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The deluge of emails for archery lessons in Toronto

Hey Toronto!

So here is what happens every year. Usually around the start of March, as the weather gets warmer, I start to get a deluge of emails from people asking for archery lessons.

This becomes a scheduling nightmare for me, as it is composed of two things:

#1. Returning students from last year who want to schedule more archery lessons. These are admittedly my priority, as returning students are awesome. I already know what their pros and cons are, and I know what we need to do chip away at their bad habits and turn them into even better archers.

Returning students also have their preferred time slots when it comes to scheduling, so I usually prefer to schedule them first so that they get the best time slots for their own schedules. This is why each year in February I contact them first so they get their time slots scheduled and I don't have to worry about scheduling conflicts when the deluge happens in March.

#2. New students are a blank slate. They don't know how the schedule works. They know so little about archery. They are so innocent and get archery jargon confused easily. They are like little puppies, so fresh and new to the world. Then you hand them a bow, some arrows and get them to shoot stuff using proper form, and within the first lesson a lot of their naivete is ripped away and their eyes are opened to the world of archery.

The problem with new students however is that they don't know how busy my schedule can be. They don't know for example that when they ask for a lesson on April XXth that I might be fully booked that day and simply not available to take on additional students.

Years ago during the height of the Hunger Games Archery Fad, I was practically turning students away. This was because I was fully booked 3 to 4 months in advance. People were contacting me in July for archery lessons and I would be saying things like "I am fully booked until the end of the year. Would you like to book for Spring or Summer for next year?"

Literally that. It was so bad I was copy/pasting my reply emails to people asking for lessons to let them all know I was fully booked. Every day. For months. Hundreds of people were told to wait until next year.

And for the prospective students this was a state of disbelief. They could not believe that I was fully booked until the end of the year.

Or alternatively, when I did have time slots available, they could not believe that I had no time slots available on a day they were personally available.

Meeting and Managing the Demand

So when I get these emails I check my schedule on my laptop for availability, and then I email the student back to recommend specific time slots that might fit the student's schedule.

Typically I will make a note in my schedule that I made the offer of those time slots to that specific student.

If however another student comes along, and they ask for those same time slots we now have a problem. Two people wanting private lessons for the same time slot, and I am still waiting to hear back from the first person - as they got the offer first.

This is why I schedule my returning students well in advance. Once they have their archery lessons scheduled I won't have this scheduling problem. Anyone asking for those time slots I can just tell them that the time slots they are hoping for are fully booked. Would you like a different time slot?

Sometimes a student might reschedule their lessons, but this is significantly more rare. But when it does I can go back to the other student and say that there is an opening.

Sometimes students want to talk to me over the phone, which is fine if they just want to ask a few questions. But if they want to schedule something, then they might be calling my phone while I am out and about and I don't have access to my schedule. So it when it comes to scheduling archery lessons, students really need to contact me via email.

Also if I am teaching an archery lesson I don't answer the phone unless it is from one of the following people:

  • My wife (which means it could be an emergency).
  • My babysitter (which means it could be an emergency).
  • My mother or sister (which means it could be an emergency).
  • An archery student who is scheduled the same day (possibly because they are running late or cannot make it, so the call should be brief).

And I maintain that principle of not answering the phone during archery lessons because I believe it interrupts the flow of the lesson. I don't want to gab on the phone with a prospective student who has 20 questions while I am supposed to be teaching. It ruins the experience for the student who is actually there.

Thus if someone wants to ask questions over the phone you cannot expect me to answer the phone unless it is the evening or one of my days off. If I am teaching a lesson, attending a funeral, in a movie theatre, sleeping, in the shower or any other activity where I am not available, your phone call will go unanswered.

So yes, email is your best option.




Teaching Methodology

I am, and remain, the most popular and successful (and most expensive) archery instructor in Toronto thanks to all the demand for archery lessons. I do not claim to be the best instructor, as there is a degree of personal style that comes with being a sports trainer. Some people prefer to have an trainer who is more like a drill sergeant, and that is not my style. I like to use stories, sayings and humour to help students remember things during the teaching process. I challenge students using tasks that get progressively harder as the student becomes increasingly better as an archer. My popularity is largely due to word of mouth because students learn so much and have an enjoyable time learning.

On the topic of instructive sayings...

Have you ever taken an oxy-acetylene welding class and heard the phrase "A before O or up you go?"

It was a saying I learned back in 1994 during welding class in high school. It stands for Oxygen before Acetylene, or else it will explode. Oxygen is explosive. You turn on the Acetylene first, to provide fuel and then you light it. Only after it is lit do you turn on the oxygen and adjust the flow of oxygen to get a good flame. If you were to turn on the Oxygen first, the space you are working in would fill with oxygen and when you do successful cause a spark, the oxygen in the area would explode.

Now that saying has always stayed stuck in my head. It rhymes. It is easy to remember.

I have a long list of archery sayings. So many I have been writing them down and plan to someday publish a book of them.

So here is one archery saying:

"Have some apple pie."

HSAP stands for:
  1. Hand
  2. Shoulder
  3. Anchor/Aim
  4. Power
And you can read my old post for more details about Have Some Apple Pie to fully understand why this is an useful archery saying when it comes to proper archery form.

HSAP is one of those archery tips I give out for free to anyone asking for an archery tip.

That one time someone asked for a discount...

Years ago someone in Toronto asked for a discount on archery lessons. I laugh now, because it is funny, but at the time the request was so ridiculous I didn't know what to say.

I was booked full at the time. To the end of the year. No time slots left available on any day. Everything was prebooked and people were booking for the following year.

So asking for archery lessons and wanting to get a discount was a pretty funny request, and remains such.

I have had people ask me for archery lessons and then they find out what my rates are and change their minds. So I get that not everyone can afford to get archery lessons from me.

But contacting me, asking for a discount, and then finding out that I am fully booked is so deeply ironic I cannot help but laugh at it.

Now I do provide some discounts.
  1. 10% Discount to Seniors over the age of 65.
  2. 10% Discount to Veterans, with proof of their military service.
  3. Discounted rates for signing up for 3, 5 or 10 lessons.
  4. Sales. Once in awhile I do have a sale price, usually because I am trying to fill unused time slots on specific days. eg. Thursdays.
But that is it. I am not giving out any extra discounts willy-nilly on random whims.

If people want to teach themselves, there are plenty of free archery tips on my website, plenty of free tips on YouTube, and plenty of archery books and even archery magazines you could read.

Examples:

"Precision Archery" is by far the best book I have come across.

"Archery Focus Magazine" is the best magazine in my opinion, as it deals solely with archery. Some of the bowhunting magazines tend to get rather off-topic with hunting stories, so I rarely read the hunting stories in those.

So there are plenty of options out there, including a page I wrote years ago in 2013 for "The Canadian Daily" which was titled "Archery Lessons in Toronto + Do-It-Yourself Approach". Sadly The Canadian Daily is no more, and thus I have moved that old article on to my own website.

So if you are looking for archery lessons in Toronto, absolutely, you should contact me. Do it now rather than waiting until later, as I can never guarantee to the people who procrastinate that they will get the time slots that best suit their schedule.

From my experience of talking to students, the biggest killer of archery aspirations is procrastination.


Happy Shooting!

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