Can Archery Be Lucrative?

If you have a passion for basketball, you can aspire to join the NBA.  All of the professional sports leagues in the USA have guidelines on the minimum salary for each athlete.  These concessions are won through labor disputes by various players unions and the league itself.  For Major League Soccer, the 2016 minimal salary is $36,500

So, what happens when you join Major League Archery after the highly competitive college draft?  Of course, that doesn’t exist.  So you have these ways of getting income as an archer.

  1. Win prize money at tournaments
  2. Sponsorship
  3. Crowd funding
  4. Olympic Funding

Prize Money

The NFAA puts on the World Archery Festival, better known as The Vegas Shoot.  In 2016, the top prize was $10,000.  I believe they have plans to increase that by $1,000 every year.  Most other tournaments have much smaller payouts.  And the tournaments of the USAT (US Archery Team) handout points rather than money.

Sponsorship

All sorts of corporations might sponsor you. Most likely it will be a company with some sort of ties to archery.  Equipment makers might have a pro staff, but those are rare.  More common is equipment discounts and contingencies. More rare would be complete outfitting and a salary.  Free equipment has been replaced by contingencies – you purchase the equipment, you register with the vendor before a tournament, and if you win, they give you cash.

In the Easton Archery podcast, it was stated that the Korean archery team buys their own arrows.  This is the Korean archery team, the most dominant team in a sport in a long time.

Crowd Funding

The Internet has expanded Friends and Family into crowd funding.  From informal PayPal donation buttons on web pages to Kick Starter to the USOC supported Rally Me

Olympic Funding

If you are lucky enough to be an Olympic caliber athlete,  the US Olympic Committee has money for you.

Where Does The Money Go?

Approximately 80 percent of the USOC’s operating budget goes directly to Athlete Support Programs. Below is an outline of some of the Athlete Support Programs offered by the USOC along with a brief description of each program:

Direct Athlete Support

Athletes who have demonstrated competitive excellence in important international competitions may be awarded Direct Athlete Support dollars, which includes tuition grants. The USOC Sport Performance Team works closely with the NGBs to determine how these dollars are allocated.

NGB (National Governing Boards like USA Archery) Support Programs

The USOC aids NGBs by supporting services such as investing in state-of-the-art technology, specialized coaching and providing additional training camps and competitions.

Operation Gold

Operation Gold Awards are designed to reward athletes for top place finishes in a sport’s most competitive international competition of the year. The award amount varies from $1,000 – $25,000 depending on the year, the athlete’s finish at the Operation Gold competition and whether the athlete competes in a sport/discipline/event on the Olympic or Paralympic Games program or on the Pan American Games program. Additionally, in non-Olympic and Paralympic years, athletes who qualify for more than one award automatically receive the higher award. At the Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletes are paid Operation Gold for multiple medal performances.

Elite Athlete Health Insurance (EAHI)

Each NGB receives, from the USOC, EAHI slots to distribute to elite athletes. Distribution of these EAHI slots is based on criteria that have been developed by the NGB and approved by the USOC.

Tuition Grants

Tuition grants are intended to help defray a portion of an athlete’s tuition costs, and in doing so, encourage athletes to further their formal education in preparation for lifelong career goals. Grant amounts range from less than $500 to a maximum of $5,000 depending on athlete performance history and availability of funds for the grant. Approximately $70,000 is dedicated to this program annually.

(from http://www.teamusa.org/News/2010/May/27/USOC-to-Launch-America-Supports-Team-USA)

Lucrative?

If you pool all of this money together as Brady Ellison, you might have $100,000 per year in cash and other compensation.  If you are not Brady, it might be 10-15% of that number and that’s if you are the next top two, less if you are four through five.  It looks like fun money if you are anyone else.

Parsing USA Archery

Archery first appeared in the Olympic Games in 1900, was contested again in 1904, 1908 and 1920, then again, after an absence of 52 years, from 1972 to the present. In 1931, FITA (Fédération Internationale de Tir à l’Arc) was formed to get archery back in the olympics. In 2011, FITA decided to rename themselves World Archery Federation which is strangely abbreviated WA.

What I get from this bit of history is that archery wasn’t well organized for those 52 years. After all, it was clearly present and important in the 1908 Olympics. Unlike a sport like baseball, which from my understanding has one canonical implementation, archery has a problem of many disciplines fighting for a share of the attention. For example, there is not baseball on stilts, aquatic baseball, spring loaded bat baseball, and VR baseball. These things may exist, but they aren’t baseball in the common definition.

