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Big Idea Finalists

PREMISE

We have shot many state and national association shoots.  We have coached and had our own kids make the international scene to compete in World Ranking Events and the Pan Am Games.  In addition, we have coached at the World Archery Youth Championships.  To build sport, the focus must be on the youth.  The ROI (return on investment) happens with the parents and support networks that pay for the participation and travel of kids “living a dream.”

This big idea submission is taking what is the best of many associations with a bit of our customized flair to build NFAA into the dominant national association.  Frankly, the timing is right as many organizations have hit a bump in youth contentment within participation.  NFAA does an exceptional job of being a family organization where all members can shoot, aligning shoots on dates that work for people who work regular job hours, and have kept registration fees at a reasonable rate all while promoting in a fashion that is second to none with competing national organizations.  With that said, the following two concepts, implemented together, in our opinion, would make NFAA the driving force of competitive archery in the nation while multiplying membership.

FIRST IDEA

NFAA has done archery academy-style camps in the past.  However, what we offer to this idea is offering four academies a year to build the knowledge of all disciplines.  (So, having an academy for indoor target, 3D, Field, and then outdoor target.)  Youth (and their parents), frankly, “shoot for the shirt.”  So this idea, though recycled from past NFAA offerings, would go one step further.  Each academy, through registration fee, would provide the archer with a sublimation jersey that has the branding of NFAA and our logos of NCEA.  Why the latter logos?  We currently coach over a 100 archers around the nation and internationally not only privately but through NCEA (North Central Elite Archers).  NCEA is comprised of six coaches which offers you consistency of a coaching staff for these academies along with the specialties of our staff.  Our staff of six coaches are Level 3-5 USA NFAA  certified coaches, certified NFAA and USA judges, exceptional form and bow teching knowledge, as well as a licensed Level III Mental Management © Coach.  The chemistry of our staff is excellent, and we are finding that many of the USA RED team members or what used to be Junior Dream Team members are forgoing that jersey and attending our camps for cheaper and with more knowledge.

With that said, we see the potential for these academies to build archers into the sport with the youth emphasis; however, we see the potential of having it open to the adults or running the academies back to back with adults or variations of both.  We would suggest that all camps be hosted in Yankton once a quarter…serving the disciplines of Indoor, 3D, Field, and Fita.  Through the high end consistency of the coaching staff, the numbers for the academy will grow to a point of cutting it off or capping it which will make it more heavily sought after.  We would also

 

recommend a different jersey for each discipline not only to get more branding out there but to also get repeat archers attending the archery academy for all the disciplines.  We also believe changing the jersey design each year will get repeat archers coming back where our staff would be committed to building camp agendas that are timely and could accommodate higher level learning for repeat archers.

CORRESPONDING BIG IDEA

All American Status.  All American Teams.  NFAA, though not branded in patriotic garb consistently, is the most patriotic of the three biggest national organizations that play archery.  We know…we compete and coach in them all.  NFAA venues lead the anthem, say a prayer, say the pledge, acknowledge the “do’ers” all in a state of patriotism that we feel would feed into the concept of All American.

All American Status.  All American Status would be earned by competing at all of the NFAA national events: Vegas, National Indoor, First Dakota, Redding 3D, Field, Outdoor Target, and the Rushmore Rumble.  The status would be commemorated in some fashion that archers would earn simply by their participation.  This gets people hooked into the branding as well as the concept that champions are made through seasoning and running the NFAA circuit.  Commemoration could be as simple a keychain for their quiver, perhaps, a different quiver accessory, t-shirt, etc.  Earning the All American Status could earn the archer $50 off the academy.

All American Teams.  All American Teams would be the top 3 or 5 in each division.  They get a branded, perhaps even patriotic jersey, along with discounts from vendors.  In our opinion, the jersey will entice many.  As consumers of the sport, NFAA has the biggest vendor backing of any national organization.  If the big archery vendors gave the All American Team a discount within their product, that would be a huge enticement.  The jersey could be a design that is unique to the NFAA…we work with many vendors and could assist in finding a very cheap option.  The All American team members could get one jersey for free and order additional ones for the season at their own expense. All American Team members, or the number one of each team, could get a profile in the magazine that NFAA produces.  An expansion opportunity of this concept of All American Team would be opportunities for international play with IFAA.

