Packing to travel to archery tournaments can be scary, especially when taking along your equipment the first time. You should ensure you have everything you need, but don’t bring the kitchen sink.
The most common concern is protecting your archery equipment while it’s loaded and unloaded by airport baggage handlers. Remember this: If your equipment can move inside your bow case, it’s much more likely to bend or break in transit. Pad and secure your gear by filling empty spaces with clothing or extra padding to minimize movements.
Before you start packing, though, decide what you truly need while competing. Try to visualize what could break in your setup, and pack a spare. Yes, that means you might include a backup bow. Pack adequate spare parts for peace of mind. That includes extra nocks and fletching, which are standard in an archer’s kit. Also consider spare bowstrings, a second (or third) tab or release-aid, and an extra peep, scope or sight pins.
Another consideration is your bow case. Whether you use a hard-sided or a plastic-sided case, airline-approved bow cases will protect recurves and compounds; however, don’t travel with cloth-sided bags, such as recurve backpacks or compound bags. A bag’s thin walls offer little protection, and you’ll need to insert more padding in the bag to secure equipment.
For clothing, a traveling archer must prepare for anything Mother Nature can throw at them. Always keep a full lightweight rainsuit in your bow case. The long-range forecast might predict a warm, sunny day, but you can avoid nasty, last-minute surprises by packing for cold, wind, and rain. Therefore, pack waterproof shoes, a small umbrella, and clothing that shields you from the sun. Whether you encounter heat or cold, your clothing must help you shoot at your highest level.
International travel can also offer challenges many people overlook. Perhaps the most important thing to check is your passport. Make sure it’s up to date, and won’t expire within 6 months of your travel dates. Many countries do not allow entry if a passport will soon expire. Also check to see if you need a visa to enter the country where you’re competing because you might need to send your passport to a visa office a few weeks before departing. Some countries also require entry fees, so bring cash, credit cards or other payment methods.
Speaking of cash, check out your money-exchange options. Local currency is important, because U.S. cash, credit or debit cards aren’t accepted everywhere, such as at family-run restaurants in Colombia and other countries.
Finally, make sure you can power your electronics. Do a quick internet search on the type of electrical outlets used where you’re traveling. Few things are more frustrating than realizing you can’t recharge a computer or cell phone once you arrive. Most of Europe, for example, uses different plugs than those found in America.
Knowing exactly what you must pack for competition might seem overwhelming, but the more you travel, the better you’ll learn what you need. From there you’ll pack your personalized list of essentials that keep you confident and comfortable on the road.