freeman’s there to unload, load and set up. He’s a very interesting guy. He’s an avid archer. He’s in the game. He’s a Certified USA Archery Judge Level Two instructor. He loves the bow hunt. Even though he’s running the quintessential iconic ATA, he still gets out and gets his hands dirty. Matt, welcome to the show.

Thanks so much, Bruce. I feel very fortunate to be here with you.

It’s exciting. I was sharing how I missed the ATA. I had a good excuse for missing the ATA last time, but I’ll be there next time, mic in hand and doing on the floor interviews. I’m a voting member for POMA, Professional Outdoor Media Association. I’ve got my press credentials and so I’m ready to meet up with some of my guests and we’ll meet with the leaders in the archery industry. You’re the heart and soul of it, Matt. Why did you come to ATA? Let’s start right there. How did your journey take you to the president of ATA?

I love that question mostly because when I’ve heard other people answer it, wherever they might be in their careers, it tends to evolve over time. I love that question because my answer has stayed the same. It was this unique opportunity that blended my professional career. You mentioned where I had been previously for almost eighteen years and this passion that I had found outside of work at the time for target archery. Watching my daughter compete internationally and trying to learn as much as I could about that sport and get engaged as deeply as I could in that sport. When this opportunity came along, that was the blend of those two things, my professional life and that passion that I had found for four or five years leading up to that. It was a chance I could not take.

Maybe this is where the story evolves, but I probably have not told this story this way before publicly. The individual who is trying to find the person for this role came to me and said, “I know you love archery and I know you’ve been in the trade show industry. Do you know anybody who might be a good fit for this job?” Bruce, I think I came up with a list of six or eight folks and started sending them off to him. I wasn’t sleeping very well for a week and my wife finally pulled me aside. She was like, “What is going on?” “I’m thinking about this job. I think I might want to throw my hat in that ring.” The easiest way to wrap that up is to say the rest is history.

Was he soft-pedaling or seeing if you were interested but didn’t know how to ask you if you were interested? That’s interesting because that’s not a bad technique to go to somebody and say, “I’m looking for this sort of person. Do you know of any?” Instead of coming out and say, “Matt, I’ve checked you out. You fit what I’m looking for or we’re looking for. Let’s talk about it.” I don’t know which way did that go on?

We knew each other quite well outside of all of these industries. He knew me well enough to know that my intention was to stay where I was. I love the company I worked for. I still do, I have great respect for them. I love that industry, the trade show and events industry. I enjoyed the job that I was doing, the people I was working with. Honestly, I don’t think he thought I was going anywhere. I think it was genuinely, “You know these two industries. Is there somebody that you think might be a fit?” I blew him away a little bit when I picked up the phone a week later and said, “What do you think about me?” It was a long road after that, several months between that first phone call and winded up starting here. In other ways, it feels like it’s just come by in a blink.

ATA is a huge part of whitetail hunting. My data is dated but I know the hunting industry itself, shooting sports is $37 billion. There are about fifteen million of us that hunt. There’s a large percentage of us archery hunt and gun hunt, but you see more traction. I have more people on the show that are archery hunters because they do it longer, they spend more time at it. Some gun hunters, and gun hunters don’t get mad at me, but a week before the season, they’ll go out and shoot their 30-odd 6 to 70, whatever their gun is, 336 Marlin, and they’ll shoot it and go, “The same place it was last year.” They’ll get their gear out, hang out outside and go deer hunting. Archers aren’t like that. We’re 365 hunters. It’s a completely different industry from the archer’s eyes. We live and breathe whitetails, 365, 24/7. I spent three days over on a new property over in Nebraska just scouting. I know now where I’m going to put up my mock scrapes and all that, but I drove a couple of hundred miles to do that, to get on the new property.

I hunt with a crossbow, but I had that with me and I never cocked it. It was there just in case Mr. Wonderful got stupid, but he didn’t. I think of that because ATA is so important. If you’re not a member, you don’t attend. If you’re involved in archery business, you have to go to ATA. That’s not paying me to say that. You need to be there because everybody in the industry, I remember Brian and Mariah Hardy, they started Hardy Face Paint a number of years ago. I helped them get going on my podcast. I helped launch them and they’ve got a thriving business. You call it the incubator section or something for new companies. What’s the title of that level of involvement? Is that incubator zone?

