There are four major changes that will affect many and we would like to take the opportunity to review these changes and what it means to USA Archery events for 2010.
CHANGES IN CADET AND JUNIOR AGE DIVISIONS
"The cadets will now be able to shoot in this category until the year of their 17th birthday and juniors until their 20th birthday. This will help the transition to the true elite level and it is in line with the Youth Olympic Games. For practical reason, this new rule will apply as of Jan. 1, 2010."
Many international countries, like the USA, have struggled to keep archers after the time they leave their youth programs. We have heard a lot of feedback from parents asking why USA Archery cannot increase the age for many of the JOAD programs. We have tried to keep our ages for the youth programs consistent with FITA. Therefore, I will propose to the Board in the upcoming November board meeting that we follow suit with FITA on this proposal, which would allow archers to stay in the JOAD program through their 20th birthday. How this will affect the other JOAD age divisions will be discussed during the November Board meeting and with the JOAD committee prior to the Board meeting.
This will also affect Junior USAT teams, as it will likely push the average age on the team much higher. Certainly we will consider if we need to add younger archers to the Jr. USAT or what the overall mix of the Jr. USAT should be. It is likely that many changes will be coming due to this. The staff will be working with the JOAD Committee to propose solutions to the Board for consideration at the upcoming Board of Directors' November meeting.
CHANGES TO THE COMPOUND DIVISION FORMAT
"Compound means ultimate accuracy and the athletes will be able to prove it with the hit-miss scoring system. They will shoot at 50 meters with a very challenging hit zone. The set system will also apply. In order to give the team and archers time to adapt, the hit-miss will be first introduced in the World Cup next year (2010) but will only become official in world championships and major games, starting April 1, 2011."
Prior to FITA Congress, I sent this proposal to the USA Archery Athlete Committee for comment and review. I received back an unanimous vote of NON SUPPORT. Therefore, USA did not vote for this change. However, FITA feels that differentiating the compound and recurve formats will help the sport overall. This round has had very little exposure with very few tests to date. There is much for us to learn about the specifics of the format, size and design of the targets. We will be gathering information regarding this new format prior to the November board meeting and will determine if we will implement this change in the USAT events for 2010, or wait until 2011. Within the text of this proposal, it did note that FITA would be using this format during the World Cup series in 2010, and would officially implement the change in 2011. It also allowed for the FITA Council to remove the event prior to 2011, if the event was not found to be successful during the 2010 World Cup series.
ADDITION OF MIXED TEAM EVENT
"As of April 1, 2010, the mixed team event that was introduced as exhibitions in 2009 will be official. This new competition teams up one man and one woman who shoot four ends of four arrows in a match."
This format was tested during the 2009 World Cup year and received a lot of positive feedback. This format will also be reviewed during the November board meeting to determine whether we will implement a mixed team event into the USAT and National events.
INTRODUCTION OF THE MATCH PLAY FORMAT
"... archers will have to win three sets to win their matches. Each end of three arrows will count as a set."
The set format of competition allows for a bit more exciting matches, as an archer really is never out of the competition due to one bad arrow. The archer could always come back in the following sets, much like tennis. Each end would basically be a set. The winner of that set would receive two points and if they tied, each would receive one point. For recurve archers, during the six-arrow ends, it would be a best-of-three sets and in three-arrow ends, it would be the best-of-five sets.
In the compound match play for Elimination and Final rounds (non-medal matches), four (4) sets of three (3) arrows, the first to reach five (5) points wins the match. For medal matches, the first to reach seven (7) points wins the match.
Again, we will be gathering more specific information about these rounds from FITA over the next couple of months and will determine final implementation strategies for our domestic events at the November board meeting.
What other changes might occur to USAT events in 2010?
If you happen to review the request for proposals (RFP) just released, you will notice that in the RFP for the 2010 USAT events, it mentioned the inclusion of Junior and Cadet divisions. It is my intent to bring to the Board in November a proposal to include Junior and Cadet divisions within the USAT events. It will provide more opportunities for these individuals to compete and it will make our USAT events more of a draw to other international teams. I would also like the qualification round to be a Junior USAT qualifier. I feel that by increasing the number of Junior USAT qualifying events, it gives more young archers an opportunity to reach the necessary qualifications. By continuing to require the JOAD Nationals and one additional Junior USAT event, I think this will encourage more participation. Juniors will be added to the Senior ranks for the elimination rounds. The option to provide an elimination round for the Cadets will be presented to the organizers and will be a case-by-case decision. Between now and November I will be gathering bids and forming the proposal for the complete schedule and format for all 2010 USAT events. This proposal will be presented at the November Board meeting. We should be able to announce a complete schedule and format for all events in early December.
Outdoor Nationals - Should we continue with the double FITA or should we adopt FITA standards completely?
Another topic on the agenda for the November Board meeting will be the format of the U.S. National Target Championships. With the exception of a slight increase in the participation at the 2009 Nationals in Ohio, the Nationals continues to see a decline in participation. Some of the feedback we received is the event is just too long. Especially in the economic climate of today, the idea of having a 6-day (including official practice and the U.S. Open) event, is just too costly for most participants. In order for many to participate it requires them to take a full week away from work, which is more than most can, or are willing to do. During the upcoming Board meeting, in light of the topics listed above, an overall discussion will be had regarding how closely we should follow FITA's lead relative to tournament formats and competition. Should we adopt FITA rules completely for the 2010 Nationals? Should we move to a single FITA and elimination round? Should we adopt the new Compound hit-miss competition? Should we have an elimination round for the Juniors and Cadets separately? If we were to change the format of the event to be more closely aligned with FITA it is also more likely for us to receive World Ranking status from COPARCO and draw more international participation, which has steadily declined over the years as FITA moved away from the double FITA format. All of these topics will be reviewed during the November meeting.
With so many changes being passed at the recent FITA Congress, it is a perfect time to review USA Archery's structure for events and programs. Over the next couple of months, the staff and respective committees will be working together to form proposals for the November board meeting. If you have input, please reach out to one of the Board members or members of the Athlete or JOAD Committees regarding possible changes.