Beginners Courses and Duration.......

little-else

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When they banned pistol shooting I had a quite considerable sum of money to spend on behalf of the Student Union at the university I worked in so spoke to Quicks and ordered 12 bows, 4 bosses, stands etc and a load of other stuff that you need to begin archery. I also bought a book called "Archery- steps to success" and set about roping in some more ex-pistol shooters to give it a go before the start of a new academic year. Within 3 sessions we were scoring around 480 for a Portsmouth so I couldnt disagree more that you need 100 hours of instruction before you can be considered capable and allowed to play on your own. Such a lengthy induction would put off most, coaching, improving, bow tuning etc are all progressions when a beginners course should be about getting someone to know the basics and join in with others in a safe manner. I dont particularly care if a beginner misses the target as long as they do so safely and by having some sort of technique that is appropriate and understand why they are missing it.
The main thing that needs drumming into a beginner is safety, their own as well as others. Now for a university club it really is a conveyor belt as far as freshers sports induction goes but we managed it. I was helped enormously by another member of staff who was a longbow shooter and after a short time we were able to hand over everything to the students themselves and they formally created the club as an entity rather than just being a section of the rifle club.
I took up archery 14 year later and the club I joined asked me about previous experience so I told them and I was instructed to put up a boss string a bow and kit myself out and was observed shooting a couple of dozen arrows at 20 yds. they decided that I was capable enough to join the club and participate without the necessity of doing a beginners course.
100 hours induction? I had set 5 county records by the time I has clocked up that many hours and they were in a discipline I had only tried nce before my first record.
The real question about how long should a beginners coaching course be is what goes into it and what doesnt. My county has some peculiar ideas about teaching barebow but none of the people who are part fo the county coaching scheme will say a word to the organiser of the programmes for coaching qualification because that individual would throw a wobbly and take his ball home and no-one esle wants the drama or the work.
sSo there you ahve another problem, who is going to put in the hours to teach peopel fro that length of time?
 

jerryRTD

Well-known member
I am not agree that it provides ‘you are safe’. If you will see beginners after course you will see they all have bruised forearms, for example. Other aches and pains Related to ‘wrong-doing’ something.
also, when they buy equipment it is not safe - they do not have understanding. simple Example, try to shoot a strong bow with small grains arrow... if arrow is wooden then be sure the arrow will break down and pieces will fly in different directions. So, it is not safe.
also, about safety for others - i also have doubts. When they load an arrow and then moving around etc.

im not criticising existing ‘standard’... I’m just saying that ‘beginner’s course’ isn’t in fact a beginner’s course. And safety is absolutely not the result of this course.
I think, this is just a wrong naming for this ‘course’.

but, as I said, I understand issue and recognise that clubs need to earn, need survive, also ‘coaches’ should be paid (and we all know the issue with coaching)…
Safety is the result because all the archers in my club comply with rule 305 beginners are no exception. Shooting is controlled by the Field Captain.
Next the beginner will not be able to draw a 'strong' bow . All the kit that the beginner brings to the club has to be inspected. That is where the wrong arrows picked up and the length of the arrow is checked The club provides all the kit that the beginner needs so they can use the club kit until they sure they know what they want to buy, safe. ( they may want to go compound)If you see bruised forearms then you can be certain that ,that particular archer was not taught properly
 

KidCurry

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im not criticising existing ‘standard’... I’m just saying that ‘beginner’s course’ isn’t in fact a beginner’s course. And safety is absolutely not the result of this course.
I think, this is just a wrong naming for this ‘course’.
I don't teach archery, I leave that to our coaches. But I must say at the end of their twelve hours they are all safe to shoot with, don't generally miss the target at their distance, and have, on the whole, good basic technique. The point of a beginner's course is to take a non-archer to the point of being a beginner/novice. It's not intended to take a beginner to 2nd or 1st class. I wonder, after the safety and good basic form what are you teaching that takes 100 hrs? A lesson plan for the 100 hrs would be very interesting.
 

geoffretired

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A few club members have told me, over the years, what they think should be covered on a beginners' course.
It seemed, from what they were saying, that they wanted new archers who could do everything that a club archer might be doing after being a club member for a year or so.
I replied to their ideas by saying that if I was a beginner on their beginners' course I would not want to be spending my time setting up a face on a boss and setting up a boss on a stand. Someone suggested they should be able to string their own bows. I suggested they showed the beginners how to string their bows. That was in interesting episode.... no shooting for over 25 minutes.
I explained to them that not all beginners will join the club; why would they need to learn how to string a bow or set up a face on a boss or a boss on a stand?
I think beginners should feel confident that they will be safe and they will not endanger other archers or possible " spectators". I think they should feel confident enough in their shooting to shoot a 20yd target and join in on a club shooting line with other archers.
As far as shooting form goes I would want them to experience the thrill of shooting arrows. Without that they might never want to shoot after the course ends.
 

