Churn

Furface

Moderator
Supporter
....
I think the 11000 churn in membership might not be so serious as it seems.
Where I shoot, the new beginners are made welcome and given regular help. We still suffer from members not renewing after a year or so. I have always been interested in why this should be and from evidence at the club collected over the years, it falls into two groups; unavoidable and avoidable. Some archers find that their lifestyle changes and archery has to be dropped. Some find that once they have got used to their new toys, the novelty wears off and they find other things to do.
It is only very rarely that they leave because they had an issue that could have been avoided, if the club had acted differently.
If there are clubs around who actively or accidentally lose members through faults in their actions or lack of actions, then those clubs need help. I wonder how many people would be interested in finding out which clubs need that sort of help; and would be interested in offering it.
...
In another thread, Geoff offered this analysis of the 33% "churn" in membership endured by AGB each year. I realise that this has probably been covered before, but the fact that it is still going on despite the efforts such as "On Target" aimed at helping clubs grow makes me think it is worth considering again.
I have highlighted in the quote one section that does worry me. Essentially, does this not mean that the members are simply bored with archery? I do feel this is something of an indictment of our sport, the way it is carried on, and the overall organisation. Should we really be accepting this as inevitable, in the percentages that it is happening? It happens at Adel, and I have no idea why, to be honest. What I do know is that, in the years when the "churn" is greater than normal, we almost become financially unviable, so it is a real danger.
Your thoughts, please.
 

joetapley

New member
Looking through the other end of the 'scope what makes archery "of interest" is that it is personally challenging and competitively challenging. Either or both might appeal to any individual. Remove these elements and it becomes extremely boring. In order reduce churn clubs need to actively promote these two things. Clubs where archers just turn up, shoot a few purposeless arrows and then disappear off are destined for oblivion.

So a club needs:
a) a defined program of individual archer development (lots of various badge/class etc systems available to suit to provide goals/feedback)
b) a club internal and external competitive environment. Regular in club (handicap) competitions with (token) rewards for success. Promotion and facilitation of competitions with other nearby clubs and on up to regional national level.
 

geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Nice post, Furface.
To answer the question as well as I am able, I would say,"No, it isn't directly linked to archery being boring."
Archery is a strange beast, it can grab people by accident! They tried it on holiday and had to join a club; they thought it was something their whole family could do together; their work place organised a "have a go" and they were hooked. For some, like me, it was there as a child waiting to get out.
The beginners' course can be a time of great excitement; and should be in my opinion. The beginners are on a steep learning curve and that in itself can be a positive that brings them back each session.
After that, those who join are choosing equipment and spending money and learning some more..... all a bit like Christmas for kids.
I have lost count of the times I have heard others at the club saying that "so and so is a natural, and is going to be a force to be reckoned with, soon." In many cases the prediction did not come true. Some folks live on that excitement that only comes with the "new" situation they find themselves in. Their Christmas toys have served their purpose, now let's try something else.
Staying in archery is not the same as getting excited by the novelty and new gear. It isn't just about the way archery "happens" either.
Most of the archers I know from way back who are still shooting, are worse now than they were then.... they are 30+ years older for one thing! Why are they still shooting? Surely, the novelty has worn off! I believe it is something else that keeps them coming back for more.
It is, in my opinion, the pleasure they get from the archery that THEY do. Not all archers do the same archery even if they are on the same shooting line. Some are always trying to do better; some want a better score this time; some are trying out something new; some are trying a new part of their form; some are enjoying being in a pleasant place with pleasant people, and chatting afterwards as well as during.heehee For some it can be a release from loneliness or stress.
Archery is what it is! We might dress it up a little with serious comps or fun ones. We can change the distances and have 252 schemes. We can shoot at clouts or toy animals in woods, balloons or polo mints.
The best an archery club can do to keep the members it has( not those who will have to leave through no fault of theirs or the club's) is to make sure they don't drive anyone away.
I have heard a very small number of archers blame the club for their leaving. Most are a clash of personalities; some are about a lack of help. I think "lack of help" is something that could be put right. However, why was there a lack of help? Possibly there was no coach, or the coach wasn't there when they were.
Did I read correctly, a few years back? We want to see world level coaching in every club. ??
I don't see how that will ever happen. I would rather see club level coaching in every club, and to do that requires........... volunteers again! Volunteers who will have to pay to be called a coach.
Please, don't tell me that I should be thinking higher than club level and getting world level is the only way.
If clubs are losing members it is club level archers who are leaving.
 

