Team USA compound archer Makenna Proctor began her journey into archery at a camp five years ago. She fell in love with the sport and decided to find a way to continue. Now, she’s stepping onto the world stage, bringing home the World Archery Youth Championship bronze with the junior women’s team. At the recent World Cup and World Championships in Yankton, South Dakota, Proctor and the rest of Team USA put their skills to the test when they battled some windy conditions. Proctor shared her advice on how to adjust to difficult weather conditions and what archers can do to prepare themselves for any scenario.
How Does Weather Affect Archers?
Difficult weather conditions can affect an archer’s performance. There are challenges from every type of weather. Proctor broke down different situations archers might find themselves in.
“The weather can affect everything,” she said. “If you’re hot and sweaty, then you need to make sure you have something to wipe your hands with. You need to have chalk, something to keep your hand from moving.” Something as simple as keeping a small hand towel attached to your quiver at all times could make all the difference on the line on a hot summer day.
Cold weather can affect your form as well. “The cold, especially, I have a hard time with,” Proctor said. “I’m in Ohio, so it gets super cold.” She suggested dressing in several layers and having hand warmers in case your hands get cold. “If your hands and your muscles start to get cold, they cramp up and it makes it really hard to expand and make a good shot,” she said. “I always look ahead before starting any tournament. I pack for any weather because you never know what’s going to happen. I think it’s super important.”
Proctor’s ideal weather conditions for a tournament are what anybody would enjoy, on the line or otherwise. “The ideal conditions would be, like, 75 and partly cloudy, slight breeze,” she said. “I’m talking like 1 or 2 miles per hour, from the south.” And why from the south? “Because it’s warm, it’s a nice warm breeze,” Proctor said.
How Do You Overcome Weather Obstacles?
So besides keeping an eye on the forecast, what’s an archer to do? Proctor gave some tips and tricks for adjusting to various weather conditions.
The bright sun can make it hard to see the target, depending on the angle of the rays. “I have a sunshade in case it starts coming in at an angle, making it so you can’t see anything,” Proctor said. “I don’t usually have an issue with sun. I’m usually pretty happy when it’s sunny out. A sunshade works for my peep sight. I have an enclosed one so that the sun doesn’t affect how I see my sight or anything.”
Extreme temperatures can be difficult to adjust to, but there are steps you can take to maintain your form. In hot weather, Proctor said to be prepared to sweat. “Just know that your hand is going to slip a little bit, just make a good strong shot.”
Proctor said combating the cold can be as simple as bundling up. She suggested bringing hand warmers and dressing in several layers. “Make sure you can still shoot in those layers,” she advised. “A lot of times the more layers you add on, the less you’re able to expand. So, knowing how much to add, how much not to add is a good thing. Getting out and practicing in the cold sometimes is helpful.” Practice in multiple layers so that there are no surprises at the line. Know your limits.
Rain can also have an impact on your shot. “Get yourself something that will cover your sight; that way you don’t get rain spots on your sight,” Proctor said. “With peep sights, sometimes you just have to blow it out because the raindrops get in there.” A light rain might just be a nuisance, but a downpour could require you to adjust your aim. “Sometimes it can affect your arrow,” Proctor continued. “Sometimes it can shoot it down a little bit, depending on how hard the rain is. A couple clicks on your sight will fix anything, though.”
Though any harsh weather condition is difficult to compete in, Proctor said the hardest one for most archers to conquer is the wind.
“If it’s hot, if it’s cold, if it’s rain, it’s much easier to adjust and fix it,” she said. “When the wind is blowing, you can’t control it. It’s blowing you, it’s blowing your bow, it’s blowing your arrow. When it’s rain, you can wipe down your stuff. You can keep your hands dry, you can keep your bow dry. But with wind, you have no control. You have to get that shot off as soon as possible.” Luckily, there is something you can do to help maintain proper form in the wind. Add a stabilizer or back bar to your bow to help balance the equipment. Notice where the arrows are landing and compensate accordingly. If the arrows are landing 3 inches below the center, aim 3 inches above the center. Your sight point will end up being off-center when you’re shooting in the wind, and that’s OK.
“Add weight to the front, to the back, to the actual bow, whatever you need to do to add some more weight,” Proctor said. “Aim off or tilt the bow to get the arrow to the spot. Pick your spot and don’t move from it. You just stay consistent. Keep it strong and just do the best you can in the wind.”
What Else Can an Archer Do?
There is no way to control nature, so all you can do is bring clothes and equipment for every element, stay positive and trust your skills when you’re faced with less-than-ideal weather during a tournament. “Just come and do your best, don’t worry about anyone else,” Proctor said. “You shoot your shot and it will happen.” Focus on your target, not the other archers’ targets, because you’re all dealing with the same weather. Treat it like any other tournament and don’t panic. “Be flexible, that’s all I can say,” she added. “You have no control over the weather. You only have control over you.”
Follow Proctor’s advice for each weather condition and you can turn a tournament with challenges into your best one yet. Heat, cold, wind, or rain, you’ve got this.
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