Oly bowsAs I excitedly venture forth with this new opportunity to share the topics and current events that pertain to the NFAA Pro Division, I wondered what I should choose as my first blog post. Would it be the standard “lets get ready for the new season?” No, too predictable. How about a reflection on 2012 and the amazing advancements our sport made in media, the movies, or the Olympics? No. Certainly covered well by better writers than I. OK then. It will be something that fires my passion for the sport and also has a fresh new light. It has to be something that has excitement and growth, something that some of the best archers on the globe can get involved in. Yes. It MUST be new NFAA Professional Recurve Division.

As Pro Chairman for the NFAA I am tasked with several things and as the “new guy” in 2012 I was really hoping to get off on the right foot. Every Chair hopes at the very least to leave it better than they found it, even daring to dream that something really memorable will happen. I went “all in” at my first meeting and pressed for something of a legacy for a whole group of archers that literally made our sport what it is today and were left on the side as it rushed past them. I proposed a new Pro Recurve Division.

I recognized early on that competitive archery in the most elite circles had only two top divisions. Compound Unlimited or Freestyle, and Olympic Recurve.  There was one organization doing an amazing job at marketing and showcasing these elite archers from around the globe in a televised setting and I wanted the NFAA to have that. Reinventing what had already been done was clearly out of the question. Going head to head with the largest groups on the planet for recurve archers was also not going to happen. Our only hope in my mind was to try and use what they have built as an example and find a way to grow with it and become a part of it in our own little way. I simply had to find a way to work together. I reflected on participation numbers and saw what USAArchery/FITA/World Cup/ASAP/JOAD and NASP were doing in creating literally millions of archers world wide in the recurve style and saw that there was no Professional progression for those archers. Essentially they compete as kids, teens, collegiate, and possibly a shot at internationals with an even slimmer shot at the Olympics. If they missed those goals there was nothing for them. Go compound money or nothing. I saw it as becoming a sport of passion for medallions only, and an expensive one at that. The demographics fell off a cliff after college age. It was completely the opposite of compounds. I felt we absolutely had to create a better opportunity for adult shooters to stay and play. So we did. The NFAA Board of Directors agreed and supported the idea voting it in and making it official as of June 2012. A Professional Recurve Division, Mens and Women’s was born. Being an Olympic year I held off on really pressing it much. It would be too easy to get lost in the media shuffle. But now as we launch the new season I think it’s the best time to reach out and recruit the best on the planet for the newest and only true Professional Recurve Division.

To help launch it the WAF (host the Vegas Shoot) stepped up and has made the Championship Recurve purse worth almost $22,000 in Las Vegas!! The LARGEST recurve purse outside the Olympic Medal Rounds or the World Cup Finals…Ever!

Men’s First Place $8,000 (w/Pro Card) and Women First Place $5,000 (w/Pro Card)

So you ask…what does it take to be Pro Recurve?…Well for starters, it’s easier than you think. You need to be a member of the NFAA, and you need to pay pro dues ($75). That’s it. Internationals are welcome and eventually we will have a qualification scores and processes but in the spirit of building the division the gate is wide open to everyone.

So now your next question is what does it take to win money? In Vegas 2012 Brady won with an 893 (900 possible). 10th place was an 871. Keep in mind in 2012 the World Indoor Challenge was in Vegas which brought the best on the globe to the game. To win money the women ranged from an 859 to an 880.  In Louisville for Indoor Nationals (Blue Face, possible 600) the top 10 men ranged from 554 to 598, the women top 10 ranged from 524 o 574.

Wondering if you can still shoot USAArchery/World Cup/FITA etc.. in short, yes. It changes nothing for most archers. Some international teams forbid it but for the most part a Pro Card does not affect your status otherwise. On the U.S. front it’s totally fine. You compete in those events just as you always have.

For NFAA local, States, Sectionals, National shoots you’re a Pro, you shoot for money. If it’s a local NFAA Sanctioned event with no money or Pro Div (only adult) you can compete but don’t take the trophy, leave it to the adult shooters. If there is money on the line (pro or not) then that’s where you compete, and that’s what you win. You don’t have to shoot against compounds; still just recurve but you’re a money shooter now. You’ll pay a little more to play, but you have a chance to get it all and a heck of a lot more back if you’re a good shot.

So, that’s the pitch. I think there are several of you who could easily do very well on a regular and routine basis and still enjoy the style of shooting you’ve come to love. You can keep it that simple or you can do more…if you choose to really pursue the Pro game it’s not just shooting and winning. Obviously there’s the prestige among your peers that you’re a Pro. You’re actually competing against the best for not just bragging rights but for money, for a chance to move your game forward to the next level. To “fund you habit” as I’ve heard it called. You’ll need to be a good shot but more importantly a great ambassador. You’ll need to be someone who will promote themselves, their sponsors, and the sport. Eventually I believe the major companies will start to recognize the importance and the strength of the recurve division and restore it to the prominence it deserves and once had. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that aspect of the industry explode over the next few seasons with all of the movie and media attention that’s going to be placed on us as a whole. I feel the successful, PROfessional recurve archer will have a new and unique opportunity to capitalize on their efforts.

I humbly but excitedly ask you to come on board and give it a shot. A great new way to enjoy this game we have come to love and support. There will only be one chance to be a Pro recurve shooter in the inaugural season. Don’t miss it.

I can share all the details if you like, shoot me an E-mail and we can set up a call. I look forward to hearing from you soon and seeing you on the Pro line.

Chuck Cooley - NFAA Pro Chairman

chuckcooley@gmail.com