It is outdoor season, baby! Are you ready?!?
Let’s enjoy all the things, bugs, heat, sweat, rain, wind, and changes of scenery! Yes, I said enjoy. Fun times. Fun times. I do mean that! Now, what does your outdoor setup look like?
Do you have “outdoor” arrows? Most indoor arrows have a thicker diameter. For outdoor, you want a thinner diameter. Some call them micros. We call them our skinnies. With a thinner diameter, there is less arrow for wind to grab as your arrow flies. For outdoor arrows, you will need to play around with the spine and the grain of your arrow points. The spine is the stiffness rating of arrows. The lower the spine rating, the stiffer the arrow is. Putting a heavier point on your arrow typically makes the arrow a little weaker. Putting a lighter point on your arrow typically makes the arrow a little stiffer. The stiffness of an arrow changes the speed of an arrow. Another way to change the stiffness of an arrow is to cut the length of an arrow. If an arrow is too stiff, it will wobble as it flies. If an arrow is too weak, it will spiral as it flies. Pin nocks are awesome. Get some pin bushings and pin nocks to help save your arrows in case you, or someone else shoots your arrow. Instead of your arrow being destroyed, the arrow that hits it will ricochet off of it. They are very inexpensive.
What kind of sight do you have? Is it leveled? For outdoor, you need to check your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd axis. Let me explain it a little more. Your first axis is the bar that you slide your sight up and down. Your second is your scope being leveled vertically. Your 3rd axis is your scope coming in and out which gives you more, or less, distance, depending on which way you move it. If that 3rd axis is not leveled, on the longer distances, your arows will fly to one side or the other. The best way to level the 3rd axis is when the bow is at full draw, when the string is drawn all the way back. There is a tool that helps you set the 3rd axis. It hangs from the ceiling. That is not my forte. So, what do I do? I go to the bow shop! A good bow tech, or a coach, can help level your sight.
What is your peep set up? You will probably need to move your peep down because with the longer distances you will be shooting, the angle of your bow will be going up. If your peep is not set up correctly, your anchor, the place where your hand rests against your head, will not be correct. Does it have a hood to keep out the light?
How is your stabilization, your stabilizer set up? What you are looking at here is your bubble. Your scope has that little level in it with the bubble in it. If your bubble is off, you may need to make some adjustments to your back stabilizer setup. For those who shoot with one side stabilizer on the back, you may need to adjust to one side or the other. Another possibility is that you add or reduce the weight you are using on the back. For those who shoot with two back stabilizers, you may need to adjust the weight you are using on the back. Also, if the bow seems front heavy, you may need to reduce the weight on the front stabilizer or add weight to the back. Just a friendly tip, you always want more weight on the back than on the front. We have always gone with the equation of for every ounce we have in the front, we have 3 ounces in the back. Another setup is for every ounce in the front, use 4-6 ounces in the back.
You think your bow is leveled now? Are you sure? I don’t think we are done with leveling, just yet. You got your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd axis leveled. You checked your stabilization. What about leveling the bow? Some people level the bow off the strings. They put a level on their strings. That levels the bow to the strings, but does not level the bow. Just like with leveling the scope, there is a tool that attaches to the riser and levels the riser. Again, that is not my forte, so, I go to my friends at the archery shop!
How are your strings looking? My girl’s strings were not looking great, so we just put new strings on (Thanks GAS strings!). Rain and sweat is hard on strings. You want them strong to withstand the elements. We wax our strings to try and protect them, especially after getting caught in the rain. Scott is not a fan of waxing. His reason is that most people wax their strings to try and fix, or repair, damaged/frayed strings. Scott suggests that advanced archers get new strings at the beginning of outdoor season. Why? You do not want to be half way through the season, need new strings, and have to re-tune the bow.
Going back to the bubble, once everything is set up, you can trust that bubble. Being able to trust that everything is set up and level makes it easier going outdoors. When you go through your process and aim, make sure your bubble is in the middle. Your bubble can easily move when outdoors because the ground is unlevel. You will hear us, or coaches, ask if the archer checked their bubble before they shot. Or, you may hear us tell them ahead of time to check their bubble.
Make sure you have binoculars! Some of the distances you will shoot, especially in field and 3D, will be long distances. Archers need to be self sufficient, be able to look down range, and make changes.
What is there to know about distances? There is a lot to know about distances. First, which association is putting on the tournament, USA Archery or NFAA/TFAA? USA Archery distances are in meters. NFAA/TFAA distances are in yards. Second, what type of tournament is it, target, field, or 3D? Target is where you shoot at one target all day like indoor, except you are outdoors. Field is kind of like golf. You walk a course that may have you walking across a stream, or ditch, and shoot at targets that are set up at known/marked different distances. With NFAA/TFAA, there are 14 targets which make up the field round, and 14 targets which make up the hunter round. The field targets have a blue center, and the hunter targets have a white center. When stepping up to that lane, those who shoot the longer distance will shoot first. If everyone is at the same distance, you will choose who goes first. This will have everyone walking toward the target instead of going back and forth. At the National USA Field Championship, day 1 will be unknown distances and you are not allowed to use a range finder. Day 2 is known. Thought I would throw that at you. When you shoot 3D, it is kind of like field, or maybe even hunting. You walk a course like field, but instead of shooting at targets, you are shooting at foam versions of animals. Third, what age division are you in? Fourth, what type of bow are you shooting? Once you have your distances, you may want to get a sight tape that has the distances on it. A sight tape attaches to your sight so you can easily adjust your sight to the needed distance. If you are unsure about any of this, ask your coach! Here we go!
