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April 14, 2011

Hosting a Tournament: Getting Started

Tournaments are an opportunity for archers to meet and share in competition fun.  Archers test their skills against their own personal best and other competitors.  Conducting a quality event lends importance to what the archers do.

Hosting a tournament is similar to running a club or a program, in that there are three primary ingredients:

  • Location
  • Equipment
  • People

The key is "experience" and a desire to help the archer enjoy an effective, efficient and fun event.  It is helpful to identify the purpose of the tournament.  A club shoot has a different purpose than the Olympic Trials.  Having a tournament goal is key to making the right decisions.  

Experience:   The best way to learn what it takes to host a tournament is to become a tournament judge.  After a year of USAA membership and hopefully taking in a few tournaments, an applicant need only take a short open book test and pay a modest fee to become a judge. Click here to learn more.

The next step is to work as a tournament judge under the supervision of a veteran judge.  As a judge you will see what is prepared to execute a tournament, each tournament day from start to finish, and be able to see what happens after the tourney.

Judges are welcome to ask questions of the tournament directors as tournament directors are eager to share.  (Tip:  Avoid the temptation to tell the tournament director how things should be done or how you would do it, unless asked.  Instead, watch, listen and learn and then host a tourney the way you see fit). The ideal scenario is to serve as an assistant to an experienced tournament director.

Start small:  Ask the club if you can take a session and conduct a mock tourney.  Host a club tournament.  Host a competition for the local archers.   Each experience will make you a more confident host.  As time goes on, be on the lookout for tournaments that need replacement leadership.  Most tournament directors tend to host an event for a few years before turning it over to the next generation of directors.

Location and equipment:  There are indoor and outdoor ranges.  In keeping with the goal of starting small, seek out existing ranges using existing equipment.

Volunteers:  Be on the lookout for people that may be willing to help.  Note that club leaders, coaches and judge are natural sources but they usually have other duties vying for their attention.  Parents and family and friends of archers are also good sources for tourney staff as they are likely to be at the tournament anyway. 

Guides:  USA Archery is in the process of refining a National Event Handbook.  Another source of information is guides written by experienced tournament directors that include resources such as score cards and general advice.

Finally:  Archers spend countless hours preparing and training for competition.   It is best for a tournament host to take the time to conduct an event worthy of the archer's participation. Above all else: keep smiling!

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