So any organization that wants to represent the interests of archery have really distinct constituents. It starts with equipment – namely the bow but also the arrow. There are long bows, bare bows, compound bows, cross bows, and recurve bows. There are wood arrows, aluminum arrows, carbon arrows, hybrid arrows, and probably more I don’t even know exist. In contrast, here is the Major League definition of the bat.

The bat shall be a smooth, round stick not more than 2.61 inches in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches in length. The bat shall be one piece of solid wood.

The equipment is just one way that archery diverges. What people choose to shoot an arrow at is another difference in archery – “paper” targets of all sizes and shapes and configurations, animals, 3D fake animals, fish, and movie screens with a virtual target archery. Probably the biggest division is around the word “animals”. This means that archery is also a hunting sport.

Like other sports, the international governing body wants to oversee various national governing bodies. In the USA, that governing body for a long time was called the NAA or National Archery Association. The NAA was founded in 1879. The NAA is different than the National Field Archery Association. The NFAA was found in 1931, probably over some split over the diversity of different forms of archery. Details are few. It is generally recognized that competitive archery in the USA is governed by the NFAA and the NAA. Also with few details, is the transformation of the NAA into USA Archery. I suspect it happened around 2007. Of course in 2007, we were already living in the mandatory age of websites. USA Archery decided to register themselves under usarchery.org (note that is not USA Archery or usaarchery.org – although it looks like they bought the other domain too). This seemingly small detail seems to be in common with the strange FITA -> World Archery Federation or “WA” which continues archery’s identity problem.

So what is going on with USA Archery?

Here’s there mission statment:

The mission of USA Archery shall be to enable United States athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence in Olympic, Pan American or Paralympic and World Championship competition and to promote and grow the sport of archery in the United States.

Importantly, the Olympic bureaucracy has recognized USA Archery as the governing body with the purpose of selecting and training men’s and women’s teams to represent the U.S. in Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and Pan American Games. USA Archery also selects teams for World Championships, World Cups and other international competitions annually. That makes USA Archery different than NFAA.

As the body that controls the Olympic team, USA Archery is not as interested in all of the types of archery. They have stayed away from anything to do with hunting. It looks like they are largely focused on target archery (not hunting) with a big emphasis on recurve archery. You can see that in the logo which is not all of the bow types, it is simply the recurve bow since that is the only current Olympic sport.

l_USA-Archery-Logo

So what does USA Archery really do? Mostly it looks like they are trying to get their stuff together. Here’s an excerpt from the 2008 Annual Board Meeting Notes:

Chairman Corbin had previously requested the attendance of USA Archery Board members, all USAA personnel, and USOC representatives to hear his presentation on the status of USA Archery. It was his desire that everyone receive the same message as he felt the organization was at a critical crossroads. Mr. Corbin’s presentation lasted approximately an hour and some key excerpts are noted below in a condensed format. “USA Archery is a dysfunctional organization. There is no viable strategic plan, minimal external funding outside of USOC, no unity of purpose, poor communications, and a passionate resistance to change.” A leap of faith is necessary to establish a new paradigm for archery.

As that meeting progressed:

Belinda Foxworth led financial report with assistance from Gary Urie. Mr. Urie notes conclusion of Kathleen Frazier embezzlement case. In the general discussion of finances Mr. Urie mentions that the organization borrowed $40,000 from the Foundation to get through the year. The board advised Mr. Urie that the CEO does not have the authority to borrow money without board approval and expressed disappointment that it occurred.

And even more turmoil:

Brad Camp gives CEO report and responds to extensive board questions on a wide range of issues.

Chairman announces Mr. Camp’s resignation and Mr Parish’s termination. Mrs. Parker has agreed to serve, and was unanimously appointed by the board, as “Acting CEO.”

By 2012, USA Archery had received a gift from the movie franchise the Hunger Games. There were other media influences too like Disney’s Brave, the movies from the Chronicles of Narnia, and various archers in super hero franchises. All of this drove interest in archery.

By the end of 2015, USA Archery looks to have these jobs:

  • Spread interest in archery
  • Track archers
  • Develop athletes for the Olympics
  • Run various official events
  • Build confidence in the athlete development by standardizing and certifying coaches
  • Manage funding

Here’s a snippet of the 2015 annual meeting, note that the 2008 Acting CEO is still the CEO.

Chair Foxworth turned the meeting over to CEO Denise Parker. CEO Parker’s presentation provided an overview of USA Archery.

