6 Tips for Staying Cool While Shooting in the Heat
6 Tips for Staying Cool While Shooting in the Heat

6 Tips for Staying Cool While Shooting in the Heat

Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t do well in the heat. I’ve had issues during tournaments in the past with heat stroke/exhaustion and overall my body just doesn’t react well to high temperatures. I’ve noticed that people who’s bodies don’t show outward physical signs to the heat, tend to think they are fine, but then they wonder why they don’t perform at the same level as they are used to. Because the article I wrote years ago on shooting in the wind has been very well read, I figured I’d do a similar post for shooting in high heat and full sun.

So with that, here is my Super Top Secret List to staying cool while shooting in the heat (yes, you can probably figure these out just by looking at pictures of me at hot weather tournaments).

1)sunscreen-We are all taught early on in life to use sunscreen. Most younger people don’t use it bc “they will never get skin cancer, that’s for old people, I want to tan.” or they don’t want to go through the hassle of putting it on. I don’t need to quote articles here to argue against the first one, we all know that repeated sun exposure is not good for our skin. However, the lazy excuse is really just that, pure laziness. With so many sunscreen options on the market today, it’s easier than ever to find something that is easy and works for you. There are gels, creams, sprays, tubes, blocks, you name it. It really doesn’t require more than 1 minute of your time to apply sunscreen, and guess what, not only will your skin thank you as you get older, but you will feel slightly cooler when you use sunscreen vs if you had not.

2)drink-Ok, so again this is a pretty obvious one, we all need to drink water when we are out in the sun all day. Very few are drinking enough water, and that in and of itself is a problem, however, I’ve seen an even more serious one among archers. They forget to include electrolytes in their hydration. Again, I will save you quoting all the scholarly articles on the subject, because I think everyone now understands that your body needs more than just water to stay hydrated. When your body sweats you lose salt, and unless you replenish it, the ratio in your body can get off. This can actually lead quicker to very serious health issues, than dehydration. Fun Fact: When you see marathon runners collapse (and sometimes die) near the finish line, most people assume this is from dehydration, but the majority of the time this is actually due to Hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low. This is why you sometimes see marathon runners with salt packets or electrolyte chews, so they can quickly re-balance their internal ratio if it starts to get out of whack.

As archers, the easiest way to avoid this, and stay properly hydrated is through electrolyte drinks. I’ve found many don’t like the high sugar content of Gatorade or Powerade type drinks, and they are also hard to travel with. However, there are many options out there to combat both of these. My personal favorite, and a product I’ve used in running races, cycling races, and archery is Nuun. Nuun is simply a tablet you can add to your water. It contains the necessary electrolytes, without all the sugar and junk you’d rather not have. A tube of 12 tabs is the size of maybe 4 AA batteries, so it is easy to travel with, it easily dissolves in any liquid, and there are tons of great flavors! Also, an easy way to stay on top of your hydration is to take a drink every time you come off the shooting line and/or walk back from the target.

3)food-Many forget to eat when it is hot out, but this is a quick way to sabotage your shooting. The key to eating in hot temps is finding foods that are cold to begin with or have a high water content. You don’t need to eat a bunch of heavy foods, but you should eat something. Fruits and veggies are great, especially if you have access to a cooler, but there are now plenty of fruit/veggie, gel/smoothie packet type products available on the market today if you don’t.

4)sunglasses-This to me is another no brainer, but yet I always see at least 50% of archers outside all day without sunglasses on. I understand that not everyone can shoot in sunglasses (for those who fall into that category, I would challenge you by saying you just haven’t found the right pair yet, or modified yours to make them shootable in). Eye health is crucial for archers, yet it is something that is routinely ignored. If you don’t believe me, go to the masters side of the field and ask any archer that used to be competitive in the senior division what the #1 thing that is holding them back from still being competitive with the younger archers. I think you’ll be surprised to hear that eye sight is right up there with losing muscle strength.

Even if you can’t wear sunglasses for the 4 minutes each end you are shooting, there is ZERO excuse for not wearing them walking back and forth to the target. As a mountain bike racer, I learned the importance of choosing the right lenses for my sunglasses depending on the course conditions. I’ve applied this to my archery since day 1, but it is something that is just starting to come in to play the last few years. For example, I use the Oakley Ice Iridium lens when shooting in AZ. The sun is very intense, and the intensity is magnified by the reflection of the gravel/sand pit we shoot in. I find by wearing a lens that filters out such a huge % of the light, I have less headaches and my eyes don’t hurt at the end of a qualification round.

5)cooling towels-I’ve personally tried all sorts of different “cooling” products on the market and for most people I think cooling towels are your best bet. When I shot compound, I was able to wear a cooling vest, and I loved it. However, it wasn’t the easiest to travel with, and now shooting recurve it is too bulky to avoid clearance issues. I think some brands of cooling towels work better than others, but here is my strategy for using them. I have at least two with me at all times. One sits in ice water, while the other is on my body. Every 2-3 ends, I swap the towels, so I always have a cold one on me.

I’ve also found some mini cooling towels and these are my new favorite bc I can use more than one at a time, putting them in various places on my body. In particular, the best spots to place cold objects when trying to cool your body are: the neck, armpits, and groin as these are the areas with the largest blood vessels closest to the skin surface. Similar to cooling towels, you can also use sleeves, headbands, tights, etc to place in ice water and switch on and off throughout the day.

6)shade-It seems like a no brainer, but keeping yourself out of the direct sun is critical. For example, stand/sit under tournament provided tents as long as you can before going up to the shooting line. A trick I’ve learned from archers from other countries is to carry an umbrella with you for very sunny days. This not only helps in how many times you will need to reapply your sunscreen, but it also will help you feel considerably cooler. Many archers keep an umbrella in their bow case for rain, but that same umbrella can come in handy for blocking the sun. You may think they are overkill and look ridiculous, but I speak from experience when I say what a difference they can make. Will they “cool” your body down, no, but they can keep you from overheating or feeling exhausted. Other archers, like to wear arm sleeves, large hats, and/or pants to keep the sun from directly hitting their skin. Whichever option you choose to shade yourself from the sun while walking back and forth from the target when the sun is super intense, like in AZ, will leave you feeling fresher at the end of the round.

As you can see there really is no SECRETS on my list. Most are common sense, but things many forget or don’t think about. Now that my “secrets” are out in the open and no longer secrets, what are YOUR secrets for competing at your best in hot weather?

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