Most archery clubs organise tournaments that are open to any Archery GB members. New archers are often reluctant to go to tournaments as they feel they are not good enough, might feel out of place or whatever. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tournaments are a little more formal than normal club shooting, but they are always friendly events where new archers are made very welcome regardless of how good you are. Having said that, you do need to keep to a distance you are comfortable with – just keep it realistic and nobody will mind if you miss a few. Most archers regard the tournaments as social events rather than competitive ones, so give it a go and treat it as a bit of fun.
You will generally need to fill out an entry form and send it to the club’s tournament organiser. You will be asked who you are, for your Archery GB membership number, what kind of bow you shoot and your arrow colours. The latter is so that organisers can try to avoid having people with the same fletching colours on the same target. If you are new enough that your ArcheryGB card hasn’t arrived yet, make sure you have a copy of a receipt from a club official. Tell the organiser you are a beginner, then they will make an effort to put you on a target with experienced archers who will help you out. When you arrive, someone will ask to see your membership card or receipt to prove that you are a member, just to be sure you are covered by the insurance.
Food and drink is sometimes provided on site, sometimes not. It is a good idea to bring your own anyway. Depending how long the shoot is, there will be at least one break part way through. Good things to bring: water, diluted fruit juice, tea, bananas, cereal bars. Bad things to bring: sugary fizzy drinks, chocolate bars, alcohol, anything stodgy. The idea is to keep nibbling at things with complex carbohydrates to keep your energy up. Despite what some people think, carbs are not bad for you if you are burning the energy off! Sugar is no good as it gives you a short boost but then leaves you more drained afterwards.
Try to arrive with plenty of time to spare before the start – at least 30 minutes. That will give you time to find the place, get set up and get used to the surroundings. DO WARM UP properly before you start, even if nobody else is doing it!
Tournaments start with an assembly, where the organiser and the judge will say a few words about how the shoot is being run. The role of a judge is to make sure everyone follows the rules, but they are there to help archers, not to shout at you. That’s unless you try to cheat or do something dangerous, but you are not going to do that, are you? 🙂
Somebody will tell you your place on the target when you arrive, normally a number from 1 to 4. This just means there are up to four people shooting at one target, although only two shoot at a time. Numbers 1 and 3 shoot together and 2 and 4 shoot together. You shoot in details, meaning that the pairs alternate as to who shoots first. Shoot the round, but don’t worry too much about what your score is. It is perfectly normal that you don’t shoot quite as well as you normally do at your club. It will soon pick up as you go to more shoots and get used to them.
At the end you hand your scores in, making sure you sign for your score. Some people are tempted to leave at this point, but it is good manners to stay and see the awards being handed out. All shoots have raffles alongside as well, so you never know, you might even win something after all!