Essential outdoor kit for archery

Field generally needs more kit than target. Here’s the lowdown.

All archers will be familiar with the need to carry a set of equipment around. Field archery, due to the more complex and unforgiving environment requires another level of self-sufficiency and protection – and a great deal of it you will have to lug with you right around the course.

Staying cool or staying warm, and staying dry are of course vital. As you get more experienced in field archery, you will need to find a balance between weight and what is really necessary.

Some aspects depends on where the course takes place, and if for example there are areas where drinks and water are provided. As World Archery secretary-general Tom Dielen, a highly experienced field archer, sagely mentioned when we asked him about what to bring: “The most important thing to take with you is experience, and experience will tell you not to carry too much, but just enough.”

Marino wool thermal top by Aclima

Marino wool thermal top

Designed for hillwalking, these are recommended by several archers. Merino sheep come from the southern Alps, where they need to deal with hot summers and cold winters.

The wool from these sheep has been used by several manufacturers recently to create sport and walking gear. Fast drying and odour free, products with merino wool as a base layer have revolutionised several industries. This comes at a price, of course. 

From around £99 at alpinetrek.co.uk

Plastic box

Plastic box

One of the first essentials is a small plastic box to store a bunch of smaller items and keep them together, safe and dry. This should usually include a spare sight pin, a pair of small sharp scissors, enough serving for a new nocking point or two, a button spanner, spare arm-guard elastic, micropore tape etc.

(Your spare tab / release aid is in your quiver, right?) Many companies make these, the ones from Muji have an opaque surface that’s good for writing with a Sharpie on. Get several.

From £1.50 at muji.eu

Multi-tool

Multi-tool

We’ve banged on before here in Bow about why you should ditch the proliferation of Allen keys supplied with almost every archery product and move to the multi-tool future.

On a field course you could argue that a standard multi-tool is heavy, but it’s better to be safe that sorry and you never quite know what you might have to fix.

From around £15, widely available. 

Lightweight trousers

Lightweight trousers

Almost all field archery advice tells you to wear long trousers for any course that involves woods or deep brush, to protect the legs from scrapes and – in the summer – the threat of ticks, which can carry Lyme disease.

Some archers keep two pairs, one a ‘nice’ set, like this higher-end Pac-Lite GoreTex pair from Berghaus – and one cheapo set for courses with lots of brambles where the chances of them getting ripped are higher.

From around £100 at www.berghaus.com

Rain jacket

Rain jacket

Rainwear is a tricky thing, and getting the right garment depends on your size and shape. What works for target archery may not work for field archery, because of the angles.

Always try and check it out in the shop and go through the archery motions. You could take this tip from GBR’s Naomi Folkard, who gave us this: “If it’s raining I wear a sleeveless waterproof jacket with a waterproof coat, I take just my left arm out when I shoot and pop it right back when I’m done.” 

You may not decide to splash out for this ultra-ultra-light hi-tech mountain-grade coat from Patagonia, but it’s definitely something to aspire to.

From £400 at patagonia.com

Backpack stool

Backpack stool

With all this extra gear, you’ll need something to carry it around in, and many field archers use a combination bag/stool to have something to take a break on. Several archery manufacturers have produced these over the years, including Bohning and Lebrunet.

You can find similar products in many fishing or hunting shops, so there’s plenty to choose from. This Maximal backpack seems to be one of the last archery-specific products available, and should keep everything dry for days.

From around £55 at archeryworld.co.uk

Gaiters

Gaiters

Many field archers use boot gaiters to stop twigs, stones and insects getting in. This pair from Decathlon will do the job without breaking the bank. 

From £18 at decathlon.co.uk

Nikwax

Nikwax

It’s vital to protect any leather equipment from the elements where you can. This stuff will protect and waterproof both GoreTex and leather. 

We don’t need to tell you to carefully clean and wax leather boots after using them in muddy conditions, do we? 

From around £5

Balance trainer

Balance trainer

This is one thing you can do at home to improve your field archery, and posture generally. It will improve your proprioceptor muscles and balance, and strengthen your core too.

Perfect for those tricky hillside shots. Note: if you’re using one of these indoors, it’s recommended to have a board underneath to protect floors / carpets. 

From around £20 on Amazon

Small pliers

Small pliers

It’s worth investing in the best tools for archery, and field will often require some running repairs. This pair of small German Schmitz pliers with rubberised grips should last the distance. 

From £30 at Amazon

Binoculars

Binoculars

A pair recommended for target use may not be tough enough for field use – you really need something that can properly take a shock. This military-style pair from Steiner, with 8x magnification fit the bill nicely. 

From £200 at opticalworld.co.uk

Miscellaneous

The archers who contributed to this list had many more essential items to add which we couldn’t fit in here. These included:

  • A towel for drying things and cleaning arrows
  • Extra pair of socks
  • A wide-brimmed hat for the sun
  • A complete set of nocks in different colours
  • Energy drinks and bars
  • Anti-tick spray
  • Insect repellant
  • Umbrella
  • And of course… toilet paper

Thanks to everyone who assisted with this piece


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