TSAA(USA Archery) Outdoor Tournaments In Texas and Elsewhere
Tournaments are conducted using the USAA's Rules, which in turn depends on the FITA/World Archery rules.  Judges are certified by the USAA and while any tournament can be held, in order to be certified by the USAA it must have certified Judges who in turn make sure that the event meets the rules.

Outdoor tournaments can be a lot of fun.  They are certainly more challenging than an indoor event, and many JOAD archers discover they really like it!

Preparation:  So you have registered and paid your entry fee, now what?  First verify your classification - are you a Junior, Cadet, Cub, Bowman? Use this age calculator.  Then take a look on this table to see what your distances are. (If you discover you didn't register the right division, just email the tournament director BEFORE the deadline and it won't be a problem).  
So now that you know your distances, you want to practice shooting them.  When you go to the event, you may be required to shoot the longest distance first, or the shortest. You then go the the next shortest or longest distance, and so on.  You will get to practice each of the distances at the event. Most archers will be shooting FOUR different distances, 36 arrows "for real" at each distance.

At the longer two distances, you get FOUR minutes to shoot SIX arrows each end.  For the two shorter distances, you get TWO minutes to shoot THREE arrows.  This is plenty of time, but you need to include this in your practicing at home.  During the tourney you have twenty seconds from when the double whistle blows until shooting commences.

Dress Code: you need to comply with the USAA dress code if you want to shoot at most tournaments.  Check here for the dress code rules

EVERY ARCHER MISSES SOONER OR LATER!  Even at the "big" National tournaments archers will have misses.  They are a normal part of shooting arrows such far distances. So do not be surprised if you miss, and don't be embarrassed - it happens to the best of us!   Depending on the type of field and grass or weeds, the arrows may submarine under the surface and become harder to find.  DO pay attention to where you arrow went - high/low, left/right?   Most events will have at least one metal detector present - why?  Because missing is not unusual!  Enough on Missing, let's move on.

First, it is likely you will be sharing your target.  Depending on how many archers and how many target bales there are, you could have up to three other archers shooting at your target with you! If there are four archers on a target, then it is said that there are "TWO LINES" of archers.  Each archer gets assigned a letter, and only two letters (archers) shoot at the target at a time. The first line of two archers of each target are "A" and "B", and the AB line archers all stand the line and shoot their arrows.  Then another "line" of archers gets up, the "C" and "D" archers, while the AB archers get to sit down and wait.  Once both the AB and CD lines have shot, then everyone goes to the targets to score and pull.  And they take turns going first each end.  The judge will use a sign on the field to show whether AB or CD will start out the next end.

There are OTHER lines in outdoor archery besides the AB/CD lines. There is an archer area line, that marks where the public has to stay, so that archers get to sit separate from the public.  Archers can come out of the area, but the public isn't supposed to go into it.  Then towards the targets from this waiting area, there is an equipment line, between where the archers sit (usually in canopies for shade) and where the bows are left when not in use. 

There is a waiting line, where archers stand with their bows while waiting for the two whistles to advance to the shooting line.  There is, of course, the shooting line where you stand to shoot.   There's another line, in front of the shooting line, for marking the area where dropped arrows can be picked up and shot.   And there are lines, hash marks, ON the shooting line to mark your space in front and behind the next archer, so that everyone knows where to put their feet and their spotting scope.

Spotting Scope?    You get to use a telescope after you shoot an arrow, to see where the arrow went.  When you are looking at a target that is 50 meters or more away, it's important to figure out which arrows are yours and where they are on the target, so you can adjust your sight. So archers use a spotting scope to try and pick out their nocks and fletchings colors.   Many archers will carry several different colors of nocks, so they can switch their nock colors if there are too many of the same color on the target.  Nothing more frustrating than mistaking someone's arrows for yours- You keep adjusting your sight but the arrows don't change - because you are looking at someone else's arrows!  aieeee!   Some archers use a pair of binoculars, especially at the shortest distance, but for the really long distances, say 70 or 90 meters, you will need a strong scope.  A lot of archers will SHARE their scope with the other archer, so that they do not have to remove the scope from the line.  It's no big deal - if you don't have a scope, talk with the other archers on your target - most of the time the archers decide among themselves who is going to be A, B, C, or D.  It makes sense to pair up a right handed and left handed archer so they BOTH can face towards the scope, and share it.  That gives them both more room.  If two archers both have scopes, they usually decide to share the strongest power scope, naturally.  