The innovation zone.

Talk about that for a little bit because there are people out there that say, “I’ve got this great idea. There’s no better place to launch it than ATA,” and this is not a paid commercial for ATA or an infomercial, but it’s the truth though.

WTR Matt | Bowhunting

That’s a great area for especially a new business starting out, a new product starting out. We’ve all been there. We know someone who’s been there trying to build something, build a business from the ground up, build a brand or product from the ground up. Finances are always tight. It’s always tough to get somewhere. That’s an opportunity for folks in the first couple of years of their business to get out and get in front of the buyers, the pro shop owners, rub elbows with other manufacturers and get some education on their belt as well in a way that they can’t otherwise if they aren’t an established company. It’s a pretty tightly controlled space that we’re careful about who gets in there. You’ve got to be a very new product or a new company in order to get into that spot. It can be a great opportunity to launch a business.

It’s so important to be involved in your industry because the averages if you go out and look, we all spend $800 or $1,000 just on new gear every single year. That isn’t traveling, that isn’t licenses. There’s a lot of money in our industry and so you might as well get involved with the people that are running it. When you think about you had a long dating process to become president, why did you finally say, “I’m going to do this?” What was the driving force behind that?

There are another one of those chances for me to see how my answer to that question has changed. When I first started, it was because it was an opportunity to blend the work life and personal life into a job, which very few of us get an opportunity to do in our careers. At the outset it was that, but then I’ve been able to copy, if you will, the answers that our staff gives me when I sit down with them one-on-one and ask them why they’re here. To an individual, just about every one of them says, “At the ATA, I have an opportunity to make an impact on an entire industry. I can’t do that in very many places.” That’s become true for me. It’s daunting and fascinating all at the same time. It’s to think about the fact that we were fortunate enough to get to work with this huge industry and all these great, passionate companies, manufacturers, retailers and distributors. At the same time, we get a voice in there and we get to help them try and grow the industry, improve the industry and evolve the industry. Not many people get a chance to do that.

No, they don’t because you have a board of directors and they talk to the president and the executive team, and they say, “This is where we want to take this company and go make it happen.”

Exactly what you’re speaking to there, Bruce, has been our focus as a staff and especially as leadership team working with the board over the course of last year. That’s what we hope folks, members in general of the ATA will start to see, hear and feel from us. Right now, if they haven’t already started to see it and hear it from some of us individually. I’m flattered when you say that I’m at the center of the industry or the ATA. I don’t view it that way though. I have a role to play and I have a job to do. The reality is the ATA belongs to our members. It’s super important that we remind ourselves that as staff that the board understands that and we all do at this point. We’re making big efforts to ensure that our members understand that as well and that we’re acting in the right way. It doesn’t belong to the board. It doesn’t belong to me or the staff. It’s a service to our members but owned by the members. We exist to serve that group. If we’re not doing that, we’re not doing our jobs very well.

That’s why you have association at the end of it. I was alluding to typically you get your marching orders and you go. You do have a board of directors and a lot of manufacturers run your board of directors. They’ve got to represent. When it breaks down, better you run your operation. I think this is my personal two cents. That’s your biggest challenge and that’s your biggest driver is running the organization to the optimum level to serve all your members at the highest possibility so they can grow their business.

That’s another big chunk of the focus there is what can we do on behalf of our members to help grow the industry as a whole. We can’t be focused on trying to grow one segment of it or another. It’s trying to raise the entire industry to a better level, a healthier level so that everybody benefits from it. That part gets daunting, but it’s also a lot of the excitement around doing the job.

To me, it would keep it interesting. You brought up something, growth and we’re all concerned in the outdoor industry. We’re all concerned about the growth of our industry. There are so many youths now that aren’t embracing it like I did and like you did, like all my guests did. That concerns me as a hunter myself, that concerns me about being professional in the outdoor media business. What’s your thought on that?

