I would like to take a little time to share some thoughts that came up during the ITAA discussion about the outdoor events. Sure, there were some specific things that we need to work on and some things that went well. But I don’t want to talk about the tactical things at a shoot or event, but more importantly I want to speak to why do we all support this sport and the reasons why we all enjoy the game.
I think it is important to acknowledge that the last couple of years have been a challenge for everyone. Outside of the little bubble of archery, our lives have been interrupted and changed in ways that none of us could imagine. Many of you may have used archery as an escape from the things we were all dealing with while some of you may have had to cut back or stop shooting all together. As an organization we have also had a difficult time trying to navigate these challenges both on personal levels as well as trying to support and promote the sport during these crazy times. If the ITAA community can contribute to a positive experience during these less then ideal times, then we are doing great. The reason that we all do this, archers, parents, coaches, judges, and volunteers is to have fun.
I know that it is sometimes hard to remember that FUN is what this is all about. It is hard to remember that when a big event like a State Championship or even a big local shoot come up that the whole purpose of the event goes far beyond what score you shot or what place you ended up in. As I think back to the challenges that we have had, we are so fortunate to have volunteers at the club and state levels willing to work hard to find ways to allow all of our archers opportunities to shoot and run events safely and successfully.
At the club levels work being done to maintain the leagues, clubs and practice opportunities is what keeps this community going. As we have mentioned previously, we have lost a couple of clubs, and hopefully we will see some new clubs started. If you need help at your club or see an opportunity to help a club grow, please reach out.
That is one unique thing I have seen in the archery community is that archers have a great reputation for helping each other out. It could be as simple as handing a set of wrenches to the person on the line next to you when they have an issue with their equipment. Maybe you have outgrown a set of limbs for your recurve and lend them to a new archer so they can get started in the sport you love. There is a never-ending book of stories of how archers have helped fellow archers either get started in the sport or supported their competitor by lending equipment in a time of need. The community is usually very good at making sure that everyone is having a good time. But not always.
Clearly everyone’s resilience is already lower this year than usual even before an archery event begins. And sometimes tempers can flare, or hurtful things can happen in the pressure of the day. It’s inevitable anytime a group of competitive people are in the same place. When that starts happening, it’s up to us as members of this community to take a step back and create some time and space to avoid things escalating to a point that takes away the reason that we were there in the first place, FUN. I ask that everyone in the archery community remember this make an extra effort to be considerate of each other. That’s the root of all sportsmanship.
While certainly that is the ideal situation (that archers, parents, coaches, judges, and volunteers could all support each other and avoid situations that remove the fun from the sport), it is not always possible. For those situations USA Archery has a process for reporting and handling incidents that an archer would like addressed. The following link https: //www.usarchery.org/about/safesport, contains information on reporting. It is important to file the incidents with USA Archery so that any misconduct can be dealt with appropriately. Submittals may be made confidentially.
Maintaining a healthy community that is welcoming, supportive, and safe is how we build a society that is welcoming, supportive, and safe. Archery hasn’t had the massive problems that have plagued other international sports – cycling, gymnastics, NWSL soccer – but we’re all people, and the only thing that protects us from those outcomes is by staying mindful of why we’re here, and by treating other community members the way we would like to be treated.
On behalf of the ITAA and the Illinois archery community I would like to would like to remind everyone to keep the fun in the sport. A special thank you to several people in the community for collaborating with me on this message. I look forward to seeing everyone at the indoor shoots and ask that you support the local clubs by attending their shoots as well. If you are running a local shoot and would like it added to the ITAA list of events please remember to send the information along to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we fly into the future, “shoot ’em straight.”