Who Is Responsible?

Tom Major - A County Coach with 50 years of archery experience, including Coaching and Archery Development Programmes

At the last Essex/Suffolk Archery Coaching Meeting (Guild Meeting) one member suggested that it is the responsibility of a Coach to teach an archer the GNAS Rules.  This comment was roundly contested by another member at the Meeting who said that it was not the responsibility of the Coach.  This subject was not listed on the Agenda but developed from an Open Forum debate.  It was interesting to hear the various responses expressed, although some attendees did not respond, perhaps because they had not had sufficient time to consider this particular subject.

Following that Meeting I felt this was an area which needed clarification and decided to write down my own views for your consideration.  For instance, if we consider law, whether from Parliament or any other Body, such as local by-laws, has anyone been appointed as the person to inform the public what they can and cannot do?  We all know that we have not been told or taught about these laws and by-laws so how do we get to know about them?  Who is responsible?  Once again we know the answer – it is the Government or the appropriate authority.  We are made aware of such laws and by-laws relating to these human guidelines in modern life through all the appropriate means of communication.

No one takes us into a class or meeting to make us aware of these boundaries, which we observe daily, but if we break one of these laws/by-laws we are soon informed in no uncertain terms, whether it be for speeding, building, or simply crossing the road.  If we take these examples and think back to when we started archery we realise that we have learned a lot of “Rules” just by competing and, initially, we were made aware of the Safety and Etiquette Rules whilst shooting with members of our club. 

So, Who is Responsible?  I would say that within our sport we have five Governing Bodies who have set Rules for us; FITA (now renamed “World Archery”) / GRAND NATIONAL ARCHERY SOCIETY/REGIONS/COUNTIES/CLUBS.  In the main, the last three have only their domestic Rules but they still have to comply with the first two Body’s Rules of Shooting.  It goes without saying that there are other Organisations with their own Rules, such as the British Long Bow Society, English Field Archery Association, National Field Archery Society and others.  Each Organisation produces their Rules either in book form, leaflet or, these days, on the WEB where they can easily be accessed.  It is therefore the responsibility of the ARCHER to ensure that they know whatever Rules apply for the specific activity in which they wish to participate, whether it is Target, Clout, Field, Popinjay, Flight or Roving.  However, I do feel that, initially, it is up to the club to ensure that new archers are made aware of the Rules of Shooting and Etiquette during their training and, preferably, backed up through a club “Introduction Pack” or leaflet.  In my experience I believe most, if not all, clubs do this.

Of necessity, clubs require their archers to observe all the basic Rules when shooting at the club and therefore these are taught at the introduction stage and during normal club days.  This ensures that when an archer participates in their first Open Tournament they are fully familiar with everything that is required of them.

You will notice that we have still not laid the “responsibility” on any particular body.  A member of the club would have given a verbal description of the Rules of Shooting and Etiquette, backed up with an introduction pack or leaflet.  Therefore, provided the club shooting days are run to the appropriate Governing Body’s Rules, the archer then only needs to know how and where they can obtain the Rules appropriate to the pursuit in which they wish to participate.  Ideally, this information would also be given in the club’s Introduction Pack or leaflet.

Once the archer has been made aware of the location of such Rules, it is the Archer’s responsibility to ensure that they keep themselves updated by reading any articles relating to the Rules issued by Clubs, Counties, Regions, National and International bodies.  By the same token, it is the Organisations’ responsibility to keep the archers updated of any changes to these Rules.

It would appear that the Coach who said that it was not his responsibility to teach an archer the Rules of Shooting was quite right and, in my opinion, most coaches/archers would agree with this.  I know very well that if the occasion arose, the Coach in question would willingly give any advice if asked to do so.  He was merely pointing out that it is not his responsibility!  Taking this a stage further, neither is it a Judge’s responsibility to teach Rules to archers; only to remind them of any particular Rules which apply on the day and to ensure those Rules are being adhered to.  Here too, a Judge would willingly give information to anyone who requested it.

A final important point I would like to make is that after writing this article I received my GNAS Membership Card and noted that above the signature box it stated “I agree to the conditions of the Memorandum, Articles and Laws and to abide by the Rules of Shooting”.  The card was attached to a Membership Information Pack.  You will see that in the section headed YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES there is a paragraph with the heading “Complying with Regulations” in which it states “By signing the card you are agreeing to the conditions of membership (as defined in the Memorandum, Articles and Law).  The Memorandum and the Rules are available on our website for download or through your club secretary.  I wonder how many archers have signed their card without reading what Rules they must now abide by!  How many times do we hear the expression “read the contract before signing it”?

I do hope my views have been of some interest and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the subject with any likeminded coaches/archers (or with anyone having a different opinion) at the next Guild Meeting.


Tom Major (archer) October 2011