I Have Questions for You!

QandA logoI was having an on line discussion with another coach and a question came up, namely: what is a Level 2, or 3 or 4 coach? Currently, in this country, when you pass a coach training course and wait some time (1-2 years) you are eligible to take the next course. So, what does it really mean that you are a “Level X Coach?”

More importantly, what kinds of things should be happening between these trainings? How does one gain experience coaching? How does one continue one’s education? How does one create a coaching practice? (etc., etc.)

I will start off the discussion with a couple of suggestions.

#1 Every chance I can get a lesson from a good coach, I do so. I actually get double my money’s worth as I get help with my own shooting, but I also get to see a quality coach at work and see how they work.

#2 If you have students, see if you can book an out of town coach to come in and offer lessons. It provides some different feedback for the archers in your community and you can sit and watch your guest work and get a master class in coaching just by watching.

What are your thoughts? What do you want in the way of training? experience? learning?


Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

11 responses to “I Have Questions for You!

  1. Ah, thanks so much for those suggestions, they affirm what I’ve already been doing! I’ve only been shooting a bit over four years, but am Level 2 and ‘coaching’ some friends and our college club. I feel, very much, like I’m the blind leading the, um, somewhat blinder. At first, my ‘coaching’ was just really re-enforcing safety practices. But as I’ve sought to improve my own shooting by getting lessons from various coaches, it’s been invaluable to my own coaching. In fact, I took the Level 2 class in large part because I learned so much from the great coaches who ran my Level 1 class.

    I’ve been working on Suggestion #2… I have some willing coaches, I now have to herd the cats that are my archery clubs (College students, very understandably, unless the positive outcome is already easily foreseen… since they’ve endured my tolerable free coaching, I’m mostly just trying to convince how worthwhile it will really be. We’ll get there.)

    Honesty, this blog has been an enormous help in evolving both my shooting and my coaching. Meeting other archers in the region has helped as well: most archers are very generous with their knowledge and while many may not regard themselves as “coaches”, they are certainly teachers. As a teacher by profession, I realize more and more how similar ‘coaching’ is to teaching. Some days, I’m not sure I can even identify a difference (but then, I’m still just Level 2!)

    Heather (Faculty Advisor / Adult Program Club Administrator)


    • Thanks, Heather,
      We are in the process of setting up a professional coaching organization to supply the kinds of support that coaches need, hence my question(s). Having a place or person you can go to to ask questions will be some part of this effort, but we want to get as much input from working coaches as we can before we create organizational structures.

      And as a retired teacher I can attest to the fact that coaching involves a great deal of teaching. The Carnegie Foundation did a huge study on teaching and they found “coaching” to be one of the primary modes used by teachers.

      I have a personal mission to help professionalize coaching even though I recognize many are volunteer coaches, all need help in aspects of coaching that are never covered by coach training programs (is great puzzlement).

      Anything you can describe as something that will help you be a better coach will help us help you.


      • I think it’s hard for me to say at this stage what I don’t know, if that makes any sense. With my adult archers, it’s easier… we meet up maybe once a month and if they get frustrated with where they are at, they ask me for feedback and I give it to them. With the true beginners I give the “Level 1” information as nicely described by Sue below, and we go from there, but most are advanced beginner or intermediate at this stage.The amount of feedback I give them depends on what they ask for, and so far it hasn’t outstripped my knowledge. But again, these are adults with day jobs, and there’s only about five of us, so it’s very manageable.

        The college students are a whole other kettle of fish. Skill wise, they’re mostly adult beginners, like my other group, most true beginners with some getting into intermediate levels. The very experienced archers get impatient with how few shoots we run (shoots are run by the officers who basically run them as they are able between classes and work), and the fact that we have to schlepp out targets and gear, and put them away every practice at our indoor range. So we’ve been unable to bring in and keep this set of archers in our community. The officers, meanwhile, are also in charge of giving the beginners lessons. Some of them are quite excellent at this. Others are very unenthusiastic and are basically officers in order to shoot and use the range, not because they actually care that much about recruiting and keeping new members. As a volunteer coach, who doesn’t get any “beans” from my university for this service (I’m in the art department, not kinesiology!) I can really only come out once or twice a month and mostly handle logistics with Risk Management, Campus Security, and Parking Services (all the sexy stuff). The club goes dormant for a large chunk of the semester, partly because of weather, and partly because the officers get swamped with other things.

        The upshot is we don’t host predicatable, regular shoots, we are hit-or-miss at training (and keeping) new archers, and it’s been stressed to me repeatedly that this, as a student club, must be run by the students and I really shouldn’t take too big a role in running the regular practices anyway. The message I get: giving (mediocre) coaching to students aspiring to competition (for free)…sure thing. Otherwise, let the students sink or swim. It’s very frustrating.