USA Archery Outdoor Target Distances
6 arrows per end with 12 ends
Recurve and Barebow-Up to 4 people will shoot at 1 target, 2 archers at a time
Compound-Each archer will shoot at 1 target with 4 targets per bale
Archers will straddle the shooting line.
Bow Type Age Division Distance Target Size
Recurve Bowman 30 Meters 122cm Cub 50 Meters 122cm Cadet 60 Meters 122cm Junior 70 Meters 122cm Senior 70 Meters 122cm Master 60 Meters 122cm
Compound Bowman 25 Meters 80cm 6-ring Cub 30 Meters 80cm 6-ring Cadet 50 Meters 80cm 6-ring Junior 50 Meters 80cm 6-ring Senior 50 Meters 80cm 6-ring Master 50 Meters 80cm 6-ring
Barebow Bowman 30 Meters 122cm Cub 30 Meters 122cm Cadet 50 Meters 122cm Junior 50 Meters 122cm Senior 50 Meters 122cm Master 50 Meters 122cm
NFAA/TFAA 900 Round Distances
5 ends of 6 arrows shot at 3 distances
Archers will straddle the shooting line.
Cub 30-20-10 Yards 122cm
Youth 50-40-30 Yards 122cm
Young Adult/Adult/Senior 60-50-40 Yards 122cm
USA Archery Field Distances
3 arrows per target
Should shoot in groups of 4
Archers will place their foot up to the imaginary line going side to side of the peg. Archers can move 1 meter side to side or behind the peg to shoot.
Yellow Peg-Barebow Bowman, Barebow Cub, Barebow Cadet, Recurve Bowman, Recurve Cub, Compound Bowman, Compound Cub, and Longbow
Blue Peg-Recurve Cadet, Compound Cadet, Barebow Junior, Barebow Senior, Barebow Master, and Instinctive Bow
Red Peg-Recurve Junior, Recurve Senior, Recurve Master, Compound Junior, Compound Senior, Compound Master
Yellow Peg 5-10-15-20-25-30-35 Meters
Blue Peg 5-10-15-20-25-30-35-40-45 Meters
Red Peg 10-15-20-25-30-35-40-45-50-55 Meters
NFAA/TFAA Field Distances
4 arrows per target with 28 targets
Should shoot in groups of 4, no less than 3, no more than 6
Archers will straddle the imaginary line going side to side of the distance stake.
TFAA 3D Distances
2 arrows per target
Should shoot in groups of 4
Blue Stakes-All Cubs, Traditional and Longbows
Yellow Stakes-All Youth, Masters, and Seniors
White Stakes-All others
Archers will straddle the shooting line.
Blue Stakes Maximum of 25 Yards
Yellow Stakes Maximum of 40 Yards
White Stakes Maximum of 50 Yards
What do you need to take with you to outdoor tournaments? You MUST take water and/or your favorite sports drink! Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydration is key. You must stay hydrated the entire tournament. If you drink something in just the beginning of the tournament and think you will be okay, you will not be okay. Bring snacks. Something I found that my kids, and Scott, love are peanut butter balls. They pop them in their mouth and keep on going. Take granola bars, things that are easy to carry. Of course be mindful of those who may be around you who may have a peanut allergy.
Now you need a way to carry your drinks and snacks. For field and 3D, I use a small backpack, one that isn’t too heavy, because you are basically hiking. Even a drawstring bag will do. You do not have to pack it full of things. You want to make sure you have enough. Normally, there is a small break in the middle where you can refill your backpack from the morning. Keep your body fueled.
For outdoor target, I bring a small rolling cart. I can pack it full for the day and roll it to the one spot I will be for most of the day. In that cart, I put comfortable chairs. I take a pop up canopy so we won’t be baking in the sun. If you do not have one, there is almost always someone there that will allow you to hang out under theirs and let you get out of the sun. We are one big archery family. There are battery powered fans that are nice to have. When we shoot target, I bring a cooler. This allows me to have more drinks and snacks. It is a good idea to have some lunch items in the cooler to have during the lunch break. Do not forget the bug spray and sunscreen! Something else I bring is the medicated tube that helps with bug bites. When going to score and pull arrows, some archers use an umbrella to give them some shade.
There are a few odds and ends items I keep in both my backpack and my rolling cart. One of those items are bandaids. Cooling towels are awesome for combating the heat. Scope covers, or even sandwich baggies, come in handy when you get caught in the rain. Because of getting caught in the rain, we used to carry gigantic clear plastic bags to cover the bows. Now, we have bow covers that our friend Michelle Dabney made for us. I keep replacement pin bushings and pin nocks to make repairs on the fly. Something else I bring, which is a little more expensive, is my fletching machine and materials. This allows me to refletch arrows while we are at the tournament that have been damaged. There are archery chairs/stools. Some even have small coolers in them. These can be a little more expensive. I, being budget cautious, found some small, lightweight, fold up camo chairs/stools at a sporting goods store for about $15 each. They have a small pouch for miscellaneous items, or trash. You may want a range finder to help with distances. Some are even rechargeable. Do not get one that rounds the number up. You want that number as close as possible. These can be purchased at an archery shop, sporting goods store, or even Amazon. Remember to wear shoes made for walking. Most importantly, make sure you bring double the amount of arrows than what the tournament requires. If you have to shoot 6 arrows, bring a dozen! If you have to shoot 3 arrows, bring a minimum of 6!
Check your bow setup. Remember to stay hydrated. Bring snacks. Remember to bring double the amount of arrows than what you will need. Stay hydrated. Yes, I said it again. It is that important.
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