So... You're going to a tournament!
By Adam Miller
Yes, you enjoy archery more than anything and yes, you’ve trained hard. So it’s time to get out there and show your skills.
But how organised are you? Here’s a list of things that you need to get sorted, especially if you are new to this.
Tournament details and conditions
- Do you have the date, time and location of the shoot written in a diary?
- What are the distances being shot?
- What's the weather forecast? (Check a few days before the shoot)
- How long will it take to get there?
- How are you getting there?
These are the questions you should already have the answers for, if not, get them ready.
What else do you need to organise?
Do you have a checklist for the equipment you will need? If not it's worth making one: a simple list with check boxes you can tick will take all of the worry and stress out of competition preparation. This is worth having even for a normal day at the range, forgetting to take your arrows (as you were re-fletching them the night before) is something most people have experienced.
String & spare string: are they both shot-in? Do they need waxing? Check for fraying areas. Check the serving: does it need to be replaced? Are the nocking points still good to use or do they need to be replaced?
Pressure button: just check the button still goes in and out. When was the last time you cleaned it? Have you written down the settings (if yours has this feature).
Tab, spare tab: is the leather ok? Are there any tab parts that need replacing? Have you got a second tab that is ready to use?
Limbs: visually check for cracks and marks, especially near the limb tips.
Riser: just check that none of the adjustment screws are loose, then string it, make sure the brace height hasn’t changed.
Bracer: is it damaged in any way? Do you have a spare, just in case?
Finger/bow sling: just make sure it's still in good condition and make sure you have a spare set to the same length - so it's ready to use.
Clicker (if you use one): check its position, and make a note of it in case it does move.
Quiver: do you have all of the tools you might need ready and easily found? Are the most important ones in your quiver?
Always know what tool you need and where it can be found. Your quiver is the best place to keep it. Also, it's worth getting an accessory pouch: it's a great little pocket to keep your tab in, frees up valuable space in your quiver.
Arrows: are they all fletched? Do they all have numbers and your initials on them? What about the nocks, how old are they? Do any nocks need to be replaced, are they all orientated the same way? Do you have spares? Some archers like to fit a new set of nocks to their arrows before a major competition, then use the old ones for everyday shooting. That way you know they will be in the best condition.
Sight: make sure you have it in your bag, and that the pin isn’t bent (unless you shoot barebow, then ignore that). Do you have a list of your sight marks for all of the distances you will be shooting? (This applies to Barebow too….)
There are some other bits you will probably need: your stringer, brace height gauge, nocking material, extra fletches, nocks, pens, scorebook, allen keys, pliers, towel (I keep a small one attached to my quiver, but you might need one to dry yourself and your equipment), arrow puller (you can attach it to the quiver using a clip ). In-fact, most of these can be kept in your quiver if you have the space. And if you're old enough, also add a multi tool, pen knife, superglue, lighter. If you are a junior, make sure your coach/parent has them available.
Foot markers: all you need is some of the target face pins with the flat head. These are useful if you like to mark your foot position on the shooting line. Another thing they’re useful for is marking the feet of a tripod as at some competitions you might need to move your scope after you shoot.
Most people will have all of their archery equipment in one bag, so it's usually ready anyway. But what about the other things you might need? Do you have a bag with things like a first aid kit, or a raincoat in it ready to take to the range? A “Grab Bag'' is a great idea, a bag filled with all of the extra things you might need while you're at a tournament.
Well if you don’t have a “Grab Bag”, here’s a simple list of things that you might not even realise you could need with you:
Wet weather gear: Some people are happy to shoot in a hat, or a big rain coat, others don’t want to, so take a coat or even a poncho you can throw over yourself when walking to the target to collect arrows, even an umbrella is a good idea. What about water proof shoes, or even waterproof shoe covers? That way you can keep using the same shoes. AND, IF IT RAINS, REMEMBER TO DRY YOUR EQUIPMENT LATER!!!
Sunny days: Again a hat, always a good idea, and sun cream - you never know what the day will be like, you might be there for quite a long time.
Cold ays: Do you have blankets in your tent or a heated body warmer? What about hand warmers? Hot drinks? Be prepared in advance so you're able to cope with any weather.
Extra clothes: be prepared, if it's hot, cold or wet you might want to change what you are wearing. That can mean any piece of clothing, including shoes! As you know, the weather at the start of a shoot might not be the same by the end of it.
First aid: Get your own first aid kit, just in case. Yes, there is usually a team of first aiders at a competition, but especially now that we have social distancing to worry about, bring your own. It's another thing you won’t have to worry about later.
Medicine: Do you need special medicine? Are you allergic to anything? It could be a good idea to have Paracetamol, Ibuprofen or Aspirin with you. Or, if you feel a little ill, something to settle your stomach might be a good idea. While you're at it, grab some tissues, they're always useful. Keep it all in your first aid kit.
Lunch: The chances are you’ll be out most of the day, so get plenty of food and drink to keep you going, but the best advice is to have small portions and nibble throughout the day. The last thing you need is too much food during a break making you feel so full you can’t shoot anymore!
Tent: Not essential, but nice to have if you can get one. An umbrella might be an alternative.
Chair: Again, not essential, but nice to have one. If not, just a blanket will do: you can lay it on the ground to have a rest.
Scope / tripod / binoculars: These are not essential, but is a good idea if you’re shooting long distances.
Glasses: Sunglasses, reading glasses, everyday glasses. If you need one, have 2 with you, always have a spare.
Water: Yes this was covered in Lunch, but it's so important to stay hydrated, it's worth mentioning twice. Get an insulated flask, something that will keep the water cold for a long time.
Money: Always useful to have some change with you, not just to buy food/drinks but you might also be offered raffle tickets. Most UK clubs will arrange a raffle, firstly to help raise funds for the club, but secondly to help pass the time while everyone is waiting for the results at the end of the shoot.
Mobile Phone: Not just for making calls, but also for taking pictures. It's always good to have memories of the day, but make sure you ask permission at the shoot, there is usually a form to sign. It's also a good idea to take a picture of your completed score sheet for your own records, and some people like to use an app to score as they shoot.
Well I hope you find these little tips useful, is there anything else you would add to the list? Let us know.