KidCurry

Well-known member
To get anywhere in this thread it will be required to know where the churn is. Is it in new members of < 3 months, <1 year, experienced archers who drift away, older archers that stop for health reasons, young archers that find their interests changing? What is the churn in other sports, especially other sports that generally require a club membership? I suspect it is not a 'fault' within the sport, just something that happens to all sports. Although it is a very technical sport which I suspect puts people off as they try to develop.

I would rather see club level coaching in every club... .
Hi Geof
It may be a thread for another day but as I think you maybe suggesting it as part of a churn solution, what is 'club level coaching'? It's something I have thought about over the years.

Perhaps a mentoring approach for new archers would help. Not a qualified coach, but someone who has been there and can guide the student. It's used more and more in colleges and Uni's. It might help reduce the churn slightly.
 

Furface

Moderator
Supporter
To get anywhere in this thread it will be required to know where the churn is. Is it in new members of < 3 months, <1 year, experienced archers who drift away, older archers that stop for health reasons, young archers that find their interests changing? What is the churn in other sports, especially other sports that generally require a club membership? I suspect it is not a 'fault' within the sport, just something that happens to all sports. Although it is a very technical sport which I suspect puts people off as they try to develop.
.....
I don't think anyone knows - and that is itself a symptom. AGB is effectively losing a third of its membership each year but has never properly asked the question why! Instead we have anecdotal evidence from members and their club experiences.
At Adel, we always expect to lose between a quarter and a half of each year's intake at the first renewal. Many of those have not been seen since they signed up, and they do not really worry me. At the other end, we generally lose a couple of members who have been with us a few years - usually for health or work reasons, and they will tell us why. But there is also a significant block of archers who have shot fairly regularly for between six months and two years who just vanish. No replies to letters or emails, so no answer as to why. Sure there will be some who have been positively attracted by other activities, but others who we have positively lost.
 

geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
It might be easier to find out what keeps archers coming back. That way, clubs can do something to help ensure those aspects are happening at the club.
Those who leave, tend to disappear so it is very difficult to find out why.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
The story of my personal churn.
The guy who owns the land of the field club where I shoot decided to become an AGB club as well as NFAS (I believe in an attempt to secure various bits of funding).
He decreed that we could no longer clout shoot on the adjacent field (which we are allowed to use by the farmer) unless we became members of AGB. He set up targets and 10, 20, 30 yd etc lines at the other end of the field for AGB members.
Well I coughed up and got a membership card and a magazine, shot the odd clout and tested my bows for distance on the field (which was my main reason for using that facility).
One day, walking back from the clout, the guy was there with someone on one of the targets and a few other people watching. They were interested in my latest bow, so I showed it to them. While it was strung I though I'd shoot an end at one of the targets to demonstrate it.
I was told I couldn't shoot because the guy was giving a private lesson!
(I should have said tough and shot anyway, but when he owns the land on which we shoot it's difficult. Also safety considerations prevailed as the shooting line is no place for arguments of that sort)
You can doubtless see from this that AGB membership was doing nothing for me except making me pay for a facility that I previously had anyway!
Whilst I was a member I investigated various activities like flight shooting, to find them beset with daft rules and not representing primitive all wood bows which is my main interest.
Obviously I haven't renewed my membership.

Of course this is more about the guy running the club than AGB, but I thought it was worth actually illustrating my experience.

Now if I want to test my bows, I shoot through a chrono, or find a quiet secluded suitable field, shoot 3 arrows and pack up quick (you ain't seen me, roight?)
Del
 

GoneBad

Member
So a club needs:
a) a defined program of individual archer development (lots of various badge/class etc systems available to suit to provide goals/feedback)
b) a club internal and external competitive environment. Regular in club (handicap) competitions with (token) rewards for success. Promotion and facilitation of competitions with other nearby clubs and on up to regional national level.

