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Indoor Tournament Range Safety and Etiquette

Competing in an indoor archery tournament is a bit different from shooting at your local club or pro shop. You’re probably going to be shooting in close proximity to a lot of people — many of whom you might not know. In such cases, it’s important to know basic range safety and etiquette. If everyone adheres to these tenets, tournaments can run safely and efficiently.

The first rule of tournament safety and etiquette is to listen to the range official. That person controls the movements of the tournament, and it’s important to follow all of his or her instructions.


Before you start competing in a tournament, make sure your equipment is in proper working order. Accidents can happen and equipment can fail, but you should do everything in your power to try to avoid those accidents.

Inspect strings, cables and limbs before you head to a tournament. Check them again once you arrive, but before you start competing. Look for signs of wear and/or damage that could cause a failure.

Look over your arrows to make sure there are no cracks and that all components — fletching, points, nocks — are not damaged. If you’re a compound archer, make sure your release is functioning properly.


Never approach the shooting line until the range official says it’s time to do so. And when you do approach, keep all your arrows in your quiver. Don’t approach with an arrow nocked or in your hand.

The range official will signal when it’s time to start shooting, and don’t shoot until then. Pay attention when removing each arrow from your quiver and nocking it. Indoor tournaments often require archers to stand very close to one another, and it would be easy to poke someone with an arrow during the loading process. And anytime you have an arrow nocked on the string, make sure your bow is always pointing downrange.


A simple rule of thumb is to be considerate of others. Don’t swear or make loud noises. If you make a bad shot, internalize your frustration, rather than express it in a way that could distract others. 

Keep your movements simple and methodical, as opposed to sudden and fast. Think about what might distract you if you were shooting, and avoid those actions. If you drop an arrow or some other piece of gear, don’t just bend down suddenly and pick it up. Look to see what the archers on either side of you are doing and retrieve your gear only when neither is actively shooting.

Be mindful of your gear on the line to be sure you don’t bump into other archers. Stabilizers are long and can be unwieldy in tight quarters. Drawing and loading arrows likewise can be tricky in tight spaces. Just be aware of your equipment and your surroundings to avoid interfering with someone else’s shot.

When you finish shooting, stay in position on the line if the archer next to you is drawing or at full draw. You don’t want to distract that person’s concentration. Only leave the line when the archer on either side of you is not actively shooting.


When you are not shooting, you should stay behind the shooting line in the waiting area. Only venture downrange when the official says all is clear. 

At the target, maintain awareness of where people are around you. It takes some force to remove arrows from a target, and you don’t want to yank an arrow backward and poke someone standing close by. 

When you have retrieved your arrows, move away from the targets to give others room to do the same. That’s both for safety, and it’s good etiquette.


Again, be considerate of the other archers around you. Sure, you want to get a close look at where your arrows hit. So does everyone else. Once you inspect your target, stand back so others can get in close.

If you are not calling arrows or keeping score, don’t interrupt that process. Let the caller and scorer communicate without interference. And if you want to see your scorecard, request to do so only after all scores have been recorded.

As already mentioned, retrieve your arrows quickly and carefully and then move out of the way so others can do the same.

Don’t linger at the target to socialize. The pace of an indoor tournament is dictated by how fast archers shoot, score and retrieve their arrows, then return to the shooting line. If archers linger at the target to catch up with one another, the tournament slows down. Conduct the necessary business at the target and then get back to the line.

Studies have shown that archery is one of the safest sports out there. That safety track record depends on archers following basic safety rules. When they do, there usually are no problems.

And while you’re being a safe archer, it’s also good for the sport to be a considerate archer. If you are considerate, odds are you’ll meet the principles of tournament etiquette. And if you’re not sure about something, it’s always polite to ask.



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