Keeping Your Equipment Dry

NB 2013 1 546All weather conditions present various challenges for competing as my earlier blog about weather can attest. If you have been shooting for some time, you probably already have experienced what the weather can do to your equipment. The rain, or any adverse weather, can have some undesired long-term effects on your bow.

Rain is especially tricky as it can get into all kinds of small places that you would never even expect like inside your string, inside your plunger or other various tiny screw holes. It can even impact the inserts for your limbs. If ignored, rust can form and make things very difficult to adjust in the future, which can lead to a lot of work to fix or money to replace.

peeledRain can also create havoc during competition with your equipment like impacting plunger performance, making your handle slippery, and it can even impact limb reaction speed. However the most common and problematic is with your sight. Besides the potential of additional weight on the arrows, impacting your sight marks, there is the potential of faded sight marks or the sight mark tape losing adhesive and peeling completely off.

Although shooting in the rain is unavoidable for any competitive archer, there are a few things you can do before, during and after a rainy competition.

Pre-Competition

  • String: Make sure your string is waxed
  • Handle: Add grip (adhesive or wrap) to the handle
  • Pack: A Towel, Small Tarp, Plastic bags, Umbrella, Footwear, etc…

During Competition

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  • Before Each End:
    • String: Pluck your string to remove any accumulation of water.
  • Between Ends
    • Sight : Protect your sight with a Ziploc or small plastic bag when not shooting
    • Bow: Store your bow under a tent, tarp or umbrella
    • Finger Tab: Store your finger tab in a dry place.
  • During Breaks
    • All Equipment:  Use a towel to dry off all surfaces

Afterwards

  • String: Pluck the string before taking it off the bow.
  • All Metal and Plastic Equipment: Thoroughly dry off all surfaces and meticulously towel dry all small parts of your bow including sight, limb fittings, plunger, any screws, etc..
  • All Other Material Equipment: Take a hair dryer to your finger tab, sling, arm guard etc…
  • Bow & arrows: Towel dry each arrow shaft and dry your feathers.

Personally, I love shooting in the rain, it can be lots of fun if you are in the right mindset. So, if you are prepared, all you need to do enjoy it.

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2014 Canadian National Championships

NB 2013 1 325To all my followers, I’m sorry I have not blogged in a while, however my family and I just got back from Woodstock, New Brunswick for the Canadian Nationals Archery Championships.  This year’s trip to Woodstock was a 10 hour drive from Kingston, Ontario which was long however not as long as the drive to Saskatchewan a couple of years ago.

This year was the first time that all of my siblings competed in the outdoor Nationals (my sister Sydney’s and younger brother Cole’s very first nationals). We all did really well and we had a lot of fun. For me, it was great seeing all of my friends from across Canada again and spending time together as a family since it was also our family vacation.

This year’s national’s format was a little different, mainly because of the number of competitors, and setup of the venue. To accommodate everyone, the FITA 1440 and Field were split, with the Compound archers shooting the field on Wednesday, while the Recurve archers shot the FITA 1440 and on Thursday they switched.  On Friday, everyone shot the 720 round with Recurve archers in the morning and the Compounders in the afternoon.  The venue also sported two shooting fields (Range A and B ) so they had the senior males on one field, and the youth and women on the other field. It was cool, a little different from other tournaments where we all shoot together.

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The main event this year was the weather, there was sunshine, rain (light and down-pour), lightning and fog. There was sunshine on Wednesday, light rain on Thursday, and torrential down-pour with lightning on Friday and back to sunshine of Saturday. The FITA 1440 on Wednesday was my only day with nice weather. The field course on Thursday was very cool and I thought it was very similar to Saskatchewan’s field course.  I loved shooting in the rain and the course was a lot of fun with all the mud and big puddles. Friday morning’s 720 was very challenging, the fog was so thick that you couldn’t tell whose arrows were who’s even through a scope. Luckily the 30-minute break because of the rain and lightning helped clear that up and we were back to rain, mud and puddles.

NB 2013 1 417The only thing that I would have like to have seen handled a little differently was the Canadian Open held on Saturday.  Since, this year we had a large number of Americans participate at the Nationals it reduced the number of spots for Canadian archers in the Open. Although, I believe the Americans have every right to participate, I would have liked to have seen more Canadians in the Open. See, I believe it is very important for the development of archery in Canada to make sure archers are exposed to the elimination rounds. The elimination round is very different, are not that easy, and the primary format for international tournaments. All archers wanting to compete at the international level should become familiar with the elimination round as much as possible.

Also, in Canada to increase your ranking, you need to compete in eliminations rounds, however there are very few elimination rounds hosted in Canada. One is the Quebec Provincial Championships in September, two others are held about the same time, the Canada Cup (West Coast) and Spring Classic (Toronto) and the third is the Canadian Open during the National Championships. I hope in the future, the National archery committee allows everyone to participate in the Open if they want to.

The next Canadian National Outdoor Championships are being held in Lac La Biche, Alberta in August 2014. The schedule includes 3D from the 1st through 4th, the Field on 5th and 6th, and Target on the 7th through the 10th.