We are a High school archery team affiliated with Olympic Archery in Schools. A few of our students are also NFAA members. We live in the grey area of athletics at our district as we are not a CIF team. Our annual budget covers the OAS leage fees. Our coaches are parent volunteers who are Level 2 certified. We are a very diverse team both racially and economically (36% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch).

However, at the launch of this year’s season we had 65 interested archers who showed up each and every week to learn the sport; 90% of whom had never shot an arrow. The interest remained high and we sadly had to do ranking round try outs to cut the team down to 25 due to time, space, and equipment.

Big Idea:
We as coaches want to see the impact of archery grow and spread. We want to see our archers discover the world of archery beyond the few tournaments a year offered by OAS and we want to spread archery as far as possible. To do that we have a two pronged approach.
The first prong involves getting our archers involve in NFAA tournaments. With OAS changing their equipment rules to include the use of ILF and carbon arrows. We see an amazing opportunity for our archers to branch out and join NFAA and compete at outside tournaments. Showing them the global community in archery However, require the funds to have multiple ILF set ups to provide the basic equipment to our students who are starting out or who lack the funds to purchase anything in their lives beyond essentials.

The second prong involves training. We would like to set up a summer camp for our students to get them certified as coaches. With many of our seniors going to college all across the globe we want to see them take their passion for the sport with them. We currently have an archer who joined an archery team with the University of Chicago. That got us thinking what if we sent these kids into the world with all the tools they needed to work with local teams or build their own all across the land. Sewing seeds and growing archery wherever their lives take them. In addition to building a strong network we see these students growing and developing into lifelong NFAA and other archery affiliated network members.

By giving them the foundation in their younger years and providing access to all regardless of economic status we can grow a passion for the sport that will last a lifetime.

Create a progressive tournament starting at the state level to build state teams. In the end, each state will send their top shooters in every NFAA division to a national tournament where the state team will combine scores and compete for the nation’s top state. At the state level a Vegas 450, NFAA 300, Outdoor Target, and a Field Round will be shot adding up the scores at the end of the season to determine who will be on the state team. On a national level all four disciplines would be shot in a 4-to-5-day tournament consisting of the state qualifiers to determine the top state. All rounds will be shot using NFAA rules. A facility big enough to handle all disciplines would be needed.

This would benefit the sport by each team getting spotlights from social media, word of mouth and possibly even televised media for competing for their state and then would draw a lot of attention to the sport.

Proposal Summary:

This proposed project takes an existing idea from the National Field Archery Association (NFAA), plus a new layout plan to tackle a major problem in the once popular field archery outdoor season. This new “Big Idea” will create an example on how to host a statewide field archery league and allow any club with an outdoor practice range, or existing field course to participate. This plan can be replicated across each individual state, or even at the national level. To achieve this, our plan proposes the use of the International round, which is easier for clubs (and new shooters) to understand and participate in. The goal of this “Big Idea” is to create a stepping stone for novice or new archers to come into field archery by expanding the general presence of field archery, and by simplifying “the game”.

3. Narrative:

A. Background: In terms of attendance, field archery has been steadily decreasing over the years in New York State, as well as nationally. The roots of the NFAA have and always will be ingrained in field archery. There are a few negative perceptions of field archery, according to archers that this idea was discussed with locally, that contribute to its decreasing numbers. The most common complaints we found with field archery include the amount of time and arrows it takes to complete a field round, the maximum distance shot, and the complexity of rules surrounding walk-ups and fans. All of these issues can be intimidating to new competitors and can deter them from participating. Attendance issues with a field archery round can also affect the amount of profit a club or state organization can make in the summer, and overall membership numbers as well. A club or state must be able to be profitable throughout an entire year which is why it is assumed that a lot of clubs have changed using their property for Known 3D archery tournaments and leagues. Lastly, from a logistical standpoint, real estate at clubs can be a problem for field archery. Clubs have limited space, especially with the rising cost of land, however most still have room for at least a practice field. We will be proposing a round that can be easily set up on a full course, or on a practice field at a club with limited acreage(approx 0.5 acres).

