top of page

Be prepared for competitions

Updated: Jun 26, 2022

It can be daunting to venture out to your first target archery competition. Everyone else seems to already know what to do and without a coach or team to guide you, you may feel a bit lost. Where do you get this information? Look no further. Here is everything you need to know!

What to bring

Indoor competitions typically have restroom facilities, water fountains, etc. Outdoor competitions may not. Just think about what would make you feel comfortable shooting out in a field by yourself and bring all those things. Here's a sample packing list:

  • Bow: riser, limbs, string, plunger (olympic recurve: stabilizers, slight, clicker)

  • Arrows (make sure you bring extra in case some get lost or damaged)

  • Quiver

  • Tab / Release (and a backup!)

  • Bow stringer

  • Armguard

  • Finger sling (and extra!)

  • Arrow puller / lube

  • String wax

  • Backup string

  • Scope or binoculars

  • List of your sight marks

  • Water & electrolytes

  • Snacks / lunch

  • Shade of some sort (hat, umbrella, tent)

  • Sunscreen

  • Rain gear

  • Pen for scoring and marking arrow holes (and a backup!)

  • Layered clothing

  • Waterproof shoes

  • Tissues and hand sanitizer (in case the bathroom facilities are not fully stocked)

  • Folding chair

  • Activities in case of a delay (almost all nationals events I've been to have had weather delays)

  • Cooling towel

When to arrive

It's a good idea to arrive for a competition about an hour before shooting starts. That gives you time to find parking, get your gear set up, find out where the facilities are, etc. You don't want to be rushed and have your bow blow up on your first shot (*cough-cough Marjorie cough-cough*).

Find your lane assignment

For most competitions you will have a lane assignment. As soon as you arrive find out where you are assigned. There will typically be 4 archers per bale. So your assignment will be a bale number and a letter (A, B, C, or D). Example: 5C. Only two archers will shoot together on the bale at a time. A shoots with B, and C shoots with D. A and C will stand on the left side of the bale, while B and D will stand on the right side.


Unlike practice, there will be a clock running for competitions. Once you find your lane assignment locate the nearest clock you will be able to easily see. Much like airplane lavatories, the nearest clock may be behind you.

Equipment Inspection

Some competitions will conduct an equipment inspection. Here's the short list of what they normally check for.

  • For Olympic recurve:

  • No mechanical release on your tab

  • No magnification in your sight aperture

  • For barebow:

  • Uniform tab markings

  • Center serving not being in the archer's eye line

  • The bow and everything attached passing through a 12.2 cm ring

  • For compound:

  • Draw weight must be under 60 lbs

  • For any type of bow they also check:

  • Dress code

  • Numbered and initialed arrows (that all match)

  • No electronics on the equipment

Here are the equipment rules: If you want all the nitty gritty check this out for 112 pages of completeness:

Whistle commands

Most competitions use whistle commands to indicate what is to be done when. Here is what they mean:

  • 1 whistle - shoot

  • 2 whistles - go to the line

  • 3 whistles - retrieve your arrows

  • 4+ whistles - STOP EVERYTHING - do not shoot - there may be an emergency

So here's how this will go:

  • The first thing you will hear is 2 whistles. That means the first line (A and B) should grab their bows and step up to the shooting line. You can load and arrow at this time, just make sure you don't shoot yet.

  • Next there will be one whistle. That means you can start shooting. Once you have shot your arrows you should step off the line.

  • Next will be 2 whistles again. This marks the end of the shooting time for the first line and when the 2nd line (C and D) can grab their bows and head to the line.