Going for gold: competition survival guide

portsmouth_targets

Those new to competitions may find them daunting so here is a (not-so) quick guide to finding, entering and enjoying your first of (hopefully) many competitions.

It might all seem too overwhelming at first but having completed one or two shoots, you will soon get used to the formats and procedures.

What are competitions?

Can I shoot competitions?

How to find a competition

How much does it cost?

How to enter

The Target List

When can I enter?

I’ve entered, but cannot make the shoot

Before the shoot: getting prepared

On the day

Additional Resources

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What are competitions?

Competitions (or tournaments) are shot both indoors and outdoors.

Archers of the same age group and bow type compete on score (and often scores are combined into club ‘teams’ if team prizes are available).

Prizes are typically limited to medals and/or trophies (some very elaborate) for the top archers but there is rarely any money to be won.

An archer’s individual scores can be put forward for classifications or club/county or national team selection.

For some, competitions are the only shoots that matter and every arrow is shot with the intent and focus honed by hours of deliberate practice. For others, events are a chance to get together for some friendly rivalry and a lot of fun.

They are organised by clubs (for members only, or ‘open’ shoots for anyone who qualifies), by counties (for members of all the county clubs and, if open, outside the county), regions (for members of all the county clubs, again sometimes open to those outside the region) and the national bodies (for all archers in the country).

It is important to note that almost all competitions are organised and run by volunteers who give their time and energy freely to ensure everyone has as good a time as possible.

Indoor competitions take place over the winter months when outdoor facilities are unavailable and/or weather is unreliable (eg Oct – March). The distance shot indoors is typically 20yd or 18m.

Outdoor competitions are usually shot in the summer months (eg Apr – Sept) and, unless the weather is dangerous (eg lightning and/or extremely strong winds are forecast), they go ahead come rain or shine.

Both indoor and outdoor competitions are conducted under Rules of Shooting (depending on the round being shot Archery GB rules or EFAA rules for example): a set of protocols to ensure safety and fairness. Some may be shot to World Archery rules which may differ slightly.

Indoor and outdoor shoots can be divided into further subcategories: Imperial or Metric rounds.

Imperial rounds are (usually) shot over distances measured in yards and are given historically traditional names such as ‘Portsmouth‘, or ‘Albion‘.

Metric rounds are those defined by World Archery and are shot over distances measured in metres. These are also the rounds shot on the World Cup circuits and at the Olympics, called ‘WA 18‘, ‘WA 70‘ or ‘WA 1440‘.

Both indoor and outdoor shoots can be classified as Record Status (‘RS’) or World Record Status (‘WRS’). This level of competition is, basically, more serious than the open competitions hosted by local clubs. They are typically regional or national in scope and are run to more restrictive procedures outlined by either Archery GB (RS) or World Archery (WRS).

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Can I shoot at a competition?

Archery competitions in the UK are open to anyone holding a current Archery GB membership card (or EFAA card for field shoots). You should be prepared to show the card on arrival at the competition and/or supply your Archery GB/EFAA membership number when entering.

As to whether you should enter a competition is determined by how confident you are to shoot at the maximum distance required and perhaps the status of the event.

For example, the adult WA1440 starts with 36 arrows at 90m, the ‘York’ Imperial round starts with 72 arrows at 100yd. Unless you are reasonably confident you can hit the target fairly consistently at the maximum distance for the round, you should work on your ability or choose a less challenging round.

Some of the outdoors rounds require up to 144 arrows to be shot (along with many more in unlimited practice, for example). If you have any doubts about your ability to shoot this volume of arrows, you may want to reconsider entering.

An outdoor shoot can take up to 8 hours (or more depending on circumstances), and although split up into many periods of rest followed by intense focus, the day can be extremely tiring.

Assuming you can shoot the volume of arrows and reach the maximum distance consistently, you might want to consider whether the event itself would be suitable.

