Somerset County Archery Association

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New Archers

Entering and Going to Shoots

Before you can go to a shoot you need to fill in an Entry Form. These are all different and may ask for different information. If you are unsure what is meant by something, ask someone in your Club - don’t guess! (I’ve always asked for ‘Classification’ on shoots that I’ve organised as by knowing this I can keep very good archers away from each other and so minimise arrow damage; ‘male’, ‘senior’ and ‘archer’ (amongst others) are not Classifications! The Tournament Organiser will have a good reason for asking for the information on the form - so please fill it all in correctly. Organisers have a hard enough job as it is so anything you can do to make life easier will be appreciated and will encourage them to do the job again (and you will be able to go to the same shoot again next year!) As well as giving them all the information they ask for - even if you think it’s rubbish - please write clearly; email addresses are a particular problem!

Before going to tournaments make sure that you understand how to score. Metric Rounds are scored differently from Imperial Rounds (and the Worcester Round is different again).

Many ‘new’ archers are worried about going to tournaments - “Will I make a fool of myself?”, “What will the other archers think if I miss the target?” and “Will I remember what I am supposed to be doing?” (Yes. Idiot! and No.) Seriously though - if you follow the instructions given in the club situation, read the “Rules of Shooting” (every Club should have a copy!) and use a bit of common sense, you will have no problem. Unless you are the super-confident type I would recommend you start with local ‘club’ shoots rather than FITA Star or Rose Award events. The first tournament I went to was to watch a club member shoot in the Somerset Championships at the start of Dunster Week, I had only been shooting for about six months and didn’t think I was fit for competition. There seemed to be quite a few arrows going into the grass and I thought, “I can do that”, so I went and saw the organisers and shot the last three days and really enjoyed myself (I even won a prize - hidden score in the Western Round) - to the extent that now I am usually at a tournament somewhere on most Sundays from April through to the end of September.

I can’t say that all the archers I have shot with have been good company; but those that have been a bit of a pain have been in a very small minority, the vast majority have been great - a better percentage than you would probably find in life in general! And that same majority have been helpful in many ways, from pointing out that I should be on the shooting line rather than talking (lots of my target companions do this for me!) to technical advice and problem solving.

Aim to get to the shoot well before the time stated for assembly and on arrival try to remember the last part of the GNAS motto (Union - True Heart - Courtesie). Not all shoots book you in but it is only polite to find out if this is being done and tell them that you are present. Everyone likes to set up as near to the shooting line as possible, but, at a big shoot this is often difficult; please try to leave gangways so everyone can get from their tent to the shooting line without too much difficulty; you will undoubtedly come across the dipstick who parks himself in the gap you have considerately left for others to use as access - this is when you have to remind yourself of the ‘Courtesie’ again instead of just kicking seven bells out of him or her.

If you have given yourself plenty of time you can set about putting your gear together in a relaxed state rather than rushing around like a headless chicken, this means less mistakes, or at any rate gives you time to check things out and correct if necessary. It also starts you off in a better frame of mind so your shooting will (probably) be better. Find out which detail you are shooting and which side you will be standing; if you can, find out who your target companions are and introduce yourself (once you have been to a few tournaments you will be surprised how many people you recognise). Make sure scores are filled in correctly - any alterations made, and signed, by a judge (you can alter the hits, score and golds but only a judge can alter the arrow values) - or you may miss out if you are making a claim for a Rose Award or a FITA Star and remember that you should do all the scoring before going behind the target to look for arrows. Make sure you do your share of the work involved in scoring, pulling arrows, moving targets, etc., don’t forget to thank your companions for making your day so pleasant and remember to sign the score sheet.

The prize giving is part of the shoot and it is my personal belief that archers should make every effort to stay for it - I know it is not always possible and there may be good reasons for getting away quickly; but if everyone did this there would be no-one to applaud the winners - and one day this may be you! (And if you do win a trophy - please return it in a fit state to be presented - tournament organisers have enough to do without having to clean trophies before the presentation).

One final bit of advice - bring a friend (or two!) - two can travel as cheaply as one and you can have a good moan about things on the way home!

Seriously, archery is a great sport and by going to tournaments you will make friends and learn more about the game. Take the plunge and come and join other archers doing what they love - shooting arrows!