My club has all of this.
a) we have a Skills Development Group. Weekly sessions to provide coaching in specific areas. available to all members but aimed mostly a newbies. We are soon to fit out our purpose built training facility.
Our 252 scheme is very popular and definitely motivates novices.
There is a very active juniors group well attended every weekend even in this weather.
b) We have a 'House Shoot'. each new member is put into a house and we have an inter-house handicap shoot every month.
We take part in the 'Flag shoot', an inter club competition between 4 local clubs that is shot twice a year. Everyone is encouraged to attend this friendly relaxed shoot.
We have block booked about half the spaces at the Surrey champs this year.
We run 2 popular WRS shoots every year and a specific tournament for juniors.

4 of our newer archers are currently doing their Level 1 coaches courses, and yet we still get churn.

I think in a lot of cases, beginners don't leave, they just stop coming.
The family joins and shoots for 6 months then one of the kids gets bored and they all stop coming.
It rains for 3 Sundays in a row or during the Christmas break and they get out of the habit of shooting.
The move to indoors seems to put a lot off. They view the move to a different building/environment with trepidation and never turn up to shoot indoors despite friendly phone calls and emails.
Maybe their reasons for taking up archery in the first place or how hard the bug bites them has an effect on how long they stay.

I think the same applies for every organisation. How much churn is there at your local golf club or rambler's association?

As the old saying goes "There's nowt as queer as folk"
 

KidCurry

Well-known member
It might be easier to find out what keeps archers coming back. That way, clubs can do something to help ensure those aspects are happening at the club.
Those who leave, tend to disappear so it is very difficult to find out why.
I've been shooting for nearly 30 years. Archery has outlasted both squash and badminton but I don't think I could really tie it down and say why.
 

joetapley

New member
As already mentioned there are many reasons that people leave archery clubs. For a (presumed) high percentage of leavers the sport and the club itself are irrelevant (work,family, young archers growing up and ultimately the grim reaper). How clubs operate will affect a percentage of churn, that which relates to "development". That percentage is of course unknown.

You might get some idea from a survey looking at historic turnover data for clubs and trying to correlate that with the internal and external archer development available in the club. Coaching is just one element relating to archer development (just as well as with many clubs the available coaching is zero).
 

geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Heehee, Hi KidCurry, I was just about to post about archers who regularly shoot without fully knowing why.
It seems to me that the churn is so universal that it is just in the nature of people rather than a flaw/ weakness in a club or its systems.
I do believe that archers who are well attended to on a beginners' course, will feel miffed if they find, after joining the club, that the help dries up. There have been a few instances of that reported on other threads over the years.
I also believe that having some form of coaching available to beginners after their course, is worth the effort, and could help to keep some who might otherwise drop out. I say "might" because some archers want to do their own learning and to do things their own way.

Another aspect of this that I forgot to mention is the club's access to their shooting venue.
If access is 7days a week, there can be situations where only a few turn up at any one time. That can leave the newer archers and not so new, feeling that there isn't much happening. They might, for example, turn up to find they are the only one there. That is very different from turning up in poor weather to find a large group who are willing to share in the "hardship".
Sometimes, less access means better attendance figures, on those few occasions and that always seems busier.
 

Raven's_Eye

Active member
Ironman
I think one of the reasons those that stay compared to other sports is because it's not physically demanding as other sports.

Think about it, you come home from work have some food and you go "Hmm I could throw down a few arrows". Whilst with other sports it, go to venue, get changed do sport, shower, drive back.
 

geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Raven's_Eye I think that is a valid reason.
I guess that happens quite a lot, too. I am thinking of the posts on here sometimes that tell us about archers who just turn up and shoot and go home. Those posts usually complain about not helping with putting out and putting away the bosses. I am not moaning about that, I think that sort of situation can annoy some, but it does allow others to take part for a short time in any session and keep on rejoining each year.
 

Munsterman

New member
I think one of the reasons those that stay compared to other sports is because it's not physically demanding as other sports.

Think about it, you come home from work have some food and you go "Hmm I could throw down a few arrows". Whilst with other sports it, go to venue, get changed do sport, shower, drive back.
No doubt very valid but it reminds me of those who go longbow because they cannot be bothered with setting up a recurve or compound.

