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November 02, 2010

An Ounce of Prevention: Your Equipment and Tournaments

Indoor archery season is the best! The indoor season is unique in that everyone from a beginner to a top world champion can shoot side by side with equal enjoyment.

Indoor tournaments are conducted at a short 18 meters (59 feet) distance.   Most archers, even the very young, are able reach 18 meters.  Most events require just three arrows to compete.  USA Archery age groups range from JOAD Bowman and Cub and up to Master 50+, 60+, 70+...  Bow types can include recurve, compound, barebow, and longbow.

Spectators, friends and family find indoors to be much more pleasant than the uncertain weather conditions of outdoor archery.  Mom and dad are much more apt to bring their children to an indoor range with walls surrounding the range for safety, air conditioning, seating and indoor plumbing.   In snowy areas, indoors is a great way to get away from the cold.  Lighted indoor shooting can take place after work and when homework is done.  A beginning JOAD or adult archer can quickly gain the skills to compete in their first indoor tournament.

Last month, we discussed getting ready for your first tournament. Part of feeling confident is having the knowledge that your equipment is properly tuned and ready to go.

Equipment and Being Prepared

Tournaments are, in large part, learning experiences.  Most veterans remark that they learn something at every tournament no matter how many they have been to.  Here are some tips that are "oldies but goodies" when it comes to preparing your equipment for target archery competition.

Bows and arrows require "tuning" to match the arrow stiffness with the bow poundage and the archer.  The end result of a well-tuned bow, arrows and archer is consistent, efficient arrow flight.  Tuning takes time and attention and usually is something that is taught from one person to another in a hands-on way.  Techniques vary, sometimes using computer programs and charts, and almost always involving some combination of weighing, experimenting, adjusting, testing, changing, cutting and tweaking until the archer is confident with the equipment set up.   Once equipment is tuned, it is important to properly care for the equipment so that it remains in good working order and "in tune."

Occasionally, equipment can break or otherwise fail, resulting in what is officially known as an "equipment failure." Time to fix equipment failures is allowed during indoor and outdoor tournaments (except during Olympic round or Round Robin match play).  Judges see many different types of equipment failures from their stations along the shooting line.  Here are some examples:

  • Finger tab ledge slips down, altering the aiming point drastically
  • The stabilizer falls off
  • Finger tab or release falls apart
  • The ILF (international limb fitting) screws and spring fly apart
  • The adjustment bolts on the riser limb pocket become loose
  • Sight-mounted clicker's rod falls out
  • The arrow rest or arrow wire slips out or falls off
  • Arrow nocks break, fletching comes off and points loosen
  • Compound bow scopes and apertures loosen and rotate
  • Sight bar scale pointer slips down
  • Sight block and sight bars fall off
  • Aperture dot breaks loose
  • Nocking point moves
  • Serving unravels
  • Strands of a string break
  • String peep sight fails to rotate into position or spring or elastic tube breaks
  • Shoelace bow sling breaks

 The lesson to be learned is to check before your tournament to make sure that things that should be tight are tight.  Well before the tourney, collect tools, as well as spares of extra parts, fletching, tips, screws, and other items, so that if the primary part fails or is lost, a replacement can be put into place quickly.   Great repair tools include wrenches, glue, nocking point pliers, masking tape and matches.  Most experienced archers have kits of parts that have failed them.  Have a look around to see what the experienced archers bring to a tourney, and don't be afraid to ask questions - remember that every tournament, regardless of the outcome, is a great opportunity to learn more and become a better archer!

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