Should Competitive Archery Be Your Thing?
Category 1: The Local Clown These type of archers would not be a good investment to take to a national tournament, not because they are not good enough but because they would just mess around and not take it serious. They don't really care where they will finish, and that's OK. They don't want to lose but they make themselves lose with their mental game and don't put in the work to not lose. I've heard them say before going to a local and state tournament that they know they are going to lose beforehand because they say they suck. They don't take practice seriously and do it just because they were told to do it. It would be better for them to just shoot locally because there will be more kids like them there that are just doing archery just for fun and don't really care where they finish. But when competing at the state or national level, these kids become a distraction for other archers that want to be there and are trying their best. Instead of focusing and taking it seriously, they would be making jokes about how bad they are so people pay attention to them and not where their arrows hit. But when you act like a clown on the line, it draws more attention to you and makes people wonder why are at a national event.
Category 2: The Aspiring Go-Getters These are kids who know they have no chance of winning. They don't go around and say they are going to lose, they say they are going to try their best and learn something while they are there. They choose to go so they can see what it takes to be able to win at the national level, and for the experience because it is an experience. They want to talk to other kids there that are winning the events to ask what their practice routines are and how they got to the level they are at. This is not a waste of money at all, regardless of where they finish. As long as they are taking it serious and not goofy around like a local clown then it is worth it. You are suppose to have fun at national events, they are a lot of fun. But when you get to the line you need to focus and not act like a clown. When you have a bad shoot and you will, you don't want people to be able look at you and know what you shot. If you have a bad shoot you want to stay calm and regroup. The kids who have this mentality will go farther in archery faster even if they are not the best now, but as they keep following the steps they will go far in archery as well in life. Plus when you go to a national event there are dozens of pros and vendors there, and that is cool.
Category 3: The Laid-Back These are the kids that could be really good, if they practiced but they really don't want to and don't. But when they go to a tournament they do take it serious, and don't act like local clowns. So should these kids go to national events? No, because them not practicing makes it worthless for them to go. You should have to earn going to a natinonal event, and you earn it by practicing and what you put in to it. They enjoy shooting but don't want to put in the effort to earn going to an event of this level. Kids like this could be really really good but just won't practice and that's OK. They can just do it every once in awhile for fun. They don't like to lose, but they know they have to practice more so that they don't lose but that still won't make them practice. When they go to larger tournaments they will have fun, because they are fun. But when they would get beat, they could get discouraged but not enough to make them practice but could be enough to make them not want to compete at anymore and that's not good. If when you lose and that makes you want to practice harder, then it would be a better investment to go to a national event.
Category 4: The Naturals Then there are those kids that are kind of new to archery and are winning local tournaments because they are a natural. It would be really good for them to go to a national event because they practice every day already and they want to win. Sometimes these kids think they are really good because they are already winning local and state events, but then if they were to go to a national event they would see what really good actually is. This is good for them since it helps push them to train and practice harder, and take archery to the next level. Going would help them with what they need to work on to beat the best kids and become one of those elite level kids. It also gives the kid a chance to talk with vendors about maybe putting together a sponsorship.
Category 5: The Elite These are the kids that you see at an event, and everyone is expecting to finish on the podium. That's why they go to nationals, because they are the best of the best. They were probably at one point the Aspiring Go-Getters or Natural and possibly even once the Local Clown or Laid-Back. These Elite kids are what the Aspiring Go-Getters and Naturals want to become. It gives kids motivation to practice harder so they can become an Elite archer too. I hope my 5 categories of youth archer types will help you decide on if you should take your kid to a national event or not. Every kid should get to go to at least one national, but they have to appreciate it to make it worth it. It's not their score that should be used to make this decision, it should be their attitude towards archery. Everyone has their own opinion on things, but mine is based on what I have seen shooting with other kids over the last 4 years and as well competing and training with other kids. It does make it hard for some kids to train with other kids because of them having different attitudes towards archery. If you think your kid is having issues at practice because of this, talk to the coach about having split sessions so that kids that have the same attitudes are practicing together. It would be bad for your Aspiring Go-Getter or Natural to turn into the Local Clown because that is what they are practicing with. Everyone says how much of a mental game archery is, and if you don't think that includes who they practice with then you are wrong! If you do get the chance to go to a national tournament don't be afraid to talk to people and make new friends. It's more fun to talk to people about how you and them are shooting and feeling. Unless your parents were a competitive archer it could be hard to talk to them about what you are feeling, so making friends to talk to this about will make your time at a national more fun regardless of how you shoot or finish.