By Jackie Holbrook
Whatever your situation, it sounds like you should take an archery lesson. You’ll be shocked how much you’ll learn from one lesson with a certified instructor.
USA Archery certifies instructors who pass a certification course, which provides the tools to safely and effectively teach archery’s basics.
“Earning a certification is a conformed way to teach. It’s not just someone’s personal style,” said Steve MacBride, owner of The Archer’s Edge in Steubenville Pike, Pennsylvania. The store requires all of its coaches to be certified before teaching lessons. “This unified material, and the procedures and steps taught to instructors, helps them teach people the correct way.”
Beginning bowhunters often turn to family and friends for advice and lessons. Mentors are great, but learning something new can be easier and more helpful when the instructor has no personal relationship with the pupil.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ll be out there instructing the wife or girlfriend, and the husband or boyfriend is giving incorrect advice,” MacBride said. “(It’s important to) show the person the correct way to do something, but it’s also important to explain why it’s correct.”
Certified instructors understand proper shooting form, and they can explain why a certain grip or sequence delivers better shots. They’re also patient and they love teaching. When giving lessons, they won’t rush or intimidate you, or scare you from asking basic questions. Their job is to make you feel comfortable and teach you at your own pace.
Tracy Taylor, owner of Taylor’s Archery in Tullahoma, Tennessee, started bowhunting in the early 1990s when “we were all self-taught,” Taylor said. “I’ve had to change many things over the years because I was doing it wrong.”
Further, no matter how long you’ve been shooting a bow, lessons can help you improve.
“Maybe you think you’re shooting fine, but you might come in and we’ll show you how you can change your grip just a little bit,” MacBride said. “Or maybe your stance is too closed, and you don’t even realize it.”
Bad habits can develop after years of shooting, even if you learned proper form when first trying archery. Certified instructors identify areas where you can improve, even if you think you’re shooting fine. Simple changes in form can tighten groups and improve consistency.
“If you’ve been shooting for a couple years, that’s great,” MacBride said. “Come in and shoot, and I can give you a couple of tips for what you’re doing wrong, and we can build a lesson around that.”
One of the most common mistakes is people not realizing they’re shooting the wrong length bow. “They’re just making it work,” MacBride said. “You might have a bow that’s too short or too long, and you don’t know it.”
That often happens when people learn to shoot on their own, or buy equipment online and don’t take it to a shop. Bowhunters who use ill-fitting equipment adapt their shooting style to make it work, but adapting can be costly. Instructors notice such problems quickly, correct your form, and get you shooting the right bow. That change will feel better and improve your shooting.
“Some people assume they know, instead of taking time to find the real answers,” Taylor said.
Taylor and MacBride think some bowhunters have misconceptions about lessons, which keeps them from signing up. They want bowhunters to know they won’t be judged, and they welcome everyone to their shop.
“Some people are afraid they’ll embarrass themselves, but they need to learn their weaknesses so they can improve,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he also hears people claim that lessons are for competition archers. “They say, ‘Well, I just hunt,’ and claim they’re not into target archery. I don’t understand that attitude. Why wouldn’t you want to excel at what you do?”
Call an archery shop today and sign up for a lesson.