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From the eyes of a American and information from Korea

I know there has been a lot of exposure about the success of Korean archery in America. I just wanted to give everyone a small picture of Archery in Korea.

Generally only very very wealthy people can do archery in Korea, it is reserved for the elite. Most people in Korea do not just do archery for recreation, but to hopefully become an Olympic Medalist. Many of the most successful archers start in elementary school (3rd or 4th grade) and consider starting later to be a big disadvantage. You need to be chosen by this age to start your archery path.

Obviously most are doing recurve, are only recommended to buy the best equipment and do not suggest used equipment. They believe that a starting bow set up will cost about $3 to $4K. The minimum new set that is recommended is $2K and if you insists on used, the bottom of the barrel they recommend is about $800 used. Most Koreans involved in Archery will most likely walk into a store and only purchase top of the line equipment and often the most expensive regardless of tests and feedback. Most of the hardcore students can spend up to $30K a year in lessons. Remember the minimum wage in Korea is $5.00

Students that have reached high school and have talent will attend specific high schools with strong emphasis in archery. I am not for certain, but most high school archery students do not practice a couple of hours a day, they can practice up to 8 hours a day. Also this will continue onto high school and college until you get your medal in the Olympics.

I heard that those preparing for the Olympics can practice 8 hours a day, everyday. They are given a few days off a year, but not that many. I am sure they are not shooting 8 hours a day straight, but there is 8 hours of some form of Archery practice or training.

Yes I believe the weeding out process and training in Korea has allowed to have great success there. I also believe it has been at great costs to a bunch of youths including all forms or social sacrifice.I don't know how much of their success is attributed to talent vs straight out practice and determination. I think they will continue to have domination in this sport until other countries can start their Olympic archery programs in a similar manner. I think a bunch of Asian countries practice like this, I heard that China has a similar philosophy in training their athletes.

If American Olympic Archery athletes trained like this, would we have the same type of success?

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Genesis 21:20
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More. ;)
 

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Genesis 21:20
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Think U.S. Women's softball. Got jerked from the Olympics because they won every Oly. event.

Makes me wonder how much longer the Koreans can dominate before someone starts talking about jerking archery. But then, it's PC for another country to dominate besides the U.S., so...
 

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I'll be in Seoul with the UC Berkeley Archery Team for the next two weeks, for training and cultural exchange. We'll be staying at the Korea National Sport University. We make this trip every two years, and it is always a wonderful experience. Hopefully some of the students on the trip will blog about it on this forum.
 

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Desert Island Trading Co.
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every see what the US gymnastic or ice skaters do? they practice 8 hours a day for years, usually live at the training centers far from home, start when they are very very young and sacrifice most everything to reach the top level. The costs are enormous as well for coaching etc....

Skaters that get up at 4 am, skate for 4 hours, go to school, get out of school at 3pm and go back to the rink for another 5 hours or so training. Gymnastic is similar.

Korea has no lock on that type of training.


Chris
 

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Korean system is quite similar to the Chinese. The system picks a few techniques and choose the athletes that match them.

It is the system choose the person to produce good statistical results, but not a system to promot archery to everyone.
 

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Genesis 21:20
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It's going to be very interesting to see how many more young archers we have here in the U.S. who are willing to train many hours at an early age to compete with countries like Korea in archery. I think we will have more and more very dedicated young archers in the future. It is no longer a niche sport - it is becoming mainstream.

The big hurdle in the U.S. is not finding kids willing to train many hours a day at an early age, it's drawing them away from other sports. The social aspects of team sports are difficult for archery to compete with. In our club, we have some very promising young archers, but things like softball, baseball, basketball, soccer, football, and even 4-H and school plays and band are priorities for them above archery.

Ask a kid in the U.S. to forego the social rewards of playing a team sport with their friends and classmates to spend an equal amount of time shooting archery, usually by themselves, and its not very often they agree to do it. And even if they do, it's not usually for very long. That social aspect of team sports for pre-teens is a very, very strong draw.

So, in the U.S., at least for now, archery gets the loners, the "un-athletes" and the socially awkward kids who find a safe place in our sport. That's a good thing for those kids (I were one!) but not the most competitive athletic formula for producing world champion archers.

John
 

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Genesis 21:20
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But here's the flip-side to all this (and something many of us here benefit greatly from...)

Because we have such a shallow pool of world-class archers in the U.S. (maybe 5 in the recurve ranks and 10 in compound?) that means that all the rest of us get to "play".

Imagine the U.S. looking like Korea, where in order to even make the top 64 to get into the OR at Nationals, you need to break 1300.

That would immediately STOP the recreational archer in their tracks, and then only full-time archers would get to play...

Kinda like in Korea. ;)
 

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Genesis 21:20
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So I guess one of the questions we really need to ask ourselves is what is it that we want?

Do we want to sacrifice amateur participation in events like U.S. Nationals so we can once again be an archery powerhouse, or would we rather be what we are now, like Italy and other countries, where archery is a club sport from which a select few become elite world class athletes that represent us amateurs to the rest of the world?

I would hate to see us lose the amateur participation due to a large pool of full-time archers showing up at all our national events.

At some point, we really would need to consider seperate tracks for full time vs. amateur archers.

