Tag Archives: Working with Parents

Kids! Teach Your Parents Well!

Back when we were running youth archery programs a regular staple of our programs was a “Parent’s Day” in which the parents/guardians got to shoot some arrows. A key element of these sessions was, if at all possible, to have the kids teach their parents.

This was a deliberate attempt at some role reversal (usually it is the parents teaching the kids) but also it was part of our recognition that archery was one of the few sports that kids, especially teenagers (Gasp!), willingly did with their parents. If the parents could get hooked on archery, there would be a new born family activity. My tag line to the parents was “We can’t let the kids have all of the fun.”

And, of course, teaching something is a sure way to reinforce the fundamentals in the kids.

Sometimes this practice bore strange fruit. There was a lovely family that was coming to our 4-H archery Saturdays. Claudia, my partner, taught the two boys their first arrows and they loved the sport. Soon, both parents were shooting also. After about a year or so of shooting, the “mom” of the family was approached by a member of our club suggesting to her that if she were to switch to Recurve Barebow, she had a chance of making a national team. Less than a year later she was in Croatia representing the U.S. in the World Field Championships. Just a few years later, she was World Barebow (Field) Champion. Not bad for a mother of two, pushing 50 years old.

One of the boys went on to become a collegiate archer and both “boys” are now fabulously well employed and successful. This could be one of those “see what you get of you practice” stories but it is rather a “you never know what might happen” stories.

Our intention then as now was to encourage a whole family to participate in our sport. We think it helps the sport . . . and the families, and we encourage you to do the same.

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Recommending New Equipment to Parents

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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Help Me Now, Help Me Now!

I do need your help. I started this blog as a source of support for archery coaches (many whom we have trained, but all y’all). I kind of fell asleep on the job and then made two quick posts yesterday from which I got quite a few comments. What I need to make this blog useful to you is just your questions and suggestions. If you write a question in a comment, I will answer it to the best of my ability or find someone who can. You can even send it as an email (to steve@archeryfocus.com) if you want to be anonymous. (I will not use your name if asked to do that.) That will get me back to this blog more often. And if you have something substantial to say about coaching archery, I welcome guest posts, just send me an email. (If it is really good stuff, I may ask you to put it in a form we can use in Archery Focus magazine and then you’ll be famous . . . well, at least you’ll get a check.

Help me now!

(If you got the reference in the title of this post, you are officially old—it is Bruce Springsteen, I think paying homage to James Brown.)


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What Age to Start?

QandA logo

I just got an email from Paulette Krelman asking “Could you please let me know what is the age recommeded for a child (boy) to start with archery?” This question comes up very, very often because, well, how would a parent know? Here’s the answer.

The rule of thumb for starting kids in archery is the age of eight. This involves the child having not just the physical maturity to handle the activity but also the emotional and social maturity to be in a group and to be able to follow safety rules.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Having said that we know of a child who started shooting at the age of two (really). But this was a case of the child having archer parents. So there are kids who arile they shoot. Since this is not possible in a group class setting, you may want to attend such a class and ask the instructor, either before or after the class, whether your child is “ready.” The instructor may have your child sit in on a class session or may ask them some questions or may try teaching them how to shoot or some combination of these, but they are likely to spend only a few minutes making the assessment. There is no formal process for doing this, so their estimate is just a estimate, but at least it is an informed one.


I wrote a book for parents of archers or potential archers covering such questions (and more, like how do you know you have a good class/instructor, what about buying equipment, etc.) and I recommend it to you (A Parent’s Guide to Archery). It is available on Amazon.com.

APGTA Cover (color)

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How Should Archery Coaches Dress?

I am not trying to set myself up as a fashion Nazi but I am trying to “professionalize” the coaching of archery, so this topic does come up. We think it is important enough that it comes  up in our AER Coach Training Manuals.

Too often I see coaches who have dressed without thinking. We, on the other hand, want to establish a number of things that how you dress impacts on: the validity of coaching fees, coaching authority, perceptions of competence, etc. If you show up to a coaching session in ratty running shorts, flip flops, and a raggedy teeshirt, you aren’t especially broadcasting “professional coach,” now are you?

Here are some of my thoughts:

I Avoid “Archery” Teeshirts Shirts with manufacturer’s logos or which advertise events are what I mean here. If the class is at your club, obviously wearing a club shirt is appropriate. I just don’t want to be giving what appears like equipment advice as a billboard. Fancy shooting shirts are also something I don’t wear. The fact that you are a factory sponsored shooter doesn’t really mean anything with regards to your abilities as a coach.