Ok.  What all do you take?   For a good checklist, you can review the X Files JOAD issue right here .   Many families will bring a pop-up canopy to provide shade for the event.   Some archers stay with their families, but most will tend to gather in the archery waiting area so they can talk with their competitors/friends.  It's often said as a half-serious complaint by archers that "shooting gets in the way of my socializing" - you will make some good friends, regardless of how you shoot, provided you want to.

During official practice you will be allowed to shoot arrows - usually for 45 minutes - but check with the officials to be sure.  Since you have four distances to shoot in the event, you will need to make sure you have marks on your sight bar for each.  You should start with the LAST distance you will be shooting, practice there till you get the best mark on your site.  Then move to the next distance, etc., till you end up with the distance that you are going to shoot for score first.  Makes sense, right?   Just as during the real shooting, the practice ends will be timed, and so you need to figure out where the timers are.  Most use traffic lights, but some will use either countdown timer displays or else colored flags.  Whatever is used, be sure you know where to look, and once you know that, keep a relaxed eye on it so you will know when it is yellow time.

Take enough arrows.   You have to shoot SIX arrows per end at your longest distances, and you need to have at least one backup arrow for broken nocks, dropped arrow, or breaks.   The more arrows you have the better you can warm up and practice with, as well.

Take backups.  You should have a backup string that you have "shot in" but not worn out, just in case the serving falls off or the string breaks on your "good" string.   Extra: Fingertab, arm guard, release, the small things that you rely on.  Remember that if you have a mechanical failure of ANY kind, you hold your bow up and step back from the line, and make eye contact with the nearest judge.  You do NOT shout or speak - no messing with the other archers still shooting.  You will be allowed time to fix the problem and shoot makeup arrows - so do not get stressed out.  Remain calm, like you do when shooting, and all will be ok.   If you do not have the piece you need to repair your bow, ASK those around you.  Archery is a rare sport of sportsmanship where the guy you are trying to beat is willing to give you the equipment help you need, in order to get back into competing with him.  I've seen it time and again.

The director of shooting (the DOS) says five minutes till the shooting starts.   Go to the bathroom.   Check your gear.  Close your eyes and prepare mentally.  GET READY.  Watch the other archers, and go to the waiting line.  When two whistles sound, go to the shooting line.  When you hear one whistle, just like indoors, you start shooting until you hear any whistles blow (either two toots if the next (CD) line is going to shoot or else three toots if both lines have shot and it is time to score and pull). 

Ok, you've shot your first end of arrows and the DOS has just blown three whistles.  Time to walk, score and pull.  First, go to the shooting line and look down - you will find a clipboard or two with your two scorecards on them.  MAKE SURE your FULL NAME is on both of them and fill out any other information such as gender , bowtype, and classification.  Take them to the target.  TWO people need to score.  If there are more than two on the target, then the third person CALLS the arrows out and the fourth will help the others as needed.   Surprisingly, this is the point (just after the first end has been shot) where many people introduce themselves by name and find out the names of any archers on the target they don't already know.

DO NOT TOUCH the target stand, the target butt, the target face, or the arrows until after scoring is completed.  It could be considered cheating.   Clear?

If there are only two archers on the target (known as a "single line", then usually the archers from an adjacent target will "cross over" to call, and you do the same for them.  So the custom is, one archer calls out arrow scores and two other archers write.  Each scorer adds the arrows up SEPARATELY from each other.

This is simple.  The idea is that the scorers doing the writing double-check each other to catch mistakes.  If you are scoring, do not just go along with what the other scorer thinks the score is.   Each scorer adds the arrows up and then one speaks the end score loud enough for all other archers to hear.  The other scorer CONFIRMS or CORRECTS, and the same for the running score of each archer. 

