7 top tips for shooting in hot weather
At the third stage of the year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup, held in Antalya, Turkey, archers experienced temperatures that averaged 36 degrees Celsius (that’s about 100 Fahrenheit) with 70% humidity. It was hot.
Considering that Rio’s on the horizon, and even though it’s winter in the Brazilian city during the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games – held in August through September – the heat is expected to be similar. So we spoke to some of the world’s best compound and recurve archers, to see what tips they had for shooting in the heat.
Here’s what they had to say…
1. Drink a lot
David Pasqualucci will competed at his first Olympics in Rio. In Italy, his home country, high temperatures are also common – and his main piece of advice was on keeping hydrated.
“All I do is drink a lot of water, wear a cap to protect my face from the sun and enjoy it,” he said.
Russia’s Albina Loginova said she adds vitamins or electrolytes into her liquid diet, as that not only helps to stay hydrated but also keeps energy levels up while the sun’s bright.
2. Stay in Shade
If you’re not on the shooting line, said European Games silver medallist Sjef van der Berg, stay in the shade. There’s no reason to subject yourself to more temperature than is absolutely necessary – especially when you’re trying to perform at the highest level.
When collecting arrows, there’s ways to keep yourself shaded, too.
Archers probably use more umbrellas when the sun’s raining down than when there’s actual rain falling – and there are always those awesome hats the Korean girls wear in-between ends, too.
3. Cool down the body
“We have some cooling vest that we use in extreme heat,” said Sjef. The vests contain a patchwork of crystals and gel that absorb cold water. You dip the jacket in a bucket for a while before each session, then as you wear it the water evaporates, making the wearer feel cooler.
The Dutch team wear them over the top of their uniforms.
Switzerland’s squad, meanwhile, has cooling towels, instead.
“We put them around our necks,” explained Elena Oleksejenko: “They stay at around 15 degrees [Celsius], so you feel fresh.”
4. Be used to it
At home in India, Olympian Deepika Kumari said temperatures can reach 47-48 degrees Celsius, which is nearly 120 Fahrenheit. (In fact, the hottest recorded weather in the country was 51.)
“We’re used to it,” she said. “I think it’s important to drink a lot of water, have some energy drinks with you and just do the same as if you were training at home. It doesn’t feel different at all.”
Patrick Roux, from South Africa, said it was the same for his team – though mentioned sunblock as a necessity.
So… time to book that archery holiday to the tropics for heat practice!
5. Equipment care
The part of your equipment most likely to be affected by temperature changes is the limbs – which are most critical on a recurve bow.
“Nowadays, they’re much more weather-proof than in previous times,” explained Bernardo Oliveira. “Temperature itself is not even the biggest issue, I believe. Exposure to the sun is the thing to worry about – on hot days, obviously.”
Limbs have several different layers and the heat affects each differently – plus the glue that holds them together. Any change in state can have an effect on your arrow flight.
“Whenever you’re not actually shooting, it’s best to have your bow in the shade,” Bernardo added.
Of course, other parts of the equipment can be affected, too. So if your sight mark changes in the heat, don’t stress – stay with it, and understand it.
6. Your body
The human body reacts to hot weather. As you heat up, you sweat – and this is something that can affect how you connect with your equipment.
“Sometimes I clean my hands with water because the release can get sticky or slippery, and I need to keep the same feeling on the fingers,” said World Archery Champion Stephan Hansen.
7. No Excuse…
“Forget about the heat and don’t focus on it too much – because you will lose concentration on the target and your engagement with the bow,” concluded Seb Peineau, world number seven.
Heat, after all, is just like any other environment in archery – just something to deal with as you aim for the middle…