I Wear Khakis and a Polo Shirt This is a simple outfit that makes you look like a coach. Anyone coming up to the archery field takes one look at you and guesses “that’s the coach.” The whistle around your neck doesn’t hurt, either. Men and women can both wear such an outfit. For really hot weather Khaki shorts are appropriate.

Wear Safe Shoes Students shouldn’t be wearing flip flops, so neither should you be. You are a role model for your students, whether you like it or not. If you tell students they must cover their feet at the range (to prevent wounds from dropped arrows, bug bites, whatever), you will be sending a really mixed message if you violate your own policy.

I am getting a little long in the tooth (a little? all right, a lot) and my comfort is important to me. I don’t expect you to forgoe yours, just to consider how you appear to your students and their parents. There is something to that “dress for sucess” stuff.


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Q&A What to Do About Students Who Don’t Practice?

It might be easy to just dismiss this question with “Well, I am not their parent.” but let’s look at this a little closer.

Realize we have a definitional approach to practice: we say that archers who won’t do anything unless it is fun are “recreational archers.” This is just not a disparaging term, this is simply who they are. If you have a recreational archer and they are paying for private lessons, you have to ask why. Private lessons like this are not worth my time as they exist just so this person can shoot, interact with a coach, claim they are getting private coaching, etc. Whatever their reason, it is not because they want to get better at archery which is where I choose to spend my time.

Practicing is how one gets better at archery.

We distinguish recreational archers from what we call “competitive archers” in that competitive archers are willing to do things that aren’t fun, in order to get better, that is become more competitive.

If you have a professed and confirmed competitive archer who does not want to practice, it is time for a talk. For competitive archers, practice is fun … no matter how boring. They just can’t get enough. So if one of them doesn’t want to practice, there is definitely something wrong.

“We distinguish recreational archers from what we call “competitive archers”
in that competitive archers are willing to do things that aren’t fun,
in order to get better, that is become more competitive.

I am not trained as a counselor or psychologist, but I am a concerned human being who can give some feedback, so sit down with your guy/gal and ask “What’s going on?” Be prepared to listen and realize that, if you are male, you will have an urge to help your student “fix” their problem. All kinds of suggestions will bubble up for you. Be a good coach and shut up. What your student needs first is to be heard. One way of making sure that you do is called “echoing.” When they run out of conversational steam, try to summarize what you heard. “Are you telling me…? or “Is this what you are saying…?” work as starters; just acknowledge what you heard and wait for them to say what they have to say … in full. Sometimes that’s all that is needed.

If your student is young and the problem is not with their parents, be sure to ask them “Have you talked to your mom or dad about this?” (His/her parents will expect this as a minimum.) And you probably do not want to get in the midst of a family matter so I do not recommend you try to mediate, but if there is something seriously wrong, or you suspect a crime has been committed, you have an obligation to report to the parents and possibly the authorities.

Hopefully they are just going through a phase or just needed someone to listen to them.

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Q&A Don’t I Have to Do It Right?

This question came out of one of my students during a lesson. He had gotten so bollixed up he was ready to quit archery. After settling him down and fixing what was wrong so he was back to shooting normally and fairly well, I discovered that his quest was “to do it right.” My question in response was “Just what do you mean by “doing it right?”

People who right about archery form and execution (including me) don’t emphasize enough that what we write about is optimal form, not required form. If you saw the men’s team gold medal competition at the recent Olympics, the winning shot was made by an archer who had far from optimal form (Michele Frangilli, a former #1 ranked Olympic recurve archer). He doesn’t shoot like any of the books tell us we should (even mine).

So, if I were his coach, would I try to convince him to change? Heck, no! if you shoot with form that is sub-optimal, all that means is there is a cost to doing so, typically in hours of training that might not otherwise be necessary. If an archer has already paid that cost, then there is no problem.

An archer just starting out should be encouraged to adopt form and execution as close to the normal as possible as there is less training cost to achieve good form.

But my student, who framed this question, was well into his 70’s, and also had a muscular set of shoulders on him, both of which did not allow him to shoot like the athletic, lithe twenty-somethings for whom the books are written. There is no way he could execute they way they or even he could (50 years ago).