Record Status (RS), or World Record Status (WRS) shoots are perhaps slightly more serious in nature. They differ from ‘regular’ open shoots because only scores shot at these events can qualify for national records (RS) or world records (WRS).

Some classifications (eg Master Bowman/Grand Master Bowmen or WA badges) can only be attained by shooting this status of event. As a result, archers tend to be more serious about these types of competitions.

When shooting Record Status events, particularly WA rounds, the rules are more restrictive: equipment must meet minimum standards, ends of arrows must be shot within certain time limits and drug testing is in force.

The really competitive archer will often plan their year around these shoots, travel long distances to reach them and incur considerable cost with each trip (hotels, entry etc). Places fill up quickly and long waiting lists build up as these shoots are important events in the archery calendar.

To the newer archer, RS or WRS shoots could be very stressful. In my experience the atmosphere is very different to the more casual local or regional shoot – archers attend for a specific purpose.

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Where to find a competition

Events take place – in the UK and beyond – on practically every weekend of the year. You can shoot all year round in almost every region of the country.

Many organisers plan their competitions months in advance and make entry details known as far ahead of time as possible.

A great place to find upcoming competitions (and considered the unofficial ‘Bible’ of listings) is the Brighton Bowmen UK Archery Tournament Calendar which shows practically every shoot available to archers for the entire year. Arranged by date, the list provides details of the location and round being shot, and links to the entry forms specific to that competition.

More locally, the Essex County Archery Association website maintains a list of the regional competitions available to all archers.

These two sources should provide excellent ‘coverage’ if you are looking to shoot a competition outside of the usual communications within the club.

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How much do competitions cost?

In 2019, shoots cost between £8.00 to £10.00 per session although some may be up to £15.00.

RS and (particularly) WRS shoots might be slightly more expensive per session due to the additional cost of registering the event with the governing bodies, hire of timing equipment, requirement for more judges etc.

Running a competition is very expensive for the host. Facility hire takes the lion’s share but there are other considerations too: target bosses and transport, target faces, flags and timing equipment, field marking and security – the list is endless.

Shoots rarely make much money for the organisers (who are all volunteers, along with the field party – those who help set up and break down the ‘field of play’). Any deficit over the cost of staging the event is invested back into the host club/organisation solely for the benefit of archers. As an example, a modest indoor one-day competition such as a ‘Portsmouth’ with 40 archers per session might make around £300-£400 profit for the hosting club – the cost of a single boss. As the size of shoot increases, so too does the expense of staging it.

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How do I enter a competition?

Once you find a competition you’d like to attend, there is usually an entry form to fill out.

This might be a physical form to print and post to the Tournament Organiser (‘TO’) along with a cheque, or an online version. Full instructions on how to enter will be provided on the form.

Whichever method, you will need to select one or more sessions (make a note of the start time, or ‘sighters’), provide your name, bow style (recurve, compound etc), whether you are Junior or Senior, your Archery GB/EFAA membership number and whichever session (or multiple sessions) you wish to shoot.

Some competitions allow you to email the TO with these details and pay via BACS (bank transfer) or PayPal.

Make a note of the TO’s contact details (particularly phone number if available): you may need to contact them on the day (eg if you are caught in traffic and will be delayed).

The TO usually confirms your entry via email (although sometimes you might hear nothing until the target list is distributed…)

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The Target List

The target list is the register of all archers entered into the shoot and shows their name, club, bow style and their target number and shooting detail. It is usually provided via email and/or on the host’s website some time prior to the day of the shoot.

Although TOs will endeavour to get the list out as soon as the shoot is full, it may not appear until the day before so check your email and/or the host’s website for information regularly.

The target list should not be considered definitive until the time the actual shooting starts. Given the complexity of requirements, the TO has the right to change archers and target allocations as needed right up to the point of shooting.

Once the list is distributed, you should ensure your name appears on it (the details are less important).