  • Membership – Membership growth has brought the organization to just over 18,000 individual members and over 850 Clubs. The organization’s 35% growth over the last 12 months is both exciting and challenging.

  • Explore Archery – The Explore Archery curriculum was developed as part of a joint effort between USA Archery, Archery Trade Association and Easton Foundations to introduce those participating in local community activities (clubs, camps, Parks and Recs, Retail Pro Shops, National Archery in the Schools, YMCA’s, Boy and Girl Scout programs and 4H) to the sport of Archery. 197 Explore Archery programs are currently registered and $10,000 in grants has been allocated to these clubs.

  • JOAD Clubs – Currently there are 502 JOAD clubs across the country. A new club handbook has been developed and USA Archery continues to provide $20,000 in grant funds to eligible JOAD Clubs annually.

  •  Collegiate Archery Program – Current collegiate membership includes 42 clubs and 520 individual collegiate members compared to the 2009 membership of 435. $75,000 in grant funds were awarded to eligible clubs in 2015. USA Archery will begin selecting teams for FISU events in 2016 and thereafter.

  • Instructor Certification – USA Archery currently has 16,000 certified Level Instructors bringing the total number of certified instructors and coaches across the country to over 20,000.

  • World Rankings- CEO Parker announced the current World Rankings for USA Archery National Teams: Men’s Compound, 2nd; Women’s Compound, 3rd; Men’s Recurve, 4th; and Women’s Recurve, 14th.

  • 2015 World Archery Youth Championships Team- The U.S. team competed in Yankton, SD and the promising results were 8 Compound medals and 6 Recurve medals.

  • 2015 World Archery Championships Recurve Team – Three women and three men have been selected to represent the United States in Copenhagen. Women selected were Khatuna Lorig, LaNola Pritchard and Ariel Gibilaro. Men selected for the team were Zach Garrett, Brady Ellison and Collin Klimitchek

  • Events and Event Participation – CEO Parker displayed a graph showing the growth of participation in events since 2009 stating that the growth and size of National events continue to be challenges. 916 people registered for the combined 2015 National Target Championships and Easton JOAD Nationals events.

When USA Archery meets the public, they do it through these targeted Outreach Programs

  • Explore Archery
  • JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development)
  • Collegiate Archery Program
  • Adult Archery Program
  • USA Archery Camps

As a sports body, USA Archery needs to oversee the competition of the sport. They do that through these Events

  • Sanctioned Archery Tournaments
    • Local
    • State
    • Regional
  • USAT (United States Archery Team) Qualifier Series Events
  • National Championship Events
    • JOAD National Championships
    • US National Target Champions
    • JOAD National Indoor Championships
    • US National Indoor Championships
    • US National Field Championships
    • US National Outdoor Collegiate Championships

However, they are not the only organizing body for archery in the USA, they split this job with the NFAA and probably others.  NFAA is catering to a much broader diversity of archery styles (see NFAA and USAT)

To build an athlete pipeline for the Olympics, USA Archery does that though their National Development Programs

  • Recurve Junior Dream Team
  • Compound Junior Dream Team
  • Collegiate Junior Dream Team
  • Resident Athlete Program
  • USAT (United States Archery Team)
    • Cadet
    • Junior
    • Para
    • Senior
    • Master*
    • Barebow*

It is not clear what is going to happen with these divisions.  USA Archery announced they were official in this 2016 Press Release, but selection criteria looks like it is scheduled for 2018.  As non-olympic sports, it looks like they will be similar to compound archery.

As regulators of the National Training System (the 12 step shot sequence) USA Archery meets the public with coaching certifications in the following forms:

As a participant in World Archery Federation, USA Archery is involved with International Competitions

  • World Cups (Indoor, Outdoor)
  • World Championships (Indoor, Outdoor, Field, and 3D)
  • Parapan and Pan American Games
  • Olympic and Paralympic Games

How does USA Archery get funded? According to their 2015 Financial Declaration

Combined Revenue
Contributions and grants 1,011,125
Grants from the USOC 715,281
Inventory sales 654,017
Cost of inventory sold (357,555)
Membership registrations 683,910
Tournament income 486,505
Corporate sponsorships 172,614
Coach certification income 97,382
NAA Foundation grant* 80,000
USOC media/marketing agreement 85,000
Investment income 19,891
Other income 8,425
Total Revenue 3,656,595
Combined Expenses
Program Expenses
High performance* 631,725
National events and trials 599,107
International events 548,225
Grass roots development 422,280
Membership services 322,051
Coach development 272,361
Paralympic team 264,108
National team 115,609
Supporting Services
General and administrative 419,179
Fundraising 7,772
Total Expenses 3,602,417

* These names are hold outs from older programs, for the most part, High Performance has been replaced by USAT. Previously, USA Archery was NFA which must have been able to create some annuity or grant. Another example is that the financials are declared as:

NATIONAL ARCHERY ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES
d/b/a USA ARCHERY

The corporate sponsors for USA Archery may be restricted to the line item of “Corporate Sponsorships”, but it also could under “Contributions and Grants”. This report is available here.