Nictrix

New member
My beginners course started with setting up the bows including stringing the bow.
I just assumed that all beginners courses started this way.
 

geoffretired

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Hi Nictrix, I think beginners' courses are variable depending on which club you go to.
Some are determined to use sights others are prepared for barebow shooting, while some offer both.
Target faces; or no target faces?
 

LAC Mark

Active member
It seams that there are huge differences in content between clubs, my club teach how to string a bow (not the first week), you start barebow and then move to recurve (unless you want to stay barebow).
The main similarity is safety.

We also offer training/coaching sessions, one to one or in groups for all levels.
 

geoffretired

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Some years ago when I was running follow on coaching for those who had joined the club after their recent beginners' course, being asked by one of the new archers why I hadn't explained some of the things they were learning now, on the beginners;' course?
I said that the time required to explain these things, and for them to learn it would have taken far too long . Also that many who did not eventually join, would have been missing out on the shooting they would otherwise have been able to do.
 

English Bowman

Well-known member
Our beginners courses go like this;

Week 1 - Safety rules, hand out equipment get them shooting safely hitting a 122 cm boss at 10 yds
Week 2 - How to string a bow and how to put it away using a stringer, how to set and adjust a sight
Week 3 - How the scoring methods work (Move to 60cm face)
Week 4 - Shooting Etiquette
Week 5 - Different types of archery, and societies other than AGB (Move to 40cm face)
Week 6 - Different types of equipment and how to select your first kit.

That's 12 hours of tuition, with a brief chat at the beginning of each session followed by 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 coaching on improving technique for the rest of the session. At the end of each session there is a hand out on what was discussed at the beginning of the session.
I would consider any person who completes the course to be capable of joining a club, and in most cases able to choose their own kit. That said most of our archers continue to borrow club kit until they are absolutely ready to buy their own, which is what they are advised to do.

What more do you need from a beginner's course? (Improver's course, now that's another matter)
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
IMO, even 12 hours is too long*
I'd suggest 3 hours spread as 3 sessions with shooting in between should be fine.
I've seen some beginners courses in action and I was surprised people weren't collapsing with boredom, being shown all sorts of stuff that should be learned at a later point.
No point trying to talk about archers paradox or spine to beginners... many experienced archers don't understand it. Ok you can tell 'em they need arrows matched to bow and that they can learn about that later (from various sources) and don't buy until you understand what you are doing.

It's all too easy to try and teach too much too quickly. Basic safety (including equipment care) and course/field rules/etiquette are all that's need initially.
Specific informal talks about equipment and the finer points can be organised later.
Having done a beginners course, archers should be obliged to shoot with/alongside someone experienced until signed off as ok. This probably works better for field shooting, where people go round in a small group.
Del
* Of course this depends on teacher/pupil ratio and age/ability level (of both ;) )
 

dvd8n

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IMO, even 12 hours is too long*
I'd suggest 3 hours spread as 3 sessions with shooting in between should be fine.
I agree with the sentiment but I'd argue that the 'shooting in between' needs to be monitored closely so it might as well be by the beginners coach at the beginners course when this happens, which gets you back up to your 12 hours :)
 

Z28

Member
Indeed, I can agree with a lot of what is being said. 12 hours can be too much for some but not enough for others. The basics can be covered in the 12 hour course, however, split into sessions and a brief intro to each session to remind what has been covered and what the focus of the next session is focussing on. The latter half of the course will be a check on form and reinforcement of learning others will still be struggling no matter how you teach/coach. Some will not “get it” no matter what you do. However, those that ” get it” will still need a lot of support. They should not be left to just ”get on with it”. They will be ingraining bad habits if they are just left. This is why a coach will not get much personal shooting for quite a while after the course starts. The rewards are when it goes well. I had one beginner become club champion in 2 rounds within 12 months of starting. The challenge is and remains those beginners that resent ongoing training. As for teaching items such as paradox and spine etc, I tend to bring that in as and when an archer wants to put together their own equipment. Before that it will go over people’s heads.
Just my thoughts.
 