If your name does not appear on the target list, you should contact the TO. Sometimes you apply to enter a shoot that is already full and you are placed on a waiting list. Ideally, the TO should have acknowledged your entry with this information at the time of receipt but mistakes and oversights happen so be courteous and respectful of the situation. Again, the TO is a volunteer and is trying to please everyone.

If your name is on the target list but the details (bow type, age group etc) are wrong it’s not a big issue: just contact the TO and ask for a correction.

When you arrive at the competition, the target list may have changed so be prepared to accept new information as to your allocated target number and detail.

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When can I enter a competition?

Most shoots are limited by a closing date, so enter as early as possible – this is the only way to guarantee a place. Monitoring the lists of competitions is vital if you need to shoot specific rounds etc.

If you’re a little late to enter the event contact the TO to state your interest and ask if space is available, or to put your name on the waiting list if not.

Even on the day of the shoot itself, some archers do not show up so places become available at the last minute. If you’re desperate to shoot the competition and can make it to the venue for the start of the session, it might be worth turning up and asking the TO if anyone dropped out.

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I’ve entered but can’t make the shoot

Tell the TO as soon as possible. If you contact the TO before the closing date you might have your entry fee refunded (hosts are not obligated to do this, so be prepared to lose it).

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Before the competition

You’re on the target list: what now?

Mention to the coach or club members that you plan to shoot the competition - they will be happy to help in any way possible: you might need sightmarks, or a quick check on something. They will probably have been in the same situation, will understand and be ready to do what it takes to make you comfortable.

All the technical stuff needs to be addressed and sorted before the shoot: have confidence in your equipment and how to set it up. Competitions are not the place to start using unfamiliar or untested equipment. Ask your club mates/coach for help if anything is unclear.

For RS/WRS shoots, ensure your gear meets requirements - specifically: sight pins, bow poundage (compounds), arrows, tab or release aid should all be legal etc. The rules might be intimidating, but ask your coach and/or club mates to help with details if unsure.

Make sure you have the right clothing: do not wear any blue denim and/or camouflage. These are no-no’s and you can expect to be turned away without refund if you attend the shoot wearing either. Competition is the sporting face of archery, and anyone ‘looking in’ on a tournament should see a sport taking itself seriously.

If your club has a team shirt, get one and wear it with pride – you’re representing your club!

Invest in wet-weather gear (close-fitting cycling jackets are good), and shorts/skirts/skorts for summer, along with a bucket-style hat to keep off the sun in summer.

Make sure you have practiced shooting in your chosen clothing. This is particularly true of wet-weather gear for the outdoor season. It tends to be bulkier so could get in the way of the string for example.

If your sleeves/collar etc get in the way, consider using binder clips to temporarily tighten the loose bits. All the best archers use them

Practice shooting in glasses/sunglasses. If you shoot with glasses prepare for the inevitable ‘misting’ in rain etc. Practice shooting without them – you’d be surprised how well you can shoot when the target is just a blur.

Think about shelter when outdoors: it might be wise to invest in a good tent or similar, to provide vital protection from the elements. Be considerate of size: plan on occupying as small a footprint as possible on the tent line, no more than 8ft x 8ft. Ideally your shelter will allow standing room but options are limited. A firm favourite of archers was the Decathlon Base Seconds: a square-floor shelter with around 6ft of height, sadly now discontinued. Ask around to see what others are using.

Some clubs (like RTAC, inspired by our friends at CTRA) have a team shelter: a large awning for up to 10 people and their stuff which we bring along to league shoots etc.

At the very least, have waterproof clothing and an umbrella (which you can walk up and down to the targets with).

Decathlon 'Base Seconds' shelterDecathlon ‘Base Seconds’ shelter drying after a very wet weekend 

Practice the round you are shooting. Some rounds are multiple distance, use triple-spot faces or swap target faces or arrow counts at the shorter distances. Make sure you can make the distances and know what to expect of the format (eg sightmark updates at each distance change). Again, make use of your club mates’ experience.