B. Proposal: The “Big Idea” to combat these issues with a field archery round is two fold; Format and Infrastructure Blueprint.

1. Format: State Wide International Field League This proposal is to piggy-back off of the idea of the NFAA’s national field league introduced in Summer 2021, and use it at the state level. To tackle a majority of complaints that people have with field archery, our proposal is to use the International Round, which the NFAA recognizes and has already provided the rules/regulations for within their Constitution & By-Laws (Article VI, Section D). By using the International Round, the number of arrows per round will be reduced from 112 to 60 (3 arrows per target, 20 targets total), roughly cutting the time on the course in half. The maximum distance of 80 yards will be reduced to 65, and the creation of a “Novice” class within a statewide field league would allow new shooters to participate at a 50-yard max (youth stakes) for one year. Finally, the International Round eliminates all walk-up and fan targets, making the rules and range setup more user-friendly (see Diagram A for target breakdown). Using this format for a statewide league will help create visibility for this game, especially through the use of social media.

2. Infrastructure Blueprint: Practice Range Course Where this “Big Idea” will be the most beneficial is that any club can host this event, even if it doesn’t have an existing field archery range. LaSalle Sportsmen’s Club proposal will utilize the funds to set-up their existing practice range as a de facto “field course” with just six bag targets and common shooting lines to be used (see Diagram B for a range layout). Clubs with limited space can use this format to run their own outdoor leagues, or participate in a state or national league. This is more incentive for clubs and shooters to join the NFAA, as the organization can use this as a blueprint for future use. This practice range layout is also cost effective, with purchasing everything new, a setup will cost less than $3,000 (see funding breakdown below). We feel that this budget is something most clubs would be able to afford, at a fraction of the cost of a full new 14 target typical field range half.

C. Funding Request: To properly run an International Round shoot or league at the local level, six (6) bag targets will be required to construct a range. Each target will be constructed using a Morrell Outdoor Range XXL bag target, two (2) u-channel posts, two (2) metal brackets, and a 2”x6” pressure-treated board (see Diagram C). A new full range of six (6) targets will require a total budget of $2,639.50: • (6) Morrell Outdoor Range XXL bag target ($289.99 each at Lancaster Archery) • Freight-ship of bag 6 targets ($215.00) • (12) 8’ galvanized u-channel posts ($32.00 each) • (12) Metal brackets ($5 each) • (3) 2” x 6” x 8’ pressure-treated wood ($15 each) • NY Sales taxes ($195.50) This range set-up would allow a club like LaSalle Sportsmen’s Club to retrofit a “field course” on its practice range for general use, but also for shooting an International Round as per all rules and regulations. With this grant funding, our club would be able to run a club league, a statewide league, or standalone tournament events. With this grant funding, our club would be able to advertise more benefits for club membership and host local/state tournaments for revenue. From a larger perspective, this blueprint would give states an ability to advertise to clubs another way to draw members and tournament dates. States can potentially draw more to join the NFAA as a way to participate in a statewide outdoor field league. By running a statewide outdoor league, a state can create an incentive program for clubs to raise additional revenue.

Introduction

What if a hidden, albeit overabundant, “gem” that could improve the quality of life, offered friendships, and tender relief to life’s complexities existed? Would not those who discovered this amazing treasure share it with others? Life, even when filled with “gems,” such as hobbies, friendships, and positive family dynamics, is constantly overflowing with “ups” and “downs,” triumphs and victories, and prosperities and hardships; when negative obstacles outweigh the positive, life can seem almost impossible to traverse. When lived without an “outlet” or hobby, such as archery or the fulfilment and pleasure it presents, life can seem even more taxing.

In the years preceding or even considering any form of archery or other hobby, this essay’s author, a military veteran and survivor of minor mental health obstacles, experienced an abundance of setbacks and adversities. Upon finding that archery, in its leisurely and competitive forms, it was discovered that this amazing sport allowed for a reprieve from life’s normal and extraneous negativities. Participating in the sport and experiencing the camaraderie archery offers, this essay’s author often questions why archery is not shared more with others. Realizing that many others experience similar difficulties, it can be inferred that others can and will benefit from archery and the brotherhood/sisterhood the sport presents. This essay presents situations and remedies to grow the Sport of Archery, via incentivizing sport growth and campaigns to target both non-veterans and veterans.

