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Junior Olympic Archery Development is USA Archery's youth archery program, found in clubs across the United States. USA Archery's goal is to offer a quarterly JOAD Newsletter that focuses on news and issues specific to JOAD - program updates, Club Spotlights, and coverage of the great things youth archers are doing nationwide.
The Club Spotlight is a great way for JOAD clubs to learn about one another - and hopefully get some great ideas about everything from club growth to making practices fun for archers.
For the November edition of the JOAD newsletter, T.H.E. JOAD Club was chosen as our JOAD Spotlight club.USA Archery would like to thank 2004 Olympian John Magera, the club's director, for taking the time to answer these questions, as well as his continued support of the JOAD program.
Where is your JOAD club located?
T.H.E. JOAD club is based in Columbus, Texas, a small rural Southeast Texas town located between the cities of Houston and San Antonio. We shoot at the Colorado County fairgrounds and have archers from all over the county as well as from Houston and its suburbs that come out to join us.
How, and when, did your club get its start?
There was already a very successful 4-H archery program in the area, but the season is just a few months long. While many Southeast Texas counties participate in an active 4-H archery program, there were only a few JOAD programs. So, after moving back to Texas from Illinois, I decided that a JOAD program would complement the 4-H program very well, and allow kids a chance to compete throughout the year and at state and national championship events. With help from the 4-H coaches and parents, we officially started T.H.E. JOAD club in January of 2011 with about 8 archers. We have since grown to over 20 archers, including adult achievement program participants, and we're still growing!
What is your club's name, and what's the significance of the name? Was it something the archers chose, or did the club leader choose it?
When we decided to start the JOAD club, I asked the kids to think of a name we could use. Nobody could really come up with a name everyone could agree on. Then one of the young archers asked "why can't we just call it "THE" JOAD club? I told them we could, if that's what they wanted, and so we did. Then we set out to decide what the letters "T, H, E" stood for, and came up with "Toxophilites Honoring Excellence!" And we've enjoyed being "THE" JOAD club ever since!
Please tell us how large your club is - number of archers, number of coaches:
We have 14 youth archers and 8 adults. We expect to grow that number by about 50% in the coming year. I've seen an increase in interest in archery since the summer Olympics and we're making plans now to accommodate the new archers. We also expect to have a few join our club from the 4-H program each year. It's a great feeder program for our JOAD club.
The program is coached by Olympian John Magera and NTS level 3 coach Michael Hollmann, with help from several parents who are experienced archers and 4-H coaches.
Do you have a large concentration in one age group (for example, mostly bowmen)?
Our archers are spread out pretty evenly in age, except that we don't really have any junior archers. As most program leaders know already, it's so tough to keep kids in archery past the ages of 15 or 16. They have so many other activities they are involved in these days.
What's your format for lessons/practices (days per week, and do you shoot as a group, or do archers get private coaching, or both)?
We practice every Monday night, January through June - a formula that's worked both here and previously with my club in Southern Illinois for many years. It gives the kids and adults something to look forward to on that first day of the week, and Mondays seem to reduce conflicts with other things. We shoot as a group on Monday nights, and we will offer small group or individual lessons on another night during the week or on the weekend. Lately, we've received so many requests for coaching that we have hosted off-season practices on the weekends for the more advanced archers wishing to compete all year.
Does your club shoot for score (or achievement pins, or both)? If so, how often?
We typically score a 30 arrow indoor round or 36 arrow outdoor round at every weekly group practice. However, we also work on skill building prior to and after scoring. By offering a chance to shoot a qualifying score at each practice, the kids are able to see progress toward their goals, and quickly reach the achievement that challenges them. I've known clubs that shot achievement scores only once a month, but I feel that the weekly scores give kids a chance to miss a practice and not fall too far behind. The regular scoring round also provides some consistency and structure to the practice, and a regular opportunity to gauge their progress, which both the archers and parents seem to appreciate.
