Sometimes the best practice doesn’t happen at the range or in the backyard. According to professional archer Paige Pearce of Red Bluff, California, her best practice happens at tournaments.
Like many people, Pearce has a busy schedule. She’s the executive director of Kids Outdoor Sports Camp and works part time at Sportsman Outdoor Superstore. With two jobs, it’s hard to find time to practice.
“I don’t do a whole lot of outdoor practice because by the time I’m done with work, it’s dark outside,” Pearce said.
Therefore, Pearce supplements her practice by shooting indoors at home.
“I reduce the target face for the distance I’m shooting,” she said. “I shoot at 4 meters inside the house, but the target is proportionally the same as if I were shooting 50 meters.”
Her busy travel schedule compounds her practice deficit.
“I’m pretty much always gone,” Pearce said. “A lot of times I fly home on Monday and leave for a tournament on Wednesday.” Shortly after our interview she flew to tournaments in South Dakota, and then to Shanghai and back to California.
Going from tournament to tournament without much practice sounds problematic, but it provides the type of practice Pearce needs. The tournaments’ competitive atmosphere provides the ideal proving ground for her shooting form and equipment.
“You can practice with a setup in the backyard, and it seems like it works,” Pearce said. “The second you get to a tournament it’s really going to tell you if the setup is forgiving and works under pressure.”
For instance, she refined her choice for a release by shooting tournaments. Most target archers use a handheld release aid, but Pearce uses a wrist-strap release. She learned that she gripped a handheld release too tightly during pressure situations, which caused inconsistent shooting.
The wrist-strap release solved that problem because it attaches to her wrist and can’t be gripped too hard. Pearce suggests everyone use tournaments to test their equipment.
“My setup isn’t going to work for everyone,” she said. “I think people need to find their custom setup that’s going to work for them.”
Tournaments also help her work on her mental game and shooting form.
“You can do mental work at home, but you’re not getting concrete firsthand mental practice, which you get at tournaments,” Pearce said.
If your tournament scores are lower than your practice scores, or if you’re waiting to try your first competition, try Pearce’s advice. Visit an archery shop for help finding tournaments you can use as practice. To locate nearby archery shops, click here.