Archery Tournament Etiquette

Heading to your first archery tournament as a competitor or a spectator? There are some basic etiquette rules you’ll want to know. These rules don’t carry penalties for violations, but they are generally accepted behavioral suggestions for respecting the archers and those around them. Archery is a game that requires concentration and precision, and so archers and spectators don’t want to do anything that potentially could throw someone off their game.

Spectator Etiquette

Think of an archery tournament as being more like a golf tournament than a football game. There are times for cheering and times for silence. As long as someone is on the shooting line, it’s best to remain silent — even if the archer you want to cheer is off the line. Once all archers are finished shooting, then let your favorite competitor know you’re enjoying the performance.

Many archery tournaments have what’s called a “competitor line” that delineates an area beyond which only archers entered in the tournament can enter. Spectators should stay behind that line. If a tournament doesn’t have such a line, it’s considered good etiquette to stay behind the area where archers set their equipment when they walk down to the targets to pull arrows.

It’s OK to take pictures while archers are shooting, but don’t use a flash. If your camera has an audible shutter click, be sure to stay back from the archers so the noise doesn’t distract them.

At major tournaments, you may encounter professional and/or celebrity archers. They’re usually happy to pose for photos, sign autographs and spend a few minutes talking archery, but be respectful of their time. They aren’t just shooting for fun. It’s their livelihood. It’s best to approach professional archers when they aren’t competing so you can be certain you aren’t disrupting their game. 

Archer Etiquette

As with spectators, archers shouldn’t let their actions interfere with another competitor’s shooting. Keep that in mind, and you should be fine.

The most important place for archer etiquette is on the shooting line because it’s where you can have the most impact on other archers. Archery lanes — especially at indoor competitions — tend to be narrow. Archery equipment, on the other hand — bows, arrows, stabilizers — tends to be large. Be aware of your equipment at all times. It’s very easy to nudge the archer next to you with an arrow as you draw it from your quiver, or bump them with a stabilizer.

Try to keep your movements slow and methodical on the line. Obviously, you have a shot process you have to complete. But when it comes to things like drawing an arrow from your quiver or looking back at a coach, try to avoid sudden, jerky movements that might attract the attention of your neighbors. When you’re done shooting, pay attention to the archers on either side of you. Only leave the line when they are not at full draw.

It’s OK to be frustrated on the line, but try to internalize it. No cursing, yelling, loud grunting or throwing things. Think of this. You could be having the worst day of shooting in your life at a particular tournament. But the person next to you could be shooting the best they’ve ever shot. Don’t ruin their day with your actions.

When you are not shooting, stay well behind the shooting line. Once it’s time to score and pull arrows, try to keep pace with the other archers in your group. Don’t be the archer everyone else is always waiting for.

In most tournaments, archers score one another’s arrows. Occasionally, you might disagree with the way one of your arrows is scored. Don’t get mad at your fellow archers. Call for a judge to take a second look. If the judge rules in your favor, don’t gloat about it. If the judge rules against you, accept it and move on. Conversely, if you are scoring someone else’s arrow and they don’t like your call, don’t get offended. Let the judge make the final determination.

Whether you are a spectator or a competitor, proper etiquette at any archery tournament is centered around being respectful of others. Archery is an individual sport where everyone competes in relatively close quarters. If you are mindful of how your actions could impact others and avoid doing anything that could be a distraction, you’ll be fine in any venue.

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