Whether you are a seasoned archer or a complete beginner, it pays to know how to properly prepare for an archery tournament. With the right mindset and a little planning, you can feel fully prepared and ready to challenge the competition. Let’s go over the right tips and strategies you need to mentally and physically prepare for your next archery tournament. Doing so will help provide a successful and enjoyable experience!
Types of Archery Tournaments
The type of archery tournament that you compete in largely depends on the type of archery that you participate in. Some of the most common types include:
1. Field Archery Tournaments
Field archery tournaments are outdoor competitions that involve shooting at targets that are placed at various distances and angles on a course. These courses are usually positioned in outdoor environments and can include various types of terrain and obstacles to navigate. Field archery tournaments are held at local, regional, national, and even international levels. These competitors use recurve bows, compound bows, and longbow/traditional bows to shoot from different positions. Field archery tournaments are among the most plentiful and popular types of archery competitions and occur just about everywhere.
2. Indoor Archery Tournament
Indoor archery tournaments take place inside large buildings or other covered structures. These tournaments usually involve shooting at targets that are set at fixed distances. Like other types of tournaments, these can take place at local, regional, national, or international levels. Archers competing in indoor archery competitions will use compound bows, recurves, or longbows. This is a great way to test your skills and compete in a controlled, indoor environment. Indoor archery competitions are great for those who may want to shoot in a comfortable environment or at closer ranges. Tournaments outside such as field archery or 3D archery is open to the elements.
3. 3D Archery Tournament
3D archery tournaments differ from other types of tournaments in that they involve shooting at life-sized, three-dimensional animal targets. These targets are placed at various distances and angles on a course. These courses are typically set up in natural environments to simulate bowhunting situations, so wooded areas or parks are popular choices. An important aspect of these competitions is being able to estimate shooting distances. While most archery competitions have marked distances, many 3D tournaments do not. You will need to be able to estimate the distance of the target and aim accordingly, adding another element to the tournament.
3D archery tournaments can be held at many levels and can involve navigating a variety of different types of terrain and obstacles as you move through the course. 3D archery tournaments are very popular amongst bowhunters, as it closely replicates shooting situations you may encounter while hunting.
Know Your Archery Style
In addition to knowing what type of archery tournament you may want to compete in, you will also want to know your own personal archery style. For example, even if you know that you want to compete in field archery competitions, there will be different tournaments depending on your age, skill level, and the type of bow that you are using. Some tournaments may only be open for recurve bow or traditional shooters, while others will be exclusive to compound bow shooters. Knowing your personal style and the classifications that you belong to will help you better prepare for an upcoming tournament.
Know the Rules
After determining the tournament that you would like to compete in, the next step is to get familiar with all of the rules. Every competition will be a little different, so it’s important to do a little homework long before the tournament ever begins. Even competitions in the same type of archery can be different and have different rules. This is why it is critical to know the rules as best as possible, especially the small details that could get overlooked.
For example, know how many arrows you get per target or round. Become familiar with how to score points and how many targets or rounds you can expect to shoot. Learn of any special rules that may apply on or off of the competition field, such as not touching arrows when scores are being taken. By learning all of the rules beforehand, you will arrive much more confident and ready to compete.
Prepare for the Unexpected
One of the best ways to prepare for any event is to expect the unexpected. Equipment can break or become misplaced. While you never want this to happen, it can occur when you least expect it to. To prepare for this, bring back-up equipment and tools so that you can continue to compete to the best of your ability. You can also do things like arrive early to the tournament to ensure a smooth check-in and to give you time to double-check all of your equipment. It is always nice when things go smoothly, especially during a competition, but you cannot always rely on it. Instead, prepare for the unexpected by taking a few extra steps and bringing a few extra pieces of gear.
Prepare for the Elements
When competing in field archery or 3D archery tournaments, you will be shooting outside and in the elements. This can mean a wide range of environmental factors that you will have to face, so come prepared to tackle them. If you expect hot and sunny weather, bring along a hat, sunglasses, and some sunscreen. Bring along plenty of water to drink throughout the day and find shade whenever possible. Those that fail to take the heat seriously can be prone to heat stroke if precautions aren’t taken. So do your best to stay hydrated, shaded, and cool. If you need to, you can even pour water into your hat or bandana to keep your head and neck as cool as possible.
If cold weather or rain is in the forecast, don’t forget warmer clothes and some rain gear. It always pays to come prepared for the elements, even if you leave the necessary gear in your vehicle unless it is needed. It’s always a good idea to throw a few heating packs in your pockets as well to keep your hands nice and toasty. You can even bring portable hand warmers or heated clothing to stay as warm as possible during a competition. The cold can make your muscles stiff and negatively affect your shooting if you aren’t careful, so staying warm is essential.
From rain, wind, and snow to hot and humid days, there is always some gear that you can bring to ensure you are more comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the better you will be able to shoot. It’s also better to have the gear and not need it than to need it and not have it!
Practice with Practice
There is no better way to prepare for an archery tournament than to get out and practice. But instead of simply shooting your bow, practice the exact situations that you will be in while competing. Use the same distances and shooting situations to help build muscle memory and endurance for the shots you will be taking during a tournament. This will also help to build the physical and mental strength that you will need for competition. By replicating the shots that you will be taking during a tournament, you can be one step ahead of the competition which may not be practicing at the same level. You will have much more confidence when the time comes to make the shot again during a tournament.
Practice Under Pressure
Simply shooting your bow to practice is very different from shooting your bow during a tournament. The added pressure that comes while competing can play a huge role in your accuracy and performance. In order to deal with this added pressure, practice while under pressure. You can practice with others and even add in some competition to help prepare. This can help you develop the ability to shoot better under pressure and simulate what it will be like during the tournament.
Keep Your Cool
You can be an extremely skilled archer, but if you can’t learn to control your emotions then you may not do so well during a tournament. In addition to shooting well under pressure, you must also learn to keep your cool when other things happen as well. For example, don’t let one bad shot affect you and cause a negative mental state. On the flip side, don’t let a good performance go to your head either. Being confident is important, but don’t flaunt your scores over others or forget to show respect for other competitors. Above all else, stay focused and try not to let anything during the tournament affect you mentally. This will keep you performing to the best of your abilities.
Always Be Sure to Have Fun!
Last but certainly not least, the most important aspect of an archery competition is to have fun. After all, this is the reason that most of us practice archery in the first place. Having fun is important but can easily get overlooked during a heated tournament. Just remember to slow down and enjoy the process, regardless of how well you are doing in the competition. The more fun you have during a tournament, the more likely you are to continue competing and having even more fun!
Archery tournaments can be an exciting way to meet new people with the same love of archery and to test out your skills. By preparing properly for the tournament, you can arrive much more confident in your mental and physical skills. This will allow you to arrive with the right mindset and allow you to stay focused on the day of the competition. Whether you are competing in a field, indoor, or 3D archery tournament, by preparing beforehand you can ensure that you will have a much more successful and enjoyable archery tournament experience.