My friend and coaching colleague, Tammy Besser, suggested this topic for me to write about: what is the best way to recommend archery equipment to parents of a young student-archer (push hard, don’t push at all, what?) This is a very good question.
Being generally ignorant of a families recreation budget constraints, if we press too hard, we may be hurting that family, certainly the relationship between the archer who wants new equipment and the parents who can’t see how they can afford to do so can end up at odds. Or if we aren’t clear about the recommendation, the parents may be left with so much confusion that they don’t know how to start. Or….
The solution to this conundrum lies in education.
Helping Parents with Equipment
Parents of new archers are typically non-archers now. In the past the most common case was children of archers were being introduced to our sport by their archer parents, but we now know that a great many new archers have parents who are basically clueless about archery equipment.
So, how do we make recommendations they can understand and evaluate?
I think there are some key points that need to be made to “frame” the issue and then there are things needed to make the equipment purchase or acquisition doable.
Key Points Regarding Having Your Own Equipment
(For Archery Parents)
- If your child is shooting with program equipment he/she is missing out on what can help them improve in archery and that is accurate feedback. If the bow and arrow and child’s ability aren’t matched to one another you can get false feedback from the arrows shot. For example if the bow your child is using to heavy they won’t be able to hold the bow up. If the arrows too stiff they will fly off to the left (right-handed archery) no matter what.
- When your child has his/her own equipment, we can set up that equipment so it gives them good feedback. If an arrow misses where they were aiming, it will be due to something they did wrong and they can correct.
- Having your own equipment also allows participation at a great many other archery venues, especially archery competitions (which expect each archer to bring their own equipment). Very few archery venues rent equipment.
Then, there is some education needed on the part of those parents and the wonder of the internet allows them to do their own research. Even if there is an archery shop in the community, many have very little equipment specifically designed for entry-level archery buyers. And even if they will order stuff for you, you need to know what stuff to order.
Coaches can provide a simple guide to your recommendations in the form of a Word of PDF document in which there are embedded links to online retailers who provide information along with the opportunity to buy. Because you write this all out ahead of time you can include sections on bows, arrows, arrow rests, bowstrings, armguards, tabs, release aids, everything you think your students might be shopping for. Or you can make separate docs for each category; it is up to you.
This document can include a printable shopping list for the parents or archer to print out and then take notes on things they want to explore.
Probably the most difficult task is helping them buy arrows. When you order made to order (MTO) arrows, you must include all parameters needed: shaft, cut length, fletches (length, color, and pattern), point type and weight, and nock type/brand. We strongly recommend you fit your students for arrows and give them their shopping list with all of these specifications written down. Otherwise they can come back with some disastrous choices. We sent one young man to a shop we thought was reputable and they took some 30-50# carbon shafts and cut them down to the young man’s very short draw length, making them suitable for a 70#-80# bow! (We believe there may have been a temp on duty that day, because this otherwise makes no sense. Shafts graded by draw weight range are “tuned” to that draw length by cut length. The uncut arrows correspond to the lightest bow weight in the range and the shorter lengths for heavier draw weights in the range. Whether this works for somebody’s draw length has to be figured out.)
But, Wait, There’s More!
We wrote “A Parent’s Guide to Archery” especially for parents who have no background in archery with a focus on how parents can support their kids (and protect their pocketbooks). It wouldn’t hurt to recommend that book to them.