Problems: Discovered Situations to Address

This section addresses a couple of situations from the author’s viewpoint. As a previously non-competitive archer, who, at personal desire, wanted to experience competitive archery, there were struggles in finding events. This situation, alone, creates a blockade in growing the competitive Sport of Archery. Sure, it is simple to find a pro shop, purchase a bow, and even shoot that bow daily. However, it is not so easy for a layman, or aspiring competitive archer, to initially find local and regional events. If events are easier to locate or find, the Sport of Archery will be more accessible and easier to grow. Addressing this is imperative in growing the sport.

Additionally, discoveries from attending non-competitive events gave insight on how archery remedies mental health and creates camaraderie.

Competitive Archery from an Outsider’s Perspective

Finding Events

First things first, for any layman or aspiring competitive archer, finding competitive events, whether ASA, NFAA, or IBO, presents its challenges. Many times, a quick internet search or Facebook query does not allow for an abundance of results about local, regional, or national archery events. However, once a competitive event is attended, the archer begins to learn more about when, where, and how competitive archery events occur. This seems to be a consensus among new competitive archers.

Exclusivity

With this discovery, and not to resound negatively, it seems as if competitive archery is mainly an exclusive fraternity of seasoned archers and those who are close, within the seasoned archers’ life “circles.” Thompson first experienced difficulty in finding local and state qualifying events. Once finally finding and attending two to three events and immediately cultivating friendships and acquaintances, it became simpler to gain insight and information about future events; much of this information is communicated via word of mouth. However, since the existing (seasoned) archers’ relationships were well-established, new membership to this exclusive fraternity was a little overwhelming; but, again, this was not perceived in a negative manner. Conversely, most of the archers were warm and welcoming, once Thompson became a regular attendee. Now, the events are full of friendly faces and smiles – the kind that only arrive with experience and longevity, a situation that should be expected.

However, with gaining this insight, it was also realized that not one fellow competitor encouraged their new and long-standing peers to grow the sport of competitive archery. It seems that not many seasoned competitive archers are actively seeking to grow or mentoring others to grow the sport. Upon participating in these events, Thompson heard no one say, “Bring you friends!” or, “Do you know anyone who would have a good time shooting with us? Bring them!” Asking other new competitive archers, the consensus was similar.

Realizing this, it seems that many competitive archers focus on their own reputation and attempt to win events. This is certainly not a negative aspect, either; in fact, to compete, it is necessary to focus on self-improvement and honing skills. However, archery, competitive or non-competitive, can be a sport that many others can enjoy. So, expanding the focus from “self” to adding “others” is crucial in growing the sport. Additionally, should it not be the experienced archers who build the sport and create a legacy for those newer and inexperienced archers? Ideally, it should be a desire to create multiplicative legacy for the future of archery to be “bigger” and greater than the present.

Communicating encouragements to actively grow the sport seems to be something that could or should be arranged with a “top-down” communication flow. What is meant by this is that, hypothetically, the association or organization (ASA, NFAA, IBO, etc.) places clubs and shops “on mission” to constantly communicate the objective to grow the sport. From there, the club leaders and/or shop owners/managers communicate this mission to invite others to participate, or even just spectate. Conversely, this also expected requires development of mission statements or tenets to pass on to clubs and shops.

Discoveries from a Benefit Event and Total Archery Challenge

With the aforementioned situation said, there is some “silver lining” to offer. The author attended two events that allowed him to brainstorm about ways to grow archery: a benefit shoot and Total Archery Challenge (TAC).

In early spring 2022, a benefit was hosted to raise funds for an injured young man. Archers from all over the state of Oklahoma arrived to this event to shoot a challenging course containing 20 three-dimensional targets, donate to a raffles, socialize, and dine on grilled food. The event host vulnerably expressed that many of his archery peers were “closer than actual family.” This is absolutely relatable: a camaraderie of like-minded, competitive archers offering time and efforts to raise money for an injured fellow archer. It was amazing and heart-warming to witness, to say the least. Additionally, the encouragements to “be vulnerable,” “check in on your fellow archer,” and, “talk about challenges,” were given to all in attendance.