I come at it a couple of different ways. First, I came to the sport late. I came to target archery late. I came to hunting even later. I grew up in the suburbs in a family that did not hunt. It took me a while to get here. Now that I’m hunting, every week that I’m not traveling, I’ve been in a tree stand one day so far this season. I’ll be out on actually my fourth sit this season. I am absolutely addicted. Getting the youth engaged in archery bowhunting is super important, but I think it can be just as important to get folks like me, professional folks and working folks who have an interest or are intrigued by bowhunting but haven’t given it a shot because they’re intimidated. It can be super intimidating. It can be hard to find somebody who can be a great mentor to you. That’s the part that every great mentor program that I’ve had a chance to speak to or speak with and learn about what they’re doing, the focus has not been, “We’re only going to go after adults or we’re only going to go after kids.”

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The focus really has been we need to go after anybody who’s got an interest in getting out into the woods and chasing after some game. The successful ones are doing exactly that. It’s certainly a long road ahead of us in that regard. I think especially in the last couple of years, we’ve seen some great success with mentoring. We’ve seen the state agencies are hugely committed to the R3 process, especially where it’s focused on the recruitment of new hunters. Also, not focused just on kids or on adults, but making sure that they’re trying to attract anybody who’s got an interest in the sport and getting outside. Starting and trying to make it a little bit easier for someone to start in the sport. That’s the hard part.

I have a friend who was the national rural educator of the United States. I was visiting with him, his daughter and his wife in Denver. He was there to hand the mantle or hand the trophy or the plaque off the new person. In Western New York, he runs a fully certified, accredited, high school curriculum for kids in the outdoors. It gets in the ecology and habitat improvement. They have onsite, they have a deer research facility. They have a trout rearing facility. It’s unbelievable what they’re doing. The reason I bring him up is I’m going to connect the both of you because you need to talk to Scott Jordan. He’s an unbelievable guy. He’s been recognized by his peers being one of the best educators in rural America. He’s a guy that I think would give you some insights that you can’t get any place else.

It’s amazing what’s happening in certain parts of the country in education, not just the less formal mentoring programs, but also the more formal educational opportunities. There’s huge potential there. Both for established target programs to continue growing and also to hopefully expand significantly and start up some new bowhunting programs as well for sure.

The other one I’m thinking of is Mr. William Crawford and he runs the President’s Outdoor Scholars Program, University of Montevallo. I believe that’s in Georgia if memory serves me correct. He’d be a great guy to have conversations with because those are two people I know personally that are setting the bar extremely high and creating environments where kids learn about the outdoors and how that works, but also the career paths that they can have, which is substantial.

Especially with the cost of higher education. Mike Rowe is one of my favorite individuals on the internet. I love his stories, and sometimes he goes off on a rant about how there’s this stigma about folks who don’t have four-year college degrees. I’m one of those folks who had a four-year college degree and there’s great potential especially in the outdoors to make a living doing something that you’re really passionate about. Sometimes there’s that stigma of, “Is that a real job?” Sure it is, especially if you’re passionate about it. If you can do something that you enjoy doing, there’s a tremendous opportunity that doesn’t require just owning a massive debt to get a degree to go do something else.

You know personally enough guys that started literally in their back room or their front room or wherever. They started a company and they’ve grown to a multimillion dollar or $1 billion company in the outdoor industry. I like how you said how it is important. I went to college because I wanted to play football and run track. That’s why I went to college. I didn’t go to college for a degree. What we have done, if I didn’t go to college, I probably would have turned out to be a fireman or a professional lifeguard or something along that. I probably would have ended up in the outdoor industry someplace, but it is not graduating college and start selling and get an MBA and start doing some interesting thing. Folks, find out what you’re passionate about. I was told that long time ago to find out what you’re passionate about and go do that and the money will come. How am I going to pay my bills? That’s a concern but that shouldn’t be your overall concern. The last thing that you want to do is get in the position that you hate just because you’re making a boatload of money and you hate the job because it will kill you.

When I was pursuing a degree, when I was in college, I thought I was going to be an archaeologist. I thought I was going to go out and play in the dirt for a living. I lucked into a career doing sound for bands and had a blast doing that. I was convinced even through that point that I’m never going to wear a suit. I’m never going to sell anything. That’s not me. I lucked into another career where I’m selling and I enjoyed it. I think it’s one of the things where you’ve got to give something a shot even if you’re not certain that it might be for you. There are great opportunities out there even if you think, “Maybe that’s not for me.” Try it, give it a go and it often works out.

