"It’s Okay To Be Early" and Other Useful Tips for Tournament Shooters

We don’t know about you, but when we get a chance to shoot a major tournament, the information sheet that you get from registration is sometimes hard to interpret. 

We don't get to shoot many tournaments because of our work schedule, so it is probably more confusing for us than those of you who are on the tournament trail on a regular basis. Surely, the more tournaments you shoot, the clearer they become. Still, it’s important that you clearly understand the information on them. It’s important that you check your class at registration because it is your responsibility to keep your class up to date and that you register and shoot in the correct class.  

Perhaps the most important data on the sheet are your shoot times for each event. Keeping up with that piece of paper is not the easiest job around. Something that Vicki started doing several years ago just might help some of you.

Take some time after you leave registration to sit down and write your shoot times on your competitor number tag before you put it on your vest or pouch. You must have this tag visible on your person to shoot each and every event. That means it will be with your “stuff” at all times.

We have found that listing sequentially the days you will be there shooting, the events you will be shooting each day, and the start times and station you will start on will give you a quick, easy, and accurate schedule of your events. It’s best to write all of this down on a piece of paper or on the outside of the envelope you get your shooter information in before transferring it to your shooter number tag. It’s okay to double-check it just to make sure it is correct. Write legibly! This probably sounds like a lot of extra work to some of you, but we must tell you that in the event of a delay in one event, or if you are just running late, having a correct schedule of your events that you don’t have to read and interpret keeps you calm. And it will help you to show up on time and at the right station at your next event.

If you will do this at each tournament you go to, you will find (as we have) that it becomes part of your pre-tournament routine.  It will help you plan your meals, both at the tournament and away, as well as your socializing and sleep.

We find as we travel and teach 20 to 30 weeks out of the year that nutrition and sleep are essential to top levels of performance. In fact, we stress this to all of our students. Both are important, but for us, sleep is the most important. This is not to say that nutrition is not important. In fact, as we age, it becomes increasingly more important. But the body cannot perform without rest. Inevitably you will have an 8 AM start time, and knowing this at the beginning of the weekend helps you plan to get in bed early the night before.

If you have two events close together, you will need to plan to take something with you to eat and drink between the events, or possibly as you begin the next event. Things like fruit or PowerBars and electrolyte drinks are good for this instance. However, we would offer this one word of caution: there are a lot of these kinds of supplements out there, and we would strongly suggest that you try them out before using them at a tournament.  Do this at home and see just how your body reacts to the different ones out there. We think you will find that certain ones will seem to work for you better than others. The next time you visit your doctor, ask for suggestions. After all, your personal physician probably knows you and your body better than you.

Regardless of what your doctor or your friends suggest, (because we know you are going to ask for ten dollars worth of free advice) try them out under the same kind of conditions you will be using them under. This is easy to do, and we assure you it will be time well spent.

We mentioned a pre-tournament routine earlier. This is simply a series of things that you do every time you go to a tournament, especially those you attend out of town where travel is involved. You will need to buy ammunition. Figure up how much ammunition you will need to shoot each event and whatever practice or games you might be playing while you are there. Go buy it and put it in your vehicle immediately after registering.

When going through registration, seek out a local person and ask if there are any traffic problems you need to know about when traveling to the facility in the next few days. Inquire about any food vendors that will be on-site, the types of food, and the hours of operation. You never know when your schedule will make a quick meal at the shoot a necessity.

Anyone who has been to the shoot the previous years would also be a good source of information, especially on local places to find good food and drink and other points of interest such as outlet malls, theater complexes, or other unique stores like Bass Pro or Cabelas. We don’t know about you, but we never miss a chance to keep up with the evolution of outdoor gadgets and trinkets.

It would also be good to go and see where each of the events will be shot. Things like where to park, whether you get there in your Clays Car or do you have to trailer it over there and unload it, and how far the parking areas are from each of the actual shooting venues. They're all good to know before the event starts. Obviously, these things are not as big of considerations at a small, local, one-day shoot at your own facility. However, when you travel to a major shoot where you will be shooting for three or four days, logistics are important.

It’s hard enough to keep those tournament jitters in check when you’re comfortable with the surroundings. When you are shooting in unfamiliar surroundings, it’s okay to be a little early and find out where you need to be when.