Returning to the Range

A month ago, the younger one had withdrawn from the shoot.  We returned to practice this weekend at our outdoor range.  She proclaimed she was so excited to be able to shoot again.  And overall it went really well.  She was appropriately distracted by various bugs and a fearless little bird she named “Tinee”, but she completed more ends than I expected.  We were out there for almost four hours because the older one was getting ready for her second state games.

We worked on form, as every archer does during every practice, or at least that is what every practice has been for these kiddos.  Maybe Mackenzie Brown gets to do something else with her practice time at this point.

Understandably, her form was a little rough.  I decided to use Hudl Technique with her.  I was hoping to slow things down so I could see it.  I’ve used Hudl with the older one and I also wanted to make sure the younger one knew she was special too.

It was easy to see at 1/4 speed even if it is hard to see your iDevice with full sun.  I shared it with her and she felt like she could keep her bow arm extended and work on her draw arm elbow.

Meanwhile the older one was getting her site ready for 30-20-10 distances that the next tournament uses.  She was doing her sport and I didn’t have to pay too much attention other than recording her site positions.

Having a camera helps, but we also record them in her archery journal so that when we get to a tournament, we have backups.

She really likes this Shibuya site.  There are more expensive models, but this one works for her.  Since she started using it, we are both seeing more of them around, probably some sort of cognitive bias.   At Salt Lake, Steve Anderson spoke to the archers at breakfast.  Later, we saw he was shooting a Shibuya too.


There summer is winding down.  School starts again in a few weeks.  That means the outdoor season is winding down and the indoor season will be ramping up (with a lot of overlap).  I think the Byrds sing a song about this.


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 (note that is not USA Archery or – 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
    • 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:


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


  • Nike
  • United Airlines
  • Axcel Sights and Scopes


  • 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.

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

Adult, Senior, Silver Senior or Master Senior

Young Adult, Youth or Cub

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

Rocky Mountain State Games

This was her first outdoor tournament.  Our trip planning over estimated the amount of time we needed to arrive at the facility, so we got to Memorial Park in Colorado Springs with plenty of time.  This park is huge.  The scale of the map will mislead you.  Outside of the velodrome is a green field large enough for several full size soccer fields.  That was the home for archery.


The range was set up for 40 bales or lanes.  Depending on the groupings, two to four shooters would be on each lane.  It was her first time shooting on grass – every where else we have shot has not been a manicured lawn.  Our friend, Sean, told us a canopy was the norm.  I’m glad he let us in on that secret.  We had a canopy and the extra time we had from arriving early was put to use by staking out some ground in front of the 30 yard bales.

Slowly, the field filled in with more and more canopies.  Some elaborate and larger than 12×12, but most were 10×10 and cooperated with each other.  Thus began the Rocky Mountain State Games.  I wasn’t sure if they rotated through the lanes, moved the lanes, or moved the targets.  We had been practicing a lot for 30 yards, but I wasn’t sure what those other distances were.  There’s a first time for everything.  This outdoor tournament certainly had a lot more categories than an indoor JOAD tournament which has only three styles and five age groups (more here on JOAD).  For NFAA, there are seven age groups and ten shooting styles.  This is confusing.  If you want to see the class system, check out this document.

We got started and it was going to be 30 arrows at 30 yards, then 20 yards, then 10 yards.  The summer sun started slowly, but was in full blaze by 10:00 AM and there would be a lot more shooting.  At this tournament, they moved the targets towards the shooting line.  She was going to have two official rounds of warm up at 30 yards, but none at the shorter distances.  We had documented her sight and had her settings for 30, 20, and 10 yards.  She was off and running.


Early in the day, shooting 30 yards.  “Woof” hat in place

Some of her archery friends were here and that put a smile on her face.  She was shooting well.  The first thing I noticed is that through the first 20 arrows or so, everything was on the bale.  That’s not exactly how practice at Bear Creek Lake ends up.  She was really shooting well.  I didn’t bring my binoculars and it was hard to see the arrows with four young ladies shooting at the same bale.  This was also her first time shooting on the 122 cm target.

Because of the strange number of shooting styles, it was never clear to me how many girls were direct competitors and I couldn’t tell by looking at their bows.  After the switch to 20 yards, it felt a lot easier to her.  She shot a 250/300 for that section.  Then the target moved to 10 yards.  This was sort of comical.  Everyone was shooting well.  I know at least one robin hood happened a lane over.  So many arrows converging for the yellow space.


She decided that a good song was Coldplay, “and it was all yellow”

I knew she was doing better than the girls around her.  Her scorecard told the tale.  She did all of the hard work at 30 yards and her scores from the 20 and 10 yard rounds just kept pushing her forward.  Very consistent across the 90 arrows.  The value of her practice time was showing.  In the end, she won easily by more than 140 points.  Her averages were 7 points per arrow at 30 yards, 8.3 points per arrow at 20 yards, and 9.4 points per arrow at 10 yards.  Across the day, she also shot 9 Xs.

She was smiling, proud, way too much sun, and worn out at the end.


A big medal for a big day.

Full results in this PDF.