Baby, it’s cold outside. But don’t let a little winter weather force you to hang up your bow for the season. When the temperatures drop, indoor archery season heats up. Shooting your bow year-round keeps you in shooting shape, and indoor tournaments provide benefits you won’t get in outdoor competitions.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
To understand why indoor archery tournaments sharpen your skills in different ways, you must learn the traditional differences between indoor and outdoor competitions.
In National Field Archery Association indoor events, archers shoot rounds at 20 yards. These tournaments feature two types of shoots: “three-spot” target, a multicolored target face with three targets; and “five-spot” target, a blue and white target face with five targets. In USA Archery and NFAA indoor rounds, archers shoot 3 to 5 arrows per round, for a total of between 30 and 60 arrows during the tournament.
In outdoor competition, archers shoot more arrows at farther distances. Outdoor competition formats can vary a lot. Field archery events feature courses similar to golf courses, with archers walking the courses to shoot targets at varying distances. In contrast, 3-D courses feature foam animal targets, which is a fun challenge for archers who enjoy a day spent hiking with their bow.
Outdoor competitions feature elimination rounds. Some World Archery and USA Archery indoor tournaments have elimination rounds that mirror outdoor formats. Compound archers shoot 15 arrows in an elimination round. Recurve archers shoot a set system. However, the NFAA Vegas round does not have an elimination round, instead in the event of a tie, archers compete in a shoot-off until one misses.
No Outside Distractions
With more arrows, farther distances and Mother Nature, outdoor tournaments feature many challenges. You might contend with wind, rain, blinding sunlight or physical fatigue from walking the course. Many such distractions are beyond your control, and create infinite shooting challenges.
Indoor tournaments don’t have those outside distractions. It’s just you, your equipment and the target. Those are its challenges. In indoor tournaments, the competition is much closer because the environment is controlled. And the margins for error are much tighter. For example, in USA Archery format, the compound 10-ring is about the size of a dime for indoor tournaments. In outdoor tournaments, the 10-ring is the size of a baseball.
For many skilled, experienced archers, indoor tournaments are about shooting perfect scores. These competitions require precise skills and mental preparation. Mastering the mental games of indoor competition improves your performance.
Focus on Form
You won’t be shooting on inclines or trying to hold your bow steady against strong winds. Indoor competitions mean mastering the perfect form. Without outside distractions, archers can focus on the sport’s technical aspects. The more you compete in indoor leagues and tournaments, the more you’ll see your scores improve.
Even though you can draw your bow and shoot decent arrow groups after being away from your bow, you won’t shoot as strongly or accurately as you would by practicing year-round. Steady practice keeps you in top shooting form, and helps you continually improve your skills as you gain strength by continually shooting.
Beat the Winter Blues
Winter brings darkness and cold temperatures for most of the country, which causes widespread “seasonal affective disorder,” commonly called SAD. This ailment makes people feel sluggish and depressed, and even gain weight.
Regular exercise combats SAD. Luckily for you, archery is a fun workout. It burns calories and works many muscles. By shooting your bow inside during winter, you’ll drive the blues away while working on your form and physique.
Head to your local archery shop for expert insight, and sign up for leagues and tournaments. Winter will pass faster than you thought possible.