Outdoor Competitions

By ‘Hamster’ Grylls

Assuming you have read the companion page where I list everyday outdoor shooting clothing, this one is more aimed at what else you need for competing all day at the range. So, here are a few pointers to get you moving in the right direction.

Kit for Competitions:

Competitions outdoors are often long, all day affairs. While not all of the below is required, most will go a long way in making a shoot a more comfortable, enjoyable, drier and repeatable experience.

uniformFirstly clothing is stipulated. We are a classy sport (excluding some of our scruffier archers) so no jeans or camouflage clothing or crop tops are allowed. This is the infamous Rule 307 in Archery GB’s Rules of Shooting which outlines the dress code that MUST be worn for Record Status competitions. In theory if its not Record Status, it doesn’t matter but some judges don’t see it that way. TBH, the colours you should be wearing at a competition (if you are a Glasgow Archer) are Red tops and Black trousers. Why? These are GA’s registered club colours. They will give you a sense of identify and if there are a few of us shooting, it looks good (in a Jets and Sharks sort of a way – dance routines between distances optional). We have a club apparel link on the tool bar for club merch!
Competition note: There are no AGB rules concerning hats … which does go some way to explaining some of things that club coach and judge Michael Mather has been seen with on his head while judging.

Consider getting a folding chair – ideally without arms. Reason, it gets hard to sit down while wearing a quiver if the chair has arms and taking it off can lead to amusing incidents of being on the line, ready to shoot with no quiver! Now most of the time you wont need a chair as you prowl the equipment line looking for juicy gossip but there are often times that a seat is just what you need such as at lunch, break/change of distance or during an equipment failure. It also gives you a handy place above the damp grass to dump other vital things like the clip board with your scores.

Two commonly packed items are sun block and midgie repellent.


Mysterious fiery ball rises over Glasgow

You can get awfully burnt sitting out on an archery field for 8 hours if its sunny (especially with all the reflected glare from shiny things) and remember you are facing the same way all day. Sun block is always a good idea unless you wear long trousers, long sleeve compression teeshirt and sunhat. If your field shoots north, your neck will get burnt as the sun will be behind you all day.


Enthusiastic spectators at every archery competition

And if the sun’s out … so are the midgies. There are many types of midge repellent. Some more use than others. Some totally useless, the midgies love them. And some dangerously poisonous to mammals(!). One of the best is (bizarrely) Avon’s Skin So Soft (by appointment to the Royal Marines and SAS). Many a veteran archer has skin a supermodel would die for and are easily identifiable as they smell so much nicer than sweat, arrow lube and fletching glue.

Liquid refreshment is a must during all shoots. You can become dehydrated without fluids so always pack drinks. If you have a cold bag and a freezer pack, so much the better in summer. Alternatively a flask with coffee or tea for those Scottish summer days when Captain Oates would have refused to leave his tent. Snacks (non greasy – trust me) and lunch are also a good idea but nothing heavy as a post lunch nap will likely mean you miss an end or 10.

base seconds2So the weather is not great and you don’t want to be sitting in a puddle of precipitation for 8 hours …. What’s the solution? Well unless you fancy holding a brolly all day or you have a mobile home you can bring to shoots … it’s a tent or a gazebo.  Pop up bivvies are small, easily erectable tents designed for one person and their kit (although in an emergency it will contain five if you are all very friendly and each have at least a 2nd Dan in Twister!). Villages of larger tents pop up like mushrooms at archery competitions thanks to the now almost impossible to get Decathlon Base Seconds tent .. except on ebay if you are lucky.


The Toilet Tent – a good height, weather resistant , ergonomically efficient, source material for a whole afternoons humour.

Ideally you want a pop up style tent since you don’t want to be faffing with building a tent when you should be getting ready to shoot. Taking down a tent at the end of a competition requiring more than fold fold stuff is (post frustrating competition) likely to induce a “rage quit” beyond any seen in Fortnite from a defeated salty 12yr old. Just beware size both floor space and height when looking for a pop up. Many fishing bivvies have very low ceilings. Gazebo’s can be very susceptible to wind and need to be well pegged down/sides attached but are ideal as a sun shade/umbrella. Toilet and shower tents have also been pressed into service by archers. They can have better dimensions than a fishing bivvy but brace yourself for some very dodgy humour coming your way. ;o) 

Competition note: If it’s raining more than a slight drizzle, it’s likely that the judges will call ‘Inclement Weather’. This means that any colour rain wear may be deployed without worrying about club colours. This is where you will really appreciate that large storm proof brolly mentioned earlier. The walk to score and back is a mighty long one at 100yrds/90m in the rain and writing on your soggy papier mache scoresheet is quite a black art.

These items are not an exhaustive list and there are other things you can pack (the kitchen sink is about half way down the list) but the above will give you a good start up the learning curve when shooting target in the great outdoors. Field however is a radically different subject for another day.

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Midgie Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay