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So...How do I get Started?

Beginning Archery Brochure

Click on image

the Starting out information below provides more information

as to how a JOAD Youth Archer can succeed.


Link to Youth Clubs in Arizona



Starting Out

  • Archery has many disciplines, Target and Olympic style, 3D where you shoot at animal shaped targets, field archery in the great outdoors and hunting to name a few types.  Arizona Junior Olympic Archery Development (AZJOAD) is of value to all types of archery.  We call the youth archer a "JOAD".  (pronounced jo-add)

  • Participate in classes using “club bows and arrows”.

  • First the youth, age 8 to 18, has some sort of interest in archery.  They saw it on TV, they had a chance to shoot in school as part of the “National Archery in the Schools” program, or they have friends that do it, or recently they saw it in the movies.  Here are the steps for a typical JOAD to get going

  • First, go to a JOAD club and take the class for at least eight weeks.  A listing of Arizona “Clubs is above.  Note that the clubs are open to all on a day-by-day, session-by-session basis.  Some may offer a place for both youths and parents to learn. 

  • During the eight weeks, the JOAD finds out if they have potential or If they like it.  It is essential that the JOAD ask for help.  Sometimes the best way to ask for help is to ask the instructor to watch them shoot.  JOAD clubs are typically made up of adult volunteers that have been trained and certified by the NAA as Instructors/Coaches.  Again, they are volunteers, so be kind. 

If the instructor indicates that there is promise after a couple months of shooting then maybe it’s time to take the next step.   The JOADs attitude and “coach ability” are critical to future success.

  • Join USA Archery (also called the NAA, National Archery Association)

    Become a National Archery Association (NAA) www.usarchery.org. May I suggest a family membership that will provide the whole family with membership and provides the USA Archery magazine. The magazine and websites are a good source of information.  Another great source of information is to speak with the advanced JOADs and their parents

    Interested adults can become NAA certified Instructor / Coaches / Judges.  Adult volunteers do not need to be great archers.  Clubs welcome volunteers.

  • Get your own equipment.

    To take the next step the JOAD need their own, properly sized and  “tuned” equipment, bow, arrows, and accessories.  This is where your local proshop comes in.  Find the shop that will sell you the equipment, provide service to tune it up, and be there when you need help.  Some shops focus on hunters and don’t or can’t help JOADs.  Just ask the shop if they will tune the arrows to the bow and archer.

  • Bow type is a big question.

    For competition there are two basic types of bows, the recurve or Olympic bow and the compound bow.  Many JOAD start with one type of bow and then switch to another. Your JOAD instructor can sometimes suggest the bow type based on the physical makeup of the JOAD.

    I often hear that a JOAD or parent wants to become a recurve archer so they can go to the Olympics someday.  Remember that the Olympics only take place once every four years. But, every year the USA selects teams (junior and/or senior world teams) for international competitions.  I would not hold your breath for the Olympics to include compound bows, but the Olympics is not the end all by any means.  Again, look to the advanced JOADs and their parents for an opinion.  They have gone through what you are just about to.  Ask them, most are eager to share their story.  And before you purchase, check the JOADs eye dominance one more time just to be sure.

  • Compound

    Compound bows and arrows can be purchased quite successfully from Arizona local archery shops because of the similarity to the hunting bow.  Significant differences are that target compound bow archers typically use “long” stabilizers, light arrow rests, movable sight with extension, scopes and special pressure releases.  Most JOADs can start out with what is essentially a hunting package.  The decision to just get shooting or to purchase a target archery bow and accessories depends on your circumstances.  JOADs should look for a compound bow that has a large range in draw length and poundage adjustment to allow the JOAD to grow.

  • Recurve

    If you are not quite sure about the commitment and want to keep the purchase within reason, then purchase a wood (Internature, Bullseye) or polymer (Rolan Dakota and Suprise) or an entry level metal riser (PSE Optima) bow with removable and changeable limbs the Evolution II which uses the International Limb Fitting System (ILF).  Most JOADs will want to start with 15, 20 or 25lb limbs.  I have seen many a JOAD start with too heavy limbs and then give up because of the difficulty.  It just isn’t fun to struggle or tire prematurely.  The relatively light 20 to 25 lb limbs work just fine indoors and can and have won National and World Championships.

    Some of the accessories to look for are Cavalier or Beiter arrow rests, plungers, clickers and Sureloc or Toxonics sights that “click”.  These accessories can often be transferred to a move-up bow later on.  There are charts to size a bow to at JOAD.  JOAD typically should consider a 62” bow for the smaller person and 66” for the larger youth.  Bigger is not better.  Bigger is often just heavier, clumsier and awkward.


    I must be truthful here.  We went right from using the JOAD club bow to an International limb system high performance recurve bow.  The bow was a bit large and heavy and we upgraded the riser and limbs after a year.  We purchased accessories like the sight, plunger, and finger tab that we continue to use.  Let your pocket book be your guide and borrow to try things out whenever you can.  (FYI a high performance bow setup can easily cost between $1000 and $2000 plus arrows)

  • Genesis Bow

An interesting bow option is the Genesis bow that more and more school programs are using.  Many JOADs will want a Genesis because it’s what they are accustomed too.  Several archers of differing draw length can use it.  They have a constant draw weight so it’s well suited for JOADs.  Many families own a Genesis as a training bow to reinforce their form.

  • Indoor Arrows

Aluminum arrows are the best choice for indoors.  Size 2315 is the biggest arrows the NAA allows.  The arrow length and tip weight all need to be tuned to the archer.  Youth arrow charts and computer programs help here.  Ask your shop.  You typically only shoot three arrows indoors so purchasing a ½ dozen arrow is just fine.  I like Easton aluminum arrows sized in the mid to high teens (Jazz, Platinum, Cobalt’s, Eclipse and X7).  Feathers are great for indoors.

  • Accessories

Always check out your pro shop first.  There is no substitute for personal service and advice.  But, if they can't help, your next step may be Lancaster archery is the most well-known mail order archery supply house.  They are fine when you know exactly what you need and for things that don’t require any service and if you don’t mind the merchandise return limitations and process.  Lancaster archery fills the need to purchase items that your local shop doesn’t stock or items not receive regularly received.

Beiter has a local Arizona distributor so their products are readily available in just a few days from your local shop.  Cavalier is a Gilbert AZ company so their products are only days away from your local shop, too.  PSE is a major bow manufacturer located in Tucson.

  • Patience

Most stores will not stock what the JOAD exactly needs.  Be patient and allow plenty of time for the store to collect all the parts.  A friendly weekly reminder of call is sometimes needed. 

Remember if your JOAD is left eye dominant, then they should be shooting left handed.  Many accessories come in right hand or left hand.  Unless you specify differently, it is usually assumed right handed.

  • Training

Once the JOAD has their tuned equipment, its time to train.  My guess that most practice at least three times a week by getting a range pass at the local shop and shooting in the garage or back yard.  Phoenix is lucky to have three full size outdoor ranges, Usery, Papago and Ben Avery. 

Coaching can “happen” in several ways. 

One way is to have the JOAD club instructor give one thing to work on each week at the club shoot.  The JOAD then has a week or two to master the technique before moving to the next item.

Another way is to seek regular private lessons.  Ask other advanced JOADs about their coaching.  Regular private lesson is the best way to see improvement in the JOADs performance.

Your JOAD will perform at their best if they are well nourished and well hydrated.  They should not be fueled by caffeine or sugar.

  • Competitions

Once a JOAD has a bow and some arrows they can compete.  A youth archer competes in specific divisions such as girl, boy, compound, recurve and age.  Visit  www.usarchery.com , the Arizona Archery Association  and or the excellent Texas State Archery Association for tournaments.  For most tournaments are open, one need only be a NAA member and pay the entry fee.  It’s that easy!

JOAD compete in different age classifications.

Note that the year of birth, not age, determines JOAD classification.

As a result these JOADs classifications are for the entire calendar year (Jan. 1 thru Dec. 31), so you don’t have to change classification during an entire indoor / outdoor tournament season.


2013 JOAD Classifications (Jan 1, 2013 thru Dec. 31, 2013):

2013 Yeoman, born in 2004 or later (up to and in the year of their 9th Birthday)

2013 Bowman, born in 2001, 2002, or 2003  (up to and in the year of their 12th Birthday)

2013 Cub, born in 1999 or 2000 (up to and in the year of their 14th Birthday)

2013 Cadet, born in 1996, 1997, or 1998 (up to and in the year of their 17th Birthday)

2013 Junior, born in 1993, 1994, or 1995 (up to and in the year of their 20th Birthday)

You may “shoot-up” to an older division as long as you shoot the older division requirements.

The TSAA site has a birth day/division “calculator” check it out.  Remember the classifications change on Jan. 1

JOAD Age Division Calculator

  • Ultimate JOAD goals include the Junior US Archery team, University Level teams, World Championship and the Olympics.   After JOAD is the Senior Archery world. (Yes, anyone older than 18 is referred to as a Senior)

  • There are other archery organizations such as the National Field Archery Association (NFAA).   Investigate them if JOAD is not quite what you had in mind.

  • Sign up for the free Texas State Archery Association's JOAD newsletter which is emailed out periodically.  It contains stories and information from around the country.  Sign-up by emailing joadsubscribe@earthlink.net and Subscribe by entering your NAME as the body of the message.


  • Dedication and discipline can take a JOAD youth far in the sport of archery.  The steps to success are different for each archer.  Our experience has been:

  • First, learn the basics with JOAD club bows.

  • Second, establish a relationship with a “bow tech type person” that can advise you on equipment and help you set up the bow.  This person may be found at an archery store or be a JOAD volunteer.

  • Third, seek advanced training or coaching.  Arizona has great-dedicated Archery coaches.  Some are volunteers.  For others, teaching and coaching is their profession.

  • Fourth, compete at tournaments.  The JOAD community is small on the State level.  Beginners routinely “win” their division!

  • Practice each step of the way.  Ask questions.

  • The local archery shops with JOAD programs are the logical place for indoor practice.

  • Outdoor practice in the Phoenix metro area is available at Ben Avery in the Northwest valley and Usery Mountain Park in east Mesa and Papago Park in the Central Valley.  Phoenix has a seldom-used range, El Oso Park on the west side.   Tucson has the PSE facility with both an indoor and outdoor range.  Payson and Prescott Valley have shops too.

A little more…Outdoor Arrows

  • JOADs using light poundage bows need light arrows to be able to make the long distances and skinny arrows so the wind doesn’t blow the arrows far off course.  Most advanced JOADs start with Easton ACC carbon aluminum arrows.  A year later they move up to more costly ACE or X10s.

  • CT McKinney makes some very nice thin carbon arrows too.  Ask your shop.

Finally, it is my pleasure to answer the questions that I had when we first started out.  Please do not hesitate to email me with questions.  azjoad@cox.net


Bob Pian

Arizona Junior and Collegiate Archery

8681 East Via De Negocio

Scottsdale, AZ 85258

602 228-0465