With archery’s recent explosion in popularity, more coaches and instructors than ever are available to teach or hone an archer’s skills. But how do you find the right one for you?
First, learn your terminology. USA Archery – which shares its certification program with the National Field Archery Association – defines an instructor as someone who has earned Level 1 or Level 2 certification, and focuses on group archery instruction.
While instructors lead archery clubs nationwide, coaches – who have Level 3, 4 or 5 certification – focus on technical specifics and individual athlete development. Does that mean coaches can’t lead clubs or instructors can’t help you succeed competitively? No!
Finding a coach or instructor is simple: Check out USA Archery’s coach locator, and ask your pro shop or archery range for recommendations. Also ask friends who shoot.
When evaluating potential coaches and instructors, realize their certification level doesn’t necessarily reflect their experience. It signifies how much time the instructor has spent in classrooms learning to coach. It also specifies the prerequisites they’ve completed for their certification level.
All instructors Level 2 or higher must also pass a background check to be certified. Beginning in 2014, they must also pass SafeSport training.
Besides ensuring your coach or instructor is certified, make sure your personalities are a good fit. This is especially important if you’ll work with the coach individually.
Be sure your schedules mesh so you can attend group classes and/or private lessons, and consider how well you communicate with each other. Are you comfortable talking to this coach? If so, consider taking a few lessons to see how they go.
Other factors to consider: Which coaches have their own archery range? How far must you travel to work together? Some good news: Most areas have an archery club, range, pro shop and/or private coaches nearby. Also, ask about costs, because clubs and coaches charge different fees for group and individual lessons.
Keep all lines of communication open. Tell prospective coaches your archery goals so they know the path you want to follow. Your relationship with your coach is only as good as the effort you both put into it. Follow through with practice, mental training and other tasks your coach assigns to maximize your time together.