Most archers require some modification of standards form to execute well. This is why, if you look closely you will see that everyone shoots a little bit differently from everybody else.

So, you don’t have to do it according to the books, you just have to do it “right for you,” which is something we can find if we are looking for it.

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Helping Them to Try Other Styles

The AER Archery Curriculum is set up to expose student archers to a great many styles, if . . . if they are interested. But since they don’t know anything about the styles of archery, other than what they have seen, they don’t know what to ask, so you have to help. (Kids who have archer parents have seen a great deal and often have their minds already made up, but we tend to see a lot of people who do not have archer relatives or even friends.) Typically, archers just out of the beginning stage haven’t seen a wide variety of equipment being used, but in the Coaching Resources section of the Archery Education Resources website (www.ArcheryEducationResources.com) you will find a handout entitled “NFAA Shooting Styles.” This can be downloaded and printed out for your files or printed and even handed out to your students.

For your information, the compound styles recognized by World Archery/FITA/USAA are “Compound Unlimited” which is the equivalent of the NFAA style of “Freestyle” and “Compound Limited” which is the equivalent of the NFAA style of “Freestyle Limited.”

How a Coach Can Help Archers Explore
In Stage 2 of the AER Recreational Archery Curriculum, accessories are added to student’s bows in the order of: tab, stabilizer, bow sling, bow sight, clicker, peep sight, release aid (quivers, etc. that don’t require training, per se, can be acquired at any time). Obviously, not all of these apply to any one archer, so let me use the example of a compound archer.

A Compound Archers’ Choices The first thing a compound archer has to choose is a finger tab. Most beginners don’t use a tab for the reasons that their bow’s are so light drawing they aren’t needed and the cheap program tabs that are available are often counterproductive as they don’t fit the archers. We only give out tabs to students who complain their fingers are starting to hurt or who request them. But as draw weight goes up a tab becomes more important, to protect the archer’s fingers and to provide a slippery surface for the string to slide off of. Since tabs have to be fit to the archers, we expect them to buy one.

Then, if they don’t have their own bow and arrows yet, they come next.

Note Somebody always asks why their kid can’t start with a full compound kit. The answer is: if they already have a full compound kit (sight, scope, peep, release, etc.) we will work with them. We do not recommend that anyone try to learn the use of all of these accessories in a class setting because there are too many things to learn at one time and you only have a small amount of time to devote to any one student in any class session. We break down shooting into pieces and feed it to our students a piece at a time. This keeps frustration low and interest high. And it shows our students many of the styles of archery along the way.

Back to our compound student—after the tab is taught and learned and they have their own bow and arrows, the next choice is a stabilizer. If the student opts for a “long rod” or long stabilizer, he/she has adopted the NFAA style of “Barebow.” If he/she subsequently adds a bow sight and a peep sight, he/she has adopted the NFAA style of “Freestyle Limited.” If, down the road, they then incorporate a release aid, they are in the NFAA style of “Freestyle.”

If, on the other hand, our blossoming archer prefers a short stabilizer (≤11˝), with just the bow, tab, and stabilizer, he/she has adopted the NFAA style of “Bowhunter.” If they follow that choice with a pin sight and peep sight, he/she has adopted the NFAA style of “Bowhunter Freestyle Limited.” And, if they trade their tab for a release aid, he/she has adopted the NFAA style of “Bowhunter Freestyle.”

So, they can end up trying almost all of the recognized styles of compound archery. Of course, they can turn down any of those choices. It is their sport. But, trying different things is fun, and most want to see what that “doohickey thingamajig” does for their accuracy.

Trying Different Bows
We see students swapping bows all the time in our beginner classes. Of course, they are our program bows and they are much alike (in draw weight, etc.). Once you get into classes with Stage 2 students, though, many if not most of them will have their own bow and arrows. They still want to swap bows. This is true for kids as well as for adult students. Trying something new is a normal part of our makeup as a “curious animal.” This is the reason why we recommend a mix of recurve and Genesis compound bows for beginning programs. Students get to try both to see which they favor.

Most beginning students don’t get to see a traditional bow let alone shoot one, so if you have one on hand, you will get students wanting to try it. (You can use such “novelties” to spice up a dull session, for example.) We tend to favor Bear Paw bows as they make two light drawing longbows that are quite affordable.

I also keep on hand a “real” compound bow (one with letoff), with an easily adjusted draw length and very low draw weight for introduction when it seems productive. At least they can pull the bow to see what “letoff” really is.

The most important thing for you is to supervise these “bow swaps” or “first time tries” because the unfamiliarity of these new bows leads to “dry fires,” hit bow arms, and dropped bows. We watch each such archer’s first one or two shots attempts to make sure they are safe. You should, too.

More Help You Can Provide
It will be a big help to your students if you have some equipment you can make into “loaners.”

We have a pile of loaner stabilizers (most purchased “used” for under $5) and some loaner tabs and bow sights. Our motto is “Always Try Before You Buy.” Buying unfamiliar archery gear only to find out it doesn’t do what one thought, is not a route to happy student-archers. So, have a list of recommendations of quality entry-level stuff available. If working with kids, always include the parents in the discussion of any purchase recommendation, because no parent wants to see their kids come home jacked up because they want them to buy something for their archery. It doesn’t hurt to make up a sheet of recommended places to shop for archery gear in your community, or lacking such a resource, trusted online retailers.

You need to keep track of anything you lend out, because if you don’t it won’t be long until your supply of “loaner” equipment is exhausted and nobody knows who has what.

One of the joys of archery are all the different manifestations of flinging an arrow from a bow. With a little forethought and preparation, you can help them realize their choices. Good luck!

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Working with Parents

The vast majority of archery students are youths, so you will be coaching a lot of kids. Because of the success of the movies: “The Hunger Games,” “The Avengers,” and “Brave,” and the London Olympic games of this summer (2012), all highlighting cool archers in a way, there is a small flood of kids seeking archery lessons. And every child in one of your classes comes with parents (grandparents, etc.).

Some coaches cringe at the subject of “parents” whenever it comes up in archery coach trainings. Everyone has heard stories of “Little League Parents,” “Helicopter Parents” (they are always hovering), and even “JOAD Parents.” We will not deny that an occasional parent can be a royal pain in the keester, but do realize that the vast majority of archery parents are good people looking to help.

We train our coaches to address parents positively and with forethought. You cannot just shove them out of the way, tell them that all you want from them are signed checks and silence. You are a stranger to them, and archery is a form of weapons training, so they want to assure themselves that their children are in good hands. Your focus on safety will be reassuring to all parents as well as your archers. Here is some guidance for working with parents.

Parents Can Be Helpful
Put yourself in the position of having to chaperone your child to a fantastically boring event: if you are male, think about taking your child to a doll show or a beauty pageant. If you are female, think about taking your child to a paintball event or a video arcade. Whatever your personal horror is, put yourself there. Watching an archery event is right up there with watching paint dry; it is about as dull as a sporting event can be. So, consider the poor parent, being dutiful, chauffeuring their kid to an archery lesson and then . . . Z Z Z z z z. Parents will do anything just to stay awake, so consider giving them something to do.

They aren’t qualified to work the shooting line as they do not have a coaching certificate, but if you ask almost any archery coach, they will tell you they got sucked into coaching because they had a child who like archery, they were asked to help, it kinda looked like fun, and they might as well, . . . , you know the story. It is the most common path to “archery coach.” We have had parents help with paperwork (after they’ve done it for their kid, they help others do it for theirs), pass out armguards and tabs, monitor the kids behind the waiting line to make sure they are not getting into trouble, those kinds of things.

Be sure to talk to parents before and after class, because they will have questions. Which leads to . . .

Parents Need Training, Too
Parents will have a lot of questions and if they are not archers themselves (Parent Question #1 “Are you an archer?) you can’t assume anything. It used to be the case that a majority of the kids in a class had archer parents, but that is no longer the case, so everything needs to be looked at afresh. For example, parents need to be told that “shooting at home” is not a good idea (maybe if you live on a farm, have archer parents involved and have cow insurance, but not ordinarily). You may think this is silly but we had grandparents tell us after their kid had just one lesson “Little Johnny (name changed to protect a minor) enjoyed his first lesson so much we took him to K-Mart, bought him a bow and arrows, then took him to the state park and had a delightful walk on a trail with him shooting at pine cones and squirrels.” After we recovered from our faint, we explained that arrows were not allowed to be shot in state parks unless specific permission is given and that he should never, ever shoot on anything other than a certified archery range.

They didn’t know . . .
Whatever you think they know about archery, they don’t . . .
It is best to assume they know nothing.

