In order to be successful in any sport, one must have a trustworthy and knowledgeable coach. A good coach instructs the #archer in technique and safety, and designs archery training programs so that he or she will perform at a higher level in competitions. However, more than just being knowledgeable about their sport, a good coach needs to be capable of supporting their athletes on a mental and emotional level. If you have ever had a great coach or teacher you may have entertained the thought of becoming a coach yourself. Here is a step-by-step process for becoming an archery coach, whether you want to make a living doing what you love, or just want to coach archery as a side job.
The American system for certifying archery instructors and coaches is a five-level process, with each level being progressively more professional than the preceding. For instance, a Level 1 coach is certified to instruct summer camp archery classes, whereas a Level 5 coach has put in years of education and training to be able to coach Olympic-level athletes.
Additionally, anyone who aspires to be a Level 2 coach or higher will need to choose which archery organization they want to affiliate themselves with. Those looking to coach athletes in Olympic-style recurve archery will want to choose USA Archery, the same organization that maintains and manages the Olympic archery team. If you feel you would rather coach athletes for field archery, bow-hunting, or compound bow, the National Field Archers Association.
Level 1 - Basic Instructor
The level 1 instructor is responsible for introducing complete beginners to the sport of archery. Typically this means teaching younger archers about archery equipment, basic technique, and range safety and commands. As mentioned, this level of coach will typically find employment with summer camps, parks and recreation departments, or boy or girl scout organizations. The certifying course can last anywhere from 4-12 hours, and costs less than $50. The only prerequisite is that the candidate coach be at least 15 years of age.
The primary difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 certification is that a Level 2 coach must be affiliated with either USA Archery or the NFAA, and that they will typically work with more established classes of archers. This simply indicates that the aspiring coach is invested in becoming a professional coach and/or continuing their education in coaching the sport of archery. In fact, one does not even need to have attend a Level 1 certification course to become a Level 2 coach, however they must be at least 18 years of age, affiliated with a U.S. archery organization and they must submit to a background check. A Level 2 coach might find employment at a local archery club, J.O.A.D. team, or a college archery team.
Level 3 - National Training System Certified
Level 3 and up coaches typically deal with more professional athletes on a 1-on-1 basis, and are the type of coaches are those that might get paid by the hour to help athletes take their shooting further. The level 3 course is 3-4 days in length and covers in-depth archery competition science, including equipment tuning, developing archery training plans, and preparing for competition both mentally and physically. In addition to the prerequisites required for a Level 2 certification, a level 3 coach must also have been a level 2 coach for at least one year.
The Level 4 instructor course is a week long and goes into even greater depth and detail regarding bio-mechanics, nutrition, sports psychology, and the timing of training cycles. The course cost is around $500, and makes a coach eligible to work for national and international archery teams and training camps. One must be a Level 3 coach for two years before they are eligible to take the Level 4 course.
Level 5 - Elite Coach
The Level 5 certification is more of an award or an honor than a progression of the course-based certifying system. For instance, to become a Level 5 coach, one must have spent two years as a Level 4 coach, and successfully coached three or more archers to a place atop the national podium, a top 10 ranking, or Olympic or World team placement. It may help to think of the Level 5 certification process being akin to writing a thesis for graduate school, as it is self-directed and self-paced by the coach. To sum, a Level 5 certification is typically the pinnacle of a coach's career.