(i.e., let USArchery manage the full timers, and NFAA handle us amateurs)
 

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Korean system is quite similar to the Chinese. The system picks a few techniques and choose the athletes that match them.

It is the system choose the person to produce good statistical results, but not a system to promot archery to everyone.
As a Chinese, I agree that this type of system is not FUN at all for most people. Athletes are almost isolated from normal recreational players, they spend little time in real education, and many don't end up with a decent life. Meanwhile, those gold medals don't usually reflect the level of popularity of this sport in my country.
 

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I've heard similar about chinese divers, swimmers and gymnasts, as those are sports my family has always done. Wouldn't surprise me with archery.
I would never envy those divers and gymnasts even if they got the medals. And I would never send my kids to those sport schools. What a torture.
 

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Genesis 21:20
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Great points.

Everyone who is in love with the idea of their country medaling in their favorite sport really needs to ask themselves whether the juice is worth the squeeze. In my experience, it's usually the folks who aren't having to train every day - and particularly those with something to gain from their country, their athlete or their child medaling - that are the most vocal about it being a priority.

The movie "Cool Runnings" with John Candy is one of my favorites. There is a scene in there where John Candy tells the lead character "if you're not enough of a man without a medal, you'll never be enough of a man with it."

Some wise words to remember. It's the journey, the desire and the effort made to seek a level of excellence, that truly is it's own reward.

I'm not willing to stand by and watch young archers waste a precious period of their lives training for an Olympic medal when they should be getting an education or at the very least, learning a trade toward gainful employment that will serve them the rest of their lives. The years from 13 to 25 are critical to the future of a child. Those who over-invest in sports that have no safety net are very foolish IMO.

Young archers, and their parents, would be wise to consider just how long they will dedicate themselves to that end before they step away and get on with their lives. In this regard, gymnasts actually have somewhat of an advantage in that they simply CANNOT be competitive for more than one Olympic cycle. So they are forced to move on. Archery has the potential to produce much more disruption and regret by stringing along national-level athletes for decades.

And unfortunately, there are some in leadership positions in our sport that are all too happy to take advantage of that.
 

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Biggest difference between western and korean archers is that they don't take days/weeks/years off, they compete and train 100% until they retire. They also all study a degree in university while doing that, as they have programs which allow that.

It is not unlike in some other sports where even in the west people have realized that you have to do that to be at the absolute top. Or in other fields, like top musicians.
 

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I think there are a ton of sports that require hours and hours of training alone and/or with just a coach, etc. Perhaps ice skaters, swimmers and even track and field athletes have this same discussion on their forums, but I think some of those sports have had a higher profile than archery until very recently with archery becoming cool again. I come from being fairly competitive in tennis through high school and a little in college. Although there's always a hitting partner, it was hours and hours of training in the sweaty heat before and after school and on weekend with a coach and not much else. Tennis has some cache in the media as does ice skating and many other non-team sports so you see 8-year olds training all the time in those disciplines. I think if archery continues to gain popularity and perhaps even gain some real media attention on network channels and such then kids wanting to train will come naturally.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
No way am I endorsing or encouraing this kind of training, it was just a snapshot of their training methods in Korea. I believe that there are costs to their society and athletes. The great thing about archery in this country, is that there are so many doing it for the love of the sport and for recreation. A lot of their top athletes completely stop archery after their professional career is over. I spoke to some of their past national archers, when their professional career is over, they don't touch a bow again. I told them that I shoot just for enjoyment and he didn't understand. So unfortunately for many of them, not all, but this is a means to an end or a job/career. I really love the archery community in America and their passion for this sport and the people who have embraced this sport. I personally would give up some medals to have a happy and healthy community of people who love this sport.
 

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Don't Tread On Anyone
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MKArchery thank you for this information. We need threads like this every once in while to remind us that those of us who aren't involved in a East German style sport system are fortunate. Many countries have done this kind of training system for many years and the bottom line is that it sucks for the people.
 

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Any system sucks for a participant that would rather be doing something else (selling cars or insurance or being an air conditioning serviceman or a full time archer - if this guy likes being a car salesman then it doesn't suck; if he hates being a car salesman then it sucks, no matter if he's successful at it or not).

No different for the archers in Korea - out of 500 full time fast-track archers there, it will suck for some and be a wonderful experience for others (and not just wonderful for the ones that breakout and make Olympics and world teams, but also wonderful for the ones that love it. And 'it sucks' probably includes some of the ones that do make int'l teams - having the talent and success doesn't mean that it "can't suck" - 'not sucking' requires that one likes the endeavor.). Square holes suck for round pegs, and round holes suck for square pegs. But square holes are wonderful for square pegs, etc.

What really sucks is not having choices, or not being allowed to choose.
 

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i have also heard that there are no public archery ranges in Korea. You must shoot in the system to have a place to shoot. That would exclude a recreational archery hobby or pool.


Chris
 

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So, in the U.S., at least for now, archery gets the loners, the "un-athletes" and the socially awkward kids who find a safe place in our sport. That's a good thing for those kids (I were one!) but not the most competitive athletic formula for producing world champion archers.

John
I guess being socially awkward isn't such a bad thing after all. :)
 
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