What to Do About Overenthusiastic Archery Shoppers

QandA logoMy 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.


Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

5 responses to “What to Do About Overenthusiastic Archery Shoppers

  1. Good advice and ideas. I try to encourage my students to start small picking up quiver, tabs etc and leave purchase of bow until they have tried a few at different weights etc. Like the equipment handout idea.


    • We tend to start real small with a tab (that fits!) since we recommend that all beginners learn to shoot with their “fingers.” (Beginners that start with a full compound kit usually have a relative or someone to guide them. We certainly don’t recommend that to beginners coming from non-archery families. A tab that fits makes them more comfortable and helps them shoot better (and is cheap). Arrows are the first serious purchase as arrows are used to do almost all of the necessary tuning, but in order to get a good fit they need to have a somewhat settled draw length and draw weight which is why we encourage beginners to shoot program equipment for their first half of a dozen sessions.



      • Agreed. Having them settle before buying kit is crucial. The problem is students can become exited and want their own kit before they actually realise what that kit should be. Thanks again.


  2. Andrew Clark

    When would you suggest is the right time for a fairly competent novice to upgrade their stabilizer from the single long rod to a full v-bar set up?


    • There is no right time and I think “too early” is a bigger mistake than “too late.” Butch Johnson competed for the U.S. Olympic team four (five?) times using only a single long rod so one can shoot very well without V-bars. The thing to avoid is overstressing a young or weak bow shoulder. Adding an extender, a V-block, two rods, end caps/weights/Doinkers adds a fair amount of mass to the bow, making it harder to hold up through the followthrough. The deltoid muscles don’t develop all that early, so it is okay for a young archer to wait for their full adult strength to make this upgrade. My rule of thumb is to not upgrade equipment until it has a chance to make some improvement in performace. V-bars and cushion plungers metal rest are two items that can definately wait (I’d add metal framed tab to the list). To look for need, I look for a bow that wobbles left and right during shots. If the bow is rather steady, and plumb, then V-bars aren’t going to add much stability. If wobbly, adding a little mass out to the sides of the bow gives your archer something to work against, but they still are the source of the steadiness, not the V-bars, so they will have to train to keep the bow steady.

      Hope this helps,



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