If the shoot will be run as RS/WRS and is timed (eg WA rounds), make sure you understand the signals:

2  signals – approach the shooting line, ready to shoot

1 signal – start shooting

3 signals – stop shooting

Practice the timings for record status shoots: indoors you have 2 mins to shoot 3 arrows, outdoors you have 4 mins to shoot 6. This may seem like a lot of time but if your arrow comes off the rest, or you have a refusal, it doesn’t take much to get flustered and exceed the limit. If you cannot shoot to the time limit, arrows not shot will be scored as ‘misses’.

If the competition has a head-to-head component, practice shooting them with a club mate. This is a different kind of competition pressure and, as with everything, needs to be practiced so you know what to expect. Similarly, if a team head-to-head, the complication is increased: archers have to coordinate with each other to ensure they shoot within regulations, team order needs to be worked out and practiced, error-handling and penalties need to be accounted for. Again, the day of the competition is not the best time to work all of this out.

Make sure you know where to go: get SatNav details etc and plan your journey times. Have a look at the field on Google maps (satellite view) for an idea of orientation to the sun, wind etc.

Ensure you have your Archery GB/EFAA card up-to-date.

Ensure you have sufficient food and drink. An indoor session can take 3 hours, an outdoor shoot up to 8 hours. Always have good hydration (for focus and clarity), and nutrition (for stamina and power). The usual ‘slow energy’ advice applies: avoid caffeine and sugar where possible.

Make sure you have a box of tools and spares so you can resolve technical issues quickly. More information on this available here.

Don’t weigh yourself down with too much gear, particularly when shooting outdoor competitions. Too much stuff is painful to transport across fields, sometimes long distances. Try and limit yourself to shooting equipment, shelter and one or two bags. Think about getting a trolley to shift it all in one trip.

Think about having a ‘trial run’ or two with everything you’re thinking of taking, perhaps during a club practice session.

As with every big event: prepare ahead of time to minimise stress on the day. Make checklists and use them.

Archers scoring at an indoor shoot

 Archers scoring at an indoor competition

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On the day of the shoot

Relax. You have practiced and prepared. Everything is ready.

BUT….

Ensure you arrive at least 45 minutes (ideally 60mins) prior to the stated ‘sighters‘ or start time. No-one likes to rush and competition is stressful enough without being in control of your location. Early arrival gives you breathing room.

1. On arrival at the venue, register with the TO. He/she may ask for your Archery GB card/number and will confirm your target number and shooting detail (which may differ from that on the target list).

If you arrive late and haven’t informed the TO of your delay you may not be allowed to shoot (the TO may have given your place to someone else).

You may be allowed to shoot if scoring has not yet started, although you might miss out on sighters.

2. Find your target and a place to ‘settle’. If an indoor shoot, find a chair or if outdoors, a spot to pitch your shelter for the day. Do not spread yourself all over the place: be compact and disciplined – other archers will soon turn up and crowd your space.

3. Set up your bow carefully and check it as usual - its all about having confidence in your equipment. Ideally you will have checked your stuff thoroughly the night/day before the shoot so that any problems are corrected in good time.

Make sure your limbs are in the right position (its too easy to mix up top and bottom limbs), and that your string is on the right way up, for example.

Check the bracing height and tiller measurements with a gauge: bracing height can change depending on the number of twists in the string, and tiller may have gone out of balance if you’ve been adjusting the limb bolts.

Check your arrow-rest is in the correct place and the pressure button is on the correct setting. Check your centre-shot. Small errors here can cause all kinds of trouble which could be difficult to fix once shooting starts.

If you’re not sure what to check, ask your coach or club members. Make a checklist if necessary so you don’t forget that one crucial item. After a while, these checks will become part of the routine.

Check your sightmark is correct for the distance, then check it again. You will get one or two ends for practice but they should not be wasted by poor sightmarks. Ideally you will only need to make tiny adjustments once you start shooting.

Check your arrows too: make sure nocks aren’t damaged, vanes/feathers are solidly attached, points haven’t dropped out…

When you’ve done your own inspection, place your bow in the equipment area behind the shooting line.