Officially, there are four levels of sponsorship: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Sponsor. What these levels translate to is not disclosed or is very hard to locate.

Gold Sponsors

  • Easton Foundation
  • Archery Trade Association (ATA)

Silver Sponsors

  • Hoyt
  • Easton

Bronze

  • Nike
  • United Airlines
  • Axcel Sights and Scopes

Sponsors

  • Arizona Archery Enterprises
  • B-Stinger
  • Lancaster Archery
  • Mental Management Systems
  • Pilla, Inc
  • American Whitetail Targets

Here’s an interesting tension for USA Archery. Easton/Hoyt are large contributors to USA Archery. Hoyt for example can clearly hold the noble idea of growing the sport of archery and profiting from that growth. So where does hunting fit into the mix? By far the largest demographic of archers in the US are hunters. By majority, most of those hunters are compound bow owners. A lot of those are bows made by Hoyt and other US manufacturers, so there is a constant tension around compound shooters.

JOAD and USAT Divisions and Classes

For USA Archery that runs JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) and USAT (United States Archery Team), the classes are fewer than NFAA.

JOAD Classes

All archers are allowed to use:

  • Arm guard – plastic, cloth, leather material – to protect their arm from the bowstring and prevent string/arrow deflection during release
  • Finger protector – plastic, metal, leather material – protects the fingers that draw the bowstring back to shoot the bow
  • Finger Sling or Wrist Sling – if the hand holding the bow grips the bow tightly, the arrow will not fly true because tension in the hand affects the bow. If the archer correctly holds the bow with a relaxed hand, the bow actually will leap forward out of the hand. To prevent it from falling to the ground the archer will use a length of string or cloth or leather to encircle the bow grip loosely. This catches the bow after the arrow has left and before the bow hits the ground.
  • Chest protector – cloth or plastic material – this resembles the front panel of one side of a vest, with straps to hold it in place on the side of the chest closest to the bow. It provides a smooth, low-friction surface so that as the bowstring moves forward on arrow release, it does not snag painfully in the archer’s shirt or chest.
  • Weights – different weights can be attached to the bow to assist in release or compensate for a bow with a different center

Other equipment

  • Kisser button – is a plastic button that mounts on the bowstring above the nocking point, and is adjusted to touch the upper lip when the bow is drawn. This helps in forming a stable anchor point. It is a reference point used to provide an additional touch point for the anchor, like the hand on the jaw bone, or the string on the end of the nose.
  • Sight or scope – an adjustable plastic, metal, or carbon device that provides better accuracy without the use of magnifying optics or electronic enhancements (most commonly “sight” as “scope” implies some sort of optics)
  • Aperture – the opening on the sight through which the archer aims at the target. (no magnification or electronics allowed)
  • Clicker – a metal tab that makes a clicking noise when the arrow is drawn to a precise point. Advanced archers have trained themselves into a reflexive release of the arrow when the click is heard.
  • Stabilizer – plastic, metal, rubber, or carbon rods that attach to various points on the bow to help the bow remain still (stable) on arrow release. Vibrations are absorbed by stabilizer components as well. Can have several stabilizers
  • Doinkers/silencers – rubber, metal devices that attach to the bow and absorb vibrations and reduce shock on arrow release
  • Plunger/button – a metal and plastic device that mounts through the riser of the bow to touch the arrow while it is on the bow that helps tune the bow.
  • Release Aid – Attaches to the bow string and mechanically releases the string when the archer is ready to shoot generally through the use of a button but sometimes through specific body movement like back tension
  • Levels – Bubble levels are found on some bows to assist in shooting straighter
Barebow*
permitted weights, plunger
not permitted sights, scopes, stabilizers, clickers, doinkers, electronics, levels, release aid
Recurve
permitted weights, plunger, sights, stabilizers, clickers, doinkers
not permitted scopes, release aids, levels, electronics
Compound
permitted weights, plunger, sights, stabilizers, clickers, doinkers, scopes, release aids, levels, electronics
not permitted

*  In general, barebows do not provide a level of accuracy sufficient to be competitive at the 70 meter distance (which is the Olympic distance for recurve archery).  As such, barebow is not an official class of USAT (said differently, it may be erratically recognized).  That may change in 2018 according to these guidelines.

