Archery Traditions of Oklahoma hits the mark when it comes to a successful business interested in serving the community.
Ken Wilkins opened his business seven years ago and has been an active member of the business community. He recently began his first term as a board member for the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.
He also opens the doors of his business once a month for the Legislative Breakfast. If a company is in need of a place to host the Community Coffee, Wilkins has also lent a helping hand.
You don’t have to be an archer to appreciate Archery Traditions. But if you are an archer, you realize how lucky Yukon is to have this business in its city limits.
“I’m very involved in the community,” Wilkins said. “I feel like a business should give as much as they can back into the community.”
PATH TO ARCHERY TRADITIONS
As an electrician in the U.S. Navy, Wilkins has worn several hats. After a stint working for an electrical contractor, he went into remodeling with a focus on bathrooms and kitchens. He also got into the safety side of business before a part-time job working at a pro shop laid the foundation for his future while living in Colorado.
“I just really enjoyed it and decided, you know, I’d like to pursue more,” he said. “So, I did some training on bow maintenance and repairs.
“I’d been an archer my whole life so then, I ended up being the archery manager for Sportsman’s Warehouse in Littleton, Colorado.”
In 2008, Sportsmans closed a number of its locations, including the one in Littleton. Shortly thereafter, Wilkins and his wife decided to move back to Yukon.
“When we did, we decided to open our own business,” Wilkins said. “We did some research to see what was out there.”
Wilkins said he worked with SCORE, which is made up of businessmen who mentor people interested in opening a business. He attended a couple of sessions and worked on a business plan. He followed up by working with Rose State College, which has a small business development program.
“I went out there, met with them and showed them my plan,” he said. “There really wasn’t much tweaking. She was really impressed and thought I did a lot of homework, more than what she usually sees.”
Wilkins followed up and found a location and rented the building in January 2015. Wilkins’ background in remodeling came in handy as he and his wife were able to take care of the renovations and open for business on March 25, 2015.
“I wanted to be in Yukon, if at all possible because that is where we live,” he said. “I came across this building that was available and it worked out great. We rented it and did the renovation and opened up.”
DEVELOPING A CUSTOMER BASE
Since opening his business, Wilkins said he is most surprised by how many people are interested in archery and want to be exposed to it. There are classes each month that are well-attended with most beginners sticking, with it.
“I’d say over half of our customers are not hunters,” he said. “They are just recreational shooters or maybe competitive shooters. So there is obviously the hunting community but also it’s just a portion of what we do here. I think people have the idea that all archers are hunters and they are not.”
Many archers develop traits that carry over into other aspects of their lives. Wilkins said studies have indicated that children involved in archery see improvements in their scholastic performances.
“It teaches you to concentrate, focus, patience and many other things that translate over into their schoolwork,” Wilkins said. “Most kids start doing better in school because of the skills they learn in archery.
“That is true for adults as well. It’s very stress relieving just to come in, shoot and put everything out of your mind. You are focused on what you are doing and its very relaxing.”
Archery Traditions, like most businesses, took a hit with the arrival of COVID-19. Wilkins said his business was in a good place prior to the pandemic.
“Some of us didn’t survive it and we are just about, if not close to, pre-COVID levels,” he said. “So, it’s getting back to where it was, and we are hoping to expand eventually and increase our options for people that come in.”
Expansion could include an outdoor range. Wilkins said there is only one in the general area and it is on the other side of Oklahoma City.
Archery Traditions hosts a winter tournament that draws people from five states. It is a boost for the economy and with an outdoor tournament, even more people would stay in city hotels and eat in local restaurants.
“My long-term goal is to find a piece of property that either has a building or build a building and have both indoor and outdoor ranges – as well as the 3D range that we have,” he said.
LOVE OF TRAINS
In terms of immediate expansion, Wilkins has added Route 66 Train Town onto Archery Traditions. The model train addition to his business stems from a love of locomotives that has carried over from childhood.
“My hobby, or one of my hobbies, is model railroading, which has been most of my whole life,” he said. “I have had small layouts at home.”
A room in front of Archery Traditions became available and there was the realization of the 100th anniversary of Route 66 approaching in four years.
“I wanted to provide something for people coming through Yukon to do, and it’s for locals too,” he said. “It’s to promote the model railroading hobby, but also for people to see. We decided to build this Large O-scale layout and we plan to double its size. We are working on a second layout that will connect when its done. It will let people come in and see a larger scale model.”
Wilkins said he began working on the layout and framework during the pandemic. Work carried over into the past year as he has tried to get it ready to be an exhibit-level layout.
The layout has a Route 66 theme with some businesses represented from yesteryear, including a Piggly Wiggly grocery store and an older Dairy Queen.
CREATING SYMMETRY WITH TRAIN MUSEUM
The development of Train Town and its tourism potential would create instant symmetry with Yukon’s Best Railroad Museum. Wilkins said he would be interested in the cross-promotional aspect.
“I have talked to several people about that,” he said. “Personally, I have lived here for 12 years and never seen it open. I have tried to get in and see. I think it would be a positive force if we can get it open.”
Wilkins said the possibilities are great for the city, with the train serving as an opportunity for tourists traveling on Route 66 to stop and visit.
“I know there have been some different committees in charge of that and it has never gone anywhere,” he said. “It seems to have stagnated and I would love to see it open and become an exhibit. Maybe it’s not realistic to be open every day, but maybe at least on certain days and certain times.
“I would love to do cross-promotion with them. I had a train show last year and we were hoping it would be open at that time – but it didn’t work out. There is a lot of potential.”
Archery Traditions of Oklahoma is located at 328 Elm Avenue in Yukon. It is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday. Friday hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.