Before you start shooting, give your bow a final quick once-over to make sure nothing has been knocked out of whack during the wait.

4. You might want to use a spotting scope if shooting outdoors: if you want it on the shooting line, place it as preferred according to your detail (eg, if ‘A’ you will be on the left of the target mark, on the right if ‘B’). Make sure the legs are as compact as possible so as not to encroach on the other detail’s space.

You may have to negotiate with your target mates who have their own scopes – four archers on one target could mean four scopes to be set up in a gap on the line of around 1.5m: clearly unworkable so expect to share your scope or someone else’s. Be prepared to shoot without a scope at all!

5. Once you are settled with your chair or shelter, relax as much as possible – chat to friends or introduce yourself to your target mates (or no-one if you’re not feeling social, its up to you)

Warm Up! Get your shooting muscles warm and flexible: hopefully you have a routine practiced (ask your coach for some exercises you can do if not). Don’t be self-conscious – you may have been static for a long while in the car etc and going straight into drawing your bow could cause muscle strain. If preferred you could find a quiet spot away from the field or hall to do this. Use a stretch band to get the shooting-specific muscles exercised.

6. Be alert for announcements:

‘Assembly’

This is the call for all archers to gather for information from the TO and judges about the facilities (eg toilets, emergency exits, refreshments etc) and the rules of shooting. They may demonstrate timing signals if RS/WRS shoots, and there may be adjustments to the standard procedures (eg number of arrows per end) so be sure you understand them. If at any point you are unclear, raise your hand and ask for clarification.

‘Equipment inspection’ (RS/WRS only)

Be prepared to grab your bow and arrows (along with tab or release aid) and join a queue for the judges to inspect and sign off your gear. You will not be qualified to shoot unless you pass this inspection (and this is indicated on the TOs list) so make sure you visit a judge, state your name and present your gear.

They will look at your bow and sight pin, tab/release aid and arrows and if within standards, tick your name. If not, they will tell you what is wrong and get you to change it for re-inspection.

If you are at an RS/WRS shoot and have not had your kit inspected, ask a judge. Better safe than sorry.

‘Sighters’ (practice arrows)

This indicates the beginning of shooting so be prepared, standing behind the waiting line with bow in hand and arrows in quiver (enough for the required end plus a spare or two) ready to shoot.

You will typically have at least one end of sighters (some rounds differ, for example WA rounds permit up to 45mins of ‘practice’, with no restriction on the number of arrows shot) and will shoot each according to your detail (eg ‘A’ shoots first, then ‘B’ for the first end, alternating for the second).

Sighters offer the chance to settle yourself down, run through your shot cycle and make adjustments to your sightmarks. The scores do not count.

It is also the ideal time to introduce yourself to the other archers on your target.

Shoot the allowed number of arrows (indoors this is usually 3, outdoors it will usually be 6 although RS/WRS World Archery rounds permit a timed period of sighters during which any number of arrows can be shot). If you’re not sure, ask a judge.

Make adjustments to your sight as required. Remember to ‘follow the arrows‘: if they are going high, move the sight up. If they are going low, move the sight down. If going right, move the sight to the right etc…Don’t be afraid to make bold changes to the sightmark if required – ideally you will only need tiny adjustments (and mostly to the vertical axis) to hit the center of the target but sometimes your arrows fall a long way out.

Is the wind stronger at the target line, or coming from a different angle? Is it blowing towards you or from behind? Headwinds tend to force the arrow down while tailwinds give the arrow a slight ‘boost’ in lift. Look at any flags, trees etc for clues as to what’s happening.

Rain too will influence your sightmark, literally pushing arrows down slightly during flight. It’s a good idea to practice in rain to find out how much.

Also, the angle of the field may cause differences between your usual sightmark and that on the day.