geoffretired

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I think good and bad form on a beginners' course is to be expected. Some seem to be good from the start; some seem unable to get things " right"... and struggle. I don't think the beginners' course will be able to address the real problems... they can take months to resolve.
Getting beginners to enjoy the experience of shooting arrows is my main concern, once they are aware of how to shoot safely.
If they struggle because they are given too much to think about and not enough time to shoot in a relaxed environment, they may not want to take up archery.
Enjoy shooting, if possible, on the beginners course... getting better at it can be left until they are members
 

geoffretired

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I think that at many clubs, a beginners' course will be run by volunteers who may not have been shooting all that long themselves. Or by experienced archers who have been " volunteered " by others to take the courses.
The longer the courses ; the less time the volunteers have for their own shooting. That could lead to a situation where they want to get back to their own shooting and the new archers might not get the attention they were used to having on the course.
My view is that new archers will need help after a course... no matter how much time is spent during the course. It seems to me that the first few weeks/months are critical to making them feel wanted and I would rather help those who have joined after a short course; rather than offer a long course to all and then assume that those who join should be well enough trained to get on with little input from the experienced archers.
In a nutshell, I would rather offer a short course and then follow that with more help to those who join. I give over the same amount of time, in total, but it ensures there is support for those who join during their first few weeks of membership.
 

dropbear

Member
We all know a maximum of six sessions is allowed by ArcheryGB rules.
Like Others,Our particular club has been unable to run full beginners courses this year.These are usually an Intro/Kit out night,followed by shooting sessions.
We have cut this down to four weeks total ,during covid,on a one to one basis with the coach.Mainly to get a few more through........
I am just wondering how many weeks other clubs provide,under usual circumstances.
Here in Australia Archery Australia allow people a maximum of 12 consecutive weeks shooting at a club before they either have to join or go away 😁. Our club hold regular introduction to archery beginner's course which consist of 3 X 2 hour sessions (that's one session each week for 3 consecutive weeks. For that we charge $aud60 which includes equipment hire. Once they finish this course they can come back each week for nine consecutive weeks and join regular club members on the shooting line (at a cost of $Aud10 week). Here they receive ongoing training and at the end of that time can decide whether they'd like to join the club or not. Our beginner's courses are held on a Saturday morning outside of the regular afternoon club shooting times so as not to impact regular club shooters
 

dropbear

Member
I'm not sure where you've had your experience, but I don't recognise your criticisms from the more than 20 beginners' courses and 250 or so archers involved I have helped run. The 12 hours is perfectly adequate to fulfil the basic requirements of instilling safety and basic form. It is only an introduction to the sport and makes no pretence in turning out a finished archer. As to buying the wrong kit all of our beginners are told specifically not to buy anything, we lend them any kit for as long as they need it, and when they eventually do buy it is part of my job to talk it through with them and help with selection, I usually like to go with them to the shop and advise on the spot

Don't tar all beginners courses with the same brush, based on your own.
 

dropbear

Member
This sounds like my club. Specifically tell newbies not to go buy anything until firstly, they decide they want to join the club and secondly decide what type of bow they'd like to shoot. Although we don't go with them to the archery shop we do tell them what they need in the way of size of bow and arrows and poundage / draw length etc. We have a reliable supplier that will kit them up to their budget.
 

little-else

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We used to have a deal with local archery shop but we sometimes had new people approach us to join who had been there, done an intro with them and then bought some kit and them looked for somewhere to shoot. Unfortunately they invariably bought something that didnt actually do them any favours and it wasnt easy to then get these people to progress in any meaningful way and I put that down to the shop staff not thinking enough about the customer's limitations.
In the time I have been participating I have only seen one person politely questioned as to whether it really was the sport for them at the end of a beginners course. when I taught beginners courses with rifle and pistol i had to send several away for unsafe behaviour and on 2 occasions even contacted the police as my concernes about them was so strong. having said that, I have instructed and coached probably 6000 people so a tiny percentage were failed.
 
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