Readers, take a step back and if you’re graduating from high school or you’re in your 30s and 40s and you wake up, going to work and coming home just because you’re going to serve your family, do what you need to do. I get that. Take a look at it because I didn’t realize Matt’s complete background before this, but I know he was smart enough to realize what he wanted to do and he went after it. Kudos to you. What are the challenges right now? You’re looking at the Archery Trade Association, the archery industry, and that’s from mom and pops that are fighting Walmart and big-box stores to major manufacturers that got people copying their stuff. I brought what I thought was the Harris Bipods and it wasn’t, and it broke apart. I said, “I need this part.” I called them up and I said, “I need this part.” “That’s an F105. Send it down to us and we’ll replace it.” I sent it down. They said, “This isn’t your part. This was made in China. This is a knockoff.” I go, “You lost the sale and I didn’t pay for Harris Bipods.” How do you combat that pirateering or I don’t know what the word you call it? Competitive business is enough. Now we’ve got people that are copying what we’re trying to do and that’s going to have a huge impact on the revenues.

We certainly have some members, especially manufacturing members, that is their biggest challenge right now. They can tell you down to the dollar how much they’ve lost in sales and in some cases, it’s many hundreds of thousands of dollars. The first thing to recognize is that we need to understand exactly what we’re talking about. There’s a big difference between knockoffs and counterfeit products. You bought a counterfeit product that was branded as a Harris Bipods and you purchased that item and it turns out that Harris didn’t manufacture it. That’s a counterfeit item. If it was branded as a Mariss Bipods and it looked exactly the same, but it’s branded slightly differently, that’s a knockoff. It can be very easy for a manufacturer to identify a counterfeit. It can be very difficult for a manufacturer to take a fight to court over who came first on the knockoff issue. Counterfeit issues are pretty cut and dry, “You’re using my brand to sell my product and that’s not okay.” On the other one, “You’re manufacturing something that looks just like the thing that I’m making, but you’re putting your own name on it and now we’re going to have to fight over that.” That’s often the case. The best example I give to that and how challenging that is, is Apple and Samsung had been in court now for several years fighting over intellectual property and the courts can’t even figure it out.

It would be nearly impossible, for example, for the ATA to step into intellectual property dispute and try to figure that out. That’s for the courts to decide. The ATA does and can get involved when there is a cut and dry case of counterfeiting, and we can restrict membership along those lines. We have taken action. First of all, if I’m a small manufacturing and I’m not concerned about counterfeiting or intellectual property violations, you better get concerned about it. We had a presenter from the intellectual property rights center, which is under the Department of Homeland Security. We had him at the show. I loved how he opened his session. He’s talking to a bunch of manufacturers. He said, “Raise your hand if you’re concerned about counterfeiting intellectual property rights.” A bunch of folks raised their hands. He said, “If you’re not, I’m going to ask you a series of questions. If you have a good product and it’s making you money, I’m telling you right now you need to be concerned because somebody out there is going to try and take advantage of your intellectual property.”

The fact is if you’ve got a good product and you’re making money at it, you’ve got a problem even if you don’t know you have one. We’re taking that up a notch again. We’ve got one of our member attorneys who’s going to present a next level session on that same topic. Help folks get a basic understanding of what they can and should do, and then we’ll provide to any of our members who want it. It’s just a two-page takeaway of what steps they ought to be considering with links to other material they can consume online. I know a lot of folks especially young businesses don’t want to hear this. The best thing they can do is get aligned with a good attorney who can give them great advice. This is such a challenging area. It’s not worth risking your business to not spend a little money on somebody who knows what they’re doing and can guide you and counsel you through that stuff.

That’s great advice because you worked so hard to create something, get it going, then all of a sudden, once it hits the radar screen, you’re going to have people coming after your widget. It’s going to happen. Subtle changes here and there keep you out of the trademark thing because on my Harris Bipods, the plate was welded from the counterfeit, but the Harris is screwed in.

It’s funny that you mentioned that also because I heard a story from a very well-known archery manufacturer who talked to me about getting called over by a head coach for a national archery team. He said, “Your equipment’s not holding up as well as it used to.” This manufacturer was about as offended as he could be. He said, “Show me what you’re talking about.” He walked them over, showed them the piece of equipment and until he took it apart, he couldn’t tell that it wasn’t his. The second he took it apart, he said, “This is a counterfeit item. This is not mine.”

