As many of you know I have been the president of Pasadena Roving Archers, PRA for several years now and have been an archer for over 30 years, having started as a competitive archer in college in the UK. PRA has been offering public archery classes every Saturday morning since at least the 1970s. With the recent sustained surge of interest in archery there are an increasing number of people asking about private classes and instructors. Unfortunately with the increased interest in archery we are hearing of some less than qualified people posing as instructors. With that in mind here is a simple check list to consider:
What do you want out of the lessons? To be taught the basics of shooting or to move past that and choose a discipline. There are different types of bows for different styles of shooting and while the fundamentals are the same the details differ as you specialize. If you already know you want a particular style then find an instructor that teaches that style.
USA Archery has a series of instructor and coach certification classes ( the instructor database is not reliable in our experience – it’s new and still being updated/scrubbed). Ask your instructor to show you their certification from USA Archery and their current membership of either USA Archery or National Field Archery Association. A membership in at least one of these two organizations is required for the instructor certification to be valid.
There are various levels of certification with Level 1 being the most basic. For our classes at PRA we use only Level 2 or higher instructors and we have Level 1 assistants working under the supervision of a Level 2 or higher instructor. For private instruction I recommend seeking out at least a Level 2 instructor.
Verify that the instructor has insurance.
If the instructor wants to meet you at a public archery range, like the one in Pasadena ask to see proof that they have an agreement with the City in question to use the range for that purpose. Even as an all volunteer, non-profit organization PRA pays fees to the City of Pasadena for use of the range in Pasadena. Most cities want for-profit organizations to pay for the use of city facilities and if your instructor is trying to skate on that issue what does it say about them?
Different instructors have different styles. Talk to the instructor before hand and find out if they are going to work for you. For example, some people may like the ‘drill Sargent do as I say’ style of instruction while others may prefer a gentler more explanatory style of instruction.
If you want to do more than just ‘try-it’ then you will need several lessons – ask the instructor about packages of lessons and how you progress from lesson to lesson.
The instructor should provide all equipment. They should check for eye dominance to determine if you are going to shoot left or right handed before they give you a bow. The bow should be a light draw weight of 15-20lbs. If they offer you a heavier draw weight bow ‘like real archers use’ then run find someone else :)!
The instructor should provide a basic overview of safety rules before instruction starts.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself and have fun!
I’m sure I’ll think of something and add to this as necessary or as people send me comments.