I got into an interesting conversation with one of my authors, Arthur Halligey, from Great Britain. The discussion was on the teaching order for bow sights and stabilizers. Arthur and quite a number of other coaches over there do “sights first” while I recommend “stabilizers first.” What do you recommend?
My argument for stabilizers first is that my teaching modality is to do what is easiest first, also to break things down into steps so that the learning load is smaller. Of course, many children of archers are handed fully kitted out compound bows as their first bows, so that can be done. Presumably, also, the parents are there all of the time to help with the learning process. Children taking archery classes are shooting more often than not not under the watchful eye of a coach/instructor.
Our curriculum for archery classes (the AER Recreational Archery Curriculum—available in Coach’s Guide and Archer’s Guide forms with the Coach’s Guide containing the entire Archer’s Guide and a lot more) has Recurve, Compound, and Traditional Tracks. The Recurve and Compound Tracks include sights and stabilizers.
But not all archers shoot with sights and stabilizers. To give our students the full experience, we introduce the equipment in stages, so that they can experience most, if not all, of the shooting styles those divisions offer. All students start with Barebow and learn point-of-aim (POA) aiming as basics. Then stabilizers can be added (if desired). Compound archers can choose or try both short and long stabilizers (and thus experience both the Compound Barebow and Compound Bowhunter styles).
After stabilizers are used, we introduce bow sights. (We have a written protocol as to how to make the transition from aiming off of the point to aiming with a bow sight. This is easy, takes very little time, and shows how both systems are roughly equal in value.)
Other gear is introduced after that, for example, for Recurve archers, cushion plungers and arrow rests, clickers, etc. (Prior to that we recommend screw-in plastic arrow rests so centershot adjustments can be made but things kept simple.)
So, stabilizers come first because: they are cheaper (a cheap stabilizer works better than a cheap bow sight), they help archers notice their stability at full draw, they improve their grouping, etc.
Bow sights are iffy. The inexpensive one’s aren’t worth the money, the more expensive ones are quite a bit more expensive. Getting a loaner bow sight is harder than getting a loaner longrod, also.
I tend to think that British coaches are focused upon getting their students into full Recurve Unlimited kit as there wasn’t much a compound presence in the U.K. There were trad archers and Olympic Recurve and that was about it. Couple this with beginning archers asking most frequently “How do I aim?” and sights first makes sense.
I am not sure there are significant reasons for “stabilizer first” or “sights first,” making “machts nichts” the operative teaching principle here.
What do you think?