Archery Competitions in the Off-season
by Samantha Lance
Hunting season is winding down or over. What to do now? If you’re anything like me, mid-January through February is a droll time of year. It is a long spring and summer waiting on the next deer season to begin again.
I like to utilize this free time wisely to keep my archery skills in check. I don’t put my bow on the shelf to gather dust until September. I’m competitive by nature; all hunters are to some degree. What better way to put that sense to good use than with competition shooting? Local archery/hunting clubs tend to begin tournaments in the Spring, continuing until the Fall hunting season starts up again. Field Archery, Indoor, and 3D Shooting are the three most popular types of tournaments.
Field Archery/3-D Shoots
Field archery takes place outdoors, with targets placed at varying distances and terrains. Each person takes a turn taking one shot per target. Once everyone has completed, they retrieve arrows and move to the next station. Some locations have the benefit of having areas half-wooded or with obstacles that provide a challenge. Scoring is determined by where you hit in the shooting rings. The closer you hit towards the center of the target, the higher your score. Some archery clubs use 3-D targets, which are life-size foam animal targets. Field archery puts you in in more of a real-world scenario, allowing you to hone in on your skills in judging distance, negotiating terrain, wind, etc.
Indoor archery is a tad different as it is a more controlled environment. All competitors shoot from the starting line at the same time at an assigned target. Once the allotted round time has passed, everyone retrieves their arrows and moves to the next shooting station. Targets are all set out at different distances, and shot scoring is based on your proximity to the bulls-eye. It’s an option if you’d prefer to stay out of the winter elements.
Take time to prepare yourself for a tournament by making a checklist of gear to bring with you. It’s always a good idea to bring extra field tips, fletchings, nocks, loops, and tools to replace them. We also keep arrow pullers, towels, and binoculars on-hand.
The major benefit of this is getting practice in a controlled, safe environment where you are put in real-world hunting situations. I enjoy being put in those environments so I can work on judging distance and how to properly maneuver obstacles. It’s also a perfect time to meet fellow shooters in your area. I love talking tips and tricks, discussing gear, and sharing a success story or two. It’s even better to get your kids or spouse involved, too, and making a family day out of it. It’s tons of fun, and terrific way to beat the post-hunting cabin fever.