Something else we do is match play and other elimination rounds as often as possible. Archers shoot match play at the distance where they are trying to qualify for their next achievement pin, which handicaps the event very well and gives everyone a chance to win. We also have a traveling award (a small "golden archer" that hangs off the archer's quiver) that the winner of the match play gets to keep until the following week. You wouldn't believe the competition for this tiny golden archer award!
Do you have adult members (or an Adult Archery Achievement designation)?
I believe very strongly that the best JOAD parents are also active archers. The advent of the Adult Achievement Program is one of the best things to happen to JOAD archery in a long time. We have 8 adults (mostly parents) who are working toward their achievement pins alongside of the kids. It's such a great opportunity for them to share a sport, and for the kids to see their parents struggle with the same things they are struggling with, and also to feel the same sense of accomplishment when they reach their goals. This helps the parents realize how to better help their children, when to encourage them, but most importantly, not to criticize or judge them too harshly.
We are so fortunate in archery to have a sport the whole family can participate in at the same time, at the same events. We should take advantage of this every chance we get!
How many adult club members do you have?
We finished last season with 8 adult archers, but I expect to be over 10 for this season. Because the sport of archery is still relatively new to this area, it's taking a little while for the adults to join in. But those who have are the best advocates for the Adult Achievement program. Some of them have become celebrities in their home town when their friends and family find out they are shooting in archery tournaments along with their kids. It's been such a positive addition to the JOAD program.
Has your club experienced growth, lost archers, or stayed at basically the same size in recent years?
We have been growing since we started. Initially, I thought we could handle about 8-10 kids and that's what we started with. But quickly the word got out that there was another opportunity to shoot archery besides the 4-H program, and with the help our faithful 4-H coaches and parents, we are handling the increase in interest well.
What kinds of things does your club do to help make practices fun and interesting?
First of all, we don't take ourselves too seriously. Most of our kids (and parents) are small town rural folks that just want to enjoy shooting archery. If they take it beyond that, then it's because they stepped up and wanted to compete on a bigger stage. Otherwise, we make sure everyone is having fun first and foremost, then getting quality instruction and an opportunity to advance through the program. By keeping things simple and easy to understand, JOAD practice is a way for the kids to relax at the end of a difficult Monday, and it's refreshing and rewarding instead of stressful.
Some of the things we do to keep it fun are to shoot impromptu matches and games after the normal scoring round. Outdoors, we will shoot handicapped matches based on the archer's level of proficiency. Indoors, we use a modified elimination round that I created using two strips of masking tape in an "X" shape on the target face. The first round, everyone gets 4 arrows to shoot 3 of the four scoring quadrants. Everyone who does that then gets 3 arrows to shoot 3 scoring quadrants. Then we start shrinking the target by color until we have a winner. So the winning archer may have to shoot 3 arrows into ¼ quadrants of the red or even the gold. This adds a lot of pressure and also keeps them from getting too reliant on aiming directly at the gold. The kids and adults love it and really look forward to the shoot-offs.
Does your club practice indoors, outdoors or both?
We do both. Our Indoor season starts in January and runs through March. In April, we start shooting outdoors until the end of the JOAD outdoor season, which is usually JOAD Nationals. Then we take the rest of the summer off. Most archers will then shoot 4-H archery in the fall too.
I found that a lot of youth archers in our area had only ever shot indoor events and that outdoor archery was new to them. But they quickly take to it and most of them learn to love the challenge of shooting outdoors.
Do archers focus on target archery only, or do they also try field, 3D, clout or other rounds?
Mostly we focus on target archery, but occasionally we will shoot other events. We're fortunate in that the TSAA State Field event is also located in our county. Several of our JOAD archers participated in that FITA Field event this past year and they really enjoyed it. Some of our archers who shoot 4-H archery will also shoot 3-D and other formats at their events.
Please tell us about equipment. Are your archers shooting recurve, compound or traditional equipment? Is there a large concentration of one bow type versus another?