If your sightmark is way off don’t panic. First and foremost, check your sightmark again (it may be wrong, despite all the earlier checks). Was the last shot a good one? If not, shoot another arrow if possible. If it was a good shot, go through your checks again: make sure nothing is obviously wrong with the bow. Check your clothing to make sure nothing is obstructing the string.

In strong winds, you may have to ‘aim off‘ the center of, or even the entire, target. For example if your arrows are consistently impacting in the white on the righthand side of the target, try aiming in the white on the lefthand side – your arrows will likely be blown into the gold.

Some archers advocate adjusting sight windage to correct left and right impacts, especially if the differences are minor. Making large adjustments to windage can cause problems, however, particularly in inconsistent conditions and at distance changes. Some sights have very limited adjustment range for windage, so aiming off is often the best way to handle significant differences in left/right marks.

After shooting sighters, walk up to the target to check the impacts up close, but do not pull the arrows until everyone is happy to do so. They may still be searching for their arrows in the target so do not rush to extract them. It’s polite – and easy – to ask ‘ready to pull?’ after each end to make sure everyone on the target has seen their arrows and resulting groups.

Note that you may be instructed to mark the arrow impacts before pulling arrows, particularly at RS/WRS shoots. This is to help identify possible ‘bouncers’ – where an arrow hits the target but bounces out onto the ground.

There are a few ways to do this (see illustration below): a single, small line on one side of the arrow (2), a ‘v-shape’ (3) on two sides or a more acute ‘pointer arrow’

The problem when using a single line is shown in the circle marked ’1′. Two arrow impacts, one in the 9 ring and one in the 8 ring. The line could point to either, so a judge assessing one of these as a bouncer could pick the lower of the two scores.

If marking arrow impacts, all holes should be identified as the shoot progresses. Check the target face after all arrows have been removed too, and mark any unmarked holes. It could be your arrow that bounces out next.

Marking arrow impacts

 Arrow positions marked on the target face: single line (1, 2) or right-angles (3)

7. Shooting for score

After sighters, shooting for score will begin. Again, detail ‘A’ shoots first followed by ‘B’ and this alternates for each end until the distance is complete.

If you have any problems when shooting or scoring, call the judge. They are there to help and resolve problems. If you are on the line and shooting, step back off the line, raise your hand and catch the judges’ eye (do not call out for them). If you are at the targets, however, its fine to call the judge after raising your hand.

Get onto the line promptly when your spot is available, although if a neighbouring archer is at full draw, it is good form to wait until they have completed their shot before approaching the line.

Take care to stand over the shooting line correctly: each foot should be roughly equidistant across the line.

Do not impinge on your neighbouring archers space. Don’t swing your bow around.

If you drop an arrow while loading it on the bow, leave it on the floor unless easily accessible (within the safety line and without disturbing other archers). This is why you carry spare arrows. You can retrieve the dropped arrow when you leave the shooting line (or preferably after the end is complete).

If you have a problem (with equipment, clothing etc) on the shooting line, don’t panic! Step back off the line, try and resolve it yourself, or if it will take longer raise your hand to signal the judge who will come over to you for a chat and/or further instructions.

If you have a bouncer – your arrow hits the target face and bounces onto the floor, calmly raise your hand and call the judge to explain. They will tell you what will happen next.

Shoot only the permitted number of arrows. It is too easy to shoot less than you think, or more! If you shoot less than the regulation arrow count, you will incur misses for each arrow not shot. If you shoot more, the highest scores are deducted from your total for the excess arrows shot. For example, if you need to shoot 3 arrows but shoot 4, the highest scoring arrow will be deducted. If you shoot 5, the 2 highest scoring arrows will be deducted.

For this reason, some archers divide their arrows into the required count in their quiver: the required 3 (or 6) arrows in the first slot/tube for example, and any spare arrows in the back tube. By shooting only the arrows from the front tube, they know they have shot the required number.

Be respectful of other archers on the line: talking or making excessive movement is a distraction to those around you and won’t be appreciated.

