Adaptive Archery: Flying With Archery Equipment | 60X Blog

Adaptive Archery: Flying With Archery Equipment | 60X Blog

Posted by Caesar Candice on Feb 14th 2024

What is it like traveling for archery as a para archer? It is definitely interesting! 

Must-Have Tools for Adaptive Archery

First, you must consider that we’re not only taking our bow, arrows, and clothing; we are also taking backup bows for international adaptive travel, packed separately in case a bow doesn’t arrive.

Archery tools are a must for adaptive archery, including extra strings, releases, finger tabs, nocks, backup plungers, and other archery supplies. We need tools to fix our wheelchairs and scissors, and Loctite, masking tape, and tweezers are a few things you should never leave home without. I typically take a walk on the wild side and have backup limb bolts for my recurve bow. My rule of thumb is if it has a screw, then I need a backup in case it is stripped or falls out. 

The Lancaster truck is not at these international tournaments and next-day air is not an option. So, there’s no quick and easy way to fly with archery equipment. Aside from the basics, we must include all the adaptive archery supplies we need, such as any shooting braces, stools, and competition wheelchairs, if it isn’t our regular day chair, plus everything you need to keep you performing at your best. One thing to consider is the wheelchair width; sometimes the wheelchairs won’t fit through the bathroom doorways of some European countries. 

I recall once hearing the story of two teammates who were in wheelchairs disassembling one of their wheelchairs and placing it in the bathroom, then reassembling it so that they could use a wheelchair inside the bathroom. Sometimes, para-athletes have to get down on the floor and get creative.

Other things we need to pack are inner tubes or tire gauges to fix a flat in case you don’t have the tubeless wheels. Some of the other things we need can include Normatec boots for circulation, ice vests to keep you cool, massage guns, bio freeze strips, and KT tape for those aches and pains when sitting for long periods.

Staying Hygienic During Adaptive Travel

For personal hygiene, a shower chair is a must. Most places don’t have the type of shower chair you need. You should also pack enough catheters, if you use them, to ensure your personal needs are taken care of while you travel for and compete in adaptive archery events. You may also need a portable fan because some foreign countries don’t use air conditioning. Pack snacks for you to eat, medications, and over-the-counter items, such as Imodium, Pepto Bismol, Benadryl, etc.

I traveled to two World Ranking Events (WREs) and a national USA Archery event in a 27-day span. Not only did I have to pack these items during my adaptive travel adventures, but I had to ensure I had enough items to get me through to the next tournament.

Highlights of Competing at the World Para Championships

My first adaptive archery event was the World Para Championships, where I had to ensure I had enough uniforms for qualifications, eliminations, mixed teams, and doubles matches. I also had to pack jerseys for my national shoot, because I don’t wear my uniform unless I am traveling abroad with the team. I literally packed my snacks and labeled them for each day to ensure I had enough. Then, I brought a few extra snacks to share with teammates in case they asked. When preparing for target archery, you also have to prepare for rain, cooler weather, (hand warmers are a lifesaver), and the sun. 

While in Czechia, the temps dropped, and I was so grateful for my electric hand warmers. I was not prepared for the 30 mph wind gusts, but I shot my bow in this adaptive archery event and enjoyed doing it. What I enjoyed most about this competition was seeing my friends from other countries. Although I didn’t medal in any of these events, during my mixed team event, we had a one arrow shoot-off against my friends in Australia. That trip lasted 10 days. 

By the time I got used to this new time zone, I had to fly with archery equipment to Ohio. I arrived a few days prior to the competition and spent that time sleeping. I only needed to go to the store to purchase water and fresh fruit because I had all of my snacks and electrolyte packets. Although I was exhausted from traveling, I managed to place 1st in the para division in the crazy wind at the Buckeye Classic. 

An Adaptive Archery Competition in Chicago

Totally exhausted and missing home, I packed up all of my belongings and headed off to Chicago for my second WRE of the year. I was definitely over my socialization meter. I spent most of my time in my room with my teammate. Yes, when you are funded, you are issued a roommate. It was ok, I liked this roommate, and she liked the room temps below 70 degrees. Qualification day didn’t go as planned, but I always shot to the best of my ability and my bow looked cool with my custom bow strings from 60X

I ranked 4th, and because I was the top seed for the US, I had the opportunity to shoot mixed teams and doubles. We won the bronze medal in the crazy windy and rainy conditions during the doubles match. We had better conditions for mixed teams, but we still secured the bronze. In individual eliminations, I had to take out a teammate in order to make it to the next round to qualify for the gold medal match. 

My first gold medal match ever occurred after a 26-day adaptive archery-cation. I was excited, but a bit numb. Things that day didn’t go as planned, but do they ever? The tournament was running faster than expected, and when it was my practice time, I was told to line up to go on stage. My first gold medal match, and I basically pulled my bow back three times before stepping on the stage. My first shot out of the bow was 4, and I compensated well securing a tied set (recurve scoring).

While I didn’t score any more points, I lost by a few points in the preceding sets. All in all, it was a great experience, and I was very pleased to have won a silver medal. The only thing I dreaded was packing up and flying with my archery equipment to ensure I was shooting to the best of my ability. I left my archery-cation without a morsel of food but with some hardware—medals and trophies!