Every archery expert will agree that developing archery prowess is a process. You need a lot of training and guidance to help you hone your skills, and besides just training on your own, one of the best bets for you as an archer looking to take your skills to the next level will be to get an instructor. Archery instructors can help you skip a lot of the learning process you would have had to deal with on your own, and their potential to help fast-track the entire learning process can’t possibly be overstated.
That said, not every archery instructor is perfect for you. Like everything else that comes with archery, you need to vet potential instructors to ensure they can give you the right type of training needed. So, how do you know that an instructor is perfect for you? We’ll through a few pointers in this article.
Main Considerations In Choosing An Archery Instructor
Your Current Archery Skill Level
When choosing an archery instructor, one of the most important things you’ll need to consider is your skill level. Not every archery instructor is great for every skill level. Some instructor focus on helping beginner archers who are still trying to learn the ropes, while others are more geared toward expert archers who might want to hone their skills or prepare for competitions. So, before you go ahead to find the right instructor, you need to be honest with yourself about your current skill level.
If you’re only just picking up a bow and arrow for the first time, then beginner courses are a great way to start. For someone who’s been shooting for some months and already understands some basics, the intermediate level should be a better fit.
Most advanced archers tend to go for an instructor when they find out their skills aren’t improving. If you notice that your skills have stalled, it might be a good idea to seek out someone to help you get back on track and optimize your shooting skills. And in many cases, an instructor is that person.
Your Personal Archery Goals
People go into archery for various reasons. Some people just get into archery for the fun of it. Others love the exercise as well as the physical and mental benefits that archery provides. For some people, archery is serious business - these are people who take on the activity in order to go hunting or participate in a competition. And just as these reasons are diverse, the instructors that can help them will also be different.
Understanding your objective for getting into archery can help you in your search for the perfect instructor, as many only specialize in certain aspects. Some instructors are so hardcore that they only train those competing in the Olympics. Others want to help get more people into archery, so they take on beginners trying to learn the ropes. Whatever your objectives, consider those while you search, and be sure to ask prospective instructors if they can help you reach your goals.
Archery Instructor Levels
Now that you’ve figured out your current skill level and archery goals, the next step is to find an instructor with the perfect fit. Archery instructors come in different categories, and here’s a quick rundown of what you might need to know before making a choice.
Certified or Non-Certified?
Generally, you can find two categories of archery instructors - certified or non-certified. The former category will get their certification from USA Archery, which governs archery as an Olympic sport and certifies instructors and coaches, or other certification bodies including World Archery, S3DA, and NASP. To get a certification from USA Archery, an instructor will need to go through a detailed course that tests their knowledge of archery and ensure they possess the skill set to properly teach at their certification level.
It is worth noting that a person doesn’t need to get a certification to be an archery instructor. Family members or friends with years of experience in the sport might be willing to help you out - and they don’t necessarily need to be certified. However, learning from a certified instructor usually has its benefits and gives you the confidence that the person training you knows their onions. Certified instructors, having been subjected to an organized process and course that involves insurance, background checks, and Safesport verification, you can rest assured that you’ll be in good hands and safe throughout your training process.
There are various certification levels, each with its requirements and depicting the instructor’s strength and skill set. Knowing the different levels of certification available can help you select an archery instructor that best fits your needs. You can find a breakdown of these certification levels below:
Level 1 Certification
Instructors who have the Level 1 certification can train beginner archers. They understand the basics of archery and can help you with successfully getting started in archery and choosing the right archery gear and accessories. They can also guide you in aspects such as range safety, proper shooting steps, equipment setup and repair, and other basics to get you on track as you kickstart your archery journey.
Level 2 Certification
The Level 2 certification is a notch above Level 1. These instructors go through a more detailed training process and can take learners through more in-depth training techniques. Level 2-certified instructors can teach you to shoot both recurve and compound bows and help with athlete development. So, their versatility definitely comes in handy.
Level 3 NTS Certification
The National Training System (NTS) certification takes things another step further. However, unlike previous levels where the focus is on training groups of learners, this certification qualifies an instructor to take individual classes.
