Many archers will remember the days when there was just one FITA Star tournament, or fewer, every weekend! Nowadays, they’re in abundance and while that’s not a bad indicator of the growth of the sport, and especially the influx of competition archers, it does mean it’s tough to ensure each event consistently secures enough of the paying archery public to remain afloat. And for tournament organisers, who may well have been running their shoot for five, 10 or 20-plus years, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, running the same thing year after year and never looking to improve. Bad idea! Thankfully, there are three simple things you can do to keep ahead of the crowd curve.
1. Get on the web
The internet is not a cupboard. It’s not somewhere you can stick an image of the entry form and honestly say ‘we’ve advertised electronically’. It will just collect dust. Nowadays, you can get yourself a pre-designed website for a tenner or less – and there’s no excuse not to have information up there, easily accessible, in the public domain. Get your mates to link it on Facebook, and you’ve already reached more people than a chance mailshot to last year’s entrants.
And it doesn’t stop there. You’re online, so why not sign up for google checkout? In these modern times, the majority of people are purchasing on the internet on a nearly daily, or at least weekly, basis. For a small fee (often less than 50p), online checkout software will put you in their growing list of online providers, and you’ll take the stress out of sorting through all those paper entries.
Most people are proud of their club, their ground and the event they put on, and you often hear statements like: ‘come to our shoot, we’ve got the flattest ground’ …‘best bacon sarnies’…‘nicest judges’…‘best weather’… and so on. But often, there’s no evidence. If there’s no budding photographer in the club’s midst, there’ll be someone who doesn’t mind taking a camera and a few snaps. So get them on that field – but with one instruction: Don’t produce 100 photos of the back of archers’ heads as they shoot 70 metres into the far distance. No-one wants to take an analysis of the gents’ line’s bald spots or to count how many of the women have a pony tail. We want smiles!
Bow International photographer Dean Alberga is a great example of this in action. Check his website (dutchtarget.com), and get over the fact he’s a pro and produces some really great shots, then take stock of how many of his images are of people behind the line, enjoying themselves. It’s not out of laziness, and it’s not because the archery’s not interesting – but sport isn’t just about the result, and it’s important that we advertise how enjoyable competing in archery can be, and usually is.
Bring that back to our local, regional and national tournaments, and associate your event with this enjoyment. Get your photographer to capture the friendly rivalries, the thankful looks around the tea tent and the grins at the end of the day. Most importantly of all, though, once you’ve got those images: Do something with them.
Don’t go back to that dusty cupboard, whether that’s the one where your camera lives, or the depths of your club’s website. Chuck them on the front page, or on the entry details for next year’s tournament. Stick them up on Facebook, then tag whoever you do know and let the archery community do the rest. Whack a couple off to local papers with a little description (if you haven’t invited them down beforehand); what have you got to lose? Make a display board for the club house, or one that you can put at the entry table at other local tournaments when you’re advertising next year’s event. If nothing else, send them to Archery UK – or this magazine – with a line or two, and put the word out there that your tournament is the one people should be attending.
3. With open arms
It’s the laws of customer service. So, you’re running the event as a volunteer – and we all know you’re not getting paid for your time. But you still volunteered to volunteer, didn’t you? So don’t be a reluctant one. If you want something doing well, do it yourself, and if you’re doing it yourself make sure you do it well. Because if not, you might as well not have done it at all. You want people to attend your tournament, so be positive: Don’t make everything you do seem like a chore.
We all know that annoying person who turns up on the day to shoot, not entered (it’s been me more than a few times), or the member of the field crew who’s a bit of a pain in the neck. But don’t let it get you down; to the visiting archers, you – and your team – should be the happiest person in sight. Because, no matter what the weather, how they’re shooting or if they’ve got a bit of a sore head from the local they found round the corner – they’ll come back if they know they’re welcome.
Read it, action it
You may already have checked this little list off in your head, you may not. You may go beyond, you may not. At the end of the day, it should come down to your approach to running a tournament, so ask yourself the question: ‘Do I want to produce an event that’s just the same as everyone else’s – or do I want to be in the cream of the competition crop?’
Ask if you want to lead the way for archery in this country. Take a step back, look at what more you can do to run your event, and take the extra step because, while I’ve listed three simple things that can make the majority of tournaments better, there are three thousand things you can do to try and make your tournament the best. And hopefully, right now, you can think of one!
The European Archery Festival
Chris is part of the three-man team, along with long-time tournament organiser Jon Nott and Sportworks Director Gary Hargraves, behind bringing Europe’s premier archery tournament and trade show – and penultimate stage of the open Indoor Archery World Cup – to the UK in 2014. The guys’ thinking: With the success of the Olympics at Lord’s, it would have been a disaster if none of the event legacy was to continue.
It’s not a task they’re taking lightly. With a history of pride in trying to progress the sport, they’re making the event bigger and better than anything seen in the UK before – bringing in specialists from around the UK and Europe to run an event that should pave the way for top-level competition in the UK. It’s a big undertaking, and whether you attend as a competitor, a spectator, a volunteer or just someone a little bit interested, the team ask you to join them in making the event a huge success.
At a glance
The 2014 European Archery Festival will run from 24-26 January 2014, at Telford’s International Centre. It’s not a competition you should visit for just a day, and the idea is that – with the added trade show and attractions – as many people as possible make a weekend of it! All archers shoot qualification rounds over the Friday and Saturday, then the divisions are cut at the 32 mark. The top 32 head to the 25,000 Euro finals, which start on Saturday night and are completed in a broadcast stadium arena on the Sunday. Those who don’t make the finals, that’s 33 and below, still progress though, with a chance to win in the secondary tournament held before the finals on Sunday. Normally, from what we know at Nîmes, this second-chance shoot takes the form of a 12-arrow end, with highest scorers walking away with a lump of cash or some high-value prizes, and archers throughout the final leaderboard cashing in on gifts from the multitude of event sponsors.