Tournaments provide great ways for archers to grow. Competition improves your form and focus, boosts your mental and physical health, and introduces you to people who share your archery passions.
If you don’t already participate in tournaments, ask yourself why. Is it time and money for travel? Are you nervous about shooting in front of others? Is your work or school schedule too rigid? If those obstacles or others cause you to skip tournaments, they don’t fly with online tournaments.
Online tournaments are growing in popularity. The virtual format provides many of the same benefits as traditional tournaments, but with easier access to participation. Virtual archery tournaments let you test your skills against archers worldwide, even though you’ll shoot from your home, or nearby range or archery shop.
Virtual tourneys offer indoor and outdoor events and many divisions. If you’ve never shot competitively, online events are great ways to start. You won’t wait long to participate. Online tournaments are available year-round. Let’s review some popular online events:
USA Archery Virtual Tournament
USA Archery launched the USA Archery Virtual Tournament in 2015. It replaced the organization’s mail-in tournament. The Virtual Tournament runs year-round so members can compete against each other indoors or outdoors. This national event helps archers compete with each other nationwide while shooting at the local shop or range. It also costs as little as $10 individually to participate, or $15 for a team.
You must have a current USA Archery Recreational Membership to compete. Any recreational or competitive archer is eligible if they belong to USA Archery and a Junior Olympic Archery Development, Collegiate Archery Program or Adult Archery Program club.
Clubs host each quarter of the Virtual Tournament. Club leaders must submit all official scores. The club can conduct a single event where all competitors shoot, and submit scores when the event concludes. Or, instead of one event, clubs can let archers shoot the round while adhering to tournament rules, anytime during the Virtual Tournament’s quarter. Club leaders submit each archer’s official score after they shoot.
The Virtual Tournament is an official USA Archery event, and the organization expects participants to follow the rules, which clubs must enforce. If a club lets an archer shoot multiple scores, USA Archery can disqualify it.
The Virtual Tournament offers several divisions and age classes, and archers can compete in multiple divisions, including a team competition. Up to three archers can form an all-female or all-male team with multiple ages for each division. The indoor round is 30 arrows: 10 ends, three arrows each. The outdoor round is 36 arrows: six ends, six arrows each.
USA Archery Virtual Tournament events are held as follows:
- 1st Quarter Indoor JOAD Virtual Tournament: Jan. 15 to March 31.
• 2nd Quarter Outdoor JOAD Virtual Tournament: April 15 to June 30.
• 3rd Quarter Outdoor JOAD Virtual Tournament: July 15 to Sept. 30.
• 4th Quarter Indoor JOAD Virtual Tournament: Oct. 15 to Dec. 31.
Archery Abroad is a Facebook group that hosts online-only tournaments. Its founder, Richard Harris, started the group in 2015 because he wanted to compete but couldn’t find leagues or tournaments within two hours of home. He assumed other people shared that problem.
“I wanted a platform where anyone could shoot from anywhere in the world,” Harris said. The group’s Facebook page explains its rules and divisions. All classes use an official Vegas 3-spot target face or a vertical 3-spot, except for the traditional class and elementary-school archers.
Tournament registration costs $25, and can be paid through PayPal. Rules for video submissions are strict to ensure everyone follows them. The Facebook page explains how to submit a video. All entries get posted on the page. You can also watch how-to submission videos to learn how to submit yours.
Harris said online tournaments help archers prepare to compete in person. “I was nervous just jumping on a line with people I didn’t know,” Harris said. “Shooting under pressure, on camera for everyone to see, cured that for me and others quickly.”
Tim Audus wanted to resume shooting competitively after being away from the sport 16 years, but he couldn’t find any tournaments nearby. “Without this group I wouldn’t have been able to get tournament-ready,” Audus said. “The caliber of competition is amazing, and nothing I could find in my area.”
Many people say video cameras add as much pressure as shooting beside other competitors. “As soon as you turn the camera on, the nerves start to add up,” said Greg Hadler. “One would think shooting by yourself with a camera wouldn’t affect you, but it certainly does.”
“The camera pressure is real,” agreed Gary Priestley. “It’s like doing a head-to-head shoot-off and tiebreaker for a championship. The convenience of not having to load everything up and travel is great, too.”
Angel Duncan is new to archery, and was nervous about being the only woman if she entered a local tournament. “Archery Abroad seemed like something that would be fun to try without being the newbie in the room,” Duncan said. “The camera adds a bit more excitement than I expected. It really helped me overcome my nerves and concentrate on taking my first shots at a 3D tournament.”
Regular mail remains yet another way to participate in tournaments. Mail-in events are similar to online tournaments. The Olympic Archery in Schools program holds an annual spring mail-in event. Schools choose an official scoring day, and the target face is 122 centimeters across. Each archer shoots 36 arrows, and can choose between 12 ends of three arrows with two minutes per end, or six ends of six arrows with four minutes per end. Just fill out the official scoresheets, and they’re sent to OAS.
Some state associations offer mail-in shoots so archers can compete locally and statewide. For example, the Ohio Archers have an annual mail-in tournament. Several locations statewide host the shoot, and results are compiled statewide.
Online and mail-in tournaments are great ways to compete. They ease you into competition, keep you shooting year-round, and let you compete despite your busy schedule. They’re also a great way to practice shooting under pressure. If you have questions about any tournament, visit the experts at a local archery shop.