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How to Ask Permission to Borrow Equipment When Yours Breaks at a Competition

You’re at a competition and the unthinkable happens: Your equipment breaks beyond repair and you don’t have a spare. So, what do you do? It’s important to carry spare equipment, including a spare bow, to competitions — but if that’s not an option, you still might not be out of luck. Politely ask permission from another archer to borrow their equipment. If it sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Archers are a very welcoming bunch, and you’ll likely find plenty of people who are willing to help you. The archery community supports one another, and that includes competitors at a tournament. Just make sure you follow the etiquette and recommendations from Naomi Folkard, Team Britain archer and chair of the athlete’s committee for World Archery, below.

A360: How should an archer approach asking another archer to use their bow when theirs fails? 

NF: If the athletes know each other well, then just go and politely ask if they have something that they can borrow. Very often the coach or team managers will ask other teams so that more people can be asked, which is crucial under time pressure and when looking for a specific arrow size or limb that is not common. Word spreads quickly and many people come forward to try and help. 

It’s also worth asking the organizing committee and many volunteers who are also archers and may have something suitable that won’t be needed. 

A360: What should the archer do when they receive the spare bow? For example: Should they adjust the sight?

NF: You should adjust the sight for sure, (and) if there’s time to adjust the button then that’s ok too — just ask permission first. The athlete loaning that equipment should know how to put it back exactly the same. If it’s a release aid then it should also need adjusting, but (it) may not be easy to get it right again afterwards; athletes should carry their own spare release aids in hand luggage. The tiller bolts should not really be adjusted unless absolutely necessary, and count exactly how many turns difference is made to them, and mark the bolt and riser with a permanent pen so it can go back the same afterwards. 

A360: Do you have any stories of this happening? Have you seen any archers volunteer their bows without the other archer asking? I know there was a moment in 2013, I believe it was, when Martin Damsbo loaned Braden Gellenthien his spare bow when Braden’s bow broke. Have you seen anything like this happen?

NF: I’ve seen a number of athletes loan bits of equipment or entire bows over the years. People really are friendly and want to help fellow athletes out. 

I coached at the Youth World Champs in Argentina 2017 before travelling straight to Mexico for the World Championships. I (loaned) pretty much all my spare bow and training arrows to a young American athlete in Argentina. I think an arrow or two got lost or broken by guessing sight mark which was annoying, but that’s not completely surprising if there’s no way of safely getting sight mark. She or her coach moved everything, limb bolts, button pressure, centre shot. It was my spare bow and I knew exactly how to put it right, so I didn’t mind. 

Archers Support Each Other

Equipment malfunctions in the middle of a competition are frustrating and unwelcome, but they don’t have to end your experience. Politely ask another archer to use their equipment, follow the etiquette above, and you’ll be back on the range in no time. Most importantly, make sure you thank the archer for sharing. Express your gratitude when you return the equipment. 

The archery community is very supportive. No archer wants to be in a scenario where their equipment breaks, so they will be sympathetic to your situation. If someone extends the kindness to you, pay it forward and extend a kindness to someone else at a competition whenever they need it, whether it’s at your local range or a major stage.



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