Inside Events: USA Archery
2 Dec, 2015By: Sarah Bernstein
An Interview with Sarah Bernstein, Public Relations Officer
USA Archery: Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., the National Archery Association, known today as USA Archery, was formed in 1879 to foster and promote the sport of archery. USA Archery is the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of archery. USA Archery is the organization recognized by the USOC for the purpose of selecting and training men’s and women’s teams to represent the U.S. in Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and Pan American Games. USA Archery also selects teams for World Championships, World Cups and other international competitions annually. Membership in USA Archery is open to everyone involved in all disciplines of archery. USA Archery sanctions more than 300 events annually and conducts indoor, outdoor and youth National Championships as well as the United States Archery Team Qualifier Series. USA Archery also conducts youth and adult archery programs throughout the United States, and trains archery instructors and coaches. The mission of USA Archery is to provide the necessary resources to foster strong athlete participation, competition and training in the sport of archery.
Sports Destination Management: Archery is really not right now, particularly because of the exposure it receives in The Hunger Games books and movies. Are you seeing that translate into increased membership?
Sarah Bernstein: Absolutely; we went from 4,000 members to over 20,000 members – it has been really insane growth. Between 2011 and 2014, our youth membership went up 366 percent. The female membership numbers, both youth and women, show a 105 percent increase just from November 2013 to November 2014.
SDM: It’s a non-traditional sport. Do you think that has factored into its growth?
Bernstein: Yes – I think a lot of people don’t want to be part of a team sport and they don’t like the idea of doing something in front of a crowd of spectators. Archery is something you can do by yourself and on your own time if you want. It teaches you to focus on yourself and your shot.
SDM: It’s also a Paralympic sport.
Bernstein: I think archery is one of the most accessible sports. There are so many ways to adapt your equipment and your form. We see a lot of kids with learning disabilities, for example, who really love archery. We even have blind archers who compete. We have people who shoot with their feet and with their mouths. They are so many ways to take part in the sport and be successful at it.
SDM: Do you have parents who are afraid their children are going to be hurt by an arrow?
Bernstein: There were a lot of misconceptions in the past, but I think because there’s been so much more exposure when it comes to archery, that people are aware now that it’s a safe sport. There’s less stigma about danger.
SDM: How many events does USA Archery sanction each year?
Bernstein: We host several national championships and four national ranking events each year.
SDM: What does USA Archery look for in a setting for an event?
Bernstein: We are looking for someplace that is accessible, so your venue needs to be near a major airport. In terms of the venue itself, you need a lot of space with nothing behind it – large soccer fields are good. We also need places where we can pitch tents and set up all our equipment and everything else that goes with an event like that. We put out bid packets, and those are available on our website.
SDM: What changes can we expect to see in the sport in the years to come?
Bernstein: Right now, our push is to get compound bow competition in the Olympics. Currently, competition at the Olympics is just using recurve bow. Our goal is to have compound in the Olympics by 2024. Right now, there are international competitions in compound, just not at the Olympic level. Compound is what you’ll see people using in the Paralympics, though.
SDM: In addition to many schools starting archery programs, and many clubs popping up, there’s actually a new archery facility that opened recently.
Bernstein: Yes, the Easton Archery Center of Excellence, in Chula Vista, California, is a great venue. It’s the largest training center for archery in the U.S. and it has not just shooting ranges but all kinds of facilities for our athletes. It’s billed as the world’s premier indoor training facility for archery.