This parent has spent the last five years holding the reins of an archer that wants to conquer the world. At age 14, the archer was pushing to go pro. Thankfully, it requires parental permission until age 18 to make that jump. However, this year, at age 16, the archer is now a Pro in the NFAA. Going pro in one associations, thankfully does not move you to pro in other associations.
It was about a year or so into shooting, that the archer stopped shooting the youth stakes at local field and 3D tournaments. His drive to push forward faster has not been easy to hold back. This parent had two concerns. One, the mental aspect of competing with adults. Two, to learn confidence.
As an archery parent, it was great to see his drive. As a parent, it came with worry that as one steps up into the adult and pro divisions the pressure is 10 fold. There were big National tournaments that no was the answer. This parent wants him to understand success and how to handle success.
It is equally, if not more important to know how to lose. There have been many tournaments that the push and drive was met with challenges. Never failures, because, failure is only not standing back up again. This archer knows lose, knows frustration, knows losing or not meeting expectations and the pain associated with it. There have been many conversations on, maybe next time, you could or should…
Majority of tournaments the past three years have been shooting up in divisions. There are several reasons that this has been not an issue. When shooting as a cub and shorter distance, this did not prepare the archer for the future that is shot all at the same longer distance. This move made sense when the shooting was solid at the longer distance. Yes, more wins would have possibly been added, but at this point it was not building towards the future.
We relied on coaches to say, he is good, let him try. The same coaches want the wins for him, but know the archer well enough, that this would only frustrate him. Wings were allowed to stretch.
This year, for Youth Worlds, he will be shooting in his on division. This decision was made by him and his coach. This is where the toughest competition is in the current field of young male archers. The archer wants to compete against the best to make the team and then be on a team with the best to compete internationally. Now, there are only 3 spots. Yes, he can make the team…but we all know that archery requires stars to align at tournaments as well. There are several archers that can make this team. No matter who is on the team, we will cheer them on.
As for USA archery, he is shooting up one division this year. Now, this was not easy, as the archer really wants to compete as a senior. However, this parent said not this year. Maybe next year. He is frustrated, but quite ready to handle the pressure. This year is the pressure cooker year to see how he handles big tournaments with older competition and if he can reach his goals set.
Even though the archer is not a wee lil’ one anymore, this parent still has time to help shape his success and ensure that he is mentally and physically ready to take on the pros soon. Knowing your child and watching how the handle situations will be the best gauge of what is needed next. It was only at a recent tournament, that this parent saw a level of frustration, not by his doing, that was mentally very challenging and showed his younger age. It just showed, that this parent still has work to do to prepare him for the big bad world of archery. Hold on to the reins if needed, let them fly if needed…but dont let go too soon. Whoa!