Your First Archery Tournament – Stepping up to the line

Your First Archery Tournament – Stepping up to the line

Archery Tournament - Stepping up to the line

Archery tournaments are for everyone. There are many different levels to compete at and a many have special classes to ensure that you shoot with other archers with similar levels of equipment. The fear of the unknown prevents many archers from ever stepping up to the line– do not let FEAR prevent you from becoming all that you can be by stepping up to the line.

Every archery who’s shot a bow throughout the history of archery has questions. Tournaments will introduce you to new members of the archery community and new methods to improve your performance.

If you’re heading to a competition and feeling unsure if you should even be there, here’s a checklist to pull you through both emotionally and physically:

1. Stepping up to the line…I don’t want to embarrass my self!

There are few things you can actually do that most other archers haven’t already done.

  • Drop an arrow at the line? Leave it and grab another, we’ve all done that before.
  • My bow is sooo old. I shot a 2008 Hoyt Ultra Elite in 2016 for indoor league. I didn’t win, though I didn’t place last!!
  • Why doesn’t anyone else shoot the bow I have? I shot a 2015 Ross XD with bow hunter sights in a field tournament. I put the bottom of the bubble on my level to hit 70 yards and the farthest shot was 80 yards. I know adversity stinks, and sometimes the desire to participate and joy of being outdoors will be enough. I placed dead last in that tournament Kansas State Outdoor Championship, 26 points behind the next competitor, though I sure had fun!

The morale of the story, life is short. Get out there and have fun.. taking the first step on a long journey is hard. The rewards of a life long passion fulfilled are worth it.

2. Safety

There are two principles that archers should follow for safety while participating on the line. Always keep the arrow pointed down range. This means when you nock an arrow don’t point the tip sideways towards your fellow archers. Knowing that 2 whistles means approach the line and one is to shoot is nice. Don’t forget that 3 whistles means to stop and collect arrows when shooting on a line with other archers. Whistle commands seldom exist in 3D and Field archery so situational awareness and good communication with your fellow bale mates is essential. Also, follow the leader will, generally, keep you safe. What I mean…if you notice yourself taking off and while everyone is at the line, you may have started off too soon to collect your arrows or for the next target.

3. Know the Rules and Format

Not all shoots are the same. There are a variety of rules and formats as you sign up the format and rules should be clearly displayed. If not, ask questions. Most tournament directors are very forthcoming with information, believe it or not they want you to shoot and have fun. That way you will return and spend more time at their events. Here’s an example of a great online tournament ad, explaining rules and sign up:

4. Practice in the Clothes you Wear to the Tournament

In USA Archery tournaments, no camp rule will be in effect. Don’t get turned away because of inappropriate clothing. If in doubt call or email the tournament director ahead of time. Also, wear the jacket that you bring with you because there is rain in the forecast. Haven’t shot in that jacket ahead of time? Shame on you! The sleeve may need tie downs to stay out of the way of the string and you won’t know. Watch out for shoes too. Your mud boots may throw you off balance if you only shoot in tennis shoes.

5. Keep hydrated and hunger free!

Tournament directors are a finicky lot. Some will be overly concerned with archer health and others will place the archers needs in their own hands. There may be snacks at indoor and some outdoor tournaments, but don’t rely on someone else. Some of my worst headaches occurred while I went with out water for hours… I know better, but I still do this occasionally and wonder why my head hurts. Think healthy snacks like nuts & fruit that aren’t caffeinated or sugary for sustained energy throughout the tournament instead of quick fixes that are followed by crashes later in the day.

6. Location, Location, Location

Know where the tournament is and how long the trip is to get there. If you fly, drive, swim or bike to your tournament there’s always a chance to be late due to unforeseen circumstances. Take as much risk out of traveling as you feel comfortable with… I hate being late, as mind is always racing to find a quicker way to get to the event, instead of getting into the proper mode to shoot Xs!

7. Set a Goal

Goals are important motivators to increase your performance. Maybe your first goal is to keep all the arrows on the bale. Or maybe your goal is to check your feet/stance before each shot. Goals don’t have to be about winning, though they should be steps to improving your performance to the level your desire.

8. Stepping up to the line and Meet Your Bale Buddies

I’m amazed at fellow archers. When I participated in my first tournament I was paired with a pro who took the time to explain the rules, several approaches and strategic play. The will be patient with your newbie skills and gear. In fact many of my best tools and bows have came from new found friendships at tournaments

9. Have FUN!

Sports programs are what we make them. You probably began archery as calming factor in your life. Tournaments are a great place to begin!

Michael Reynolds

Mike is an avid Archer who shoots in tournaments and coaching Prairie Fire Archers.

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