Because archery is an individual sport, an archer does not need to convene a full team of friends to enjoy shooting. Yet, while many archers enjoy the solitude of a peaceful afternoon at the range on their own, there are a lot of benefits to belonging to a club, whether you join an established group or want to form your own.
The Benefits of Belonging
When you join a club, you may find a ready-made group of friends that can help you on your way to discovering archery. Many archers form tightly-knit communities centered on their clubs. These communities of friends make practice more enjoyable and provide support in times of need. Instead of having to try and learn on your own by trial and error as a new archer, if you belong to a club, then you can draw on the knowledge of the more experienced club members as you learn about new techniques or equipment. Also, if the club does not already have a coach, some of the members may be able to put you in contact with a local coach who can help you improve.
Some club members travel to tournaments together and share costs of room and board while on the road. During a tournament, your club friends may be able to help you figure out solutions to any problems that might arise. When you are having a great tournament and are shooting your best, your club friends can help you celebrate your success.
Joining an Established Club
No matter which kind of club you join, whether its members are in the JOAD program, or whether they specialize in 3D shooting, one of the best parts about joining a club instead of starting one yourself is that you no longer have to learn about the sport in isolation. An archer who joins a club can learn a great deal from the other members. They are also likely to have more fun and meet people with whom they have much in common. Joining a club instead of starting one means you can focus on enjoying the support without the responsibilities of running a small organization. However, some archers may not live near an established club, or may wish to shoot a different style of archery than the kind being offered at their local range.
Forming a New Club
When you form your own club, you have the opportunity to make many decisions. For example, you can decide which style of archery you want to shoot, whether you aim to compete or simply have fun, and whether you want to focus on indoor or outdoor shooting—or both.
Perhaps you have a place to shoot on your own or with a few friends. You are happy with this arrangement but you have heard that it might be a good idea to “become official” by forming a club.
Here are some benefits to giving your hobby club an upgrade:
- You may choose to give your club an official name
- Official clubs have more clout than individuals in requesting practice space from a city or other organization
- Official clubs have an easier time setting up competitions with other clubs
- Incorporating as a nonprofit gains your club the legal right to solicit grant money and donations, which donors can write off for tax purposes
- Official clubs (particularly incorporated nonprofits) can pool their resources more efficiently to pay for better facilities and equipment
- Most parent organizations like USA Archery or NFAA offer liability insurance; check with their membership experts to learn more about different policies
- Newcomers may feel better about joining your club if it is affiliated with a parent organization
- Some parent organizations offer programs for youth and instructor certifications
- Club members can often receive awards and acknowledgement in incentive programs
How to Start a Club Affiliated with USA Archery
If you are interested in starting a club affiliated with USA Archery, here is a brief summary of the process involved:
There are no qualifications or minimum members needed to start a club. Although the organization encourages clubs to have an instructor certified by USA Archery, it is not a requirement. Club membership applications can be found on the USA Archery website in the membership section.
The annual fee for USA Archery clubs is $90, which includes liability insurance. While filling out the form, you will need to decide whether or not to enroll in the Adult Achievement Program, which started in 2010 and serves as a JOAD program for adults, complete with achievement levels and pins. The Adult Achievement Program has added divisions for indoor and outdoor traditional archery and is an additional $20 per year.
Once USA Archery processes your payment and membership form, you will receive a certificate of membership and a certificate of liability insurance. After one year you will receive a notification of expiration so you may renew your membership in a timely fashion.
How to Start a Club Affiliated with the National Field Archery Association
If you are interested in starting a club affiliated with the National Field Archery Association, here is a brief summary of the process involved:
To qualify, an NFAA archery club needs to have a minimum of five head of household NFAA members. Club charter applications can be found on their website in the documents section.
New clubs should contact their NFAA state director for specific instructions, but there are a few things everyone will need to do. The charter paperwork needs to be filled out in triplicate and mailed to their NFAA state secretary along with the proper payment. The NFAA charter rate is $25 annually and each state has its own additional charter rate.
The NFAA secretary and director will sign and approve the charter paperwork at the state level. The director then sends one copy of the paperwork to the NFAA headquarters. The NFAA processes the paperwork and issues a charter certificate to the club. Then, sixty days prior to the expiration of the club charter, the NFAA will provide club charter renewal paperwork directly to the club.
All club members are eligible for the NFAA Awards Program which features awards for successes in target archery, bowhunting, and bowfishing. NFAA Members should contact their state director for more details about how to apply for these awards.