By J.R. Absher
Editor, The Archery Wire
In the wake of last week's announcement by Reed Exhibition USA that manufacturers and vendors with legal AR-platform rifles, accessories, magazines and related items will not be permitted at next month's Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show ("The Harrisburg Show"), numerous archery manufacturers, retailers and bowhunting personalities have announced they are withdrawing from the event in support of The Second Amendment.
The annual exhibition, touted as North America's largest outdoor hunting and fishing event, is scheduled Feb. 2 - 10 at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. The consumer/selling show annually features some 1,200 exhibitors offering products ranging from archery equipment and firearms to outfitters and fishing boats, in addition to all types of gear and related outdoors items.
Reed's announcement last week came just hours after President Barack Obama outlined his proposals to restrict the manufacture and sale of certain firearms and accessories in response to recent tragic events.
"Clearly, we strongly support the Second Amendment," said Reed in a statement on the show's website. "However, this year we have made the decision not to include certain products that in the current climate may attract negative attention that would distract from the strong focus on hunting and fishing at this family-oriented event and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests. As a hunting-focused event, we welcome exhibitors who wish to showcase products and firearms that serve the traditional needs of the sport."
Needless to say, Reed's divisive depiction of modern sporting rifles effectively drew a line in the sand, one that many exhibitors who count themselves strident supporters of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution eagerly stepped across.
As a result, Reed's decision to prohibit vendors from selling perfectly legal firearms and accessories was met with immediate outrage by many companies having a long and supportive history with the event, including a number of non-firearms makers and retailers of archery and bowhunting items.
One of the first archery companies to withdraw was Pennsylvania-based Lancaster Archery Supply, a major distributor of a wide array of arrows and archery accessories.
"In support of the hunting and outdoors industry, Lancaster Archery Supply has chosen not to exhibit at the 2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show where show management decisions have created a volatile and disruptive political environment," was the message posted this weekend on the company's Facebook page.
Mega-outdoors retailer Cabela's withdrew its show sponsorship, in addition to stating it would not have a presence at the event.
"Due to recent changes made by Reed Exhibitions regarding the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Cabela's will no longer sponsor this year's event. After careful consideration regarding Cabela's business practices, and the feelings of our customers, Cabela's will, unfortunately, not have a presence at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show," read the company's official statement posted on Saturday, Jan 19.
At last count, Cabela's statement had garnered more than 13,000 "likes" on its Facebook page.
Archery and bowhunting personalities also announced plans to boycott the show, including Lee and Tiffany Lakowski, popular hosts of "The Crush" television show.
By Monday afternoon, Jan. 22, the list of archery-related companies and exhibitors announcing they would not attend the 2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show included:
Bow Hunter's Den
Bow Life, LLC
Deer and Deer Hunting.com
Wild Sheep Foundation
Easton Bow Hunting
Hunter Safety Systems
International Bowhunting Organization
Keystone Country Store
Lancaster Archery Supply
Major League Bowhunter
Men in Treestands Productions
Outdoor Edge Knives
Perry's No Peep Archery Site
Primos Hunting Calls
Tex Mex Outdoors
Barry and Gene Wensel
Jimmy Primos - Primos
Fred Eichler - Fulldraw Outfitters
Ralph & Vicki Cianciarulo - Archers Choice
Lee & Tiffany Lakosky "The Crush"
Be sure to watch The Archery Wire for further updates on this important story as it develops.