Billy Lawson has lived in Butler County his entire life, and the last place in the area that even compares to Archery World USA, that he could recall, closed when Bass Pro Shop opened in 2000.

The founders of Archery World USA – Lawson, Rick Stewart and their wives – saw a need and opened a shop in 2011, working out of a 16-foot trailer they would haul around hunting shows and 3D shoots to provide bow repairs and other support for archers at the events.

After opening a small repair shop in a garage they called home for six years in the Colerain area, Archery World as it is known today came into being. The business, which also began selling archery equipment in 2015, had outgrown its space, so the Lawsons and Stewarts opened a full retail and repair shop, along with a 30-yard indoor range, at 40 Ardnt Court in Fairfield in October 2017. 

“We tried venues outside the county, and weren’t happy, so we started selling our own equipment and it just grew into what it is today.” Lawson said. “We started out in a trailer because we had limited funds and just traveled around shows and worked our way up. It’s grown quickly.”

Many archery shops focus on hunting, but what makes Archery World USA different is the business caters to everything from target archery to hunting, both recreational and competitive and the company provides rental and purchase options.

Archery World’s growth is mainly attributed to its emphasis on youth programs, though, Lawson said. The company started a Scholastic 3D Archery program, which teaches 8 to 18 year-olds to shoot at three-dimensional animal targets and provides competition that offer college scholarships as rewards.

From there, they partnered with the Cincinnati Junior Olympians club operated by president Jim Coombe and offered Archery 101 classes and other lessons for youth and adults.

“Then there was another shop that went out of business in Cincinnati because of our growth so people that had gone there kind of came over to us,” Lawson said. “It was a big growth all at once because of a combination of things.”

More than 60 kids currently are involved in the youth programs at Archery World, and they plan to offer some explorer bow and explorer archery camps this summer to add more opportunities for kids to get into the sport recreationally or competitively. 

“We have programs for adults too but the kids’ stuff is where all your growth is,” Lawson said. “The kids are constantly growing and changing, and when they grow the equipment changes. When you get an adult set up, they aren’t going to grow. Kids also have better stamina for range time, so it’s natural growth when you have youth programs.”

“All my advertisement focuses on bringing new kids to archery. We push for them to get scholarships too, and the scholarship opportunities are a big reason people are interested.”

Archery World is finalizing a full-ride scholarship for one of its students to Wabash University, and there are several talented archers within the program.

Among the top students participating in programming at Archery World, Hunter Stevens was named Ohio Shooter of the Year and Lauren Matheny, Jackson Lykins and Elizabeth Lykins all won national championships. Evan Duncan, Ryan Garrity, and Reid Garrity also are top archers coming up through the Cincinnati Junior Olympians program. 

The Cincinnati area has been known to produce some world-class competitors. Norwood native Lida Scott Howell won three gold medals during the 1904 Sumer Olympics, Cincinnati native Nancy Vonderheide won the 1961 World Archery Championships and Hamilton’s Darrell Pace, who coaches the Cincinnati Junior Olympians now, won gold medals in the 1976 and 1984 Summer Olympics and is one of the world’s most decorated archers.

“When ‘Hunger Games’ came out (in 2012), we were swamped,” Cincinnati Junior Olympians president Jim Coombe said, “Normally, we get two, three, four new kids a year, and our first night after that, we had 70 people, which is like three times what we normally would have. They didn’t all stay with it because some of them had unrealistic expectations.”

“It comes in waves, but we’ve got some talented kids. We’ve been pretty good putting kids on national podiums so they are competing on a national level. That’s what we are shooting for real. We have several experienced shooters working with the kids, and when one of our kids wins a competition, it’s more because of the club environment than anything we’ve done individually with them.”

Article copied from Fairfield Focus Magazine (November/December 2019)

Written by Laurel Pfahler