December 30, 2016
When Jordan Shipley played football as a wide receiver, he didn't miss very many catches throughout his career from start to finish.
From his days as one of the most prolific wide-outs to ever play high school football in Texas to a record-breaking collegiate career for the Texas Longhorns to his days as an NFL wide receiver, Shipley was dynamic and dependable at snagging footballs when they were launched through the air.
In part, because he understood that when it came time to make a crucial catch to extend a drive, win a game or secure a championship, missing wasn't optional.
These days, the Lone Star State resident and co-host of The Bucks of Tecomate television program on Outdoor Channel has found something else he can't miss in his newfound career.
And that's not being present for the annual Archery Trade Association gathering, the ATA Show as it is known to people throughout the bowhunting and archery industry.
Which is why wintertime or not, you can fully expect to see Shipley in attendance this week in Indianapolis, Ind., as the 2016 ATA Show runs its course from January 10-12.
Only three years into his new career as a deer hunting television personality, Shipley has learned the ropes of the annual show and now meets its demands head-on like a veteran.
But as he did during his football playing days, he understands that there is a time to be serious and all business.
And then again, like a football squad needing to build some team chemistry, he also understands that the less formal times are vitally important too.
And in the final analysis of each year's ATA Show, sometimes, those informal breakfasts, lunches and dinners can prove to be most valuable as existing friendships are maintained, new relationships are built and the seeds for future strategic partnerships are planted.
"The ATA Show is important for what we do (as a show each year), but it's also as much as anything a fun time to connect with likeminded people in our industry and (also) building relationships," said Shipley.
When asked why the show is important from a business standpoint, the former NFL pro was quick to answer.
"For me, it's about several things," said Shipley. "We've got our own product companies to promote at the show, as well as sponsors that we represent.
"So we are on both sides of that dynamic, but again for me personally it's as much about seeing and getting to visit with other bow hunters (as anything else)."
Like his days as a football player, Shipley has learned to adjust to the grueling sunrise to way past sundown schedule that the annual archery tradeshow can bring.
"The days are generally long and I spend a lot of time meeting with current or potential sponsors as well as doing appearances for our current sponsors," said Shipley. "And any spare time I have is usually spent catching up with friends and looking for cool new products (in company booths on the tradeshow floor)."
For complete ATA show coverage of all the new bowhunting gear for 2017, please visit: http://www.bowhuntingmag.com/ata-show-2017
When asked if he has seen much change in the show, Shipley said not really and pointed out that in many ways, he's not far from his rookie days in all of this.
"I've only been the last couple of years so I haven't see a ton of change," he said. "I would say that the best ATA experience that I've had was probably the first time I went to the show.
"I (remember) being (a little) overwhelmed with how many manufacturers are there and the passion our industry commands," he added.
"(All in all), it's a pretty enjoyable show for me."
Kandi Kisky, the Iowa-based co-host of Whitetail Freaks and a longtime veteran of the ATA Show with her husband, Don, agrees with Shipley that the annual gathering is a can't-miss event.
"It's very important for us," said Kisky. "That's especially true when it comes to seeing all of our valuable sponsors and our fans."
In addition to promoting sponsor products, educating buyers and dealers on those products and signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, Kisky indicated that when there is time, she and Don like to see all of the new gear being introduced at the show.
As Shipley noted, Kandi admits the days can indeed be long from the time they leave the hotel early in the morning until they return back to their room well after dark.
"We're going constantly from open to close with (business) meetings and meet-and-greats (with fans at sponsor booths)," she said. "And we really have to work hard trying to squeeze in (important meetings) with all of our sponsors who don't go to the SHOT Show (later in January)."
If there is a down side, Kisky says with a chuckle that it's in those years that she and Don still have an unfilled deer tag in their back pocket as the late deer season winds down back in the Midwest.
Or when they are so tied up and busy with business that they literally can't break away to see any of the new products being displayed on the various show aisles.
What about the best years at the ATA Show for the Whitetail Freaks?
"The best years at ATA? That's when you are tagged out and can (go to the show) and enjoy seeing everyone," she said.