Having Your Ear to the Ground

I carry on email conversations about archery all of the time: with archers, coaches, students, authors, manufacturers, parents, you name it. Recently a friend reported that he was hearing stuff on the Archery Talk blog site that he wanted my impressions on. For one he heard that: “Unless a coach is actively participating and competing, they aren’t the coach you want to use. They’re out of date and not current as to how the game is being played and what it takes to compete on a higher level.” Someone else expanded on that saying that coaches like Larry Wise were “teaching ‘old stuff’ that doesn’t work anymore because the game has changed so much since he was a top shooter,” and Terry Wunderle, who was “too old to know what is really going on and things are vastly different in the game than when he was a good shooter.”

* * *

Ah, the wisdom of youth. I was wise once, but I got older.

I would like to ask these geniuses:
1. If they have ever worked with those gentlemen and how is it that they know what they teach?
2. How do they know what is being taught “now” as opposed to “then” (meaning where are they getting their “up to date” and “out of date” info)?
3. I would like to ask them to describe one thing the “old timers” teach that is incorrect or not “up to date,” and
4. Exactly what has changed about “the game” that it is different now than it was 20 years ago?

I will tell you the one thing that has changed over the last 20 years—the equipment. It has gotten better in many ways and, for target archery, worse in a few. The largest change in archery equipment has come in the materials used, lightweight carbon fiber arrows being the most significant innovation.

But what part of shooting a bow has changed since 1994? Since I have been shooting that long I can tell you. Nothing. It is amazing to me and many other “old dogs” in archery that so many “current” compound archers have been raving about the latest discoveries: creep tuning, hinge (triggerless) releases, plastic launcher blade rests, raising the grip angle to make the bowhand more relaxed, rotating finger holes in release aids, torque tuning, and hooded peep sights … all of which were available 30 if not 40 years ago. And “back tension,” ah back tension, all the rage for the last decade. The first treatment on back tension was written by Arabs just after Europeans “discovered” the New World, about the year 1500 or so.

And regarding the massively ignorant “Unless a coach is actively participating and competing, they aren’t the coach you want to use,” the most sure way for a top archer to lose his/her edge is to seriously take on archery students. This is a major “no-no” and everybody who has tried to do both—coach and compete seriously—disabused themselves of the notion after a short experiment. And, where are these competing coaches supposed to come from, the second and third tier archers who really can’t win consistently?

The problem with coaching and competing seriously is that coaching takes away too much training time and . . . and a coach’s viewpoint is from the outside in while the athlete’s is from the inside out. Coaches are constantly considering the “whys” of archery and competitors shouldn’t care. Coaches spend a great deal of time thinking about archery (from the outside in) and asking questions (What real benefit is there from…?) that have no value for competing archers. So, all of the good coaches are past their competitive peaks and no longer competing “seriously.”

There is a simple reason why I have stopped following any of the “threads” on Archery Talk—too many idiots, too many idiots asking for advice, and too many idiots giving it.. Every other sport on the planet seeks out older, more experienced coaches. (Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and Nick Saban of the University of Alabama are both in their 60s; do you hear anyone wanting to kick them out because they are too old and out of touch?) The younger ones are almost always those who were in position to learn the sport from the inside and outside (baseball catchers, for example) or don’t really do all that well (e.g. Lane Kiffen). And in archery . . . well specifically compound archers, the ones most likely to have opinions on Archery Talk, are unlikely to have ever consulted a coach. Yet, they have “opinions” worth disseminating. Amazing!


Filed under For All Coaches

4 responses to “Having Your Ear to the Ground

  1. minorthcoach

    I have given this question a good ponder in the last year, as I’m considering just the ‘How can I make this work?’ aspect of trying to coach AND compete. I’m training to return to competition myself soon, but at the same time, starting up a JOAD club for the sake of my kids and their friends. At this point, none of my students are ready or wanting to compete, but I looked forward and realized that I will have BIG problem once they are ready! How can I go to the State Indoor, and shoot well myself WHILE giving my kids the support and attention they need? It can’t be done!
    So my solution is that I will need to train more coaches to work under/with me in my small-but-growing club. Ahhh! This “starting a club” endeavor suddenly involves not just training the kiddoes, but recruiting and training adults!


    • The well of all goodness you are looking for is parents! They can help with the club sessions, help at competitions and training a few will give you a pool of coaches.

      Regarding the state indoor competition, see if you can arrange to shoot at a time when the kids are not shooting (assuming you have multiple lines, etc.). Older kids need much less attention while shooting than do younger ones.

      Regarding coaching serious young archers when you yourself are competing seriously is not recommended. Your outside-in view point as coach can inject unwanted information to the needed inside-out view as a competitor. On the other hand, if you are competing recreationaly then just enjoy the competition!


  2. minorthcoach

    Yes, my group of 8-11 year olds haven’t shown interest in competing…yet. I’m anticipating that a few will become piqued in the next six months to a year, and so I’m planning ahead. My project this spring is to write (actually, more like compile) a program to train several of the parents, both in how to be a good support to their little athletes, and in how to help with entry-level coaching.


    • Where are you located? Do you not have a national archery coach training program? Rather than reinvent the wheel, there is an online introductory archery coach training program at http://www.archeryeducationresources.com. This program handles all of the knowledge needed to train beginning coaches. All you have to add is a little “hands on” experience with a bow and arrows and Bob’s your uncle!

      On Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 9:38 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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