How to Prepare for an Archery Tournament Like a Pro

Archery Tournament 2

Are you getting ready for an imminent tournament? You’re spending time on the range, but have you ever wondered how professional archers prepare themselves before a competition? To satisfy our curiosity, we sought advice from Dan McCarthy – one of the top 3D marksmen in the world. He shared with us his tricks and tips to optimize his gear setup, form a practice routine, and a mental game ahead of major tournaments.

McCarthy is well-known among archers as a 3D pro, and he’s made his mark by having two bows set up for each tournament season. Moreover, he has consistently been seen in the finals at some of the most renowned indoor competitions such as Vegas Shoot, NFAA Indoor Nationals, and Lancaster Archery Classic.

McCarthy has two bows – his primary bow is optimally set up for competition and a secondary bow is reserved solely for experimentation. With the latter, McCarthy plays with draw length, draw weight, arrow setups, and more to find any small performance improvements. He stands by his motto, “you never know what might give you an edge unless you try it.”

When he discovers something that works even better with his backup bow, that becomes the primary one, and the other takes its place as the secondary. However, all experimentation ceases seven days before a tournament for optimum performance.

“I have a strategy before every competition. I stick with whatever setup is on my bow and build up confidence in it so that when the tournament begins I know what to expect from my gear,” he said firmly. “I always avoid making changes close to game time because it can disrupt my feeling of comfort and self-assurance.”


Having decades of experience as a professional shooter, McCarthy is well-versed in his form and can quickly detect any issue that pops up while competing. “Constantly striving to perfect my technique,” he revealed, “you may not catch flaws during practice runs but they’re much more obvious when there’s tournament pressure.” That knowledge has been essential for him: after identifying the problem areas, he makes sure to hone them before moving on to the next event.

As an example, McCarthy observed that his shot was not constantly level during the competition. Thusly, he will be focusing on it before the next tournament since attempting to improve it there and then only adds more issues. He confidently explained “There isn’t a chance I’m trying to fix this at a competition.” “The solution is found in practice – that’s when you can sort this out”.

McCarthy chooses to concentrate on only one or two technical elements at a time, noting that he will be particularly focusing on the segments of his form which need the most attention. “That way,” McCarthy explains, “they become my biggest strengths and I can move onto something else in the next session. This ongoing process enables me to always have an abundance of topics available for improvement.”

Practice Routine

According to McCarthy, each archer needs to come up with their own training regimen that suits them or best. When asked about his practice routine, he explained how shooting too often and intensely can lead to exhaustion at the end of a 3-D season – when some of the most vital tournaments take place. Thus, he found that an average of 8 hours per day was not essential for him in order to stay sharp and on top of his game.

Although some archers prefer to shoot multiple arrows each day, McCarthy believes the most important thing is discovering what it takes for you to be successful before a tournament. During practice sessions, he likes honing in on particular problems as opposed to just shooting aimlessly. By concentrating on form issues or other related areas that need improvement, McCarthy can ensure he’s ready once competition arrives.

Mental Game

According to McCarthy, many tournament archers make the mistake of trying too hard to build up their confidence. He suggests forgoing this approach and instead trusting one’s experience to set realistic expectations. McCarthy added that as you get ready for competition, it’s key to recognize your strengths and weaknesses.

He emphasized that it’s important to recognize any areas of improvement and transform them into chances for advancement. “I have won tournaments by taking advantage of my strengths while also being more daring when the situation required,” he shared. “Strategy is a must – appraise your abilities and equipment, then construct an action plan accordingly.”

How to Prepare for an Archery Tournament (Like a Pro)

Archery Tournament

I. Get your gear ready

Make sure all of your equipment is prepped and ready to go. Do a thorough check that all of your arrows, risers, string, stabilizers, sights, and tuners are in perfect condition and functioning properly. Dan recommends setting aside time just before the tournament to tune up any glitches and make sure your bow is shooting as accurately as possible.

II. Develop a practice schedule

The weeks and days leading up to the tournament should be devoted to honing your skills. Dan suggests setting aside time each day for target shooting, visualizing shooting scenarios, and practicing with a wide range of equipment (bows, arrows, sights, etc.) to ensure you’ll be comfortable and prepared on the day of the tournament.

III. Set realistic goals

As with any sport, it’s important to set reasonable expectations for yourself before the competition. Aiming too high can lead to disappointment if you don’t reach your goal while setting unrealistic goals can make success feel like a failure. Dan recommends setting small, achievable goals that will help you reach your overall performance goal.

IV. Focus on the process

 It’s easy to get hung up on the final result of a tournament, but Dan says it’s important to stay focused on what you’re doing at the moment – rather than worrying about the outcome. Practicing visualization techniques such as positive self-talk and visualizing yourself shooting well can help reduce stress and build confidence at the moment.

V. Build your mental game

Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation when it comes to competing in archery tournaments. Dan recommends building a pre-tournament routine that includes relaxing activities, positive thinking, and visualization techniques – this will help ensure you’re in the right mindset on the day of the tournament.

By following Dan’s advice, you’ll be well on your way to competing like a pro archer! With the right preparation and practice, you have all the tools necessary for success. Good luck in your upcoming tournaments!

Bonus tip: Get plenty of rest before the tournament and make sure you eat a healthy meal. This will help ensure that you’re energized and ready to compete!

10 Tips to Help You Prepare for an Archery Tournament

1. Have a strategy: Build up confidence in your bow and set up before the tournament begins, and avoid making changes too close to game time.

2. Improve your form: Always strive to perfect your technique through practice sessions and be mindful of any flaws that can be identified while competing.

3. Find the right practice routine: Determine what type of practice routine works best for you and don’t be afraid to take breaks.

4. Tune in to your mental game: Acknowledge any areas that need improvement and turn them into an opportunity for growth.

5. Stay focused on the target: Concentrate on hitting the center of the target each time, instead of trying to make the arrow go further.

6. Take a deep breath: Stress and fatigue can creep up during tournaments, so be sure to take deep breaths between shots.

7. Visualize success: Picture yourself hitting the perfect shot in your head before you pull back the bowstring for each attempt.

8. Stay hydrated and eat well: Make sure to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet before, during, and after tournaments.

9. Get enough rest: Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night leading up to the tournament as this will help keep your body in peak physical condition.

10. Have fun: Remember that archery should be an enjoyable experience, so don’t let any distractions take away from the enjoyment of the competition.

These are just some tips to help you prepare for an archery tournament. Remember that everyone has different needs and preferences, so find what works for you and stick with it. Practice often and make sure to take care of your body and mind before, during, and after the tournament. Good luck and have fun!

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