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September 08, 2010

An Introduction to USA Archery

It has been an honor to be involved with USA Archery as the parent of a JOAD student and Jr. USAT member. In addition to serving as a tournament judge, coach, committee member, representative and presenter, I've also been fortunate enough to work in a variety of tournament roles, including local and international events. Along the way many have shared their knowledge, experiences and valuable tips with me. Sharing information is the purpose of this blog to pass on this information to the membership.

In the future, we'll discuss topics such as USA Archery Membership, Rules, JOAD, Events, Clubs, Judging, Instruction/Coaching, Leadership, Tournaments, Awards, Equipment and Safety. If there are topics of interest to you, please email me directly at azjoad@cox.net.

USA Archery is the National Archery Association (NAA):

Approximately five years ago, the NAA by-laws were revised and a new association leadership structure was put into place. USA Archery (USAA) is identified by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) as the National Governing Body (NGB) for the Olympic sport of archery in the United States. USAA is a member association of the International Archery Association (FITA). FITA is the international governing body for archery, and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

USAA, as a FITA member association, oversees target archery competitions in the United States, welcoming youth and adult archers, as well as Para-archers, who use Olympic-style recurve, compound and traditional bows. Tournaments can be USAA sanctioned and/or FITA Star registered to be eligible for world record setting.

USAA programs include Para-Archery, Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD), Adult Archery Achievement and Coach Education and Development. The organization's High Performance programs include the Resident Athlete program, the Junior and Senior U.S. Archery Teams, and the Junior Dream Team. USA Archery keeps track of rolling rankings to determine the athletes who qualify to travel to international events; the organization also conducts the National Indoor Championships, the JOAD National Indoor Championships, U.S. National Target Championships and JOAD National Championships. Finally, USA Archery also sanctions tournament judges. USAA also identifies the process and events that allows the organization to nominate its athletes for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams.

With USAA involved in so many activities, the key is to ask questions and keep asking to better understand these various topics. When done asking, help others to find answers.

Membership in USA Archery:

It is best to join USAA as soon as the archer and the family determine that "this archery thing" is fun and worth taking part in.

Membership benefits include having a vote and voice as part of USAA. USAA members may become certified instructors, which is a great way to be an active club member as well as a way to learn fundamental archery techniques. Members over the age of 18 are eligible to become USAA judges, and can then assist with conducting club events. Instructor and judge programs offer advancement opportunities, including coaching and international event participation.

Club membership in USA Archery is also available. One of the key benefits of club membership is the liability insurance that is included. When conducting a class or tournament, many locations will ask for an insurance certificate that is a part of the club membership.

Members are eligible to compete for National Championship titles in a variety of disciplines, and are also eligible to try out for the World Cups, World Championships, Pan-Am Games and Olympic Games participation.

The best advice is for families to join USAA with a family membership. By doing so, mom, dad, brother and sister can not only compete but also take part in the many USAA programs.

What About the Rules?

When staring out in target archery, the rules can seem overwhelming. Events have different titles: JOAD National Championships, National Indoor Championships, State Championship and Star FITA, JOAD State Championship, etc. How does one sort things out?

First, determine who is conducting the event. Typically the tournament host determines what rules apply. For example, if the event is the state JOAD championship, and it is an indoor tournament, the competition will follow the rules for a sanctioned JOAD tournament. The tournament registration form, when read carefully, is often a great key to information of this kind. 

Dress code is a great example of how rules apply differently. At the Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee sets the dress code including advertising limits. Olympic dress criteria do not apply to a local club event. USA Archery has a tournament dress code which is mandatory at any USAA-sanctioned event or Star FITA. The FITA rule book has dress code requirements for names and country code on the back of shirts for world championships, yet shirt names would not be required at your state championship, which may be a Star FITA event. 

Confusing? At first, yes… The key is that most archers do not compete in every type and level of event. If the archers does, they typically wear compliant dress as their standard uniform. The same applies to equipment rules. Most athletes that compete in USAA events using FITA rules set their equipment up to be FITA rule compliant and call it good.

The process of competing, shooting your bow can typically be learned in a few minutes with the help of archers and officials. This process includes: where to stand, when to shoot, and how to score. Reading the rules is always a good idea, but the best way to learn the rules is to get out there and compete. By doing so, you'll be able to learn what the written rules mean.

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