My friend Tammy Besser sent in a clump of questions for the blog (Bless you, Tammy!) of which this is one: Any advice on how to stop or at least slow down archers who go out and but too much equipment and too expensive equipment, equipment that is beyond their skill level?
The normal situation is people are clueless and need all your help to figure out what they should be buying and when, but these situations do happen. I remember one young archer who, after his first lesson, got his grandparents to buy him a bow and arrows and they went out shooting from the trails of the local state park. (After hearing this story from Grandma and after getting up off of the ground from having fainted due to blood loss to my brain, I explained that it was illegal, dangerous, etc. They didn’t know.)
So, the question is what to do with people whose pocketbooks outweigh their judgment when it comes to archery gear. The answer is simple: you have to educate them. How to do just that isn’t simple; it is hard.
Suggestion #1 Prepare some equipment handouts
The important points to make are: (a) that a beginners’ archery form changes quite a bit and therefore it is almost impossible to recommend equipment until it settles down, (b) buying the wrong equipment can actual retard an archer’s progress to the point they get frustrated and even quit, and (c) getting “advanced” equipment can be a waste of money as many of the features of the advanced equipment can only be taken advantage by expert archers.
I can back all of these up with stories, but if you can or can’t also offer solid advice. Maybe the best advice is that archers need equipment that is matched to their skill: beginners need beginner-level equipment; intermediate archers need intermediate-level equipment; advanced/elite archers need advanced/elite equipment. Cost is an indicator of these stages, but it is not the only one, so make specific suggestions in your handouts.
Suggestion #2 If you do group instruction, schedule classes where the topic is equipment.
Do bow and arrow fittings. (I include a handout on where and how to shop for archery gear based upon local providers. Help students who have their own equipment to realize what they can do to tailor that equipment to improve their shooting. Do equipment checks. (I had a younger student who has been struggling with left-right arrow patterns. So, I took her plunger off of her recurve bow to find out that three of the four set screws that held the settings of the plunger were missing, meaning her centershot and side pressure were changing with every shot!) Beginning archers do not know how to check their own equipment, nor how to document it. You might want to pass out bow/arrow documentation forms at those meetings. (I posted one at http://www.archeryeducationresources.com/Coaching_Resources.html if you want an example of such a thing.
Suggestion #3 If there is a local archery shop in town (Hallelujah!) create a relationship with them.
Go there, introduce yourself. Ask about what equipment and services they offer that your archers might need. If they are cooperative, refer students to that shop. (I used to have handouts to pass out including the shop’s name, contact information, directions on how to get their, hours of operation, and if there was a specialist in beginner’s equipment who to ask for.) Work with them over time to serve your students better. It will be good for their business, your business, and your archers.
And, of course, whatever they buy they will need help with setting it up and adapting it to them. This is especially true for all y’all who don’t have a good archery shop nearby.