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Field secrets 3
Hi there.
It is Saturday again... However, this Saturday isn't dark, cold or moist at the end of the winter season... no, it is a nice and warm one. I am enjoying the sunshine in the south of France as I am writing this. Crickets are competing with each other and remind me of merchants trying to outdo their neighbour. I apologise to those who are facing rain and jumper-temperatures while reading this. I, for one, am lying back in a lazy chair, accompanied by a glass of Rosé, enjoying a southern summer rest. Let's have sip... Some of you probably wonder why I am thinking about field shooting at this very moment... grin, sip. ... Well, you see, I am camping and camping actually is part of my life as a fielder. Let me explain myself (while putting aside my glass of Rosé).

A field competition generally covers a weekend or at least a few days. The competition is sometimes close to home so that we are lucky enough to return home by car (motor) every day, but that is not always the case.
Field competitions are also submitted to certain specific requirements concerning the landscape. A football field won't do the trick. In short, not every archery club has the opportunity to set up a large, safe and challenging field track. As a consequence fielders often have to drive a great deal of kilometres to find a spot to organize a field competition. This implies that most fielders look for lodgings on the spot.

Off course, in these modern times, it isn't difficult to find a hotel room or any kind of roof-over-your-head. The internet will easily help you gather information about routes, addresses, lodgings and weather forecasts. At least, the better fieldsite will ;-) However, it has become a tradition amongst most fielders to spend the night in tents, caravans, mobile homes (or 'campers', as the Dutch say), transformed jeeps, tipi... This is where the 'camping' comes in.

Once again (see fieldsecrets 1 and 2), the keyword is 'preparation'. This will allow you to quickly drop your gear into your car on a Friday evening and taking off without forgetting essential equipment. It is handy to compose a kind of 'kit' and an accompanying personal list that you will only have to check the day before your departure. This will avoid last minute searches for equipment during the week, day or evening before the competition. You just drop your kit into your trunk or backpack. Try not to forget anything but also avoid surplus weight or volume. Moreover, you'll be better off with quality equipment than with cheaper gear which will fail in no time and will soon end up in the trash can.

Take pencil and paper! Here are some lists:

• Tent
• Tent pegs
• Hammer
• Ground sheet
• Matrass
• Sleeping bag (a decent one! A good night's sleep is essential. Make sure you are protected against the cold)
• Pillow (in my case an old pillow-case filled with my jumper, towels...)
• Pocket light (by preference choose one which you can fix on your head, for example one from the brand Pezl. It is much more convenient than a model that requires the use of your hands)
• Alarm clock
• A sharp knife
• Plastic trash bags
• A cotton bag (for dirty or wet clothes) (a pillow case will also do the trick and will make sure your clothing gets ventilated.)
• Some rope (clothes-line)
• Clothing pins
• First aid kit (at the least!)
• A bigger or smaller chair
• A bigger or smaller table, or something that can pass for it
• Sunlotion
(don't forget to check the batteries for the flashlight and the alarm clock)

Those of you who plan visits to the restaurant every evening can skip the following part. If your diet is based on French fries: DON'T! A light and easy digestable meal is strongly recommended. Don't let the next day be spoiled by an upset stomach or by urgent quests for the nearest toilets.

• A fire pit (a safe one!!)
• Pots
• Plate(s) (or a set of bowles that can replace pots and plates)
• Cup(s) (those with a handle are easier when drinking hot soup)
• Cutlery (metal cutlery will survive BBQ's, plastic won't)
• Ingredients such as salt, pepper, oil, vinegar... (it is safer to pour the spices, oil and liquid soap into smaller plastic bottles)
• Water tank
• Plastic tub
• Kitchen towels
• Cooler (another fine idea: a plastic bottle of water, pour out one glass, flatten the bottle until the water level is just below the opening, close the bottle, put it into the freezer and let it freeze completely. This will provide you with a cooling element for the cooler and with refreshing water. In case of very hot weather, put two bottles into the freezer. Always put aside a few of these bottles some weeks before the first competition!
• Hot water bottles, you don't need a drinking bottle with a volume of one liter. You are better off with 2 hot water bottles of 75cl than with one bottle of 1,5 liters. It will facilitate taking smaller doses of water
• Potato knife
• A plastic lunch box (will better protect your lunch than alumium foil and is recyclable).
• Plastic bags or ziplock bags
• Matches or a lighter

A friend of mine only uses plastic plates and cutlery which he simply throws away after having used it. Mmm... it might come in handy after a tiring day on the field but my ecological heart can't take it. I prefer simply washing the whole lot.

The food itself:
• 2L of water (+ juice) (Mixture of 50% water, 50% juice makes an excellent thirst-quenching solution. It is better than just water. If you prepare it beforehand and put it in the freezer, you'll immediately have a refreshing drink within reach).
• Bread (2?)
• Some cheese or marmalade to put on the bread. Better chose a topping that is resistant to high temperatures.
• Candy (not too much!). A single Mars-bar for eating during the competition: a sin that can be forgiven (unless on hot days!), a bag of chips to accompany a nice glass of wine afterwards... (the wine will taste twice as good)
• Soluble soup (2 or 3)
• 2 warm meals (Friday and Saturday night) (Could be home made meals which only need warming-up)
• ...

• Hiking shoes and gators. They will make sure that the lower part of your legs stay dry in wet grass or bushes. Moreover, they will allow you to walk easier through a rough track and not to get stuck in bushes and sorts.
• A set of 'field clothing' (trousers, socks, underware, t-shirts, jumper) ('fieldtrousers': light, warm, easy to dry – better wear several t-shirts over one another instead of putting on a jumper)
• 2nd set of field clothing
• Rain outfit: jacket and possibly rain trousers (preferably choose a material that ventilates although it is expensive and is susceptible to wear and tear).
• Handwarmers (which are generally sold in archery or fishing stores. By this I mean a kind of plastic bags that produce warmth but can be put safely into your jacket without creating the risk of setting your pocket on fire).
• Gloves (the kind in which all of your fingers are closely together. Your fingers will warm up much faster each time you put the gloves back on. Don't even think about shooting with gloves, it won't work. No use in trying!) (An additional tip: these days, you can also find a kind of small bags which will produce warmth for a few hours after they have been shaken. They are safe and can easily be put into your gloves, thus keeping your hands warm.)
• Crampons (metal brace with pins to bind under your shoes and to use as an anti-sliding device on rough, muddy soil. Attention: buy crampons for hikers, not the ones that are used for climbing glaciers or mountains.
• A third set of dry clothes for the evenings (this third set can consist of the clothes you wore when leaving home for the competition)
• Walking-stick (preferably a walking-stick for the mountains. They are height-adjustable which might come in handy. You will need a longer stick when descending than when climbing. You might even transform your walking-stick into a support for your bow. You'll even save weight)
A warm hat
• ...

Take them with you and use them please... especially when you are walking along in my groupLaughing JUST KIDDING

Let's summarize...
The secret lies within combining. These lists are only meant to jug your memory. Try to eliminate as much as possible and stick to the bare necessities. I myself have composed a 'bad-weather-kit'. It is a bag containing: an extremely solid rain(storm) jacket, a lighter rainjacket, gators, crampons, an umbrella, scarf, warm hat, a chocolate bar, a small pocket light. Actually, this bag has become standard equipment, ALWAYS accompanying me, even to competitions in the heart of Summer. Imagine the following: a sudden change of weather conditions, rain and hail... I’ll be prepared whereas a great deal of my opponents will not be ;-) Unless they all have read this column of course. :-)

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