Are you interested in learning a new sport? Do you want to improve your archery skills? Would you like your children to participate in a sport that has been judged one of the safest — and can be a lifetime activity?
If the answer to one or more of the above questions is “yes,” you probably want advice. ‘Should I just buy equipment and practice, practice, practice?’ you might ask yourself. ‘Perhaps, I should read a how-to archery book and then practice’ you might think to yourself. ‘Maybe, I should seek an archery coach,’ is another thought that might come into your head.
Practicing archery, studying the sport, and finding a coach can all be beneficial, but the best way to learn archery and maximize the chance that you can become a skilled archer is to find an excellent archery training facility. I think I know what your next question is — “won’t an excellent archery training facility be just for top-notch competitors?” The answer is “no.” An excellent archery training center will help archers of all skill levels.
What’s an excellent archery training center? Here are 10 factors to consider when choosing an archery training center.
1. Safety Lessons
Archery is an extraordinarily safe sport, according to this data compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Look at the charts and you will see how the injury rates per 1,000 participants in youth sports in archery is a tiny fraction of the injury rates of most sports. Nevertheless, you should be wary of an archery training center that does not have an introductory class that teaches prospective archers how to safely use equipment. These courses should be taught by certified archery instructors. USA Archery has such a program.
2. A Culture Of Safety
Safety classes for beginners must be reinforced by a culture of safety that includes a safety orientation process for all newcomers, signs reminding all archers about precautions they must take, and signs about the training center’s rules. The more safety-oriented rules, the better. There should also be signs that encourage archers to report safety problems they notice. In addition, ranges shouldn’t be too crowded. Each shooting lane should be at least 16 meters (about 50 feet) wide and there should be plenty of room to walk between the ranges and the rest of the center.
3. Programs For Many Skill Levels
Even the U.S. Olympic Training Center’s archery training center in Chula Vista, Calif., has programs for entry-level students. When you select an archery training center, you should want to choose one that you can go to for a long time. Going to an archery training center that accommodates archers of many skill levels has at least two advantages — you can stay there as your skills improve and you have role models who have higher skill levels who can inspire you, give you pointers, and relate their experiences of how they improved.
4. Coaches Certified At All Levels
You might be thinking ‘I only want to participate in archery as a recreational sport,’ but you should be prepared in case you change your mind. An excellent archery training center has coaches who can continue to help you as you improve your skills. Please note that USA Archery certifies instructors from Level 1 to Level 5. USA Archery also has a coach locator that enables you to search for instructors from all states and skill levels to ascertain whether your local archery training centers have the instructors you need.
5. Opportunities To Have Fun
Children in particular often need and/or want to play sports with other people at their skill level. Thus, you should definitely look for an archery training center with clubs for children if you’re looking for a facility for your kid. Archery training centers with a variety of clubs, including same-skill clubs and multiple-skill clubs, are preferable. Training centers should also have a variety of clubs for adults. USA Archery has a club locator that can help you.
6. Opportunities To Learn
Every archer and prospective archer learns differently. The best archery training centers have classroom instruction, lessons on the archery range, private lessons, and group lessons. You should definitely request a tour of the archery training center before making a final selection. Does it have segmented instruction areas for people of different skill levels? Does it have the capacity to show instructional videos in its classrooms? Does it cater to many archers of many skill levels?
7. Opportunities To Compete
If you’re a newbie, you might not be interested in competing right now, but you should plan ahead in case you change your mind. The best archery training centers have leagues where people can compete against each other. In fact, many training centers also have close relationships with local schools so there could be opportunities for your children to compete in leagues at a training center. Here is some information on the National Archery in the Schools program. The better training centers also host competitive events involving their area’s or even the USA’s top archers.
8. The Facility’s Quality
While Olympic archery events are contested at 70 meters, the typical indoor archery events are contested at 18 meters or 20 yards. It’s common for indoor ranges to have enough room for 10 archers to shoot safely simultaneously and outdoor ranges for 40 archers. Good lighting is also crucial. Top-notch facilities might also have a store where you can buy equipment, a gym, and a lounge for archers to socialize and share tips.
Also look for facilities which can safely hold classes and have open practice areas. The best ranges will have areas where archers can shoot at different distances in dedicated practice areas while working on different parts of their shooting technique.
9. The Facility’s Vibe
Excellent facilities are a great advantage, but some of them might not be welcoming to newcomers. Sometimes, the facility’s attitude toward newbies is difficult to ascertain, but here’s a tip — facilities that have plenty of opportunities for newcomers to practice at ranges designed for beginners are often more welcoming. Many facilities have world-class shooting ranges and opportunities and ranges for archers who want to be about 10, 20 or 30 meters from their targets.
10. The Facility’s Success
You might only be a beginner, but that doesn’t mean the archery training center’s record of producing successful competitors is irrelevant. For one thing, you are better off if the coaches who are teaching and training you are or have been successful in competition. So don’t hesitate to ask a training center for a summary of how many of its trainees and coaches have won or done well in archery tournaments.