Once you have shot your required arrow count, step back from the line promptly and return to the waiting line, unless a neighbouring archer is at full draw in which case it is again polite to wait until they complete their shot.

After each end, the signal to stop shooting will be given (by whistle or tone) and archers walk (not run) to the target to score.

8. Scoring

After the signal to stop shooting, walk to the target – making sure to avoid longbow archers’ markers and arrows that might have dropped short but stop around a metre behind the arrows. The space may be crowded with archers straining to see where their arrows landed (checking line cutters for example). You will be given time to check when you call out your scores so do not rush in.

Do not touch the arrows or target until scoring is finished. Doing so is bad form and may make you the subject of a warning.

When asked to call your scores, take the time for a good look. Be prepared to get in close to the arrows to visually check impact points.

Call out your scores in descending value (eg “9, 9, 8, 7, 7, 4″) by pointing – not touching – the arrow and stating the score clearly. The scorer should repeat the values but make sure they have noted scores correctly. Mistakes to the scoring boxes (not the totals) will need to be corrected and initialled only by the judge (who will ask you to re-call your arrows). Incorrect totals can be easily fixed later.

If you think your arrow is touching the line of a higher score (eg ‘line cutter‘) and you feel confident to claim it then call out the higher score. Your target mates might dispute the claim and argue for the lower score value – this is their right and is done with no malice or intent other than to assert fairness. If agreement is not reached, call the judge to assess the arrow value – their judgement is final.

If you have missed the target, call out the miss last when scoring (eg “9, 9, miss”). Let your target mates know where you think the arrow might have landed: you can begin searching for it with them when ready. If you can’t find it, you may be asked to shoot with a spare (another reason to carry more arrows than required) in order to keep the shoot running quickly. The lost arrow will be found during the next break.

Only pull arrows out of the target when everyone is happy the scores are recorded and there is space behind the arrows to do so safely. Place one hand against the target face to brace yourself, the other around the arrow (using an arrow puller). Pull gently, ensuring no-one is behind the arrow. If you cannot pull the arrow out (some bosses make this extremely difficult), move onto another arrow and come back to the tricky one, asking someone for an extra hand.

If an arrow is stuck in the target frame, it might be best to leave it to the owner to extract it as over-aggressive pulling can cause irreparable damage to the arrow. The field party may have tools to assist in this (eg an ‘ArrowJac’).

On the walk back from the target, inspect your arrows for damage, particularly the nocks. Fix the damage before the start of the next end so you’re ready to go again. Remember to partition your required arrows in your quiver again.

Make sure you take a drink and eat small amounts of food between ends. Sit down whenever possible to keep yourself rested. Don’t drink too much so as to require regular toilet breaks as ends may progress quickly and you might be pressed for time.

Don’t beat yourself up over poor performance. You are here to enjoy yourself and as disappointing as low scores might be you will not improve your shooting by allowing emotion to take over.

Check your bow for problems: it might have gotten out of adjustment without you realising and a simple fix will get you back on track.

Reset yourself with every arrow and shoot your practiced routine. Do not worry about score: think only of the movement required to shoot a good shot and the score will follow.

Your mood – good or bad – will rub off on those around you. Remaining positive while things appear to be falling apart is infinitely more welcome than bringing everybody down.

Do not give up! Unless you really can’t continue due to broken equipment or illness, it is preferable to stick it out and finish the shoot. Even if its the worst score you’ve shot, learn what you can from the experience. You will take pride in getting through it!

If you really need to stop (it happens), just tell your target mates that you intend to ‘retire‘ from the shoot – a simple explanation might be polite but don’t feel obliged to give more detail than you’re comfortable with. Inform a judge who will strike through your score sheet. Your name may still appear in the results sheet, perhaps with a ‘DNF’ (‘Did Not Finish’) indicated.

9. Distance changes

After the scoring is complete and if you have another distance to shoot, your primary concern is sightmarks. Nothing else matters until the new sightmark is registered on your sight.