Another event that yielded positive results was TAC. This event, although barely, or, at least, mildly competitive, allowed for, again, likeminded “sporters” to congregate, develop friendships, and engage in zero-consequence fun; these events are fun and seem necessary to grow the sport. However, this event catered greatly to veterans, which is something that is not usually a focus at sanctioned competitive events. In any situation or sport, but, specifically archery, it seems that veterans find one another and dually bond via archery and past military experiences.

Now, with all of the above said, the positive aspects are crystal clear: competitive archery and archery, in general, makes life much better. What is even better is this: competitive archery, surrounded by a growing group of friends and acquaintances. An outlet that is participated by and celebrated with fellow archers is an amazing remedy or relief from life’s everyday struggles.

Introduction to Suggestions

How can attention be brought to those who are ignorant to the existence of competitive events? How does the information about archery events travel from one source to the next? It can be argued that word of mouth is more effective than electronic or print media. (Although, print or electronic media is crucial for communicating information pertaining to events.) If incentives are offered for those who grow the sport, archers can now focus on growing their local clubs, ASA, NFAA, IBO, and other associations. While many may not need an incentive to include others, these incentives can motivate yet others to grow the sport.

In addition to offering incentives to those personally growing the sport, campaigns can be instituted to target veterans and those struggling. The below suggestions offer insight on possibly growing the sport by offering incentives, and creating campaigns, and even shooting classes for certain target audiences. Suggestion 1 focuses on actively recognizing those who are growing the sport, at state-level year-end banquets and ceremonies. Suggestion 2 focuses on targeting veterans.

Suggestion 1: Offer Award Incentives for Growing the Archery Community

As every competitive archer knows, the coveted trophies, belt buckles, and monetary purses are awarded to the most skilled competitive archers; these archers are the best of the best and have honed their skills to earn the deserved accolades and recognition for their victories. However, what if awards were offered to those who actively grow the sport, especially those who are noticeably bringing others to the “fold” of competitive archery? Would this not encourage at least a few to actively grow the sport?

What if an award, such as “MVP” (Most Valuable Promoter) or “Growing the Sport” existed, with a small monetary amount, 5-year free organization membership, or similar incentive existed? To address these incentives, mission statements can be constructed to encourage a repeatable and resounding mission that shop owners, club heads, and representatives can repeat and pass to individual archers. These recognitions can be issued at state-level banquets and ceremonies.

Author’s Personal Testimony

Once the author knew how much fun and how beneficial for overall well-being of (1) participating in archery and (2) being surrounded by like-minded friends, sharing the sport was not even a question. Soon, Thompson’s family members, friends, and neighbors were buying, swapping and sharing archery equipment, practicing together, and eventually attending official and local events. What was an endeavor to personally exercise a fun outlet gave way to more serious outlet to escape life’s struggles. Additionally, that became an even more important endeavor to share that outlet with others, realizing that archery is literally therapy. Once those influenced to partake in the sport realized archery’s amazingness, they too invited their friends and family to join the sport. This is enough award, in and of itself, but allowing others to gain recognition could really enhance the awareness that archery can and must be shared.

But, How?!

The question of, “How do we identify and recognize those growing the sport?” is probably lingering. There are many ways to identify those locally growing the sport. Firstly, when one fills out a club or association membership application, the question, “Who referred you?” can be included on the application; this can create a traceable “lineage” of who is influencing other to partake in archery. Secondly, shop owners, club leaders, and peers can nominate an individual for recognition; this is a method that could merely be a nominee-based solution, with votes from a peer group/committee, or a nomination with an explanation for why the nominee deserves the nomination.

