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January 18, 2013

Archery Instructor Certification is the Key to Program Success

By Mary Emmons, USA Archery Outreach Director


Certified archery instructors and coaches are the foundation of USA Archery's grassrootsdevelopmental programs and essential to the athlete development pipeline. They not only provide instructional services, but also train and certify new archery instructors and are the fundamental key to your programs success. Obtaining your archery instructor certification not only provides you with valuable knowledge and hands-on skills, but also boosts the marketing value of your program or club. I often receive inquiries from program and club leaders asking what certification level they need to obtain to be an effective archery instructor.  The answer to this question depends on the proficiency level of the archers in your program or club, and also your own personal desire to become an archery coach. 


USA Archery offers both long-term and short-term developmental programs that introduce both youth and adults to the sport of archery. Introductory archery programs are a mainstay in many familiar youth serving organizations such as parks and recreation departments, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H and a host of summer camps nationwide.  These organizations do a great job of dutifully teaching the fundamentals of archery safety and shooting techniques to tens of thousands of participants annually. Most utilize USA Archery's JOAD Xperience Program or the After School Archery Program (ASAP), which is a joint program between USA Archery, the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) and the Archery Shooters Association (ASA). The Easton Foundations and Archery Trade Association (ATA) are also partners in this effort. Together these programs introduce new archers to both compound and recurve style archery equipment and the various disciplines of archery, including target, field and 3-D. Progressive achievement awards programs for JOAD Xperience and ASAP ensure archers are not only rewarded for their accomplishments, but inspired and encourage to pursue and enroll in more long term archery programs. 


Not surprisingly, there is currently no shortage of either youth or adults seeking archery programs! Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) clubs are a logical next step for beginning archers looking for more advanced instruction.  Likewise, Adult Achievement clubs are also highly sought after. The recent addition of the online club locator now makes it easy for archers to find a local club. The benefits to club participation are immense, but most notably archers enjoy the progressive achievement award programs, the life-long friendships they develop and continued access to safe and quality archery instruction.


USA Archery and the NFAA maintain a joint archery instructor certification program. USA Archery administers the certification program and offers a variety of certification classes to ensure program and club leaders are properly prepared to provide quality archery instruction.  Certification course offerings include Level 1 Instructor, Level 2 Instructor, Level 3 National Training System (NTS) Coach, Level 4 NTS Coach and Level 5 NTS Coach.


Short-term programs such as JOAD Xperience and ASAP are often attended by participants who have little to no previous archery experience.  Instructors who have no prior archery experience can obtain the Level 1 Instructor certification and adequately teach both programs.  In fact, most instructors utilized for short-term programs are seasonal or part-time staff assisting with a multitude of recreation programs or summer camp activities.  Participants in JOAD Xperience and ASAP learn the basic fundamentals of archery safety, equipment selection and shooting technique; therefore advanced archery instruction is not required.  Level 1 certified instructors are also great assets to JOAD and Adult clubs that offer beginning archery programs.  Becoming certified as a Level 1 instructor is a great way for parents or volunteers to assist a local club, and will extend the club's coaching resources.


Because most short-term archery programs tend to be staffed by part-time or seasonal staff, recreational organizations have an ongoing need to frequently train and appoint new archery instructors.  Therefore, it is a great idea to have at least one Level 2 instructor as part of your full time staff or archery club.  There is no pre-requisite to become a Level 2 instructor and no previous archery experience is required. Level 2 archery instructors receive more advanced training and have the ability to certify Level 1 instructors, and therefore provide a tremendous benefit to your organization or club when additional Level 1 instructors need to be certified.


Another advantage of becoming a Level 2 instructor is that you receive individual insurance coverage as part of your required membership to USA Archery or NFAA.  In addition you are required to pass a background screen, to ensuring the safety of program and club participants.  Both JOAD and Adult clubs registered as members of USA Archery receive club liability insurance.  However, only instructors certified as a Level 2 or higher who maintain a current membership with USAA or NFAA maintain individual insurance coverage.  The individual insurance policy provides increased liability coverage for the instructor during both club and non-club activities, including private lessons or contractual instruction.


If your goal is to provide basic to intermediate class instruction you do not need to pursue a coaching certification higher than a Level 2.  Coordinating or attending archery seminars or clinics is a great way to continue to boost your instructor knowledge without pursuing more advanced coaching levels.  Examples of specialized areas of interest include equipment selection and repair, mental aspects of archery, event management and many more. 


If you plan to offer advanced archery programs or train archers for competition, a Level 3 NTS coach certification is the next logical step.  Level 2 certification is a prerequisite for this course. The Level 3 NTS coach certification program goes beyond group instruction and focuses on individual athlete development. Topics covered during this course include: coaching philosophy, training cycles/plans, competition preparation, mental skills, equipment tuning and the National Training System (NTS). Coaches who complete this course are beneficial to both programs and clubs who possess athletes seeking to complete the JOAD achievement award program and who want to be competitive in archery competition. Level 3 NTS archery coaches also have the ability to certify Level 2 archery instructors and serve as a valuable resource to their communities in this regard.


Level 4 NTS coach certification is appropriate for Level 3 NTS coaches looking to advance their coaching skills and become eligible for USA Archery national camps and International Team Staff (ITS) positions.  Likewise, Level 5 NTS coach certification is reserved for the most elite archery coaches and you must apply and be selected for this course. This is a self-paced, independent course of certification which highlights the candidate's ability to coach archers to a high level of achievement.  Both Level 4 NTS and Level 5 NTS coaches are of tremendous asset to clubs, but for obvious reasons there are fewer of these coaches.


USA Archery greatly values all of the dedicated archery instructors and coaches.  No matter which level of certification you obtain, you will play a tremendous role in helping to develop quality archery programs and athletes - and we thank you!


Class schedules can be found on the USA Archery website (link:  If a class is not posted in your area, USA Archery provides an online coach locator tool to help you find an instructor or coach in your area (Link:  When you obtain your certification you too may choose to have your name and contact information posted on the online coach locator feature. 


If you need additional information about instructor certification programs you may contact Jo Chouinard, Certification Coordinator at 719-866-3451 (MST) or [email protected]

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