Academy instructors rewarded by teaching archery to others
Bryan Brady was told since childhood that a key ingredient to a happy life was to find a job where he got paid to have fun.
“The two things I enjoy the most are shooting my bow and teaching others to shoot,” Brady said.
So what does he do for a living? He’s an instructor at Lancaster Archery Academy in Lancaster, Pa.
“I hesitate to use the word ‘awe’ to describe what it’s like to watch someone become devoted to a sport or a cause, but it’s likely the closest word that fits,” he said. “I am in awe of some of the kids who come through our programs, and decide to start devoting their time to this sport.”
Lancaster Archery Academy is looking for full-time and part-time instructors to continue its mission of introducing people to the sport of archery, and to help those already in the game advance their skills.
It’s a demanding, fast-paced job. But those who do it say the rewards are boundless.
“I love that I learn just as much about myself as I do helping another to succeed,” said Heather Pfeil, the academy’s program coordinator for the past three years. “Then you have the opportunity to watch archers grow over time and become more successful.”
Academy instructors lead classes for archers of all ages and ability levels, teaching the fundamentals of shooting a bow and arrow, as well as all the personal and range safety rules. They give private lessons, run tournaments, leagues and parties, and help out with a host of other archery activities.
The days can be long, but, borrowing an old adage, Pfeil said time flies when you’re having fun.
“The day goes by extremely fast,” she said. “Honestly, every day is a little different.”
Liz Humphries is a 34-year-old Academy instructor, who only started shooting a bow and arrow at 31. She started out at the Academy as a student, taking classes with her father.
“I like that there is no best body type for archery,” she said. “In archery, the equipment is sized to you and your form is dictated by your body.”
Humphries fell in love with the sport, and, combined with her love of teaching others, she was a natural to become an Academy instructor.
“Most people who’ve never shot before come in thinking they’ll be terrible,” she said. “I love how surprised and excited people are when they discover it’s actually a very simple, easy sport to learn.
“I also commiserate with people over how much harder it is to master and perfect than to learn.”
There are archers who take a little extra time to instruct. Brady said some of the most challenging students are those who might have shot bows in their yards for years before coming in for lessons.
“They can draw a bow back, but they have so many ingrained habits that need to be broken down, that they will take much longer to become truly proficient than someone who starts with a blank slate,” he said.
But, that’s where patience on the part of the coach comes in, and Brady said he’s always up for a good challenge.
“It’s easy to teach someone how to shoot if they have never touched a bow and arrow before,” he said. “It requires some creativity to teach someone who already knows what they’re doing.”
So what’s required to apply for these jobs?
You’ve got to either have, or be able to earn within 60 days of hire, a USA Archery Level 2 instructor certification. You’ve got to have enthusiasm and charisma, with a positive attitude.
“As a coach, we have a direct impact on a person’s life – especially a young person’s,” Pfeil said. “As coaches, not only do we teach archery, but we build an athlete and, most importantly, a good person.”
Interested applicants also should have experience teaching adults and children on an introductory level; have strong computer, organizational and time management skills; be able to work independently and as part of a team; and be able to work evenings and weekends.
(For a look at the complete list of current job openings and skill requirements, click here.)
“I enjoy sharing my knowledge with archers at all levels, and I learn something new every day,” Pfeil said. “I think a lot of who I am is because I had a supportive family and a dedicated coach who pushed for me to succeed – not only in archery, but also in life.”