Although most tournaments during the cold season will be held indoors, there are times when archers have to shoot in cold conditions. Most often, cold temperatures come into play during the early morning hours of a spring or fall tournament, when the sun has not yet had a chance to warm everything up. Sometimes, a competition may be held late in the season for scheduling reasons or to give competitors one more chance to shoot qualifying scores for certain events, like international tournaments. No matter the reason, it is still wise to wear layers so that you can add or subtract clothing quickly if you need to.
What to wear in cold weather
As with wet weather gear, one of the main concerns for outerwear is string clearance. Bulky sweaters, jackets, or coats may catch the string, causing it to lose much of its energy in an unpredictable way. For this reason, form-fitting layers are best. Fabrics made from wool or microfiber can be thin, durable, and insulating without necessarily adding bulk. However, some archers can make the best of a bulky coat and solve the string clearance problem using clips, string, tape, or the Velcro strips that cyclists wear around their legs to keep clothing out of bicycle gears.
Options for hats, gloves, and heat packs
Experts say that the human body loses a lot of heat from the head and hands. This is why it is a good idea to wear a hat or a knitted cap. Although warm gloves aren’t an option for archers during competition, you can wear gloves during scoring and breaks. Cold fingers and hands can become stiff which can often result in a poor release or stinging skin, so it is important to keep your hands warm.
Chemical heat packs last for hours and can be especially useful in keeping hands and feet warm. Try tucking a heat pack in your pockets or your quiver pouch to keep your tab or mechanical release warm. Most pharmacies carry a variety of heat pack options with soft bands that are designed to relieve back, abdomen, or knee pain. Especially for all-day tournaments, using one or more of these can help maintain your body’s core temperature. Heat packs can become quite hot, so be sure to keep at least one layer of fabric between you and the heat pack to avoid discomfort.
Other considerations for competitions in the cold
You can do a lot to maintain your core body temperature with a thermos of hot cocoa, decaffeinated tea, or even plain hot water. These will also help prevent dehydration, which can pose a problem during cold weather. Although people usually associate thirst with heat, it is important to stay hydrated especially in windy cold conditions that might dry you out unexpectedly.
Tips on staying warm during cold archery competitions:
- Layer your clothing to be more adaptable
- Use wool or microfiber fabrics which are thin but insulating
- Wear a knitted cap to keep your head warm
- Keep gloves handy for scoring and breaks
- Pack extra socks and warm, stable shoes
- Bring one or more chemical heat packs
- Stay hydrated with warm drinks