Updated: Mar 17
February in much of the country is often gray, frigid and desolate. Hunting seasons are wrapping up or gone, and there isn't much to do other than wait for spring warm up to get out and enjoy the outdoors. One activity that a lot of bowhunters look forward to is 3D archery! Most local courses start opening with monthly shoots in March and sanctioned ASA/IBO shoots follow shortly thereafter. However, there may be a solution to get you out and shooting a little earlier than you expect. The Hoyt Pro/Am in Foley, Alabama is the first major 3D archery event of the year, held in late February at Graham Creek Nature Preserve, just minutes from the Gulf. If you've never shot an ASA Pro/Am, you are missing out. Here is a breakdown of how to enter, what to expect and why you should plan a vacation around shooting 3d.
HOW TO ENTER
If you have shot 3D at all before you can expect a very similar setup at an ASA tournament, with a few rule changes. It is a competitive organization that sanctions events at the local clubs in your state and hosts national events where top professionals such as Levi Morgan and Jesse Broadwater compete for the big checks. Want to rub shoulders with the pros and shoot on your own range later, competing for cash prizes? Here's how. Go to the rules page on the ASA website and read about the class rules and discernments. Decide which class best fits you and your equipment, register as an ASA member, and go to the Pro/Am info tab to register for the tournament. It's a straight forward process, with no prerequisites and ASA staff is always very helpful if you need to reach out to them for some help or info. Remember, kids have classes and ranges too.
WHAT TO EXPECT
You've registered for the tournament, booked your hotel, taken the time off work and loaded up the family. It's time for an archery vacation. What should you expect? If you registered far enough in advance you will have gotten range assignments in the mail. This tells you what your shoot times are, and which range you'll be on. If you didn't, this info can be looked up on the site on the tournament info pages. The very first thing I do after arriving to the hotel is head back out to the event site to get familiar with the place. Parking is always clearly marked, and shuttles will run from the parking areas to the vendor area. Get to the vendor area and find a site map at the ASA trailer. This will show you where the practice range/ bags and your tournament range are located. From there you can do some shooting at the practice range or just mosey through the vendor area, looking at gear and products. If you shoot any of the manufacturers' products you can ask the staff at their stand if they have contingency offers for your class. If so, they will have a sign-up book that will allow you to write your name down and if you place in the top 3 you can win some bonus cash from the manufacturers!
"SHOOT EM' UP"
Be at your range at the time noted on your range assignment. It is recommended to get there 30 minutes before your start time. There will be range officials on each range that can answer questions, they will give you your scorecard and direct you to your stake. Once there you will meet your group, generally 4-5 shooters are on each stake. You will have two scorecards, official and unofficial. Write your info on both and amongst the group decide on the two scorekeepers. One will hold and track the official cards of everyone in the group, plus their unofficial. The other will hold the unofficial, plus the official of the other scorekeeper. Once that is done it will soon be time to shoot. The range official will announce shooting time with an easily heard, "shoot em up!". From there, you will continue as you do at any other 3D. Shooters rotate through their order one at a time, taking their shot. After everyone in your group has shot and the lanes next to you have shot, everyone goes down to their target. Here the scores are marked, arrows pulled and on to the next one. You will shoot 20 targets per day, for a total of 40. At the end of each day, the leading scorer in your group takes the official cards to the range official and turns them in. The results will be posted in a few hours on the ASA score page so that you can see where you ended up. MAKE SURE TO SIGN AND INITIAL YOUR OFFICIAL CARD BEFORE IT IS TURNED IN. I've seen guys lose an entire day's score because their card was thrown out for not being properly filled in.
2019 Foley, Alabama - Judging yardage before the shot.
RESULTS - WRAP UP
After shooting you are done for the weekend! If you posted strong scores you should keep checking the score page, because if you placed top three you will want to head back to the venue for any contingency offers and your podium picture! If you didn't, at least you got to shoot some 3D with 1000's of likeminded individuals. If you are in Foley and planned an extended stay it's time to hit the beach!
Rob Gerling, Michael Brinkley, CJ Turner 2018 Foley, Alabama Pro/Am
WHY SHOOT A PRO/AM
The reason for shooting a pro/am differs amongst everyone. Some simply want the getaway vacation. There is always a list of things to do nearby and you can spend a lot of time shooting the various side events at a pro/am. Others are driven competitively and want to win or get better. A pro/am will put you within arm length distance of the best shooters in the world as they browse the vending area. Your range will be filled with some of the best shooters in the country at your skill level and with your equipment. So, if being pushed to be a better archer is your goal there is no shortage of competitive pressure. Some simply want to shoot arrows in a cool place with cool people, and the score means nothing. That is what is so great about these events. There is pressure if you want it, and none if you don't. At the end of the day you can get whatever you came for and you'll leave with more than that. I've never left a pro/am without gaining new acquaintances and friends. Some I've only shot with once, several years ago, and still keep in close contact with them year-round. So, put down any negative thoughts surrounding competitive archery. Go enjoy it for what it is. Push to grow, win and graduate to a higher level if you want and no matter what, have a hell of a time.
Here's my video from a couple years back explaining how to shoot 3d in general. It touches base on ASA and IBO as well and is a solid reference for someone wanting to enter the sport.