This is an excerpt from Archery Fundamentals-2nd Edition by Teresa Johnson.
Attending a Competition
The number one rule about arriving at a competition is to arrive early so you don’t have to rush. Sign in with the tournament director, find out your lane assignment (where you will be shooting), and review any rules you might have questions about. This includes who to turn to if there is a scoring dispute (an event judge) and where to take your scores when you are finished shooting. At many tournaments, you have to have your equipment inspected by the event judge to ensure that it’s legal for that event. Check your name and division in the shooting roster so that you can be in position to shoot at the time indicated, and review your target assignment and shooting order (A, B, C, D). Take your time putting your bow together to be sure you’re doing it correctly. Say hi to your target mates, and then find a place to put your jacket and other gear. Once that’s done, and your equipment has been inspected, take a few minutes to stretch out and get your muscles warmed up. At your first event, pay attention so that you fully absorb what is going on around you. Once you have become experienced with tournaments, consider bringing music, a book, or some other item that will help you stay relaxed between ends.
As with any sport, informal etiquette is nearly as important as the formal event rules. Many events are run by volunteers who have devoted a considerable amount of time and effort to help participating archers have a good time. You may be asked to help move targets, help score, or perform any number of small tasks. Be prepared to help out as needed - it makes the event run more smoothly and helps you become part of the archery community more quickly. Another point of etiquette is to remain quiet while on the shooting line, and to be respectful of others’ personal and competitive space. You will have a lane designated to you - a set area in which to shoot. When in your lane, hold your bow upright as opposed to sideways, so that it isn’t in anyone else’s space, and be sure your body, bow, and scope are in your own lane. Also, if the archer next to you is at full draw and you finish first, it is considered polite to remain on the line until the archer is no longer at full draw.
A tournament may be the first time your performance is compared with that of other archers. Although it’s tempting to focus on this comparison, it’s vital that in your own mind you are competing only with yourself. At first, your only goal should be to gain experience and confidence. As you become a better archer, you may also set a score-based goal for the event, but you should never think about your score while you are competing, only after you’re done. Be polite and welcoming to your fellow competitors, and try never to compare your scores to theirs. Many events have a running scoreboard, or leader board, on display. Try not to focus on it; keep your mind on your technique and your mental game instead. Many other archers will be doing the same, so in general, scores and results are not a great topic of conversation at tournaments.
If you attend a tournament with your coach, odds are that the coach will not be able to speak to you during the actual shooting. You’ll be on your own for that. Coaches in large tournaments, however, are often seen behind the waiting line observing their archers. Following each scoring end, you might be permitted to speak with your coach if you walk to where he or she is. Keep in mind that the coach’s job during the tournament is to reinforce your mental game and your shot execution - it is not to change your style or your goals. Your coach is there to encourage and support you, while helping you to ask the best of yourself. Resist the temptation to ask what you are doing wrong, but instead focus on what you’re doing right, and repeat with your coach the same positive reinforcement routine that you used during practice.
Learn more about Archery Fundamentals, Second Edition.