Instructors with this certification can teach everything from the previous two level. They also go deeper, covering areas like event preparation, shooting performance, the mental skills and techniques involved in shooting, equipment fine-tuning, and other advanced instructions.
Level 4 NTS Certification
Once you find someone with the Level 4 NTS certification, you’re really going into the pros. These instructors have advanced coaching skills and work with high-performance athletes, many of which participate in competitive archery events at both the national and international levels.
In addition to all of the skills from previous levels, these instructors incorporate advanced concepts like psychology, sports science, and biomechanics for competition, allowing their clients to improve in every aspect of archery.
Level 5 NTS Certification
For many people, the gold standard when it comes to certification is the Level 5 NTS. This is currently the highest level of certification an archery instructor can receive. Level 5 NTS coaches possess the most knowledge and can easily apply their knowledge and experience in all aspects of their teaching.
This certification level requires much more prerequisites and training, and you’ll find this category of instructors generally train athletes performing at the highest archery levels, like the Olympics.
What to Look Out For In An Archery Instructor
When you consider the best teachers you’ve had, you’ll find that they all have great qualities that drew you to them. The best types of tutors are smart, and they make learning easy and fun. The same applies to the best archery instructors. Let’s run through some of the qualities every ideal instructor should possess.
A Wealth Of Knowledge
Without a doubt, the most important thing you need to consider when choosing an archery instructor is someone with a vast repertoire of technical archery knowledge. You want someone who has a solid background and in-depth knowledge of archery equipment, form, and mechanics.
We already covered the different certification levels, so you be sure to ask any prospective instructor about where they stand. However, bear in mind that certification isn’t necessarily the only prerequisite for anyone to be a great instructor. The key thing is that they know what they’re doing and can help you.
You need to have complete confidence in your archery instructor’s advice and their ability to train you, and they should also know enough to teach you properly - from mechanics to proper shooting form and posture. They should also have sound knowledge about archery equipment to make recommendations and help with any necessary repairs in cases of malfunctions at tournaments.
Communication And Engagement
It is also important for you to consider your prospective instructor’s communication skills when making a choice. A good instructor knows how to break down complicated concepts such that it makes sense - all while not sounding pedantic or condescending.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to learn archery for fun or to prepare for a competition, your instructor should have the right communication skills to keep you engaged and entertained. Archery is a fun activity, and an instructor should never bore you.
Like everything else that is learned, you need to take your archery classes seriously and focus on the fundamentals that need to be learned. But, while doing that, it definitely helps to have someone who can help you to be yourself and enjoy what you’re doing.
Adaptability In Training
A good archery instructor will teach you how to shoot. However, a great instructor is expected to incorporate a flexible teaching regimen. Their teaching should be adaptable enough to accommodate recent developments in archery as well as your specific learning style.
If there’s a new shooting technique, an instructor should be able to teach it to you. In the same vein, they should understand that learners are individually unique and won’t necessarily grasp the concepts at the same pace. An instructor worth the name will understand these differences and work with them.
Regardless of what is being taught, patience is a critical quality every instructor must possess. Someone who regularly snaps at you and yells at you when you’re not getting things right isn’t going to do much to help your development as an archer - and even worse, they might have a terrible effect on your mental health and cause you to abandon archery altogether.
Again, this isn’t to say that instructors can’t be strict or firm. But there is a fine line between being a rigid instructor and being downright cruel. A great instructor understands this line and toes it perfectly.
Ready To Learn?
Archery is truly a fun activity. And it becomes even more interesting when you learn and hone your skills under the right tutelage. Fortunately, there are several instructors available with the perfect skill set to help you improve your game, irrespective of your skill level or goals.
Of course, the fact that there are so many archery instructors available is exactly why you need to be more careful with your selection. Your instructor is your gateway into archery itself, and your experience with them will be critical to shaping how you understand and develop in the sport. You should, thus, take the right precautions when vetting potential archery instructors.