Arizona Cup has always been a tough tournament for me, living in New England. I still remember my first AZ Cup in 2013, when I arrived in AZ only haven shot once outdoors (in the snow) to get a 50m sight mark. I remember the wind, and I even had a conversation with Linda Ochoa (we shot an elimination match against each other) about how I had no clue what to do in the wind. I remember her telling me I would learn, but she still didn’t have it all figured out 11 (?) years into the sport. Over the course of my compound career I grew to love shooting in the wind. Part of this is because of the fact that I live on top of a hill, so it is ALWAYS windy at my house, so I had no choice but to learn.
Fast forward to this year, and the weather just didn’t want to cooperate again. We actually had beautiful outdoor shooting weather in January and February during indoor season, but of course as soon as Indoor Nationals was over, the weather took a turn for the worse, and never improved in the month and a half leading up to AZ Cup. This meant I was once again heading into AZ Cup with very little outdoor shooting under my belt.
Shooting a recurve at 70m is a much bigger adjustment from 18m then I expected. The biggest “shock” to me was the fact that I had to setup my shot so much differently because I was aiming soooooo much higher. Also, the wind is a whole new ballgame with a recurve. Not only are you aiming off WAY more than with a compound, there are so many more variables to pay attention to. I planned to have an extra day of practice in AZ to help me be a little more prepared, but the airlines apparently didn’t want me to do this. I shot just enough during official practice to get warmed up, sighted in, and then I got out of the hot AZ sun that my body was not used to.
I was pretty lucky with conditions during qualification. The recurve women shot in the morning and there was just enough wind to make things tricky, basically you just had to be paying attention, it wasn’t anything crazy. I struggled with my timing and setting up my shot properly. I just wasn’t being consistent, but I tried to just focus on improving what I could throughout the round. In the end, my score wasn’t what I wanted but I finished in a pretty decent spot in the senior women division for my first outdoor tournament with a recurve. I tried to focus on the positives heading into eliminations the next day.
Sunday morning started with some nasty head winds. I really struggled during the two ends of practice, trying to figure out where I needed to aim in a wind like that (again SOOOOO much different than compound!). I felt better when top shooters around me missed the bale, as I knew it must be tougher conditions than I realized. We started scoring and I shot a 9 (I was so pumped). I followed this up with an X (what?) and a 10…ummmmm seriously, how did I just shot a 29 I thought. I later found out I tied (with Chris Webster) for the highest score on the recurve field (men and women) that end. I thought wow, I actually am figuring this whole recurve shooting in the wind thing out. And then end two happened…
The next end I shot a low right 5. I then shot one that I thought landed in the same general area, maybe 3-4 inches higher up on the target. I was frustrated with myself for not correcting more on the second shot, but I made the last one count shooting a 9. When we went down to score, I realized the second arrow I thought was mine, actually was someone else on my bale’s arrow. I started looking around the target, but I couldn’t find my arrow. At this point I thought hmmm I guess I have to look behind the bale. Sure enough, I had completely missed the target! I honestly still don’t know what happened as I had ZERO clue that it was that bad of a shot, but maybe the wind just took it and I didn’t realize. Anyways, that left me with a whooping 14 score for end number 2. All I could do was laugh and think 29 to 14, who does that!
With that the match was tied up 2-2. I let the miss and not knowing what happened mess with me a little and question each shot and where to aim too much. I then was down 4-2. I won the next set, so we were tied 4-4. I knew I needed to just tie on this final set to win. I am very confident in shootoffs, so I just needed at least a 5-5 tie to get there (though winning the set would win me the match 6-4, which obviously would be even better). I opened with a 6 to her 8. I then shot an 8 to her 6, so we were all tied up. I knew I just needed a good last arrow. I felt confident as I let the arrow go, but it ended up hitting my arrow in the 6 ring. Losing me the match by one point, whoops!
And with that my AZ Cup was over for another year. I hope one day to have a good tournament in AZ, but I really wish the organizers would think about shooters in the northern part of the country when they select that dates. All we would need is another roughly 2 weeks, and I’m pretty confident all of us would feel a lot better coming into this event. It’s particularly hard for top level archers because this event tends to be used as a trials event for things like World Championships and the Olympics most years. Especially now that this tournament is not a World Ranking event, I think there should be more flexibility in choosing a date. I know I am not alone in my sentiment, I just wish there was more that could be done to benefit the archers in this case.
And with that I’ll step down off my soap box and let you guess what I’ve been working on since coming home from AZ Cup. Yep, you guessed right, shooting in the wind! I realized that simply going by feel or a little wind flag on the target wasn’t enough, so I purchased a wind sock on Amazon for $10. I know it is going to come in handy for me in trying to really get the hang of where I need to aim in various conditions with my recurve.