I suspect that the devil is in the detail. My own club has less than 10% churn but the reasons given are an over simplification in my opinion. We have ample coaches and coaching, regular competitions and a regular pipeline of newbies but I feel that it comes down to 24/7 shooting. As stated earlier, it may do nothing for the club atmosphere but it does help retain members.
 

Yew Selfbow

Active member
Very very interesting thread .... Ask yourself this question, what do new archers actually do at your club?.
I'll hazard a guess ... They turn up, usually on the same night or day of the week and shoot at the same targets, at the same distance, with the same people they shot with last week and will shoot with next week. If they're lucky, someone might allow them to shoot at a balloon pinned to a target for added excitement in between ad hoc instruction from the club coach. Fair enough, you may think, but, what happens when new archers want to explore other types of archery with different styles of bows? What happens if they want to seriously shoot field, What happens if they want to seriously shoot clout or roving marks or poinjays.. where do they go then... they leave. Remember, not all archers want to shoot Olympic disciplines but most clubs default to Olympic recurve.
 

chuffalump

Well-known member
Cost - some people, especially juniors, realize that getting kit of their own isn't realistic. We have five members who don't have their own bow yet (various reasons).

Other hobbies - a certain percentage of beginners are the sort of people who try all sorts of activities. They try archery for a bit and then move on.

Improvement - not fast enough, not enough advice, help, they realise that some of it is more complex than a couple of sticks and a string etc etc.

Social - a bunch of silent arrow slinging machines ignoring you while they perforate the gold isn't exactly conducive to beginner enjoyment.

Work - at least two of our people either work away now or moved away due to work.

I think plenty of help, interaction and friendly competition are the best way to keep churn to a minimum. A few social events, no privileged cliques, some structure to the year with regular internal comps with mini-prizes as well as impromptu games. Other types of archery where practical. Plenty of notification of local area comps too. Encourage beginners to enter, maybe even team up. If that doesn't keep 'em then archery probably wasn't for them in the first place.

Pretty much what others have already said. :D
 

geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Yew Selfbow, I think the different disciplines can be part of the churn. I know that where I shoot, it used to be virtually all Olympic recurve. With some input from a longbow archer, there has been an uptake of longbow and some over spill into barebow recurve. That, along with some new compounders, seems to have made a lot of difference to our attendance figures.
There has been interest in clout and field, as a spin off, though that means shooting on other clubs' grounds.( not a bad thing)
 

nik1203

New member
We've got regular brainstorming sessions to allow the newer members to tell us in the committee what they want, coaching, competition, socials, or just to be left alone! We've also just run a Boost course, which seems, for now at least to have given this years novices and extension to the Beginners magic as above.
We seem, however, to have lost the same block of members as Adel, those who have been shooting 2-5 years, especially recurve archers. We've tried surveys of non returning members, but never really got any reply. There does seem to be some level of "performance envy" that creeps in though, novices join, and overtake the "established archers" pbs, and off they go. In most sports, this is healthy competition, it seems in archery though it seems to push people out.

I would like to see something for adult archers to aim for ( no pun intended), all the progress awards that I can find are aimed at juniors. I'm just starting to try to establish something internally to push people on, but I can't imagine I'm the first one to do it.
 

KidCurry

Well-known member
...I would like to see something for adult archers to aim for ( no pun intended), all the progress awards that I can find are aimed at juniors. I'm just starting to try to establish something internally to push people on, but I can't imagine I'm the first one to do it.
There is the (GNAS) classification badges that you can progress through from 3rd class to Bowman. I think this works well for beginners but it is possible that some clubs do not know it exists. Plus all the FITA and York grades for comps and MB and GMB. If 2yr-5yr archers are dropping out I would guess it probably mainly due to reaching a plateau and not having any resources available, outside books, to get them over it. Even more demoralizing is progressing quickly without understanding why. The subsequent drop in form often puts people off the sport. I guess there are many more reasons.
I have been at my club since 1985. It has gone from nothing up to National champions and back to mediocrity. It's membership has always been between 30-45 but I am the only archer from 1985 still shooting.
I suspect churn in other sports is probably very similar. I don't think it is threatening the sport. Indeed, a health churn is the only way of getting new talented archers into the sport. What we do with them once they are here is probably the key subject in this thread.
 
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