April 19, 2014

How to Shoot in the Heat

Many outdoor archery competitions take place during the summer months, and for archers competing in southern or desert regions, heat can be a major consideration. While sunshine can be beneficial, it can also generate temperatures to challenge even the most physically fit competitors. Archers should be aware of dangers such as dehydration or heat stroke. However, there are some simple steps to take to keep yourself cool even during the hottest archery tournaments of the year.

Drink before you become thirsty

The best way to beat the heat is to drink plenty of water before, during, and after competition. Most archery tournament organizers arrange to have water coolers at the field so you can refill as often as you like.

Dehydration is easy to prevent, but you must stay proactive by drinking before you feel thirsty. Although experts debate whether or not caffeine will lead to dehydration, you should keep in mind that caffeinated drinks like soda or coffee might make you feel jittery, especially if you are already nervous or excited about competing.

Your best drink choices for staying cool on the archery field:

• Water
• Sports drinks
• Juice

Stay in the shade whenever possible

Shady areas can be significantly cooler, so you should take full advantage of shade on the archery field if you have the opportunity to spend a minute or two there. This may be difficult if the competition is moving quickly and you find yourself spending all your time either on the shooting line or walking back or forth from the target. One solution is to bring your shade along with you in the form of an umbrella. During breaks longer than 15 minutes, moving from the shade to a place inside with air conditioning can go a long way toward lowering your core body temperature.

Dress for the heat

Wearing the right clothing will help you concentrate on your shooting. Avoid dark colors that absorb heat. Instead wear white, khaki or pastel colors. You can also find a variety of fabrics designed specifically to help you stay comfortable in heat by venting air and wicking away sweat. Check the dress code of the organization sponsoring the event to be sure your outfit will meet regulations.

Sunglasses and hats can help a great deal in keeping you cool and reducing glare. Hats can also come in handy on rainy days. Head coverings with wide brims, such as baseball caps or cowboy hats, typically work best for compound shooters. This is because the angle of the string on a recurve is much higher and a wide-brimmed hat might get in the way. For this reason, many recurves shoot instead with a bucket cap that has a narrower brim. Whatever form your hat takes, generally the best option for keeping you cool and reducing glare is a white or light-colored cap with a dark color underneath the brim.

Tips on how to dress for the heat:

• Layer your clothing to be more adaptable
• Light colors in dry-wicking fabrics
• Shorts, skirts, or skorts
• Light-colored hats with dark brims

Keep in mind that weather can change suddenly. Experienced archers try to keep their rain gear handy even on fair-weather days. As the adage goes, “it is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” Being prepared can mean the difference between having a rough day at the range or a fun story to tell friends after the tournament.