Originally Posted by skires
In most sports newbies get to develop by competing against people of their own level ( in FT / HFT you are really competing against the course ... the course is your opposition ... not other people ). In other sports, as they progress the competition gets harder. You don't have under 13's juniors in cricket facing a 1st XI 25 year old 85mph fast bowler in their first game. I'd imagine in showjumping you don't have young girls on ponies taking on an Olympic standard course in their first year.
FT/HFT are not quite the same thing as a sport where you compete/conflict directly against opposition. In a counter example you don't get newbies entering their local 10K run expecting to put in times anywhere near the elite runners. Why should anyone be put off by not putting in FT/HFT scores near the top boys (and girls given thread title!)
What both sports need to do is encourage/reward progress to keep the interest of newbies. Grades or leagues can help here but need a lot of administration and (in the case of FT grading) causes endless wrangling.
But rankings/badges/awards and the like could be a great incentive. The badge scheme from the NEFTA Hunter series was a great idea, but could be extended. At the NEFTA Classic, few people are in with a chance of placing in the silhouette comp, but the chance of clearing a bank of chickens etc to qualify for a badge gives you something to do your best for. Or if you can't manage that you could get a "duck" badge for missing a whole bank.
A year ago I took up archery and I did a couple of clout tournaments late last year. Clout is a discipline where you shoot at long range (180 yards) at a flag, in order to get arrows as close as possible to the flag. GNAS run a "tassel" award scheme where you qualify for badges when you achieve certain scores - very similar to the NEFTA and similar badge schemes. There are white, black, blue, red and gold (for the rings on an archery target) plus an extra special purple tassel.
I was made up to qualify for the white tassel (the lowest rank award) in the first tournament and even more so to get a black in the next one, which happened to be the national champs. My scores were nowhere in the rankings (especially the nationals) but I'm now really motivated to get the higher awards.
There could be a badge simply for completing your first course, one for improving 10% on last year. You could have special achievements, like getting 50%/75%/100% of your positionals across a season, or even shooting every course in a series. The only limit here is imagination and a small cost if using physical badges.
The badges don't even have to be administered at the shoots if time or workload is an issue. In the archery tassel example, you have to fill in your details to claim a badge if you have qualified, which comes in the post.