        So, I guess as a Level 2 coach, I could really use more information on how to train my Level 1 coaches (specially, college students: they’re a unique animal). Honestly, right now none of them are level 1 yet, even. They love the idea… but don’t want to take the time or spend the money. I’m not sure how to convince them of the value and I can’t them do anything. But I know if the officers can realize their own impact as coaches to the larger student population who comes and “tries out” archery, we’ll be able to retain more of the many, many students who give archery one shot… and then never come back.


      • I feel your pain. ;o)

        What I try for is structure. I bought a large batch of pocket-sized notebooks on eBay and I give each of a college kids one. I ask them to start a list of no more than three things they are “working on” and I give them instructions about how to work on those (when, how much, etc.). They are to read that list before they shoot an arrow each and every time because they shoot infrequently and if they just start “warming up” their “Old Normal” shooting will suck them right back to where they were. From time to time I ask them to show me their list and we can check some things off and add some new things (never more than three active items on the list at a time). Being college kids they frequently come to “class” without their notebook and without something to write with.

        I give them handouts on how to practice (actually we have a DropBox folder for these items so I don’t have to bring copies). Most are using club equipment so there isn’t much I can do. Partly I train them in how to help one another (using the Lines of Archery, etc.).

        Basically it is an individual sport and I put them in charge as they are adults. I even try to get my young students to take responsibility for things, by getting commitments/promises and having them write them down in their notebooks.

        This is the reason we distinguish between what we call “recreational archers” (motivated by fun only) and “competitive archers”. Many say they want to learn to compete and win but unless they are willing to do some work toward that end (which is usually “not fun”) they are not really competitive archers, they are recreational archers who talk a good game. The test is give them a boring drill. The ones that do it it are wanting to get better, the ones that don’t are in it for the “fun.” Teaching the two is quite different.


      • Sorry, we have an *outdoor range, not indoor. Didn’t proof read.


  2. I’ve explained it this way:

    Level 1: Can bring a complete newbie barebow archer to a “beginner” level, able to earn a 2-star USA Archery Achievement pin. Archers usually do not have own equipment.
    Level 2: Can bring a beginner level archer to a beginner-intermediate level, i.e. a 4-star achievement pin, with about a $300 set of equipment. Teaches the basics of archery biomechanics. Teaches how to aim with and without sights (so that is at least 4 different aiming methods). Lots of attention on bow hand placement, using the back muscles to draw the bow, solid anchor.
    Level 3: Begins to specialize. Moves archer along the achievement levels towards Olympian achievement levels. At this point, archer is probably spending $600-$800 on equipment. Knowledgeable about stabilizers and how they work, releases (if relevant), rules of competitions, more nuances of archery bio-mechanics and how they differ by skeletal type. Nuances of equipment tuning, turning, and retuning. Knows and teaches about string and serving materials, “arrow-dynamics”, riser and limb materials. Basic fitness training. Introduction to training log-books.
    Level 4: Coaches archers through the Olympian achievement levels. Archers are spending $1000 or more on equipment. Includes mental training & more advanced physical fitness training; detailed log-book analysis and goal setting.


    • So, do you think the L1 training can really prepare people to do as you suggest?

      Most of your accomplishment levels for archers are those provided by youths. How about adults? (We all tend to leave adults out of our thinking.)

      On Sun, Apr 5, 2015 at 12:52 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



      • Yes, I do think the Level 1 training (at least the way I teach it!) can prepare people to do as I suggest, and I’ve seen them do it. And I use the Adult Achievement Levels for adult students (probably 80% of my students are adults). Let’s face it…most kids aren’t going to have parents shell out a lot of money for archery gear unless the kid is committed to putting forth the effort. I’ve had some parents hold off on equipment upgrades until their child can demonstrate proficiency without expensive accessories. If an adult or child is plateauing at a particular achievement level — usually after the 3-star or 4-star level — that is when I suggest investing in better quality arrows that are matched to their bow. At this point I also require they purchase a pair of nocking pliers and a bow square.


      • Cool! A list of the kinds of things that Level X coaches should be able to do and another list of the things to learn before taking the next course might be an interesting project (and would help guide instruction).

        On Sun, Apr 5, 2015 at 3:43 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



      • I would really like to see the “coaches competencies” and “archers competencies” updated from the late 1990s, and revived. A good place to start would be the scout merit badge requirements.


      • Good idea! I am sending you a private email.

        On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 12:15 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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