So you’re heading to your first indoor archery tournament? Maybe you’re feeling a little intimidated. Maybe you’re feeling nervous. Maybe you’re feeling like you’re not ready.
Maybe you’re feeling all of these things and more.
Don’t worry. Everyone is anxious in some way the first time they step to the line alongside dozens of other archers to shoot for an official score.
But guess what? The archery community is one that welcomes new competitors to the game. It’s likely the people standing on either side of you will offer a tremendous amount of help and support.
But in the interest of helping you be as prepared as possible – both mentally and physically – we asked two experts to share some insights and advice about attending a first archery tournament. Whether you’re a young kid or an adult, take heed to their words.
Our experts are Heather Pfeil, program director and head coach at Lancaster Archery Academy, and Alex Wifler, 2015 Vegas Shoot champion, 2016 LAS Classic Men’s Open Pro champion and member of the USA Archery team.
In a Q & A format, we’re going to switch back and forth between the two.
LAS: What was the first indoor tournament you entered?
AW: My first tournament was The Presley Shoot, which became the Midwest Open in Bloomington Illinois, at the age of 12.
LAS: How did you get up the nerve to enter it?
AW: It was the excitement to enter the tournament and opportunity to see if I could compete in this new sport that I was embracing. I was more focused on having fun than being nervous. I knew that I was able to shoot and the experience of being there was not about being nervous. I was just going to try this and focus on having the experience.
LAS: Is there anything I can do to minimize anxiety?
HP: Pack your gear the night before, so you can take your time and make sure you have everything you need.
Arrive an hour early. This will leave you plenty of time to find out where you need to go to check in, where to store your bow, where your lane is and where you can practice. If you are rushing around at the last minute trying to figure all this out, your mind won’t be in the right place when it’s time to shoot.
The week before the tournament, practice with uncomfortable music on, and visualize that you are shooting with lots of people around. This will prepare you for being in an unfamiliar environment.
LAS: What, if anything, caught you off guard about that first tournament?
AW: Standing with all of the other archers and meeting the pros. I was not prepared for the number of people that also loved the sport of archery, and the pros were just normal people that also loved promoting their sport.
LAS: What are some things I need to know about the competition?
HP: Know if they have any special equipment rules, and make sure you’re following them. You are going to have to keep score, so know how they do it. Remember your archery etiquette – when to walk up to and off of the line; what to do with your bow in between ends; when to walk down to pull arrows; all of it. Consciously remind yourself what target you are shooting every time you go to the line, so you don’t shoot the wrong one.
LAS: What should my goal be?
HP: Something achievable, like have fun. Make it your goal to finish the competition, no matter what happens. Make a new friend. Don’t worry about your score or how you place. You want to come out of this tournament feeling good about yourself.
LAS: What advice would you give a new archer for dealing with nerves on the line?
AW: Breathe and focus on shot execution, not the score. Tell yourself over and over again that this is fun and that this is what you have trained to do. Enjoy the moment.