What to Expect at your first archery tournament

So you’re heading to your first indoor archery tournament? Maybe you’re feeling a little intimidated. Maybe you’re feeling nervous. Maybe you’re feeling like you’re not ready.

Maybe you’re feeling all of these things and more.

Don’t worry. Everyone is anxious in some way the first time they step to the line alongside dozens of other archers to shoot for an official score.

shooting line

But guess what? The archery community is one that welcomes new competitors to the game. It’s likely the people standing on either side of you will offer a tremendous amount of help and support.

But in the interest of helping you be as prepared as possible – both mentally and physically – we asked two experts to share some insights and advice about attending a first archery tournament. Whether you’re a young kid or an adult, take heed to their words.

Our experts are Heather Pfeil, program director and head coach at Lancaster Archery Academy, and Alex Wifler, 2015 Vegas Shoot champion, 2016 LAS Classic Men’s Open Pro champion and member of the USA Archery team.


Heather Pfeil is Lancaster Archery Academy’s program director.


Alex Wifler

In a Q & A format, we’re going to switch back and forth between the two.

LAS: What was the first indoor tournament you entered?

AW: My first tournament was The Presley Shoot, which became the Midwest Open in Bloomington Illinois, at the age of 12.

LAS: How did you get up the nerve to enter it?

AW: It was the excitement to enter the tournament and opportunity to see if I could compete in this new sport that I was embracing. I was more focused on having fun than being nervous.  I knew that I was able to shoot and the experience of being there was not about being nervous. I was just going to try this and focus on having the experience.

LAS: Is there anything I can do to minimize anxiety?

HP: Pack your gear the night before, so you can take your time and make sure you have everything you need.

Arrive an hour early. This will leave you plenty of time to find out where you need to go to check in, where to store your bow, where your lane is and where you can practice. If you are rushing around at the last minute trying to figure all this out, your mind won’t be in the right place when it’s time to shoot.


Arrive early and find your target assignment.

The week before the tournament, practice with uncomfortable music on, and visualize that you are shooting with lots of people around. This will prepare you for being in an unfamiliar environment.

LAS: What, if anything, caught you off guard about that first tournament?

AW: Standing with all of the other archers and meeting the pros.  I was not prepared for the number of people that also loved the sport of archery, and the pros were just normal people that also loved promoting their sport.


Everyone around you at an archery tournament shares your passion.

LAS: What are some things I need to know about the competition?

HP: Know if they have any special equipment rules, and make sure you’re following them. You are going to have to keep score, so know how they do it. Remember your archery etiquette – when to walk up to and off of the line; what to do with your bow in between ends; when to walk down to pull arrows; all of it. Consciously remind yourself what target you are shooting every time you go to the line, so you don’t shoot the wrong one.


Be prepared to keep score.

LAS: What should my goal be?

HP: Something achievable, like have fun. Make it your goal to finish the competition, no matter what happens. Make a new friend. Don’t worry about your score or how you place. You want to come out of this tournament feeling good about yourself.

LAS: What advice would you give a new archer for dealing with nerves on the line?

AW: Breathe and focus on shot execution, not the score.  Tell yourself over and over again that this is fun and that this is what you have trained to do.  Enjoy the moment.


Remember to have fun at your first archery tournament.

Scholastic 3-D Archery – S3DA – Scoring: How it Works

Scholastic 3-D Archery – or S3DA, as it’s being called – is an off-shoot of the Scholastic Archery Association that’s dedicated to getting kids up through high school age involved in 3-D archery.

Chapters of S3DA are forming all across the country as more and more kids discover how challenging and fun 3-D archery can be.

In this video, Heather Pfeil, Lancaster Archery Academy’s program coordinator, talks about how the scoring works under S3DA. Pfeil explains the scoring system while standing next to a 3-D deer target that would be used at S3DA-sanctioned shoots.

Lancaster Archery Academy plans to host an S3DA basic instructor course in July, which will teach potential instructors about S3DA’s rules, practices and programs. If you’re interested in attending, sign up here.

How to pull arrows out of a target

Lancaster Archery Academy instructors Heather Pfeil and Laura Reed discuss methods for properly pulling arrows out of a target. Properly retrieving your arrows will ensure that you and those near you remain safe. It is possible to injure yourself or others through improper arrow retrieval.

Reed demonstrates several techniques for safely pulling arrows out of a target.

What’s the Best Archery Stance?

In this video Lancaster Archery Academy instructor Heather Pfeil demonstrates correct and incorrect stances for shooting a bow and arrow. Pfeil talks about the importance foot position has in balancing your body and aligning your shoulders for taking a shot.

She discusses different stances for compound target archers, 3-D archers, bowhunters and traditional archers. If you want to have success on the range or in the woods, you need to take the proper stance when shooting your bow.

Simple test for eye dominance

Most of us have a dominant eye.

That means our brains tend to prefer visual input from one eye over the other.

Ideally in archery, you shoot so that your dominant eye is the one looking through the bowsight. Archers with a dominant right eye should shoot right-handed, and vice versa for lefties.

Doing so allows you to keep both eyes open while you aim, which, in turn, allows greater focus on the target.

In the video above, you can see Lancaster Archery Academy instructors Heather Pfeil and Laura Reed demonstrate a test to determine eye dominance. If you don’t know yours, check it out.

If you’ve been shooting for a while, but you’ve never actually tested your eye dominance, give it a try as well. You might find the eye you thought was dominant actually isn’t.

Sometimes a person’s eye dominance and hand preference are opposite. It’s not necessary to switch hands to match your eye dominance, but you might want to give it a try to see if it works for you. If not, you can always close the dominant eye while aiming.