Relearning how to compete

The 2013 Lancaster Classic was my first non-local tournament with my compound, so I thought it was only fitting that the same should be true with my recurve. The main difference being, 4 years ago, I had no clue Lancaster was a National level tournament. In fact, I signed up to go 15hrs before my qualification shooting time! It was a tournament I could drive to, and I heard there were seminars, so I wanted to attend to learn some things (and check out the store!). This time, I knew full well what I was getting myself into. I would be competing against 2 Olympians and some current and past World Championship team members, etc. Some may say the women’s recurve field wasn’t very big at around 30 people, but that didn’t mean the competition was any easier.

My first trip to Lancaster

Leading up to Lancaster, I’ve been trying to shoot as many local events as possible, just to get a feel for competing with the recurve. Unlike compound, I’ve found I don’t do as well in a tournament setting as I do in practice, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to change that. One thing, in particular, I had noticed was that it took me until around 5-6 of scoring to start get my rhythm and timing down each time. This wasn’t just in tournaments (same in practice as well). It wasn’t a matter of needing to stretch and warmup muscles, so I decided maybe I should try playing with stabilizers to see if that helped speed up the process of getting “the feel” sooner. The next local event I shot in, I found yes, it did work. I was ready to go from the beginning (even my practice ends felt good). However, this was short lived. I found that the point I normally found my rhythm, now I had lost it and struggled the rest of the tournament. Back to the drawing board with a few days before leaving for Lancaster.

I arrived in Lancaster unsure of how my stabilizer setup would fair, but I reminded myself that this tournament was not the goal, it was a learning experience. I left the house around 4am Friday morning, drove to PA, and then waited most of the day for my 4pm shooting time. I was antsy to get shooting, but it was great to get some time to say hi to all my archery friends I haven’t seen in months! I was amazed out how many people 1)where shocked I was shooting the tournament and 2)were surprised that I was shooting in the recurve division. I guess a lot of people really thought recurve was just a joke, and I wasn’t really serious about switching until they saw me in Lancaster.

I had a decent start, not feeling overly great, but looking back I posted a solid score for my first 5 ends. As I went along, I found I was really straining my muscles to steady the bow, as I had taken so much weight off that it felt like a toy (side lesson: don’t compare your stabilizer weights to top shooters and think you have too much weight on yours…they just might be using tungsten weights so it looks like they have 1/3 to 1/4 less weight then they actually do!). This slowed my shot timing down considerably, and I wasn’t able to execute my shot as well as I would have liked.

I made it through the half way point, and I was still feeling pretty good through the next 4-5 ends. Then, a huge learning experience…or disaster depending on how you look at it 😉 As a compound archer, I was a very quick shot. I wasn’t someone that held at full draw letting my pin settle completely before executing my shot. I NEVER had issues with 3 arrows in 2 minutes, as I also rarely let the bow down either. At Lancaster, I was shooting on the very last bale, meaning the clock was right next to my target. In the 16th end, I came to full draw on my last arrow and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the clock switch to red. It scared me so bad I sort of flinch, fired off the shot, thinking I had only 10 seconds left. Basically, my brain just had a freakout moment since I hadn’t experienced this before. With a compound, doing this you might have gotten lucky and hit an 8, however, with a recurve that’s not the case…Lets just say it was a good thing I was shooting a single spot! The next few ends were a little rough, as I was paranoid about running low on time, so I wasn’t focused on what I should have been. It was a few ends later that I was watching the clock while the AB line was shooting (I was CD) that I realized when the clock switched to yellow (30 seconds left to shoot), it actually looked reddish from where we were shooting.

I then put things together and figured out that I had had 30 seconds to shoot, not 10. Whoops! Not only was this a learning experience for me in turns of clock management and learning how much time I needed to get a shot off (I knew exactly with compound how much time I needed to draw the bow and execute a shot so when it got windy I knew how much time I could wait), but I also learned it’s important to pay attention to things like the clock during the practice ends. Where is it located, what does it look like, does it change color (what colors and at what timing)? This will help so you don’t make a rookie mistake like I did in the middle of scoring.

Right after I was finished, before even looking to see if I made the cut, I added weight back to my stabilizers. I knew a previous setup I had shot with was much better for me, so it was just a matter of fine tuning that setup vs the new one with way less weight that I had tried. After doing that I pulled up scores and saw I had finished 9th. Unfortunately for me that meant my weekend was over. I think women’s recurve was the only one that cut to just 8. All other divisions were 16 or 32 (with the exception of men’s open pro, who cut to 64). I was definitely bummed initially, but I reminded myself that I came here to learn. It helped me feel better when I thought back to my first trip to Lancaster when I also did not make the cut. I figured if that was the start of my compound career, then I had a lot of great things ahead with the recurve if I was starting the same way. I also checked the men’s recurve scores and realized I would have made their cut, so that definitely improved my mood. After only about a month shooting at a target (and with a clicker), I had finished in roughly the top 3rd, which I had to be happy with. I felt like I did the best I could on that day, and yes I did learn some things to hopefully improve on moving forward, I didn’t regret putting myself out there and competing.

Next up, Vegas!

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