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Guide to Winter Archery in Toronto

Winter Archery Tips for Toronto Archers

WHAT EQUIPMENT TO BUY FOR WINTER ARCHERY

1. Winter Archery Gloves is a very smart investment if you plan to be shooting from November to March.

eg. The MAC Winter Archery Gloves from Merlin Archery in the UK is highly recommended for keeping your hands warm. At 15.26 ($27.75 CDN) + the cost of shipping they are more expensive than regular archery gloves, but well worth it.

2. Heated Hoodie or Jacket

Buying a Heated Hoodie or Jacket may seem silly at first, but you will never regret you bought one. Heated hoodies are available at Home Depot for $149, but here is a hot tip - buy the one which fits you SNUGLY, it will keep you warmer and it will be more form fitting for archery purposes. Home Depot also sells heated hoodies for $99, but they don't come with the battery pack that heats the hoodie. These hoodies are normally bought by construction workers who work outside, so you know they're durable and made to last.

3. Thermal Underwear

Buying "long johns" will keep your legs and family heirlooms warm underneath the jeans, pants or whatever you are wearing. Read the reviews of products before you buy them however. Don't just buy thermal underwear that is the cheapest or on sale. Read the reviews first and then make an informed decision. Mark's Work Warehouse regularly has thermal underwear on sale so check their online catalogue to determine whether there are on any sales.

4. RFID Arrows or Lighted Nocks

There are various companies that sell RFID arrows, but they are very difficult to find because it appears no major manufacturers have gotten into the field of making RFID arrows or nocks. We found a 5 pack of RFID arrows for $115, but expect the prices to vary as companies that sell RFID arrows are pretty rare currently. RFID [radio frequency interception device] arrows basically have GPS built into the arrows to make them easy to find. Alternatively you can get 3 packs of lighted nocks (LED) for $20 to $30. Lighted nocks blink when turned on and make it super easy to find your arrow - however if it is below thick snow or ice you won't be able to see the blinking light anyway, but we are listing this as an option for people who don't want to buy RFID arrows.

5. Tight-fitting Thermal Jacket and Thermal Boots

These last two items are pretty self explanatory. Your old bulky jacket will be annoying to shoot in due to the bow string rubbing against your arm. Having a jacket and boots that is warmer will be useful not just for archery, but all winter long.

Note - Nobody is forcing you to buy these things, but you will definitely find benefits in many of the things we listed above.

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK TO KEEP WARM

1. Dark Chocolate

There are even brands of chocolate out there that market their products specifically as a way to keep warm, but in lieu of those any dark chocolate will do. Dark chocolate increases your circulation, makes you more alert and keeps you warmer.

2. Tea, Coffee or Hot Chocolate in a Thermos

Get yourself a really nice thermos and bring it with you to the archery range. Buying hot chocolate/etc at Tim Hortons will help you keep warm, but the wind chill will suck the heat out of the thin paper cups really quickly. Using a good quality thermos - or better yet, a 24-hour thermos - will keep your drink piping hot and it will still be hot even after hours of being outdoors.

Winter Archery in Toronto

3. Carbs and Calories

In the winter you want to eat lots of carbs to keep warm. High in energy, food with lots of carbs will give you extra energy and keep you warmer. To put this in perspective arctic explorers eat 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day to give themselves lots of energy and keep themselves warm. Use a 100 to 150 calories per hour ratio. Thus if you are planning to be outside for 4 hours, take between 400 to 600 calories with you, and if you feel cold at any point stop and eat something until you get warmer. (See the tip above about Dark Chocolate, and take note of the calories for each bar of dark chocolate you take with you.)

4. Eat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

You will always be a lot warmer if you have plenty of food in your belly. Extra energy equals more warmth. (Don't be surprised if you put on some pounds during the winter, but hey, some of those pounds may also be muscle and bone density.)

5. Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol actually makes you colder because it makes your blood thinner. It also dulls your senses so you don't notice the cold so much, but you could accomplish that just by taking a tylenol. Smoking tobacco products messes with your ability to inhale oxygen. Lack of oxygen makes you get tired faster, but it also makes you get colder faster due to lowered circulation and lowered oxygen levels in your blood.

WHAT TO USE AS A TARGET

1. Portable Target

During the winter the Toronto Archery Range doesn't receive any maintenance so the targets have a tendency to fall apart. Thus for best results get a portable target (either from Bass Pro or a similar bowhunting store) or make your own portable target using blue foam insulation, old rags/clothes, or even stacks of newspapers.

2. Snowman with Cardboard/Foam/Wood Backdrop

Shooting at snowmen is fun, but your arrows will go right through them. So what you can do is make a foam / wood backdrop target. Use cardboard on the surface, blue foam insulation under the cardboard, and then wood (don't use hardwood, use cheap chipboard or plywood). You can get the blue insulation foam and the wood both at Home Depot.

3. Sofa Cushion

Got an old sofa you don't use any more? Bring the seat cushion to the archery range. They make surprisingly good targets.

4. 3D Targets of Deer, Bear, Etc

They are not as easily portable, but hey, use what you have available if you happen to own one of these.

5. Ice Blocks

Take a bucket or a large basin, fill it with cold water and then leave it outside (make sure the container you use is something that won't break when the water freezes). It make take several days until it is frozen all the way through. Then bring the resulting block of ice to the archery range and get ready to see the ice chips fly. Use red spray paint to add a dot to the block of ice so you have something to aim at.

HOW TO FIND YOUR ARROWS

1. Avoid losing them

The best way to prevent lost arrows is to never lose them in the first place. Only shoot at things you are confident you can hit, never shoot at longer distances when it is unnecessary, avoid shooting when fatigued, distracted or hungry. Basically just don't do stupid things that increase the odds of losing your arrows.

2. Keep your eye on them

When you do lose an arrow, keep your eye on where it went and carefully record in your mind exactly where it landed. With luck you will find it easily - sometimes the ice and snow leaves a nice trail showing where your arrow went, but other times it can just disappear into the snow and if you don't have a clue where it landed it is basically a needle in a hay stack.

3. Use large fletch "flu flu" arrows

So called "flu flu" arrows have giant fletch on them and are normally used for hunting birds. They're very easy to find however because the extra large fletch - and they fly nice and slow, which means if you miss they don't go very far.

4. Use brightly coloured arrows

Think orange, yellow, pink, red, etc. Get brightly coloured shafts, fletch - and if combined with flu flu fletch your arrows will be very easy to find.

5. Clear away the snow in your shooting area

If possible, clear the snow away in your shooting vicinity so that if you miss there isn't much snow to search through. Use the snow to make a snowman or something, but less snow behind your target will save you time later if you are missing often.

6. Buy Arrow Netting

It is a tad expensive to buy arrow netting, but it is very handy stuff to have. String it up between poles behind where you are shooting and if you miss the the arrow will be caught by the net. (This doesn't work very well on olympic arrows because they are so thin.)

EXTRA TIPS ON HOW TO KEEP WARM

1. Exercise

Staying physically active warms you up so simple exercises like jumping jacks, jogging, vigorous stretching helps to keep you warm.

2. Go to the bathroom first

Keeping urine in your bladder warm takes up energy that would best be served by keeping you warm. So go to the bathroom first before you head outside.

3. Bring friends who are also into archery

Honestly, you won't notice the cold so much if you are with friends and have friends to talk to. Go out for food afterwards together! If you don't have friends who are into archery, start by joining the Toronto Archery Club and go to some events where you can meet people.

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