You Get What You Pay For

I get a “newsletter” from and occasionally drop in there to see if anything of value is being discussed and occasionally there is. Unfortunately there is an ocean of other “stuff” one needs to sift through to find it.

The topic that drew my eye was entitled “Critique me” which consisted of a still photo of the archer at full draw shot from up the line, accompanied by this text: Just got a new <name of bow> and I was wondering what you guys thought of my form with the new setup. I’m always looking to improve and I appreciate any suggestions! I’m 6´3˝ and shooting a 29.5 inch draw length currently.

That was it.

I wonder what the gentleman in question hoped for in the way of feedback. The audience in question is united by at least one thing: they all have opinions. The problem is how would one evaluate the opinions. As you might expect I don’t think “crowd sourcing” of archer feedback is a good idea. Plus, one photo … really?

I read a few of the comments and a number of commenters said that his “draw length” looked right. Hello? If you wanted to evaluate his draw length you need a shot from above (ceiling downward) or from what I call “away,” that is on the far side of the archer. I also am 6´3˝ and shooting a similar bow in a similar fashion, my draw length is just under 32˝ so I have to be at least a bit suspicious that his draw length is a tad short. (One also doesn’t know if it was measured correctly.)

I hope that any coach asked for input in this situation would respond with “Sorry, no can do.”

For one, it takes a lot of training to be able to develop the skill of analyzing someone’s shot and that means you should probably get paid for the task. (Alright, I tend to try to help people who write in with their problems, simply because there is so little help available and I don’t charge for that service. But I don’t respond to cattle calls, like the one above.) A second problem is the archer hasn’t supplied anywhere near enough information.

I had an archer who wrote me and ask why his arrows hit to the left of the target. Well, there is a long list of reasons for this, the primary one being that is where he was aiming, but a common source of lefts or rights for “fingers” archers is having the wrong arrow spine. The problem is if the archers is right-handed, his/her arrows will fly to the left if too stiff for the bow and the right if too weak. But if the archer is left-handed, then the reverse is seen (arrows hit right if they are too stiff, etc.).

So, the information that is needed to ask any question is somewhat large.

I saw another AT question that asked: if you were just considering axle-to-axle length of a compound bow, what would you buy? Again, the question lacks enough information to provide an answer. You need to know what the bow is being used for to answer this question. Bowhunters favor shorter bows as they tend to shoot from cramped positions or have to walk through brush and can’t afford to snag their gear along the way. Target archers prefer longer bows as they are easier to hold still (the largest stabilizing force in a compound bow is the mass of the riser and how far it is distributed out from where the grip is (same principle as what makes a long rod work, just a lot more mass involved). And they have plenty of space to wield such bows.

So, please do send in your questions … and if you want a good answer, consider all of the information that might be needed to answer them, then include some of that. And, I strongly recommend you not ask “the universe” to answer your question. You will get too many answers that you cannot evaluate the quality of.



Filed under For All Coaches

2 responses to “You Get What You Pay For

  1. morehice


    Your blog is so much fun to read!

    Happy 2018 from Carolyn Morehouse

    p.s. I passed the written test for the L4 in December but failed to impress Coach Lee with my oral presentation. I was too careful to follow the admonition to use my own words and avoid Lee’s jargon..but it turned out his English was not equal to my vocabulary and he could not understand my “non-jargon” explanations of what NTS involved. I have a year to go back and re-do that, but have not made up my mind yet if I want to. The L4 is so much more oriented toward feeding the Olympic machine, and I don’t have time to travel to competitions with an elite archer. On the other hand I really enjoyed getting the “insider look” at the NTS for the top shooters, and a whole week with the other L5 coaches was great..

    I handed my JOAD program over to my buddy Mike, who recently passed the L3 certification. He is obsessed with archery now and especially the competitive side of it. I like to play around with balloons too much for his taste! But we get along well now– I am training the beginners and intermediate archers, and I run an Explore Archery program once a month.

    The only reason I might go back to pass the oral test is to get permission to teach L3. I love to train coaches.




    • Partial congratulations are in order! ;o)

      Be aware that just being a L4 does not put you in a position to teach L3 classes. There are more hoops to jump through. (So, it may not be worth the effort to retest. why they wouldn’t let you do it via Skype or something is a bit short sighted.)

      And I think we have carried this cult of personality a bit too far. Getting Coach Lee’s personal approval is a bit much. I am not sure I could do it and I have successfully coached a number of people through that process.

      I took the L3 to be able to teach L2s and the L4 just for the information. Once I got the information, passing the test, etc. was only of interest to me as a certification that I did indeed learn the information.

      I tried to convince the then powers-that-be to survey L3 and L4 candidates to find out *why *they wanted to take those course, as I thought we could then design curricula for the various groups (I was sure some wanted to coach for USAA and some did not, just wanting the information to do their jobs better back home. I was unsuccessful.

      And God help you if you go in for that L4 training as a compound specialist. I once estimated that about 40% of Coach Lee’s technique applied to shooting compound, but they seem to insist that 100% does.

      And as far as putting up balloons for beginners, that’s what made Claudia and I a good team. She was interested in helping beginners more and I was interested in helping more advanced archers more and we fed off of each other. Coach Lee even said it is important for all coaches to continue to work with beginners (to stay focused on the fundamentals). So, you keep doing the part you love to do; that is what is important.

      And a very Happy New Year to you! Do stay in touch … and write some more! :o)

      On Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 7:53 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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