They reverse engineer them and they run the numbers and know that they can get part of the market share. I would say everybody in business now in America is at risk if you have a successful product.

WTR Matt | Bowhunting

I think the other piece of advice, and this presents more of a challenge and costs more money, so not everybody can do it. My piece of advice to any manufacturer out there and a little story that goes along with it is I’ve talked to any number of American manufacturers who say, “We don’t manufacture anything outside of the States. We manufacture everything in our facilities here in the United States.” I’ve had to start asking them, “Have you protected your trademarks, your brands and your intellectual property overseas?” “No, because I’m manufacturing everything here.” “I’m here to tell you, you’re going to have to start protecting yourself overseas. Just because you’re making it here, it doesn’t mean somebody else isn’t making it over there.” That’s the next level.

What’s even more insidious is that we’ve got overseas manufacturers within their own country, starting to trademark American brands and then they can “legally” produce those items within their home country. It’s terrible and it’s hard to extricate yourself from something like that once it’s done. We’ve got several of our members trying to fight through that now and several others who are now proactively getting over there and trying to protect themselves. It’s not inexpensive. It’s not as expensive as you might think it is. Attorneys aren’t bad folks. They get a bad rap a lot of time, but if you can get protected, if you can make that an investment in protecting yourself, your brand and your product, it’s absolutely worth it.

We’re going to switch it up and talk to Matt about whitetail hunting. He’s passionate about it. How did you start getting into it? Who kicked you off?

My first day on the job was my first day hunting anything. Bruce, tell me where I could get hired where I would be surrounded by a better group of bowhunting mentors?

There’s no place on planet Earth.

No, there’s no way. It started with Jay McAninch. He and I started talking before I started working here, a couple of weeks beforehand because there was a bit of a gap there. It started with him coaching me through and the man has a mind for detail, especially around bowhunting that he may be unmatched in that regard. He kicked me off in terms of what to do, what not to do, what to bring, what not to bring. A couple of other staffers did the same for me. First, I don’t do all that well with heights. I’m a little afraid of heights. Greg Brown does a lot of work with suburban whitetails if they’re in Northern Virginia and also helps us with trade shows security during the shows. He actually one-on-one with me, got me comfortable getting fifteen, twenty feet up in a tree safely and confidently to the point now where I climbed up in a tree stand, hung out and didn’t even think twice about it.

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I’m probably going to pre-empt one of your questions here, but if I have one piece of advice for somebody who hasn’t hunted before, who wants to get in hunting, is to be honest with yourself and with whoever’s going to help you get into the woods. For me, had I not been straightforward with those guys about my fear of heights, I may not hunt or I’d be in a ground blind out here in the eastern half of the US. There are not a lot of spots happening out here. I’ve got to tell you, I love being up in the tree now. The view that you get, the sun coming through the trees, it’s an amazing feeling to be up out of the way, when the animals on the ground don’t even know that you’re there. There’s something magical about it. Had I not done that, I wouldn’t have had that experience. Had I not been honest with myself and my mentor, I would not have had that experience.

That’s a great way to explain the best way any new hunter to approach how you’re going to be successful. If you had timidly jumped into it or not shared your concerns, then you wouldn’t have that opportunity to be outdoors. That’s a huge part of hunting because it takes nanoseconds to pull the trigger, let your fingers go. It doesn’t take him any time at all, but the years and the hours leading up to that one point have all been spent outdoors.

We all overuse the phrase, “There are no stupid questions,” but that’s easy to say. It’s hard to live that truth. I can’t tell you how many questions that I’ve asked any number of mentors that I think are stupid questions. If I don’t get the answer for them, I know I’m not going to have as good a day in the woods.

Coming from your past industry, you’re involved in conventions and large events, and managing people and all that. To transfer your skill sets into and then understand what companies, manufacturers, the whole gamut, what their product really is, their product is allowing people to experience something that they wish to do and they’re passionate about and they make it easier. They make it better. They have the tools and the fabrics and it goes on and on. They’re providing me the resources I need so I can go out there and I will have whatever I need to do. That’s the thing people get wound up sometimes about this camo, that bow and all this stuff. They’re just tools. They’re resources to the end game. That’s your experience in the outdoors. That’s my take on it. Being a new hunter, have you killed a deer yet?

