Archery is a technical sport, there is a lot of technique involved. One of the areas bewildering to both new archers (and their parent’s if they are young) is the technology of bows and arrows, the equipment. One of your roles is to help them with the tasks of selecting equipment to acquire, setting up that equipment to be both safe and effective, and tuning it so it is matched to the archer’s skill. This is not a small undertaking, so let’s talk about this.
Talking Archery Tech
In the companion AER piece for archers, I took a shot at explaining arrow spine. Most beginning archers do not have a clue, and if my experience is at all common, many experienced archers also do not have a clue. So, this is important: if you find yourself in the position of making recommendations regarding purchases, setup and tuning, etc. and you are not comfortable with that task, you need to find a “tech support angel” or tackle that steep learning curve yourself.
Tech support angels come in the form of archery pro shop owners who take you and your students under their wing, offering you the services you need or can be a member of your archery club who volunteers to keep your program equipment in shape. In our first archery program experience (a 4-H program) a club member took all of the program arrows home with him after our weekly lessons and repaired them and brought them back for the next session. Later, we learned to do this task ourselves. We have heard of archery shops offering the same service for reduced or even no fees. (They are in the business of making money doing these things, so if they offer you a steep discount, or free services, be very, very grateful.)
Basically, we are saying you need to know of what you are teaching. Once you do, you will find yourself walking your students through procedures … over and over and over. Often the same student needs to be shown things multiple times. As with all physical skills, having them do it themselves after being shown is a critical step in learning.
Getting an Education
Coach training programs don’t do much in this area, so you are going to need to find other sources of technical support. One of those is books. We can recommend:
- Simple Maintenance for Archery, 2nd Ed. by Ruth Rowe and Alan Anderson This is a must have book for coaches of serious archers! Step-by-step procedures with photos are provided for almost every task you will need to master.
- Modern Recurve Tuning, 2nd Ed. by Richard Cockrell An excellent resource for what the title claims.
- Tuning Your Compound Bow, 5th Ed. by Larry Wise The tuning bible for compound bows by a master coach.
Another source is the Internet, which we are sad to say is a mixed bag. Some of the information available is spot on and other, well, not so much. When using the Internet, always consider the source. We can safely say that the Lancaster Archery Academy Blog is a safer bet than a random video found in a Google search.
Teaching Videos There is an old saw used by teachers which is “tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember.” There are a great many videos available on sources such as YouTube that are excellent at showing things. Here are a few examples:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7zewtuUM_0&t=10s (Explains the archer’s paradox using high speed video for coaches and archers)
- https://www.youtube.com/user/ArcheryWinchester/videos (A goldmine of archery form videos analyzed, highly recommended for coaches.)
- https://www.youtube.com/user/NUSensei (A treasure trove of archery videos, most of which are directed at beginners. Highly recommended for archers.)
We give out links to videos on how to tie a finger sling from a shoelace, how to safely brace a bow, etc. but we strongly recommend that you very carefully watch any video you would like to recommend as some of them start out doing a great job and then fly off into the land of error later. Take notes about any points in the videos you find iffy. These can be points of discussion for your students if you recommend the video to them.
Recommending videos and “further readings” is also a good way to get your student-archers involved in archery outside of their lessons or classes. They also are a marker to distinguish serious competitive archers from recreational archers. In general we have found that the recreational archers won’t do “homework” but the serious archers eat it up. We often use the test of asking students to text or email us to remind us to send them the information they say they want. Almost universally, the recreational archers will not bother to remember to do that or if they remember, they just don’t do it.
This is not a knock on recreational archers! They are not in the sport for what you are asking them to do and they are just being polite or telling you what they think you want to hear. This is to keep you from making the mistake of trying to teach your students the wrong way. Homework and drills don’t work for recreational archers, making things fun does. Just focusing on fun will offend a serious archer after a while and could lose you that student. This is all about “knowing your audience,” a prime rule of teaching.