Indoor Nationals Take 1
Indoor Nationals Take 1

Indoor Nationals Take 1

Because there are multiple governing bodies/organizations in the sport of archery, that means there are more than one National Championships. For USA Archery, their indoor nationals is held across a host of locations across the US and over 4 weekends. I am lucky enough to have a location 40 minutes from my house, and it happens to fall on the first weekend of competition.


Even though the weather is still not ready, most people in New England take the day after indoor nationals to switch over to their outdoor setups to get ready for competitions typically beginning in early April. Unfortunately, anyone participating in the NFAA’s indoor national event has to wait to finish their indoor season until the middle of March. This means I’m trying to split my time between now and then shooting both indoor and outdoor (as many of you have probably seen in my posts).

I’ve always spoken highly of the quality of the indoor nationals held in Fiskdale, MA. I have seen fair judging, quality conditions (decent lighting, plenty of room behind shooting line, spectator bleacher area, etc). This year, however, I have to be honest and express my extreme frustration with the temperature regulation in the shooting area. In past years, the venue has been pretty average temperature for an indoor shoot. The majority of people are wearing long sleeve shirts, maybe a quarter of us in short sleeves.

I shot the Fri/Sat 5pm line, and when we arrived on Friday the temperature was just as it has been in the past years. A heard a couple people say they were a little cold and a couple people say they were a little warm with what they had worn, but overall I think most people were happy. Now while I always bring layers and various clothing with me on the first day, for a two day INDOOR tournament, I always assume the temperature is going to be similar to the previous day and dress accordingly.

When we arrived on Saturday, you could instantly feel a huge difference in the temperature, it was much warmer. So warm that by the time we all got settled in and got our first end of practice, you could already hear people complaining it was too hot. I heard a couple archers ask a judge during the two ends of practice whether something could be done about turning the heat down. The judge laughed and said would you prefer this or 50 degrees. Both said, 50 degrees, yet he didn’t make an effort to do anything.

I know we have to deal with extreme heat outdoors at times, but being in an enclosed gym that is 92 degrees (a parent grabbed a thermometer from their car to get an accurate reading) is like being cooked alive in an oven. There is no air flow, so it’s like being in a sauna way past the recommended 15 minutes (or whatever is considered “safe”).

As someone who is usually more on the warm side anyways, I felt very sick and found it difficult to shoot. Standing on the line, I felt very light headed, so floating a pin at a dime size target wasn’t the easiest thing. Since the adults were near the doors, R suggested I sneak out when I was done shooting, so I could cool off between ends. I did this, and I think it ultimately kept me from passing out. The kids were not so lucky as they were down at the opposite end and wouldn’t have had time to sneak out and get back inside in time.

The scores on my bale definitely reflected the poor conditions, as not one of us had shot higher in the first half then we did in either half the day before (and I was on a bale with TOP shooters, not people who normally have large swings in score). I can honestly say this was the first time in my life I almost considered walking away from a tournament in the middle of the event. I felt so sick, and it was really hard for me to watch all the other people suffering as well.

I made a decision to at least try to fix the problem at the half way point, so I went to the DOS stand to let them know something needed to be done. I explained that multiple people had asked judges to fix the problem and too many people were getting sick. I said this is NOT acceptable and something needs to be done. Ultimately, we are competing with people from across the country at different locations, where I can assure you, they were not shooting in a 92 degree gym. Luckily, I managed to get my point across and they agreed to get the problem fixed by the time we resumed in 15 minutes.

I have never seen so many people running out to cars and the restrooms to change clothes at the half way of a tournament before. Shooter shirts were being stripped off and shorts were being put on (for anyone that had them). I stayed outside the gym until the last possible minute, and this time when I walked in I could tell the temperature had already fallen a little. It continued to drop throughout the second half and you could see it on people’s faces down the line that everyone was much happier and feeling better.

Some of you may think this is just a big long rant post, and you would be wrong. I honestly felt that this was a serious issue, with health consequences (I know of at least 2 people who ended up in the hospital after this). As a pro shooter, I was asked by multiple archers if I could voice the complaints of the archers, and I felt like this was the best way to reach the widest audience. I want to bring awareness to the fact (as many have said in the past), how can you truly have a FAIR indoor nationals when people are competing under a variety of conditions? We are lucky to have decent lighting here in MA, but what about a location with poor lighting or uneven floors? Is that fair for people competing against archers in ideal conditions?

Ultimately, what upsets me the most about the heat issue we experienced is that it was brought to the judge’s attention that it was a problem early on. Something could (and should have been done) before we even started shooting, not 2 hours down the road when we literally had to beg with our bright red ears and burnt cheeks.

As for my shooting, I improved on my Indoor National’s score from last year. I shot 2 second halfs that I was happy with (295 both days), I won my region, and my score would have been 1st across all locations last year (though I have already been beaten by 1 women after the first weekend). I’ll take that as a solid performance and move on to my next Indoor Nationals.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Indoor Season: That’s a wrap | Crystal Gauvin

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