Nick Kershaw, of Colwyn Bowmen, takes you through preparing for your first tournament and why every archer should give competitions a go.
As a coach, I encourage all my archers to attend at least one competition. I believe true and fair competition is the essence of all sport and an archery competition is an amazing experience.
Going to your first competition can be a daunting prospect when you haven’t attended one before. So how should you prepare yourself and your kit?
Poor Planning Prevents Proper Performance
First of all, you need to pick a competition that is as local as possible to your home club and choose a distance you are comfortable with. Then you need to practise how to fill in a score sheet for that round and familiarise yourself with the rules and timings of the competition - practise these with other archers and make use of your club coach.
If it’s indoor season, pick a Portsmouth round as these are the more popular indoor competitions. A UK Record Status round is fine but a non-record round may be better as these can be more relaxed and informal. Sometimes there might be judges there in training too! You will need at least four arrows: three to shoot and a spare one.
Summer means outdoors and this can be a good time to challenge yourself but the advice is still relevant: pick a distance you can reach. Imperial rounds like the Western and the Metric rounds have different distances for age groups so that everyone can compete on the same field.
You will need to shoot six arrows for almost all outdoor rounds, sometimes in two ends of three or one end of six arrows. You will need possibly three spare arrows to cover a lost arrow, a damaged arrow or both!
All rounds shot in the UK are listed in the Rules of Shooting and are on Archery GB’s website.
Always listen to the judge’s briefing at the beginning of the competition. There are important points on timing of ends, whistle commands, scoring, how to call a judge or what to do if you have an equipment failure.
What do you need to plan for?
Once you have entered the competition, check the venue location postcode. Google Earth or Maps is good for this.
At least a week before check your arrows and string, and make sure the nocks and fletchings don’t need replacing as it can take up to a week to order from a shop.
You'll need the target list so you know where you are going to be on the shooting line. You will also need your Archery GB membership card.
Besides my bow, I always take a bottle of water, a snack and possibly lunch. You need something light that your body can digest easily, as shooting while full of chips isn’t a great feeling.
And for parents of junior archers, you can help them by doing a bit of planning. Things to think about are fuelling your car the night before, checking for roadworks on the route, maybe booking a hotel and checking their archery kit is all in the bag! You’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen people forget their release aid/ tab or their quiver.
When working out the time to arrive, think about how long it could take to find the right entrance and assemble your bow. There might also be a wait at registration or a problem at the kit inspection so add a few spare minutes to your plan. Work backwards from kit inspection, then add time to assemble your bow, time to travel and have breakfast. A competition can add up to a great day out and you never know when you might be sharing the target with an Olympic archer!
Good luck and shoot strong!