Author: Cassie Scott
Archery camps introduce kids to archery, and help steer them to your shop for fun and buying advice. Plus, camps generate money on their own. To capitalize on these money-makers, employ these tips and considerations to start preparing to host a camp during spring break.
Shorter camps have more success keeping the campers' attention. Photo Credit: Easton Archery Center
Determine the camp’s focus, schedule and logistics. How long will it last? Which age groups will you invite? How many archers can you handle? What will you charge? These factors require considerable study when creating a camp.
Josahan Jamie-Sambrano is the archery and coaching-programs director for the Easton Yankton Archery Center in Yankton, South Dakota. She recommends pro shops hold two- to three-day camps that last two or three hours daily.
Aubrey Webster, programs coordinator at the Easton Newberry Archery Center in Newberry, Florida, agrees.
“We do three-day camps that run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and include a lunch break,” Webster said. “Longer camps don’t have high attendance, and students get tired or bored if the day lasts too long.”
Webster said students ages 7 to 17 can participate in the same camp. After all, no matter the beginner’s age, they all learn the same shooting principles and techniques. Children younger than 7 require more individual instruction, so they don’t do as well in camps. Most classes cap registration at 18 students to ensure good instruction, but attendance varies by the number of instructors or range space.
What about tuition? Jamie-Sambrano said a two-day camp with two-hour days costs students about $40 in South Dakota, but Webster said a similar camp in Florida costs $150. They advise checking camp prices in the region, and make your price competitive but affordable for your audience. Factor in lunch, supplies, equipment and anything else you’ll need, and then price accordingly to ensure you don’t lose money.
You must also determine your staffing needs, and who can handle the camp’s various tasks. Seek certified archery instructors for the camp to ensure students safely learn proper techniques, which helps them enjoy the sport. If your instructors aren’t certified, visit the USA Archery website to find a certification course nearby. If you can wait till next year, consider getting certified at the 2020 ATA Trade Show.
To determine instructor numbers, Webster prefers a 6-1 student-to-coach ratio in her classes. That ratio gives individuals enough attention to learn proper techniques, yet enough space to demonstrate what they know and practice what they’re taught.
If you don’t have enough staff to teach the class, look elsewhere for help. Jamie-Sambrano has partnered with other organizations to fully staff her camps.
“Partners supplement volunteers and information, which helps enrich the program,” she said. “Camps take a lot of energy to run. Having other people involved helps you bounce ideas off one another. [It also] gives your instructors a break.”
Jamie-Sambrano’s camp regularly partners with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, the Boys and Girls Club of America and others to run kids’ camps. Read “Retailers: Embrace the Power of Partnerships” on ArcheryTrade.org to learn how partnerships can help your business.
You can also ask for parents or community volunteers to help teach. Consider using volunteers to break the group into two sections. Webster has volunteers teach archery-related activities that don’t require shooting, which frees certified instructors to work with students on form and technique.
You don't have to be physically shooting archery the entire camp. Include classroom time and other activities that promote fundamentals. Photo Credit: ATA
You can decide how to divide class duties by analyzing your camp’s curriculum. Although “campers” want to shoot archery, they won’t be shooting every minute of their day. Webster and Jamie-Sambrano suggest giving students a break by including activities that relate to archery but don’t require shooting. Those tasks can focus on strength and balance exercises that promote good archery form and technique.
To round out your shooting activities, consider the Explore Archery curriculum. Explore Archery is an innovative program that introduces beginners of all ages and abilities to archery.
“Explore Archery is really good because it gives instructors different activities they can use to reinforce the basics,” Jamie-Sambrano said. “Our most successful camps use ATA curriculums like Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing. Those are fantastic. They’re really popular with our students. I’d recommend them.”
Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing teach basic bowhunting and bowfishing skills. Both programs include outlines that make great lesson plans. Use their handbooks to select lessons and activities. These programs are free for ATA-member retailers.
Webster suggests each game or activity last no longer than 20 to 30 minutes. Students will lose focus or interest after that. She also recommends switching between activities to keep students engaged. She encourages retailers to get creative and make their own games with their store’s resources. Consider holding a scavenger hunt in which participants search for arrows, releases, stabilizers and other archery gear to become familiar with items in your shop.
Speaking of equipment, you’ll need enough to outfit all camp participants.
“Basic equipment is pretty expensive, and most parents won’t buy a full setup so their kids can shoot for three days,” Webster said. “Retailers should provide equipment to use.”
The Florida camp requires students use the facility’s equipment. The South Dakota camp provides gear, but also lets students use their own. However, Jamie-Sambrano said students often bring equipment that doesn’t fit them. The student must then use camp equipment while Jamie-Sambrano informs parents why it’s important for kids to use proper fitting equipment.
Students can also use equipment you rent them. Rental equipment lets students keep shooting and learning long after the camp ends. Click here to learn how rentals can boost your business.
Getting started is the hardest part. Start a class and take that final leap. Photo Credit: ATA
– “Just start,” Jamie-Sambrano said. “Every year our camps and programs teach us something new. All our new events have been an evolution of past lessons. Start with whatever you’re comfortable with, even if that’s a one-day camp. Try things out, get feedback and adapt as you go.”
– “Safety should be your primary focus,” Webster said. “The first thing you should do at camp is explain the rules. Before students go anywhere with a bow or arrow, sit them down and review what’s expected. Then, remind them of the rules throughout the day.”
– “If you’re nervous or cautious about hosting a camp, get help,” Jamie-Sambrano said. “You can always get help from the ATA or the National Field Archery Association. You’ll probably be surprised how many resources and people can help.”
– “Keep the instruction basic, but make sure students are learning,” Webster said. “Some kids will be there because they want to have fun, while others actually want to learn about archery. Your class should provide both experiences.”
– Tell participants and their parents about additional learning opportunities once they finish camp. If they enjoyed the camp, they’ll probably want to know about future classes, leagues or programs.
To receive the ATA’s Explore Archery, Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing curriculums, or to learn more about hosting a camp during spring break, contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s range and retail programs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 640-0944.
Also check out ATA’s article on how to host archery summer camps. It offers more information for creating great camps.