Should I Be Using the AER Recreational Curriculum?

When you were trained as an AER Archery Coach, we provided you with activities to take archers through their first series of classes. You learned all about The First Three Arrows and what to do thereafter, but if you have been coaching for some time, you probably have students clamoring for a second level class.
So what should you do?

Moving On Up
When we first got involved in supporting archery coaches we knew we were going to need a curriculum to share with you. So what we did is to write a curriculum for recreational archery classes. This is how it goes.

The Basic Structure of the AER Recreational Archery Curriculum
The AER Recreational Archery Curriculum consists of three lines of instruction called Tracks, namely: the Olympic-Style Track, the Compound Track, and the Traditional Track. In addition to providing instruction in each of these Tracks we allowed for many variations within them. In the Traditional Track, for example, a student can choose longbow or recurve, from wooden arrows with a self bow to carbon arrows and high tech modern recurves (FITA Barebow). In the Compound Track almost all of the variations allowed in compound competition are encountered: short stabilizers, long stabilizers, pin sights/target sights/no sights, tabs and release aids.

Because we knew that neither you nor your students would want to be locked into a particular style, students are allowed to change Tracks. We don’t want this to be done frivolously, but this is recreational archery and if a student thinks another style would be more fun, we encourage them to try it. This is also why we recommend that you have both recurve and compound bows available in your beginner classes, so that by the time the archers are ready for this curriculum they have a good idea which track they prefer.

Each Track has four Stages: Stage 1 Getting Started, Stage 2 Getting Better, Stage 3 Achieving Mastery, and Stage 4 Owning the Sport. Stage 1 is pretty much what you were trained to teach when you first became an AER Coach: solid, basic barebow form up to shooting off of the point using program equipment. The other Stages lead students through improvements in form and execution and acquiring their own equipment until finally they are relatively independent, that is they only need coaching because they are having recognized problems or they decided to become “competitive archers.” (Remember that our definition of a “competitive archer” is someone who is training to learn how to win, not just to compete.)

Each Stage has Signposts. Signposts are indicators of accomplishment that point the way forward. Here is an example from the Olympic-Style Track, Stage 1:
2. Exhibits good archery posture  Sometimes  Often  Always
Stands relaxed and straight up and down, doesn’t lean left, right, forward, or
backward. Knees straight but not locked.
This skill is described/demonstrated and when a student (or you) wants an evaluation of how they are doing, you rate his/her performance as doing this skill correctly Sometimes, Often, or Always. In order to proceed from one Stage to the next, a student must get “Often” or better on each of the Signposts they have worked on. On the AER website will be an AER Coach Support page which includes lists of these Signposts for each track for you to use as a kind of grade book and your students to use as a progress tracker. We call these lists ICPs (for Individualized Curriculum Plans) and they are in MS Word format deliberately so you can modify them should you choose to.

Students must do all of the Signposts in Stage 1 (in every Track on the safety Signposts, they must get “Always”) but thereafter, which Signposts are necessary is negotiable. In order to provide you, the coach, with flexibility, we allow Signposts to be skipped (until later or even entirely) and for the Signposts to be reordered.

If a student moves on, they have your ICP with your ratings on it to take with them to inform their next coach. (As a matter of privacy, you do not generally keep copies when they ask for their “official” ICP.)

When new students show up, you need to do an evaluation to see which Signposts they have already mastered so they aren’t starting working on things already learned, nor are they overwhelmed by things too advanced for them.

Teaching Students Using the AER Archery Curriculum
If you choose to use this curriculum, you are provided a number of things. In the Coach’s Guide, you are provided with a structure for archery classes and what kinds of things to teach within that structure. Of course, each Track consists of a series of Signposts, which your students work through at their own pace. Since each student can be given a copy of their ICP (we suggest you print them and hand them out free . . . well, at least the first one). Consequently they should know what it is they are working on at any point in time. Reviewing your copy of their ICPs should tell you where each student is in the curriculum and what they are working on.

In this manner, students who progress very fast can speed along and those who need more time can take it. Parents of student archers can follow along. Competition starts whenever they feel ready and appropriate events are available. We have competition prep and guidelines, also.

The Archer’s and Coach’s Guides
Because students and their parents often want to know what they will be learning we are making the curriculum available to them in the form of The Complete Archer’s Guide to the AER Recreational Archery Curriculum. In this book, the entire structure is explained along with each Track, each Signpost, and instructive text describing what is to be learned.

This text is not required to take a course using this curriculum, it is provided for just those folks who want something like it (a kind of textbook for the archery course). So that you will know exactly what is in The Archer’s Guide, every page of it is included in The Coach’s Guide. In addition, there are copious annotations included suggestions and tips on teaching the form, execution, and equipment learning going on. Also, there are many dozens of additional pages of appendices included to provide you with background knowledge as well as sources of additional information you may need. (One of our coaching precepts is that coaches need to be continually learning about their subject.)

The AER Recreational Archery Curriculum books are available at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.archeryeducationresources.com (just search for Archery Education Resources).

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