BOOM! SNAP! Tink tink tink.
That last sound was an unknown screw hitting the pavement after your last shot.
Equipment failures can be scary, not just because of their sounds, but because of the uncertainty of what will happen with your next shot.
But dealing with equipment failures during competition doesn’t need to be as stressful as sometimes happens. The best safeguards against such uncertainty is learning everything about your bow. Next, know what rules and procedures you must follow when something breaks during competition. You don’t want to sacrifice any more points than necessary.
To start, you must notify a judge that your bow malfunctioned or that you have an equipment failure (note: broken nocks, torn fletching and broken arrows are not equipment failures). You must step off the shooting line while holding your hand or bow high, and catch the judge’s attention without distracting the other archers.
The rules for repairing equipment can differ by tournament. Some competitions have a time limit, while others give you a limit defined in ends. For example, you might have two ends to fix the problem rather than 15 minutes.
One great thing about the archery community is that many people on and off the shooting line will eagerly help if something goes wrong with your equipment. They’ll lend everything from arrows, stabilizers and even full setups to keep you in the game.
A great example occurred during a gold-medal match at the Antalya World Cup in 2013 between Martin Damsbo of Denmark and Braden Gellenthien of the United States. Damsbo loaned Gallenthien his backup bow after the string broke on Gallenthien’s only bow. You can watch the video of this match above. Read more about this momentous show of sportsmanship here.
Time allotments to fix equipment usually occur only during a competition’s ranking rounds. For target archery, that’s the 60-arrow round at 18 meters or the 72-arrow ranking round outdoors. Elimination matches, however, allow no time for equipment failures. Archers should bring a second bow they’re comfortable shooting. This precaution can remove any anxiety archers might have about equipment failures.
Keeping multiple setups ready might seem daunting at first, especially for your bank account, but if you stick with archery for years you’ll likely accumulate enough equipment for two or more setups. You shouldn’t rely on other archers to provide spare parts, but that’s often an option in dire emergencies.