We are delighted to be able to recommend a book to archery parents that will answer a great many of their questions and that is “A Parent’s Guide to Archery.” It is available on Amazon.com so it should be easily available to all. (I know the author and he is a really cool guy.)

If you don’t want to go that route, prepare some handouts for parents, with definitions of terms, safety rules and what we call “the Rules for Parents.” We keep these handouts in an “accordion file” so we can whip out whichever one we need in short order.

And, it is not unusual for parents to get bitten by the archery bug, too. Ask them if they want to give it a try. You can even have a parent’s section of the line for those who do or set up another class just for them. There is a certain economy for having the parents and the kids at the same time (fewer trips to the range) but you want to make sure everybody gets enough attention or there could be hard feelings about the parents “taking over” the kid’s class (or the equivalent).

Rules for Parents
These are short and very, very important!

Rule #1 Please drop off and pick up your child on time.
Sometimes, when parents come to trust your ability to care for their kids, they will just drop them off and come to pick them up later. And we have had parents show up minutes to hours late to pick up their kids. You can’t very well just leave the kid at the range, or public park, or wherever your class it, so you can be stuck. Some programs have rules, like those of day care centers, in which there are fines for picking up your child late (some charge by the minute!).

Rule #2 Do not talk to your children while they are shooting.
A parent’s voice cuts through a wall of noise like a hot knife through butter (as it should). We have seen kids, having heard a parent calling their name swivel their upper body 180° (without moving their feet—they are oh, so flexible) so that their arrow was pointing directly away from a target and right at the spectators!

Rule #3 Do not exhort or “coach” your child while we are working with them on the line.
Parents of soccer (football), baseball, or football (American football) kids are used to rooting for their kids from the “sidelines.” Phrases like “Attaboy!” and “Don’t drop your bow arm!” can be heard. The problem is that the parent can’t know what we have just said to their child and probably the best their comment or instruction can do is dilute or mix the message of the coaches. Often when we are trying to teach a new behavior other bad behaviors show up. But we want to focus on just the new behavior at that moment and an instruction from a parent (hard to ignore for any kid) about the other thing shifts the child’s focus away from what we are trying to do.

We recommend that parent’s “debrief” their student-archers at the end of class. Yes, it is a little like “What did you learn in school today?” but if the students can articulate what they were learning it helps to reinforce that learning. If the child seems confused, a parent can then ask for some clarification from the coach.

Parents are a valuable resource. Use them well. Hey, treat them nicely and they may even help out!

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Helping Them Buy Their Own Equipment

What should I get? Where do I go? Where can I get a bow like Stephanie’s! Again, if you haven’t heard questions like these yet, you will and soon. Shopping for archery equipment requires quite a bit of technical knowledge. Whether or not there is an archery shop (also called an archery “pro shop”) in town, your help is going to be needed by all of your students desiring their own archery equipment. (The alternative is your students will go off on their own and buy equipment ill suited to them, and when that equipment doesn’t work well, they will share their unhappiness with you!)

Also realize that in the AER Recreational Archery Curriculum, you must have your own bow and arrows to start Stage II. The first Stage is the “beginner” stage in which we supply all of the equipment. The reason for this is a student can only go so far with borrowed equipment. To reach the intermediate level of archery, they need to have equipment that can be adjusted to fit them, which means, they need to have their own equipment.

The best case scenario is when you have a good archery shop nearby, so let’s look at that first.

Working with an Archery Shop
If you have a good archery shop near you, you are in luck. They should have numbers of bows and arrows in stock, plus many accessories that your students will need or want to buy (quivers, tabs, bow sights, stabilizers, etc.). They should have at least a small space set aside to test shoot bows or at most even a full indoor range. In order to send them customers with confidence, though, you are going to want pay them a visit and check out their inventory. In the long run, having a good working relationship with a good shop will pay huge dividends for your students.

A quick survey of the shop will give you an idea of who they are set up to serve. Look at the bows on the wall. If they are all in camouflage color schemes, they do not have target bows in stock and they aren’t serving many, if any, target archers. If, on the other hand, you see a number of bows in “target colors” (black, white, silver, bright reds, blues, yellows, etc.), the odds are good that they are set up to serve people like your students. If you work primarily with kids, look for Genesis compounds or small brightly colored recurve bows. Some places don’t make any effort to serve youths, because there isn’t much profit in selling to them. Some places will tell you they can help, but if they haven’t committed to carry some bows in stock, you have to doubt how much expertise and/or willingness they might have.

