You decide to sign up for your first tournament away from home. You’re excited and nervous, but then you begin to panic a couple days before you leave.
What should I pack?!
All archers experience this at some point in their career. The more tournaments you attend, the easier it gets, but sometimes that old nagging feeling of “Did I forget something?” creeps back in when you least expect it. So, here are eight things to remember when packing.
Bow, Stabilizers, Sight
Bike racers have a saying, “bike, shoes, helmet,” which reminds them of the three most important things they need for every ride or race. Our minds think best in threes, so we can adapt this to archery with “bow, stabilizers, sights.” Obviously, you don’t want to forget many other important items, either, but your day will likely be over before it begins if you forget one of those three key items. Every time you pack your bow case, say aloud, “bow, stabilizers, sight,” to ensure you packed the necessities.
Flying? Put your finger tab/release in your carry on.
Unlike the three key items above, your finger tab (or release, for compound archers) is VERY personal and hard to borrow from someone. If you fly to a tournament, don’t risk putting these in your checked luggage. If you’re attending a major tournament, you have a good chance of borrowing a bow similar to your own, but finding a finger tab that’s perfectly molded to your hands is pretty much impossible.
Much like car racers keep spare parts in the pits, archers must come prepared to replace anything that fails. Archers must have extra arrows, nocks, finger sling, etc., while recurve archers might also want to pack a spare arm guard, finger tab or chest protector. For compound bows, archers should carry additional launcher blades, precut D-loops, and serving material. Most importantly, don’t forget the tools required to do the job. A lighter, razor blade, super glue, small wrench and pair of pliers set can fix almost every problem that arises, and can easily be packed in a bow case.
One easy way to remember things is to always pack your case the same way. Your bow and arrows likely have their own compartment, but where do you put your sight (in its own case or free?), quiver or bow stand? By packing consistently, you’ll easily notice if something is missing.
Clothing and Gear for All Conditions
When competing in a tournament, you don’t have the luxury of going inside your house to grab a jacket if it gets cold or starts raining. Layering is vital, because temperatures can change rapidly, so pack clothing that’s easily layered. This applies for indoor and outdoor competitions. It’s also important to know the terrain and the typical weather conditions for where you’re competing, but be prepared for rain, wind, lighting conditions, or any other weather possibility.
Linda Ochoa of Mexico cites a perfect example. She said: “Two pairs of tennis shoes. One tournament I went to, the weather prediction was no rain at all, and I only took one pair, so I had to shoot the entire tournament with wet shoes. Now, even if I know it’s not a rainy place, I take two pairs of shoes.”
Water and Snacks
Nutrition and hydration are important when competing for hours. You can pack water bottles and your favorite snacks from home, or you can buy stuff once you arrive. Either way, make sure you do not depend on concession stands or water jugs on the field, because not every tournament keeps these things available. Water bottles are great for packing because these small, lightweight items easily fit inside your suitcase.
Traveling to a tournament can be stressful, so bringing items that help you relax is crucial. Some archers choose things that bring physical comfort. Emily Bee, for example, doesn’t leave home without earplugs because, “Everyone snores.” However, it’s just as important to keep your mind at peace, which may mean bringing a good luck charm. Jeremiah Cusick brings his Bible and a bracelet his sister made to every tournament.
After asking some top archers which item they wish someone had told them to bring when they started, here are some responses: pliers, knife, umbrella, sunscreen, chapstick, sunglasses, bug spray, cooling towel, hat/visor, pen/pencil, comfortable shoes, waterproof shoes, and bow case with wheels.