If you are one of the scorers:
use a dark pen.  If you only have a pencil then write clearly.  Do not use a red ink, green ink, purple ink, etc. only blue or black!  

  NEVER ERASE an arrow score unless all archers on the target initial an arrow score change!!.  OK?  IT IS A FITA RULE! If you are unsure about what to do, that is when you hold your hand up, look for the red shirt, and yell "judge"!   The judge comes over, whips out a red pen (ONLY JUDGES GET TO USE RED PENS) and makes the correction and initials the change, making it official, or makes an arrow call..   You are allowed to make corrections yourself to any other part of the scorecard, just do it according the rules. So what happens if you do make a change to an arrow and it is initialed properly/not done by a judge?  Let's say that scorecard turns out to be for a NATIONAL RECORD, or just for a tie place.  If there is an illegal score change then the score can be TOSSED OUT.  How would you feel then?   Just remember that both scorecards are going to be "official" and turned in, and MAY be sent to the USAA or even to FITA.  Don't be sloppy and don't change arrow scores. Make sure your full name is on both of your scorecards, by the way!

There are two or three "tricks" to scoring arrows in your head
1) You can simply add the arrows together:  7 + 8 + 8+ 9 + 9 + 10.  (15,23,32,41,51,that's 51)  That's easy for some, hard for others.
2) You can "see" the difference from 10 for each arrow, and just add that together, subtracting from the possible 60 points:
                                                                3 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1, take away from 60. (60 - 9 = 51)
3) You can "pattern" the arrows: Take 1 from one of the nines, makes it an 8, give the 1 to the 7, makes another 8, so that is FOUR 8s, 32, plus two tens makes 52, oops, take one back from that 10 that was actually a nine.  

Most scorers start out with type 1 adding, and then graduate to type 2 when someone is kind enough to show them - it is the easiest to do "in your head".   A few, the stranger archers, readily enjoy using type 3.   Do not use a calculator, you don't have the time.  With a little practice, say a couple of ends, you will find you can readily add the score in your head.

You will also keep track of "hits" for each end, as well as the score for the "end" AND a running total for each distance.  You will then carry that running total into each next distance as well.  Once you have figured out the score for the end for the archer and the running total, wait for the other scorer, and then confirm the results before you move on to the next archer's score.

After the shooting is finished for the day, you will also count up the total number of hits, "Xs", TENS, total for each distance (round), and confirm these with the other scorer.  You will sign the card, as will the archer for the card.  Many will take the scorecards back to the waiting area for this, so they can sit down and use calculators for the final tallies.  

If you are the "caller":
1) At the beginning, decide with the two scorers in what order of archers you are going to call arrows, and the scorers will arrange the scorecards in the same order on the clipboards.  Then do it the same order each end, 24 times in all.
2) Step up to front and center, close to the nocks (but don't touch).  You have to have the best angle on the target in order to call accurately. For some reason the two scorers will always try to step right in your way - don't worry, they are just looking at their own arrows, so be nice but firm. "Excuse me" works well.    Look at the target each time you are about to announce scores, and determine the pattern of arrows.  When there are 12, 18, or 24 arrows on a target it can be difficult to see one particular archer's arrows, so isolate on a particular nock, find all six, then decide scores.
3) Speak clearly for the scorers the name of the archer you are about to call.  Nothing is worse than writing 6 arrows on the wrong card!
4) COUNT the arrows to yourself, making sure where they are all on the face, before you say any score.  Remember that you start with the highest scoring arrow and move down.  (X,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,M)
5) For recurves, the "X" COUNTS, and you call it an "X".  It's worth ten, but you call it an X, and it beats a plain old "10" if there is a tie.
6) For arrows that missed the paper target's 1 ring (or even the target butt) you call "Miss", as in "...6,5,MISS."   The scorer writes just the letter M on the scorecard for that arrow. Never write a zero.
7) Examine any line-cutter arrows and decide the score before you start calling.  If necessary move around the target to get a better angle. You are looking for color or potential color between where the shaft ended up, and where the dividing black line would have been or is.  Arrows often make a hole that is bigger than it is, but it is where the shaft ends up that counts.  If you cannot tell for sure, then tell the other archers, and this is usually where the fourth archer steps in to render an opinion, as well as the archer that owns the arrow.  The archers on the target should be old enough, mature enough, and honest enough to arrive at the score of just about every arrow.  When that is not the case, hand in the air, yell "judge"!  Only one judge can be called and that judge's opinion is FINAL.
8) Speak clearly . On the scores as well as the archer's name - usually you are facing the target with the scorers behind you, so they may not be able to hear you. Speak slow enough that they can stay up with you. 
9) Once you have called the last set of arrows, and the scorers are adding them up, you can step up to the target and MARK the arrows with pen or pencil  Tyvek faces require a pen.  Just put a small dash against each arrow to indicate the hole has been scored.
10) After marking all of the arrows, usually the two scorers are still occupied adding, so the other two archers will usually (but not necessarily) pull their arrows first.   Manners count.  By the way - do not pull more than one carbon arrow at a time.  Even if two carbon arrows are "kissing", NEVER grip them both with a puller or even your hand, and pull them at the same time. One at a time.

