National Archery Association: Increasing barriers to coaches entry

Ginger Hopwood recently offered to intercede for archery coaches into the continuing roll out of new processes, procedures, and expectations of coaches. This is a response to that kind and warm hearted offer by a respected high level, senior, archery coach. As I see the issue (and no I’m not a coach but a parent) the idea that the coaches would need somebody to interceded is a symptom of the issue. I respect her efforts, I respect her intentions, and I realize that it may be what is needed. The fact is though that the National Archery Association (NAA) is supposedly a membership driven organization which means they should be listening to every member and not just one respected high level coach. 

You would think that an organization with declining roles, issues with financing, in a recession economy, with shrinking budgets and such would embrace any hand reaching out to say “hey I’ve got something to say”. Instead the perception promogulated through an antiquated website and luddite consideration of Web 2.0 is that listening is not part of the equation. I do however as a member have some comments. As the worst archer in the NAA, a nobody with few if any valid opinions, and being not very smart or bright, I’ll try not to let my lack of an education get in the way of communicating some elements for you to convey to the NAA.

1) Embrace communications technology and provide a mechanism for the membership to at least respond to what is being done. WordPress multi-author BLOG software is inexpensive and provides the same functionality as the front page of US Archery. Comments would allow for feedback. A strong hand at moderation would keep it sane.

2) An organization that is hostile to the volunteer staff creating rules and impediments to success to reach a lofty goal will neither reach the goal or be an organization long. Every rule, procedure, process, and element should have the goal of removing the barrier to entry as a coach and creating the strongest program possible. Those are not mutually opposed goals, and those who think they are, are already barriers.

3) Regardless of the underlying needs of sponsors and corporate interests to drive a particular agenda the organization is a membership organization. Sponsors and businesses have specific profit driven goals and we can respect those while protecting the members interests. Winning gold medals for sponsors and the organization is great if there is a membership to celebrate.

4) The primary, number one, most representative example of archery in the United States is the level 1, level 2, what ever we are calling them now JOAD and camp coach facing the public. That is where you want to direct all of your energy, most of your enthusiasm, and drive success to that level. The national coach was hired for his skills, and his system, and he will teach that to a very small group of coaches and athletes. If we want Archery to be here in a decade, or 2016, facilitating local coaches success is of primary importance.

5) We have been told change is good. Change is so good in fact that barriers to communication in the methods and variables of how it is accomplished are thrown up and ideas are rejected based on which web forum they are posted. Change is so good that the same trite ideas are trotted out in a cycle of mediocrity. How is sponsorships sought? Who directs this effort? Where is the advertising being done? Who pays or participates in these programs. If the only advertising dollars and sponsorship is the membership and a few archery manufacturers we are sunk. You can only expand advertising if your membership is expanding. Try making membership a value proposition rather than “a ball and chain” for shooting at JOAD. 

6) My local JOAD organization is growing explosively it seems. The coaches work with all of their heart and impart a loving joy for archery. We don’t have enough equipment, there isn’t enough time, we have to few coaches, and every week the word of mouth from participants brings more kids to have fun and poke holes in targets. What I see in the current rules may sanction those caring individuals who show a true face of the fun that is archery. Why does the NAA hate our coaches? Why would you mess with the guy who may recruit the next gold medalist nobody knows about? The national coach isn’t going to be beating the bushes he has already crafted athletes or has them provided. The NAA is killing the future of our sport through misguided application of quality metrics and processes. 

I have read the various letters about changes to the coaching program and though I am most definitely not a coach I am interested. A valid dialog involves both parties communicating through an agreed upon process. The use of intermediaries or communication channels that impart control (like telephones) are not about an open public discourse. Whether those who revile the web and web forums of the Web 2.0 world like it or not, the future is now and the discussion is online. Take your medicine NAA leadership, join the discussion, or lead the discussion, but move forward before there is no other option. Please, my kids are counting on you.

2 comments for “National Archery Association: Increasing barriers to coaches entry

  1. November 16, 2010 at 9:18 am

    So almost two years on, how is USA Archery doing from your standpoint(s)?

    From my standpoint as a “master” age archer that only shoots yellow paper circles, and has no Olympic dream: USA Archery is not really interested in me, but they own the last vestiges of non-hunting archery.

    I first joined NAA 42 years ago, and recently decided to try USA Archery this year. I’m just not interested in NFAA anymore, but an archer has to belong somewhere.

    (I’m not against hunting, per se – I just don’t want to see it, hear it, think it, or pay for it when I do archery. )

    BTW, I support your stated opinions on coaching, youth archery, “of the people, for the people”, and web forums.


  2. sam
    November 17, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    From my perspective USAA has done quite a bit to change the scope of member activities. They have a new coaching program, are working with adults, but fundamentally the sport has not changed significantly. As we approach an Olympic season again I am concerned that the rules, and the process don’t seem to be holding as tight as we might expect. We’ll see. Some of us though are watching from the sidelines.

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