I haven’t. I’ve got three funny stories about deer. It’s funny to me, might be embarrassing to somebody else. I’ve had two flat misses. My first sit, it was raining, it was cold. I was in Wisconsin. Literally, I was watching the clock. I was five minutes into shooting light and out walks this, which would have been for I think any first-time hunter, just a beautiful buck, a little eight or nine-point buck. I would have been absolutely ecstatic about it. This guy, I still remember, is sixteen and a half yards from me. He stood around, hanging out, sixteen and a half yards from my ground blind and I think this was meant to be. The problem was I was thinking about what I was going to do with the meat, what I was going to do with that rack and how it’s going to look hanging in my office. First, I didn’t give one thought to my shot at all. I put that arrow probably six feet in front of him. That was hilarious. My brain saw that arrow hit the twelve-ring on a 3D target. I swear to God that arrow went right through his vitals. I missed him completely. To this day, I cannot tell you what my sight picture looks like.

That’s great because you were so into it and you were so excited. If you’re a target archer shooter, you have to be so focused because the competition is so great. You’re in the zone and you should pinpoint, just shooting flies on paper.

My heart rate never increased. I was totally calm because I wasn’t thinking about the shot. I was thinking about everything but what I shouldn’t have been thinking about. Five or six sits later, that same trip, that same week, my last sit, I saw a gorgeous twelve-point. He was beautiful. It was a tough shot. I was up in a tree stand. I had to lean to my right. He knew I was there. He was skittish. I had to lean to my right eye. I had five minutes of shooting. This was in the evening now. I was leaning to my right. I was very careful to get a good sight picture. The second I released, I went to go look to see if I’d hit him. I pushed the bow down right on release. My broadhead just nailed a rock right underneath him. It sounded like a gunshot and that guy was gone. He went from 0 to 60 in a second and a half. It was cool to watch him run away, but I completely missed him. I pushed the shot a little low. It was one of those things.

What I have done now is I got an opportunity, we’ve got a back deck off the house. I’ve got a couple of 3D targets in the backyard. I’ll sit in a bar stool up there and I’ll get my body in weird angles and I’ll try those shots because I never know what the shot’s going to be. I’m trying to get myself a little more comfortable with those abnormal, those unusual shots that experienced bowhunters know they have to make. Me, being completely inexperienced, I wasn’t prepared for that. I’m sure I’d gone out back and stood on the ground and shot my target. I’ve sat up on the deck and shot the targets, but I hadn’t really challenged myself with those new shots. I’ve certainly seen some deer this year, but have not had anything close enough to shoot or have had trees between me and the deer. They’ve been behind me and haven’t been able to get a good angle on them. That’s my whitetail experience. I did get a spring jake with a shotgun this year. Dan Forster took me out and called one in and made a 25-yard shot and had some delicious bird after that.

Did you say Hank Forester from QDMA?

No. This happens all the time between Hank Forester and Dan Forster.

QDMA is a fantastic organization, Quality Deer Management Association.

I’m going to jump in there because that’s where I’ve been hunting. I’ve been hunting their land out here just outside of Athens, Georgia. Brian Murphy and Hank and John Eastman have been out there had been kind and inviting me out to shoot.

Are you a member?

I am a QDMA member. I’m a new member.

WTR Matt | BowhuntingWhen I first started hunting out west, I never had to shoot from my knees. Sometimes when you’re on top of elk and stuff, you’re shooting from your knees. You never think about it until all of a sudden that’s the shot you’ve got and you go, “I’ve never done this,” and then it typically doesn’t work out well.

It’s been amazing to me in my target days back when we were living in Texas. I’d be at the indoor range and guys that I knew to be really phenomenal target shooters would come in and set a chair down on the shooting line. A couple of them struggled to make those first couple of shots when they were transitioning, learning to shoot sitting down. It can be so unusual. You’ve got to practice it. You talked about it, Bruce. Bowhunting is one of those things where you don’t grab the bow and head out on your first sit that year. You’ve got to keep the muscles up, you’ve got to keep the mental game up. I’m at the point now where I want to go hunt like on Huntington. I don’t begrudge anybody getting out in hunting in whatever way, shotgun, rifle, crossbow, vertical, compound, recurve, trad or any, just get out. Whatever you’re comfortable with, get out. That’s where I think the QDMA has been successful with their Field to Fork program, with their mentoring program. They get a crossbow in the hands of a new shooter, somebody who’s never shot before, never hunted before, and they’re getting them up and out and hunting in a matter of a few sessions, which is impressive.