Our big idea is to build upon the archery in schools. After researching I found only 9 Private schools have archery programs in Arizona. The public schools don’t like it because they consider it a weapon so I thought with the boom of charter schools in our area I would email a few of the American Leadership Academies (10 Elementary Schools and 4 Junior High/ High Schools). I spoke with a couple of the athletic directors, and they would love to bring archery into their schools as an extra-curricular for the children. So, with that in mind, we wanted to make a portable archery range to make it easier to set up and take down so we can use our time more efficiently. We designed an archery experience using a flatbed trailer. Our vision is to make archery fun for the kids, when they see this trailer pull up to their school, they get excited and want to participate. The trailer will consist of 4 A frame target stands that can stand up easily that are also affixed to the trailer. We will have different and fun target faces, even customizable ones for the students to create. We want to create interest in archery so this will be a school year program, but they can always sign up to be a member at Gilbert Archery. We have loved to attend competitions for our son in archery and think that is an awesome way to promote archery as well by having fun competitions with a built-in awards stand at the end of the trailer. We want to create archery teams within the ALA Middle and High Schools to compete like they would in basketball or football and what a great opportunity for college scholarships. We would need equipment specifically for this program including a trailer, recurve bows, and arrows. I have attached a very rough rendering of the trailer idea but might give you a better idea. Thank you for this how fun it’s been to think of fun ideas to promote archery!

Name a date in the calendar year to be NFAA Archery Day for kids or call it National Bow & arrow day. Have every club join in to this day by offering to the public a FREE DAY ON THE RANGE. All NFAA clubs must agree to this day that is designated.

Offers an opportunity to introduce the sport of archery to the first timers to see how they may like it. Awareness to the sport will only benefit those clubs with new members and to the youths. Having local archery shops advertise this special day along with local media would benefit all. A yearly date for all to enjoy.

In conjunction with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, we will conduct an Open House at our range on Saturday 13 August 2022. National Shooting Sports Month is an annual event. This will be our second Open House – 2020 and 2021 were not conducted because of public assembly restrictions – and we hope to conduct it every year in August.

We have the facility and beginner equipment (which belongs to our state’s National Archery in the Schools Program) including Genesis bows, arrows, targets, backstop net, ground quivers, and bow rack. Project is to provide a FREE ARCHERY INTRO to celebrate National Shooting Sports Month. Goal is to recruit new archers to the sport, while also helping local people become acquainted with our range and facilities.

There are many organizations and social services supporting Foster Youth. We would like to be another system of positive support and connection within our community through the sport of Archery. We have long been available and open to support youth in the community through Girls and Boys Scouts. They have provided support and training to newcomers to the sport – old and young, able and physically challenged. There is one group of youth who may not have easy access or knowledge of target archery as a way to develop independent skills, physical strength, social skills and awareness, individual achievement and responsibility – youth within the foster system. Camaraderie and the sense of belonging will be a mainstay of this project along with connection to this wonderful sport and our local archery community.

This pilot will grow and promote archery to underserved youth in connection with NFAA members as mentors who can grow larger interest with more interested youth in the future. Potential subsequent funding through grants or donations beyond this project will create an ecological cycle to the sport – NFAA to local shops and clubs to youth and then youth who grow with the sport and return to bring in a wider range of youth struggling to connect within our community. And the cycle continues. Currently, there is not another program specific to serving underserved youth through archery in the area.

To this end, our club and its local archery community would like to foster these valuable skills to youth in surrounding counties and beyond as a pilot to grow the sport. Time and resources limit this greater vision and therefore, we look to the NFAA Grant as an opportunity to realize this vision through the support with up to $3,000 grant funding for our Big Idea!

The Grant would provide for the following for four (4) Youth, ages 10 – 18:

Equipment – Bows of good quality, arrows
Lessons – to include safety, use of equipment
Range time in our new, added facility
Entry fee for events at local target shoots, supervised by staff and trained volunteers
Club fees for youth

Presentations to local community members and social services groups, families, and other community entities will be made to get the word out. A simple application and interview process will be conducted. The timeline for this project will be one year.

Outcomes will be provided to the NFAA, local community through local news establishments and our social media pages – shop website, Facebook and Instagram. With the success of this pilot further connections with NFAA and other donors who would contribute to this project would help to expand. Any current funding will support up to 4 youth. However, the pilot will help inform future development of this project to include more youth in the community who may not have the opportunity to participate in the great sport of archery.

Join with the National 4-H Shooting sports. In doing this at the National level it will set an example for state and local 4-H clubs to adopt NFAA rules and possibly increase participation in our youth programs. The green 4-H logo is one of the most recognized youth organizations in the world. We should strive to have NFAA and the 4-H partnering together to expand and promote the sport of Archery

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