Robert Hamilton II, February – You made your school archery team, and you have been practicing with them. Those kids are your friends or you’ve at least seen them at school. Your coaches have taught you the NASP® 11 Steps to Archery Success. Your coaches have had you go through mock tournaments and score your rounds. But all of this you have done in your school gym or cafeteria in a space you know very well and with people you know.
Your first tournament may not be at your school. The floors may be different, the lighting may be different. The reflection of the target off the floor may be different. The heat or air conditioning may be noisy. And there will be spectators. It’s not your quiet gym where you have gotten used to shooting.
You also will not be on the same target with a teammate. You might get lucky to be on the same target with someone you know or it might be someone you have never met. They might be older, more skilled, or younger and completely new to archery.
Get to the tournament early so you can see what the range looks like. Get your bow and arrows out and see that they are ready to go. Find your coaches and your team to get your score card.
When it’s your flight time, be ready to go to the line. Members of your team will be in the same flight, just not on the same target. Your coaches are there to support you, but they cannot coach you. Use your practice rounds at 10m and 15m to get used to the floor, the lights and all the things around you. Talk with the other archer on your target. Get to know them, if they will talk. Take your time. You are probably nervous which makes you shoot faster. In between rounds, check on your teammates. See how they are doing. Get everybody to laugh and joke like you do in practice. You and your team will never forget this tournament. It’s the first one. And that first score will be your personal best.
And remember the ultimate goal for the tournament is to do your best and have fun!
I was lucky. I got to shoot my first tournament, The Winter Warm-Up, at the archery range where I shoot almost every day. I got to shoot with the brother of one of my teammates. But I was still nervous, very nervous. I get my nerves out by talking with my teammates and by chewing lots and lots of gum. It takes a pack of gum for each tournament!
Good luck on your first tournament if you have not had it yet! There is a fun season ahead.