Do not sit down, eat anything or talk to anyone until your sightmarks are ready for the next distance!

After you’ve eaten, chatted etc – check the sightmark again. Warm up again.

If you’re keeping your own score, you could take the opportunity to check it against the scoresheet: talk to the scorer if there is any discrepancy.

When the signal to resume shooting at the next distance is given, check your sightmarks yet again before going to the line.

There will be a time when you don’t do this and will regret it.

Shooting in bad weather can be really challenging: being wet and cold is not pleasant whatever your enthusiasm for the sport and common sense applies here. Stay as warm and dry as you can. Keep your equipment as dry as possible: tabs and release aids particularly should be kept out of the rain as much as possible. Shake off any water from your arrows before shooting them, even if its still raining: water adds weight and will affect their flight.

10. End of the shoot

Once you have called your last arrows, the scorer will need to calculate the final tally which requires mental arithmetic and thus some time. Do not crowd them but hang back and loiter. You could help the field party by removing target faces, perhaps.

Once the scorer has a final figure, confirm or negotiate as appropriate. If you’ve been keeping your own score, it may not match the total on the scoresheet, so work with the scorer to resolve the differences: go back through the distance totals first, then the end/dozen totals to find the differences.

Ensure you have the correct number of golds (and/or X’s when outdoors). The total is important to resolve tie-breakers.

Ensure the score (and any other details, eg golds count) you sign for is correct. Do not accept incorrect totals. If any dispute arises, call the judge over. No-one should mind if you pore over every detail – you have worked hard for every arrow and each has a value. The sum of your efforts should be reflected accurately on the scoresheet.

The most important things when scoring finishes are to check and sign your scoresheet. Without your signature the score is invalid! I like to wait with the target scorer until they have finished (eg I don’t immediately walk back and start putting my stuff away). This way I know I have signed for my score and won’t be disqualified.

If you haven’t been scoring your own personal scoresheet (eg via an app or your own score pad), consider taking a photo of the completed sheet for your records.

11. The wait for results

After the scoresheet has been sent to the TO, its time to clear up. The scores are being totalled and the final results compiled so expect a sizeable delay. Use this time to get everything packed up and into the car.

There may be announcements or a raffle so do not rush off unless you have to. There is a special atmosphere at the conclusion of the shoot – everyone is relaxed and relieved, discussing the action – certainly one of the joys of the sport.

12. Concluding the shoot

The results have been announced: good or bad, its time to leave.

The most important thing here is to thank the organiser(s).

The hosts have spent untold hours administering the entries and setting this event up and will be spending hours breaking it down and administering the results. They deserve thanks for giving their time and effort to ensure you have had a great experience – it only takes a few seconds so please search out the TO and/or field party to tell them how much you’ve enjoyed it. Put yourself in their shoes: this small gesture means a great deal and ensures there is motivation to run the event next time.

13. At home

Once you’ve recovered, its time to reflect, but not for too long. You probably know what needs improvement so think about the changes required to make it: write down what you need to do so you don’t forget. Not bigger picture stuff such as ‘add 20 points to Portsmouth score’ but the small things you know were wrong during the shoot like ‘ensure a consistent grip’, or ‘adjust nocking point down’. Make those changes as soon as possible, and continue working on the main issues as usual.

Consider keeping a log of your scores, along with dates, times and notes regarding location, weather, equipment, food etc. Reflecting back on these logs helps to prepare for the next competition.

The TO will normally send out the overall results sheet within a couple of weeks via email if provided, or you may have to find it on the host’s website. Its a good idea to keep copies of these for future reference.

Celebrate and consolidate your successes but don’t dwell on missed opportunity or poor performance. What’s done is done. The most important arrow is the next one – whether in competition or otherwise!

14. Submit your scores to the Records Officer. You can do this via the form here and/or email. This is a good way to keep track of your progress, as scores may count towards classification at the end of the season.

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Additional Resources

Archery GB website

Essex County Archery Association website

World Archery website