Archery has proven to be an attractive niche within the sporting goods space for strategic buyers and financial sponsors alike, according to banker Andrew Martin, managing director at Baird Capital.

Martin, who recently advised Snow Phipps Group LLC in its acquisition of bow and arrow maker FeraDyne Outdoors LLC in late April, says the company was attractive because traditional archery is growing faster as a sport than gun hunting.

"There are a number of firms that wouldn't go after a gun company because of the limitations their investors are putting on them," Martin says, recalling the decision made by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP to sell off gun-maker Freedom Group Inc. in 2013, shortly following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Meanwhile, outdoor enthusiasts have remained active as the economy began to recover, especially when it comes to archery, Martin adds. Private equity firms within the middle market have caught on to the trend and are now taking aim at the various platforms in the sector.

The auction process for FeraDyne began shortly after the sale of another bow and arrow franchise, sporting goods rival Martin Archery Inc., which was acquired by Los Angeles private equity firm Diversis Capital LLC in October.

That deal followed two other archery deals. Earlier in the year, Bushnell Outdoor Products bought Gold Tip, a manufacturer of carbon arrows. Then there was EastonTechnical Product's acquisition of Delta Sports Products, which meshed Easton's camping products (tent poles) with Delta Sports' archery targets and accessories.

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