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Archery Tournaments are Back

As COVID-19 restrictions lift all over the world, archery tournaments are resuming in communities near and far. These events probably won’t resemble pre-pandemic competitions. I trust that tournament directors are taking every precaution, and doing all they can to keep competitors safe.

Many ranges are implementing social distancing by keeping archers a safe distance apart. Photo Credit: Lancaster Archery

If you venture out on the tournament circuit, keep a few things in mind. Many clubs are letting members practice, but imposing restrictions such as physical distancing on the shooting line, one archer per target, and even mandatory COVID-19 tests with confirmed negative results. Competitions could look similar to the clubs’ procedures, and we shouldn’t be surprised if facemasks become mandatory during equipment inspections and while scoring.

It’s also possible that archers will no longer share equipment freely. After all, some research shows the COVID-19 virus can live on certain surfaces for extended periods. Something as basic as a recurve archer borrowing someone’s bowstring might not be acceptable. The string might spread virus germs, considering it could contact the nose and mouth of both archers.

And depending on the archers, simple handshakes after a match might be a thing of the past. Archers enjoy a close camaraderie, but classic signs of respect might take a backseat while everyone adjusts to a new normal.

New archers wanting to compete in their first tournament probably won’t be bothered by these changes. They’re starting from scratch, after all. While preparing to compete they should learn if it’s safe to hold tournaments in that region, and what to bring for personal protective equipment, such as masks.

To find potential tournaments, archers can search regional information pages for their state or province to learn when and where competitions are scheduled. For bigger events, look up the national governing body’s webpage to see which national-level competitions are scheduled.

If you compete in a tournament, follow every safety guideline and keep yourself and others safe. Photo Credit: ATA

After verifying they can compete, archers must learn the tournament’s rules and regulations, understand its scoring intricacies, and explore its equipment divisions and timing. That information is usually available online, and dictated by the type of round being shot. For instance, worldarchery.org has rules for the “720 round” and “FITA/Field round,” and ASA has rules for 3D events. The internet provides endless ways to study the rules for your round.

Then again, just because the competition season is restarting doesn’t mean you must shoot it. Many places are experiencing new COVID-19 cases daily, so don’t let your desire to shoot competitively outweigh your health and that of others. If you feel uncomfortable attending a large event with lots of people, don’t go. Personally, I’m in no rush to return because COVID-19 is neither fully understood nor contained. But if you feel you must get out on the tournament circuit, follow each event’s safety guidelines. To stop this virus, we all must do our part to minimize its spread.

These are tough times for everyone, but widespread cooperation will end this pandemic more quickly than if we disregard advice from medical professionals. Meanwhile, keep practicing as much as you can. When this pandemic eventually passes, you’ll be ready to take on the tournament season.

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