Over 2000 archers competed in Appling, GA today at the Wildwood Park. The course was rolling hills with a thick canopy of pine. It was hot and humid, it felt great. The course was enjoyable, especially for a Georgia native. Originally from Savannah, I once lived in Augusta where I worked at the Medical College of Georgia. It really is cool to shoot here.
It was very good to see so many people I’ve met over the past two years competing at this tournament. Seeing familiar faces is somewhat reassuring when they appear in this massive crowd.
Over 2000 archers! When I looked at the crowd I was a bit anxious thinking it was going to take a very long time to get through the twenty targets. When I learned there would be 5 archers in nearly every group I prepared myself for an awfully long day.
Then, to make matters seem worse, two of the ranges’ start times were delayed by half an hour. Ultimately our first arrows were forty-five minutes behind schedule. It took four hours to shoot the twenty targets for our group. Having resigned myself to a long day – I got one.
The time spent to shoot the 20 arrows pushed some archers over the edge. At stake twenty, one fellow took his scorecard, ripped it apart, and said, “I’m not coming back tomorrow, this is my last ASA event.” His issue, among other concerns, is that he’d spent nearly 7 hours parking his car, then waiting to get on the range, and finally the slow shooting which was too much for him. His start time had been 11:00 AM. He arrived at 10:00 AM allowing time for unforeseen problems; he left the range at 4:00 PM. That’s seven hours total time to shoot 20 arrows. It turned out to be about one arrow every twelve minutes once he started shooting. Which is about right for groups of 5 shooters.
I am new to archery so these times, indeed they seem slow, are what I expect from a 3D tournament. What I think is, considering I’ve only been shooting since August 2013, 3D moves too slowly. Can it be sped up, sure it can.
Off the top of my head I see adding more ranges. Another thing is to limit the group size to 4. And finally, limit the overall field size to a manageable number of archers. The ASA might review what Ironman does with their events and perhaps pick up a pearl or two.
Ironman events have a similar number of athletes competing – around 2000 per event. An exception is the Ironman World Championship that has around 1800 athletes. I’ve done 10 Ironman events; all had very good people flow. And, Ironman has help.
Ironman has an impressive volunteer staff. At the Ironman World Championship (not that I see this for 3D archery) I had two volunteers specifically assigned to me. So did all the other athletes. That alone was 3600 volunteers.
Volunteers help keep activities and flow on pace. Could volunteers help at a 3D tournament? Probably in lots of ways you and I could think up. But, I don’t want this post to sound as if I am overly unimpressed with the shoot today. There were a lot of people and with a lot of people things move slowly.
I’m going back for the second day, unlike the fellow that ripped up his scorecard. In the meantime, if anyone at the ASA reads this and wants some advice or help (pro bono) send me a message.