JOAD Divisions

There are five age groups for JOAD.  More information can be found here.

Division Age
Junior 18, 19, 20
Cadet 15, 16, 17
Cub* 13, 14
Bowman* 10, 11, 12
Yeoman* 8, 9

* In outdoor USAT events, there are no divisions for Cub, Bowman, or Yeoman while at JOAD outdoor events, all divisions may be present.

USAT Divisions

There are four age groups for USAT. Additionally, another division exists which does not follow an age for Paralympics called Para

Division Age
Senior Any age
Master 50+ 50 or older
Junior 18, 19, 20
Cadet 15, 16, 17

JOAD and USAT Gender

  • Male
  • Female

NFAA Divisions and Classes

The National Field Archery Association (NFAA) has different definitions than USA Archery (USAT and JOAD) for age groups and classes.

NFAA Classes

  • Freestyle (coded FS) is virtually an unlimited class. You can shoot any bow with a movable sight, any length stabilizer, and use a release aid. The sight can have certain magnifications.
  • Freestyle Limited (coded FSL) is basically the same as FS with the exception that you cannot use a release aid. “Limited” means you shoot without a release aid.
  • Freestyle Limited Recurve (coded FSLR) are standard Olympic bows. You are allowed to use a recurve with sights, stabilizers, and clickers.
  • Barebow (coded BB) can use any bow including a compound. In addition you can use any length stabilizer, any rest, a level and you can “walk the string.” (“Walking the string” means your fingers can change position on the bow string during the tournament.) You cannot use a sight.
  • Competitive Bowhunter also called Bowhunter (coded BH) can use any bow including a compound. Your string finger must stay against the arrow nock and it must stay in one position below or above the arrow nock. You may not use a sight, clicker or level. You may use a stabilizer up to 12″ in length.
  • Bowhunter Freestyle (coded BHFS) bows can have up to 5 fixed sight pins (you cannot adjust your sight after you start shooting an official round), a stabilizer up to 12″ in length, and you can use a release aid. These are usually compound bows.
  • Bowhunter Freestyle Limited (coded BHFSL) is basically the same as BHFS with the exception that you cannot use a release aid. “Limited” means you shoot without a release aid.
  • Traditional (coded TRAD) bows are all bows without wheels or pulleys (no compounds). All longbows and recurve fit into this division until the longbow class was formed. Your string finger must stay against the arrow nock and it must stay in one position below or above the arrow nock. You may not use a sight or level on your bow. You can use a rest, front stabilizer up to 12 inches and a button. All of the arrows must be identical.
  • Longbows (coded LB) is determined by string not touching the bow limb. A recurve bow string lays on the limb in a limb grove. Not all longbows meet NFAA rules. Modern longbows that have a reflex are considered traditional bows not a longbow. In addition you must use wooden arrows that are all the same.
  • Crossbow (coded CB) is just that, a crossbow. Crossbows are a new class for NFAA and at present is only shot at indoor tournaments capable of handling the additional needs of such equipment. Ranges need fortified bales and may not be able to handle crossbows.

NFAA Divisions

Division Age
Master Senior 70+
Silver Senior 60+
Senior 50+
Adult Any Age
Young Adult 15-17
Youth 12-14
Cub Up to 11

Additionally, there is a “Pro” and “Pro Senior” classification which presumably has to do with becoming a professional (sponsors?) vs. amateur

NFAA Combinations

Pro or Pro Senior
FS, FSL, FSLR

Adult, Senior, Silver Senior or Master Senior
FS, FSL, FSLR, BB, BH, BHFS, BHFSL, TRAD, LB, CB

Young Adult, Youth or Cub
FS, FSL, BHFS, FSLR, BB

NFAA Gender

  • Male
  • Female

Determining NFAA Bow Class

  1. Gender
  2. Age -> Division
  3. Class

NFAA Example Bow Classes

  • Age 14, Female, shooting a recurve
  • Age code = Y
  • Gender code = F
  • Bow Style code = BB

Final Code would look like this: Y-F-BB

  • Age 17, Male, shooting a compound with pins and release aid
  • AGE code = Y/A
  • Gender code = M
  • Bow Style code = BHFS

Final Code would look like this: Y/A-M-BHFS