Weather Conditions

For outdoor tournaments, it has been my experience that organizers only cancel archery tournaments for lightning and tornadoes.  Therefore, as an archer, you have to shoot through a wide variety of weather conditions. Although wind is a common troubling weather condition for all archers there are many other types of conditions can also adversely affect your shots at any given tournament.

SUNNY

 “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” Steve Martin

Most people would think that a bright sunshiny day would be the ideal conditions for shooting outdoors and this is “usually” the case. However, it depends on how the target field has been setup. If the sun is behind the target, then you can have the sun shining directly into your eyes, which it not that ideal. If the sun is directly behind you and the target has a reflective surface you have the same effect.

Sun reflects off everything, so if it is bright in your eyes you need to protect your eyes with a brimmed hat or sunglasses.  Although most tournaments try to abide by the rules about direct and reflective sunlight it is not always possible.

WINDY

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”  Jimmy Dean

The wind conditions are something every archer needs to watch. They are completely unpredictable and can quickly change speed, direction and location.  Windy conditions can be a nightmare for young archers who have a lightweight bow or low draw-weight for different reasons.  Lightweight bows sometimes can become a sail, catching the wind, creating a constant fight to keep it steady and aligned. Low draw-weight bows usually force the arrows into a greater arch to reach the same distance; therefore, they are in the air longer and more affected by strong winds.

Quick Tip: Check the trees, grass, and flags to understand the wind through your shooting plane.

Most archers need to be patient when shooting in high winds and wait for as long as possible for low winds. Remember, the more you practice in different kinds of winds the more you learn about how they affect you.

RAINY

“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain”Unknown

Unlike wind, which can blow your arrows off the target, rain only adds weight to the arrow and causes the arrow to fly a little lower.  Try to remember to keep strong through the entire shot and aim a little high. If your shots were weaker than normal, the rain will make that mistake 10 times more noticeable than it would be in clear weather conditions and produce lower scores.

HOT AND HUMID

“I like to play long matches and in hot weather. Those are my conditions. I like it hot because it’s bad for other players. A lot of them don’t like it hot.”Yuliana Fedak

Most new archers do not think about humidity affecting their arrows however, if the air is heavy it can cause varying effects. If it is very humid, it can cause your arrows not to spin as quickly leaving your shots grouping lower since they do not gain as much distance.

The heat affects the archer too with hot and sweaty hands. Sweaty hands affect your grip on the bow possibly changing your point of power and the heat causing your hands to swell which in turn affects your feel for the string in your fingers. Another possible affect is quicker dehydration resulting in loss of energy that is extremely bad for any endurance athlete. Therefore, in the heat it is important to know how you react in the heat and humidity and know how to keep cool.

FOGGY

“It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.” Joseph Conrad

Shooting in the fog can be one of the most difficult and dangerous weather conditions. Whenever you are unable to see the target or able to review the shot and compensate it can be extremely trying on your patience and self-esteem. Some archers absolutely refuse to shoot in the fog with associated dangers and for fear of loss of arrows and the associated costs.  If you choose to continue to shoot in the fog focus on hitting the target and understand that tight grouping of your arrows can be a real problem.

Quick Tip: Numbering your arrows and tracking your arrows can help so you can adjust your shots.

COLD

“It doesn’t matter if the water is cold or warm if you’re going to have to wade through it anyway” Teilhard de Chardin

Although outdoor tournaments are rarely held during frigid weather with conditions of snow or hail, it can be very cold in the morning at the start of a tournament in the spring or fall.  Muscles tend to tighten up and you can injury yourself if you do not properly warm-up or wear appropriate clothing. Make sure you are appropriately dressed in layers that can be shed as the day warms up.

“I don’t see pitches down the middle anymore – not even in batting practice.” Hank Aaron

It takes time to figure out what happens to your shots in the different types of weather conditions; therefore, it is important to practice a lot, in all types of weather, to prepare for not so ideal weather conditions.

 “Practice is the best of all instructors.” Publilius Syrus

Thanks to Luke Pacholski for the use of his web images

Be Prepared

When attending any outdoor tournament, I am always prepared for the unexpected.  I have a separate sports bag with all the things I may need for a tournament and take it with me every time. I don’t want to be stuck between a rock and a hard place during a tournament and know that I could have done something if only I remembered to bring something. My bag is packed with tools and spare parts, protective gear for my equipment and protective clothing for me.

“You can’t plan when unexpected will happen but you can plan for IF the unexpected occurs”.

Important things to remember are

  • Any jacket you wear while shooting should not
    • be too loose to interfere with your bow arm and get in the away of the string and
    • you are able to move your shoulder so you can draw back your bow string
  • A warm hat or headband is good to stay as warm and dry while shooting
    • A extra pair of socks can really change your tournament experience
  • Make sure you have a couple of spare parts and some tools
    • Screws, knocks and other small parts can break or fall off your bow easily
    • Duct Tape can fix a lot of stuff on the fly.
    • Safety pins are great to fix clothing
  • A plastic bag or an umbrella  to cover the bow so it doesn’t get wet in the rain
    • A big tarp and some string can make a simple tent to protect your equipment.

If you don’t plan for the “what if” then it can really make life hard for you. For a good list of things to bring with you, check out my What to bring to an Archery Tournament page.