I’m excited for you because you’ll have some opportunities that some people don’t have, and I get that, to go on properties, to meet people and have people give you some insights. The mentorship, the insights available, because archery hunters are 365, 24/7. They’re thinking about their gears, they’re thinking about the food plots, they’re thinking about travel corridors. My good friend, Todd Pringnitz from White Knuckle Productions, he created a new calling tool called Tree Thrasher. He engineers things. He used to be in the ownership of Wicked Tree Gear. I think of these people that I met, know and everything and it all comes through ATA. His company wouldn’t have grown without exposure and membership in the association. I started the podcast gushing a little bit, but for archers, you are the heart and soul. I’m not trying to put pressure on you, Matt, but your position is so critical for the future of archery hunting in the United States.

I appreciate that. It’s incredibly humbling to hear you say that. It’s very kind of you to talk about ATA. If we as an organization didn’t have the position that we have in this industry, I don’t think there’s any chance that it would have come here. It’s incredible to be a part of this organization that is revered by the folks in the archery and bowhunting industry, and in the archery and bowhunting world. Honestly, I don’t feel the pressure. I feel a responsibility for sure to do as good a job as I can and to ensure that we as staff are doing as good a job as we can, but I don’t see that as pressure. It’s a great responsibility but it’s also been a lot of fun.

Matt Kormann, he’s the President and CEO of ATA. Thank you so much for being a featured guest. I know my hundreds of thousands of audience are going to go, “I’ve got to check out ATA and I’ve got to get involved.” Just know, readers, that from this man’s point of view, ATA is in a pretty good place right now.

It’s very kind of you to say that, Bruce. It’s very kind of you to have me on. I appreciate the conversation. I’m even looking more forward to meeting you here in Louisville.

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Thanks for reading. Before we go, can I say thank you? As we started the Whitetail Rendezvous podcast journey, we had no idea what to expect. After a few years, we received a ton of feedback from our over 400,000 audience and climbing to 500,000. Speaking of which, we are now closing in on over 600 featured guests. Thank you. A quick shout-out to all those who have left an iTunes review and your feedback, I get those and I really appreciate it. It’s awesome to see you what you have to say. We do read every single one of them. I want you to know that I am incredibly grateful for your kind words regarding the show. All the ratings and reviews help us attract more audience.

If you’re one of those new audience, welcome. It’s great to have you. If you haven’t taken the time to rate and review our show, and like the hunting on private land strategy on How to Get Permission to Hunt a Private Property, go to WhitetailRendezvous.com, as a special gift for rating and reviewing our show. When you get there, look for the start button to get the details. I’ll share with you the top techniques from some of the top hunters in the country on how they got permission to hunt on private land. I will share with you the exact techniques they used to get permission as my way of saying thanks for rating and reviewing the show on iTunes. Join us next time. Remember, we’re on this journey together, learning, sharing and becoming 365 hunters.

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About Matt Kormann

WTR Matt | BowhuntingMatt Kormann of Marietta, Georgia joined the ATA in October 2017 as president and CEO.

Prior to ATA, Matt spent 17 years with Freeman, a $2.5 billion world leader in event marketing. He spent nearly six years as vice president and 30 months as senior vice president of corporate account sales. Matt served three years as a trustee for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas and was a member of its budget and finance committee.

He previously served as a consultant to startup companies, providing vertical assessments, sales strategies, investment networking, and general advisory input. Matt is an avid archer, a certified USA Archery judge and Level 2 Instructor. Since joining the ATA, he has become a frequent bowhunter.

During his time at ATA, he has been engaged on industry-critical issues including R3, marketing, and intellectual property. “The services we provide members are unmatched,” Matt says. “With each effort, we’re focused on inspiring growth, increasing participation, and preserving these sports we all love.” Matt has continued his professional development through coursework at Bell Leadership at the University of North Carolina and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, among many others.