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May 03, 2019

From Archer to Judge: Hala Skelton on How Becoming a Judge is a Valuable Way to Give Back

From local events to state, National, Continental and World Championships, archery events depend on judges to run smoothly and ensure a level playing field for all archers. Judges serve many invaluable roles in a successful event. For Hala Skelton, a high ranked archer, becoming a judge became a great way for her to give back to the sport she loves.

Skelton shared: “[Continental Judge] Andy Neville has always been a great judge, and he’s judged a lot of tournaments I’ve shot in over the years. I always respected how he handled situations and I always thought if I were a judge, I’d want to judge with him. When I turned 18, my mom and I went to a judge workshop so we could judge local tournaments to help out some clubs. We went to Andy’s seminar and I really enjoyed it and thought it would be a cool way to give back to the sport.”

To become a USA Archery Certified Judge, you must either complete an independent study and pass an online exam, or, in the preferred method, you can attend a judge workshop and pass an exam in class. “From the seminar, I learned more about the process of how to handle specific situations as a judge, more than just the rules,” shared Skelton. “It gave me a whole new perspective, especially on how to handle things like appeals and conflicts. There’s also a specific procedure to call arrows so there’s no issue and the archers feel that they’re heard and given a valuable opportunity.”

On what she learned in her first few judging experiences, Hala shared: “My first tournament as a judge was at Indoor Nationals in Virginia and that was really fun for me to see a different side of it. Whether it’s an equipment failure or a medical issue, you’re there as the first resource and first responder to anything that happens on the range. Earlier this month, as part of the East Region Outdoor Collegiate Championships, I got to step out in my role as a judge and act in a fuller capacity with team rounds, mixed teams, more arrow calls, and I realized arrow calling is actually a very small portion of what judges do. Judges certify the field, measure target faces, make sure everyone is prepared before they go into a match and so much more.”

Becoming a judge has a lot of benefits for an archer to become more aware of the rules, but it is also an incredibly beneficial way to help grow the sport. Many communities lack the ability to hold events because they do not have access to judges. “I think it’s a really good way to influence our next generation of archers to show them this is their future and their shot. This is a cool way to give back because without judges, local programs can’t grow because a lot of clubs don’t have funds to send their kids to tournaments that require travel for their first event experience. So, if they can host tournaments with local judges, they can give kids local opportunities to grow and improve,” shared Skelton.

Beyond support on the local level, judges also have the opportunity to seek promotion and judge internationally. Judging on the world stage is an important way to represent your country and international judge assignments are highly coveted. “Right now I’m definitely still competing, and that’s not changing, but I might possibly go to the continental judge seminar in Orlando this fall even though I can’t take the exam yet,” shared Skelton. “Something that moved my heart is that in the next Olympics, the U.S. won’t have any judges at the Games and this will be the first time in a long time that there hasn’t been an American judge at the Olympics. That made me realize that a lot of our judges are aging out of World Archery’s age standards, and it made me want to fill that role to be a good and authentic judge. That might be a cool way to go to the Olympics and be able to represent America in that way.”

Learn more about becoming a USA Archery Certified Judge or find a judge near you.

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