Carbon Arrows are very strong lengthways, they have to be.  But the carbon arrows are NOT strong when stressed from the side, on a small area like what happens when you squish two of them together.  What can easily happen is that the strands INSIDE the shaft break, changing the stiffness of the spine of the arrow.   You won't see any damage outside the arrow, it just won't be the same as your other arrows.

When scoring for the end is done, place both clipboards in front of the target face-down so that wind will not blow them away nor make them flutter (that would be a distraction during shooting).  Keep them far enough in front of the target that there is no danger someone would hit the arrows in the target while bending over to pick them up.  During rainy weather you will be given ziplock bags to put them in to keep them dry.  Don't let the bags blow away while scoring!

The National level tournaments will have "runners" to collect the scores for the "leader boards" - every end, or every other end, a volunteer comes by with a piece of paper for you to write everyone's running totals on so that the spectators can know who the top scorers are.  One scorer takes the paper and writes on it  while the other scorer reads everyone's running totals out.

Return to the waiting area.  If you shot first for the last end and there are two lines (AB and CD lines) then the other line gets to go first next - you will alternate throughout the distance, each distance.

USUALLY if there are two lines, scoring takes so long that the tournament will have only two distances on one day, and the other two distances the next day.  You have to check the tournament information ahead of time to know whether to plan on one or two days for the event.

You get a break for lunch, depending on what the Tournament Director decides.  If you leave the field for lunch, be aware that the tournament waits for no man, and there is no "equipment failure" provision for your car.

When you are done at one distance, the archers are usually required to move the target stand to the next distance.  They are not heavy, just bulky, and if it is windy then it requires extra care.  After a short break while the judges inspect the positions and the volunteers stake down the stands you will start the next distance, so whenever you move your target stand, move your sight!

What if it rains?  You get wet. Fortunately, you still get to shoot, so take a set of wet-weather clothes - like long sleeve tight-fitting shirts that won't interfere with the bowstring but that will keep you warm enough. Lots of archers get the shirts made for bicyclists, and if you live "up north", you might consider kayaker clothes which are VERY warm.  Hats are good for keeping the water out of your collar and off of your glasses if you have to wear glasses.  Take a stake and some rope to stake the tripod of your spotting scope down so it doesn't blow over and break.

Likewise, if you take a popup tent, be sure to stake it down, and use extra guy ropes and stakes if storms are possible.  At night, drop the frame at least, and remove the tarp top for safety sake (and to make it less of a target).  

Once all four distances have been shot, the two scorers tally up all the scores and sign the cards.  Each archer must INSPECT THE TWO CARDS and compare the results.  If necessary, do a final check of the math, before signing both cards and turning them in to the TD.  By signing your card, you are swearing your card is correct, so be sure.  Any errors found afterwards will not go in your favor, but might result in an award place being taken away.  That would be ummm, embarrassing.   You will usually get one card back after they have been inspected. 

Shooting outdoors is really the natural way to shoot archery, compared to shooting indoors during the winter.  Most archers prefer it, wind, rain, sun, bugs, and all.  Why?  Because it is FUN.