We have archers who shoot compound, recurve and barebow, but mostly recurve. I like to encourage them all to try recurve because I feel it better prepares them to shoot any style in the future. But we teach all styles and encourage kids to use the type of equipment they enjoy the most.
Are your archers participating in tournaments? If so, what kinds of tournaments do they enjoy (local, state, national - target, field, 3D)?
Our archers have done well at state, 4-H and national events. We don't keep close records of which archer placed at which event, but we do recognize them for those achievements at the next JOAD practice to provide incentive and encourage goal-setting to all the archers.
Our main goal is developing young archers and giving them a place to shoot in a safe and supportive environment. Each archer faces their own individual challenges, and we encourage them to set personal goals and pursue those achievements regardless of what other archers around them may be doing.These are important life lessons that can be taught through the JOAD program.
Are there any milestones you would like to
In only our second year, T.H.E. JOAD club hosted the TSAA JOAD State Outdoor event in our hometown. We're very blessed to have the excellent facilities at our county fairgrounds to use, and all the participants enjoyed the event very much. We're also very fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers and parents with many special skills who all worked tirelessly to make the event a great success. Our kids were so proud to show off our little town and their home club. It also gave them a great opportunity to see the work that goes into hosting a tournament, which will make them better appreciate the events they attend in the future.
We also were able to have six of our JOAD club archers attend Nationals in Ohio this year. For many of them, it was their first major trip away from home to compete in an archery event. We hope to double the number of our archers who attend nationals next year, and I'm confident we will.
Does your club do anything socially outside of archery (for example, annual team party, Christmas get together, etc.)?
Twice a year, we have an "end of season" party where we fire up the grill, eat good food, enjoy each other's company and recognize archers with achievement awards. We do this after the indoor season and again after the outdoor season. It's a nice way to wrap up each season and look forward to what's next. It's also an opportunity for the kids to just play together and relax. Many of the kids know each other from school and local activities, but these events are important for those out of town archers and parents to hang out and feel like part of the club.
Has your team done any fund-raising during the past year? If so, what was successful for your club - something you would suggest to others?
Hosting the TSAA JOAD State Outdoor event was our biggest fundraiser for the club. Our strong concessions and excellent support from "target sponsors" helped us raise enough money to purchase a 20' storage container to house all our targets, stands and supplies at the county fairgrounds. So we now have a "home" so to speak, and some spending money for equipment in the future.
We also need to recognize Easton Foundations and USA Archery for helping us with a start-up grant last fall that we used to purchase 8 quality target mats and supplies to build stands. This was a huge help and allowed us to move away from the 4-H target bales we had been fortunate to use the first year.
Another source of revenue is through our coaching. Rather than charging for individual lessons, archers who receive individual lessons from our JOAD coaches are encouraged to make a donation to the club. We regularly receive generous donations from archers and parents who would otherwise be paying an hourly fee for lessons at another facility.
We have actually exceeded our goals for fundraising (to raise enough money for the supplies we use each year). With the additional funds, we have been able to reimburse archers for registration fees at nationals, and hope to continue to be able to do this in the future. Having archers who compete at major events like JOAD Nationals really enhances the profile of the club, and every archer in the club feels they are participating in a prestigious, national organization.
Anything else you would like to include?
JOAD has been such a blessing to our families. I can't say enough about the positive way it has been received in our small town. Rural America can be a tough place to promote a little-known sport like target archery, but the JOAD program and Adult Achievement program have been a great success here. In combination with the 4-H Shooting Sports program, it's a perfect complement and natural progression for those kids who love archery and want to compete on a national scale in an Olympic sport.
I'm not going to say it's been easy though. The sport of archery is pretty foreign to the folks in this area, and the expenses involved in this equipment-intensive sport can be quite staggering for these families. However, with the help of many generous donors, active fundraising by the JOAD families, patience and understanding, these families are getting to participate in an Olympic and World Championship sport right in their own back yards. It's been a real source of pride locally, and we see bright things for the future of T.H.E. JOAD Club.
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