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Five Tips for Winning an Archery Competition

Yesterday (Saturday, June 25th) I took part in an archery competition. The events in question included three categories of archery: Olympic, Compound and Barebow. Unfortunately they were short on competitors for the Compound and Olympic categories, and while I don't normally compete in such things, I agreed to take part so that they would have more competitors.

Drawing upon the experience, I have constructed a list of five tips for people looking to take part in archery competitions.

Tip #1. Understand the system being used for the particular competition you are in.

For example, the competition yesterday involved 3 ranking rounds, 3 shots per round. The results from those 9 shots (3 rounds x 3 shots per round) then determined your rank for the duels.

The rankings then determined the order of the duels, the highest ranking people facing off initially against the lowest ranking people. The winners of those duels progress to the next level, the losers duel it out to stay in the competition, if they lose round two then they are eliminated. As the duels continue, they eventually reach 4 semi-finalists, who are narrowed down to two people - the finalists.

Understanding how the competition system works will give you a better idea of how you are expected to win the competition. A dueling system like above could knock people out of the competition just by having 1 or 2 bad rounds.

In my case, there was only 3 people competing in the compound competition. So I was ranked against Randy, and then after I won that duel I faced Luis. Below are the scores during the rounds:

Charles Vs Randy

Round 1
Charles 10x 9 8 = 27 with one bullseye
Randy 5 3 3 = 11


Round 2
Charles 7 7 1 = 15
Randy 9 8 4 = 21


Round 3
8 6 5 = 19
7 6 5 = 18


Total Charles 61 vs Randy 50

Charles Vs Luis

Round 1
8 7 5 = 20
8 8 8 = 24

Round 2
4 3 2 = 9
10 9 8 = 27

Round 3
9 7 7 = 23
9 8 5 = 22

Total Charles 52 vs Luis 73

Round 3 Vs Luis. Green Fletch = My Arrows, Orange Fletch = Luis Arrows.

Tip #2. Keep track of everything you did during the rounds of the competition.

This isn't just useful for the current competition, but will help you to analyze what you did well and what you did wrong, that way you can use that information for future competitions as well.

So for example I know Round 1 vs Randy I took my time and did very well. Round 2, I rushed the shots when I should have took more time. Round 3, I narrowly beat Randy by 1 point by forcing myself to be more patient.

Versus Luis, I did okay during the first round, but during round 2 I encountered two problems. The first problem was mental, I had calculated that I needed to improve my score by at least 4 points just to catch up to Luis. This caused me to stress more about my shot and tense up. The second problem was wind, which caused me to stress more. After the first shot did so poorly I felt like I was already defeated and it didn't matter any more. By the second shot, it was clear my score was going to be dismal, thus by the third shot I had basically given up. Round 3 I recouped some of losses and even beat Luis by 1 point, but by then it was too late.

Analyzing this after the fact, you realize that what I really did wrong during the first duel was that I rushed the 2nd round when I should have been more patient, I could have got a score in the 20s had I not rushed it. And the second duel was mostly mental, and a dose of patience could have helped versus the second round when the wind was messing with my head.

Tip #3. Practice, Warmup and Tune before a Competition

I joined that competition last minute and had only practiced shooting compound once during the previous two weeks. I had hoped to arrive at the competition an hour early to do some "last minute practicing" but ended up arriving about 30 minutes before the event instead.

Had I known I was going to be taking part in the competition further in advance, I should have been practicing compound 3 times per week, tuning the bow for more accuracy, and I should have made more of an effort to arrive earlier and give myself ample time to "warm up" before the event.

In comparison Luis, the winner, regularly shoots compound and was amply prepared. I divide my practice time between traditional recurve, longbow, Olympic recurve and compound.

Thus anyone wishing to do better during a competition should be practicing the archery style in question more regularly so that they will well-practiced and well-tuned before the event. Showing up early to warmup is also handy.

Tip #4. Pace what you eat and drink.

Having a BBQ on a hot day and cold drinks may sound like a great idea for a party, but for an archery competition you would be better off eating healthier and trying to pace your consumption of both food and liquids. Obviously you want to avoid dehydration on a hot day, but you should also try to avoid over-hydration, eating too much and feeling bloated.

Since the competition yesterday was just for fun, it didn't really matter what I ate or drank during the event, but during any serious event people should try to be more cautious about their eating habits.

Tip #5. Mentally prepare yourself to prevent competition anxiety.

During the 30 minutes that I warmed up before the event I focused mostly on shooting a longer distance, so that when I was shooting at the distance at the shorter competition distance it would feel comparatively easy. I feel this did actually help.

There are other ways to mentally prepare yourself, including regular practice so you feel more confident in your skills.

Other Ways to Mentally Prepare Yourself:
  1. Choose and maintain a positive attitude - basic skill.
  2. Maintain a high level of self-motivation - basic skill.
  3. Set high, realistic goals - basic skill.
  4. Deal effectively with people using social skills - basic skill.
  5. Use positive self-talk - intermediate skill.
  6. Use positive mental imagery - intermediate skill.
  7. Manage anxiety effectively - advanced skill.
  8. Manage their emotions effectively - advanced skill.
  9. Maintain concentration - advanced skill.
Mental Skills Pyramid for Competitive Athletes

Some of the above mental skills come with taking part in competitions regularly, as experience will allow an athlete to draw upon past experiences with competition anxiety and they will be able to better cope with that anxiety.

You will also note that the above skills are useful for other kinds of competitions. Or public speaking.

Final Notes

I also won an arrow case as a door prize just for showing up, which was actually the primary reason I took part in the competition. I just wanted the arrow case right from the beginning. I had zero use for a trophy to collect dust.

Happy Competing!

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