Choosing the right footwear is an important decision in most sports, and archery is no exception. The right shoes can make your tournament experience comfortable and could potentially help your form. A flat shoe will help you maintain a solid stance and allow you to plant your feet properly. Consider the discipline or type of tournament you’ll be competing in and choose your shoes accordingly. Whatever you choose, make sure they’re comfortable and the best choice for you.
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Any type of athletic shoe should work for an archery tournament. As long as the shoe is flat, with closed toes, and doesn’t cause you to wobble in mid-draw, things should work out fine.
Shoes designed for skateboarding could be a great choice for archers. The soles are thick and flat, which will give you a nice, firm base to stand on. They are also usually wide, so you can spread your toes out to form a solid foundation.
Renowned archery coach KiSik Lee recommends using shot-put shoes in his book, “Inside the Archer,” for their stability. Shot-put shoes have a slight slope from heel to toe, forcing your center of gravity off your heels. According to Lee’s KSL Shot Cycle, archers should place 60% of their weight on their toes and 40% of their weight on their heels.
Runners place the majority of their weight on their heel, so running shoes are designed to cushion the heel. If you follow the KSL shot process, you’ll be putting more weight on your toes, so the cushion that running shoes provide might not be quite right for your needs. But, if you’ve found a walking or running shoe that works for you, they can be a good choice for outdoor tournaments. Waterproof or water-repellent running shoes would work in the event of a rainy tournament or an early-morning tournament where there’s still dew on the ground.
Field Archery and 3D Archery
Field archery and 3D archery tournaments will require a different type of shoe. When you compete in those tournaments, you’ll be walking long distances among the elements, going uphill and downhill, in potentially wooded areas. If this is your tournament of choice, it’s important to wear shoes that you can walk in for long distances and that are comfortable in that environment. Avoid wearing shoes that will allow moisture to seep in.
Hiking boots and rain boots can be a good choice because of their waterproof qualities and soles with good traction, but plan ahead if this is what you’re going to be wearing. It would be a good idea to break in your boots before the tournament. Baseball players break in their gloves, figure skaters break in their skates and archers should break in their shoes. Boots are naturally rigid and could be a little uncomfortable out of the box. Make sure they’re not going to give you blisters or be too rigid at the tournament.
Type of Bow
When archers nock an arrow on a recurve bow, they will rest the tip of the riser on the tip of their shoe. This provides the proper leverage to keep the bow steady while they nock the arrow without the bow swinging around. Wearing closed-toe shoes will prevent the bow from pushing into your toes.
As is usually the case, there’s not one right answer to the perfect shoes. As long as they’re closed-toe and flat, not high-heeled, the best shoes to wear to an archery tournament are going to be the best shoes for you. Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and will give you the best chance of maintaining proper form. Whatever shoe does that for you, that’s the right choice.
Visit your local archery range to test out your shoes and see how they stack up at the line.