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.
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
- 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)
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
|Contributions and grants
|Grants from the USOC
|Cost of inventory sold
|Coach certification income
|NAA Foundation grant*
|USOC media/marketing agreement
|National events and trials
|Grass roots development
|General and administrative
* 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.
- Easton Foundation
- Archery Trade Association (ATA)
- United Airlines
- Axcel Sights and Scopes
- Arizona Archery Enterprises
- 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.