Prep phase – putting in the hard work now for pay-off in results later

Nico Wiener, Bryony Pitman and Mike Schloesser.

The outdoor season officially begins on 1 April – although some smaller international will take place before.

With the last major indoor events in Nimes and Las Vegas complete, the switch to 70 and 50 metres will happen fast. There are several things to prepare, from ensuring physical endurance and control are on-point to setting up equipment, especially for those who will switch down to smaller-diameter arrows.

Time is at a premium. And that’s why, for many athletes, it’s in these pre-season weeks that they’ll focus most on physical prep.

“I go to the gym twice or three times a week,” says Mike Schloesser. “That’s something I definitely don’t do during the competition season because I don’t see the benefit of it, while I see it in-between seasons.”

“I become stronger to make sure I won’t get any injuries,” he explains.

Bryony Pitman, who was ranked world number one in the recurve women’s category early this year, spends plenty of time at the gym, too. 

“It’s been getting myself in the best possible place so that, when the season starts, I can afford to go back a little bit,” she says. “If I miss a week at a gym here or there, it’s not the end of the world. I can maintain my strength throughout the season.”

Reigning World Archery Champion Nico Wiener is focused on equipment.

Making changes during the competition trail is uncomfortable.

“It’s the only moment you really have time to maybe get something new, try different set-ups, arrows and all the stuff like that,” says the Austrian archer, who will defend his world title later this year in Berlin. “You also need to shoot lots of arrows to find the right set-up. You can join some smaller tournaments to test your bows as well.”

Schloesser is renowned for shooting a high volume of arrows.

It’s with a purpose.

“The moment you enter the season, you need to know which bow shoots better and which arrows you should shoot, and I think that’s what the preparation time needs to be,” he says. “I can easily shoot around 200-300 arrows a day, but during the competition period, I would constantly shoot 150-200.”

It’s a reduction of up to half when there are tournaments on the line.

“The way I shoot them is different. In a preparation season, it’s kind of higher volume, and when I’m in a competition flow, I do a lot of exercises. Kind of scoring things,” he explains.

“Once I’ve got my equipment sorted, I can go to the season with a lot of confidence,” says Pitman. “When there’s time between events, I can always go back and recheck or adjust something. But where I start, I want to be kind of set for the season.”

The 25-year-old is yet to begin preparations with the national team. That starts at the end of February.

For now, it’s been a case of training alone.

“I’m kind of switching phases at the moment,” says Pitman. “The last few months have been very much about shooting a lot of arrows, high volume and being in a gym a lot, just getting the strongest as I can. I’m kind of getting to the end of that phase.”

“I’ll still be in a gym a lot, but my arrow volume will go back down,” she adds. “The next month I will also spend working on my equipment and getting everything set up.”

You feel a sense of what’s coming through Pitman, Schloesser and Wiener’s words.

Once the season starts – and this is an important one, with Olympic qualifying starting in August – there’s little time to stop and regroup. You’re either ready… or you’re not.

“You can relax, too – but not too much because this period is soon over, you’re on the road,” says Wiener.

The Hyundai Archery World Cup starts in April in Antalya, Turkey.