Concerns about COVID-19 are making the world different for a while, and that includes archery.
Fortunately, archers who want to improve their skills, but avoid being around too many people, have alternatives to traditional classes and coaching sessions. Virtual lessons have become a real thing.
Working With a Coach
“If you can’t physically be in the same space as someone for whatever reason, virtual lessons are something you should look in to,” said Bryan Brady, a USA Archery-certified, Level 4 instructor who works for Lancaster Archery Academy in Pennsylvania.
COVID-19 lockdowns forced the academy to close, so Brady has been teaching virtual lessons nearly daily with his laptop or phone.
“I’ve used Zoom and other programs like that, but I like Facetime the best,” Brady said. “It seems to have the best picture quality and the best reception.”
While giving lessons, Brady often asks his student to move the camera to different positions so he can study what the archer is doing. He said that works best with students with whom he has a rapport.
“We have a shared language, and I know their tendencies on what to look for,” Brady said. “As a coach, I have to work more because of the limited view. I can only see what the video shows, but we work it out.”
After a lesson Brady assigns students drills that address certain aspects of their shooting form, just as he would after in-person sessions. The two can virtually reconnect later to see how the archer is progressing.
“The goal of progressing doesn’t change,” Brady said. “We’re just working toward it in a different way.”
Brady does not recommend virtual instruction for beginners.
“I don’t think that’s safe, and it wouldn’t be a positive experience for the student,” he said. “I want to be there with a beginner to make sure I could prevent something from happening as I see it about to happen.”
Brady recommends archers reach out to a pro shop to find a coach, and then discuss what they can work out together for instruction. Archery 360 maintains a database of shooting ranges and pro shops where you can find coaches.
What if you don’t want to work with a coach, but still want to improve your game? YouTube is invaluable. People use it to learn just about anything, whether it’s starting chainsaws, fixing leaky faucets, or removing rust from traps.
If you have a “how-to” question about archery, you can probably type it into YouTube’s search bar and videos will pop up. These videos can teach you how to fletch arrows, hold a bow, shoot a back-tension release, and much more.
If you have archery questions, check out these YouTube channels:
Nockonarchery is hosted by John Dudley, a coach and former professional competitor. Dudley covers many subjects in his videos, guiding bowhunters and competition archers alike.
Bow Life TV is hosted by Levi Morgan, a world champion 3D archer. The show focuses on Morgan’s hunts around the world, but Bow Life TV is devoted to compound-bow shooting and equipment tips.
NuSensei is hosted by Australia’s David Nguyen, who covers traditional and Olympic-style recurve archery. This wildly popular channel has over 157,000 subscribers, probably because Nguyen explains simple and complicated topics in easily understood terms.
The Push Archery channel is filled with hunting videos, but it also offers instructional videos, all of which focus on traditional archery. It’s led by Matt Zirnsak and Tim Nebel, but frequently features guests like coaches Tom Clum Sr. and Joel Turner.
Archery 360’s videos provide instructional information to beginning and intermediate archers. The channel covers shooting tips, equipment setup and selection, and tutorials on off-beat subjects such as “How to Score a 3D Target” and “What to Pack for Your First Archery Tournament.”
Lancaster Archery Supply sells products worldwide, and its YouTube channel covers all forms of archery. The content largely covers equipment Lancaster sells, but also offers shooting instruction, equipment setups, and tuning information.
The good news about archery in the COVID-19 world is that all you need is a place to shoot. It’s an individual sport, so you can practice any time it’s convenient. And with virtual help, you can continually improve. Maybe you’ll emerge from these troubled times a better archer than ever.