If they have stocked several target bows, then you are probably in luck. If you don’t see what you are looking for, talk to the owner and see if he is interested in serving your students. Do realize that beginner level target equipment is lower in cost, so there isn’t as much profit in it as in higher priced stuff. But many shop owners will work with you if you can supply enough customers. If you can suggest products to carry, especially any you will be recommending, the owner may be willing to carry them for you. Also inquire into whether there is a staff person who is knowledgeable about target archery gear (especially for kids). If they do have someone, good; if they don’t, it may be possible to bring one of the staff up to speed with a little help from you.

No Shop, Yes Problem
As problematic as archery shops can be for beginning target archers, if you don’t have an archery-only shop, we do not recommend you suggest “big box” sporting goods stores, etc. without having checked them out carefully. They are unlikely to have any or enough target equipment to choose from. They are unlikely to have someone on staff who is a “target archery specialist.” They are also unlikely to have a place to shoot a bow to try it out. Now, we admit that some Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores do have archery ranges, but every time we go into such stores, we check out their archery holdings and the vast majority of what they offer for sale is for bowhunting only. So, what are you to do?

There are a number of Internet-based archery suppliers that can sell your students what they need, often at good prices. But the burden is going to fall on you to help them create a shopping list so they know what to buy, then to help them set their new equipment up when it comes in. If this is your situation, you need to offer “Bowfittings” as a service. A Bowfitting is a complete fitting session in the form of a private lesson that takes about 1-1.5 hours. You charge a flat fee for this. We are currently designing a web-based training program (www,ArcheryEducationResources.com—look for it) to teach you how to make all of the necessary measurements. For example, for arrow recommendations, you need to make shaft size recommendations, fletch material and length recommendations, nocks, and point recommendations. Our training will provide you with our recommendations, but you may find you can get some great deals working through a local shop or archery equipment vendor, so you won’t be limited in what you can recommend. You will also provide information on reasonable prices to pay and reputable online dealers from whom your students can purchase their gear safely, if a local source is not available. You can also offer a follow-up individual lesson to get your student’s new gear set up and shooting well. Or, they can bring it to class and you can work on it, time permitting. (You may need to explain that you cannot devote all of your class time to one student, so it will take longer this way.)

Getting a Bowfitting may also be the best way for your students to go to a shop knowing what it is they want. (If you want a sneak preview, check out the article “The Bowfitting” in Archery Focus magazine, Vol 12, No 2.)

Equipment Recommendations
While we will leave most of the specific recommendations to the Bowfitting course, there is one we can make easily. Parents often approach us and ask what they can get their child because “he/she loves archery so much.” If this child has been shooting a Genesis compound bow during class, this bow can be recommended without hesitation and without having to fit it. A recurve bow has many variables to be established: riser material (wood, polymer, metal), riser length (21˝, 23˝, 25˝, 27˝ and more), limb length (short, medium, long—this along with the length of the riser determines bow length), draw weight (14-50# in 2# increments), bowstring material (Dacron, Fast Flight, etc.), and arrow rest.
The Genesis bow comes with all of the decisions made for you with the critical factors being adjustable. All you need do is pick the color.
Not only that, but there is a Genesis arrow available which is “one size fits all” which, as we all know, “doesn’t really.” But the Genesis arrow can be shot by the kids and adults in the family, so they have that advantage. Another arrow recommendation is to simply have them buy the arrows they are using with that bow in class (typically a 1816 or 1916 Easton Jazz arrow).

Working with Parents
If you work a lot with kids, you will also be working with parents on buying decisions as they are the ones paying the bills. It is important that you let your parents know you do Bowfittings (if you do). It is important that parents become aware that purchasing a bow for a child has a great many parameters involved and that help is available. Even parents who are archers often do not have the all of the expertise needed to help their own kids buy archery gear.
Having handouts to give parents is a great way to communicate with them. If you deliver a wonderful talk to parents attending before a class session, just as you finish another will show up and ask you “Can you repeat that?” Having a handout to read on their own time is a courtesy to busy parents who can’t necessarily stay for a class session or whose kids catch a ride with another parent. We think you get the idea.

We hope to have an “exchange” section on the AER Web Site where AER Coaches can share copies of their handouts so you can have examples to make up your own from. Look for it!

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