There are plenty of opportunities for an archer with wanderlust to shoot abroad – Danielle Brown explains how to go about making the most of the opportunities out there
Travelling and shooting abroad has never been easier, and it is something I would urge all archers to try at least once. The opportunity to compete internationally has traditionally been reserved for national teams, but the lines are blurring. More competitions are open to archers of all levels and abilities and travel is becoming more accessible and cheaper.
Of course there are big competitions like Nîmes and Vegas, which are fantastic fun to take part in. Not only do you get to compete alongside some of the world’s best archers, but it’s always worth visiting the stands and having a look at all the archery equipment on display. This is a brilliant opportunity to ask questions and gain more understanding about the gear you’re shooting. What I love most about these events is watching other archers compete. You can learn such a lot from this, not just in terms of technical skills, but from how others approach competitions, and how they react to a bad shot or a good one!
I have been approached by a number of archers who have told me they really fancy entering big tournaments like Nîmes and Vegas, but they are worried they aren’t good enough. Unfortunately, quite a few of them have talked themselves out of attending, which is a real shame. The great thing about this sport is that archers of all levels and abilities can shoot beside one another. The advice and encouragement that world class archers often share is invaluable and the experience of entering such a high level of competition allows you to progress much more quickly.
It’s not all about the big competitions though. I’m meeting more and more British archers who enjoy tying in an archery competition with their summer holiday. They rave about what a fantastic time they have had and how friendly everybody at the club has been. When I’ve attended local tournaments abroad I have found that the organisers, club members and fellow competitors can’t do enough for you. They make it a personal mission to make you feel welcome and ensure that you are looked after.
It’s also fascinating to see how competitions are run elsewhere. At the tournaments I’ve attended in Australia and New Zealand I have enjoyed barbeques on the field during the lunch break (a practice I definitely think Britain should adopt!) and it was really interesting to see how laid back everything is in comparison to over here.
Good preparation not only helps you shoot better, but it helps you to enjoy the experience more. There are many similarities between preparing for competitions in the UK and competitions abroad, but if you are seriously considering shooting abroad hopefully these few tips will help:
Do your research
The important things to research include:
The average weather forecast.
The location of the venue and whether it is situated close to your accommodation and other local amenities like supermarkets. This might be less relevant if you are hiring a car, or indeed a deciding factor on whether to hire a car when you’re out there.
Pack for every occasion
The UK might be renowned for being miserable and grey, but that doesn’t mean that everywhere else is bright and sunny. Don’t make assumptions because where you are heading ‘should’ be warm, even after you have done your research. More likely than not, they are used to experiencing five seasons in one day too.
I went on a training trip to Australia with the England squad as part of our Commonwealth Games preparation. Up until that point every image I’d seen of Australia involved beaches, sunshine, ice cream and the odd kangaroo. I packed plenty of t-shirts and shorts, but Melbourne in October wasn’t quite as warm as I expected. In fact, it was freezing. It warmed up to a blistering heat by mid-morning, but first thing in the day was really cold. I learned my lesson and while I always did my research before heading somewhere, I always made sure I was prepared for every eventuality. And it has paid off. I’ve warn my woolly hat and thermals in the desert in Arizona, in Shanghai and in Italy to name just a few. Now my bag always contains sun cream, ski wear and everything else in between.
Take your favourite snacks
When you’re packing your suitcase it’s always a good idea to squeeze in plenty of food. Of course if you’re flying you have a strict weight limit to stick to, but a few boxes of cereal bars might come in really handy. Trying local cuisine is an important part of the experience, however, when you are shooting you can’t beat something you know you like and keeps your body fuelled for a long day on an archery field.
Thank you gifts
Presenting the club and/or your target companions with a small gift is a nice gesture. Pin badges with your club or county logo embossed on it or something similar that perhaps captures the area you are from always go down well. It’s a great way of thanking them for the hospitality and leaving a reminder of your visit. Fostering international relationships is great in any capacity and sport is a fantastic means to do this.
Enjoy the experience
Make sure you leave plenty of time to sightsee. Representing your country is a huge privilege and of course the focus is the competition, but I also love the travel. I love experiencing new cultures, trying new foods, meeting new people and if I get the opportunity to explore the area, I jump at it. I’ve had the great fortune of seeing the Taj Mahal, experienced haggling at underground markets in Shanghai, got horrifically lost when trying to find the Cathedral where they keep the Shroud of Turin and discovered a quaint little museum instead. I always make a point to ask local archers what they recommend visiting and doing, often discovering more about the area and landmarks that the guidebooks