After a very positive experience at Nationals, just weeks after completely changing my form, I was feeling pretty good heading into this year’s SoCal Showdown. I skipped this tournament last year, but after having been out to Chula Vista twice in the past year, it didn’t feel like I had taken a year off from this tournament.
A few days before the tournament my shooting took a dip. It wasn’t anything I could put my hand on, and I was still scoring well, so I didn’t think much of it. Practice day, however, was pretty rough. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get sighted in. I wasn’t grouping, and I began to get frustrated. R finally got some time off work and was able to come with me, so I began asking him if he saw me doing anything wrong. He made a few suggestions, but nothing seemed to really help. He then looked at my bow and after nocking an arrow noticed the spacing between my nocking points had stretched out, so now I had too much movement up and down with my nock. Whoops! I felt like an idiot, as this was definitely something I should have paid attention to…lesson learned!
Right away my bow seemed to be shooting better, and because I had hit the number of arrows on my plan for the day, I packed it up for the day. Qualification was in the morning, which always makes me happy, so I was pumped and ready to shoot. We got the normal 3 ends of practice, but I still wasn’t feeling ready by the time we started scoring and my first end showed that. It was a bit of a struggle, but I came back with a solid second end. Unfortunately, the rest of the day was a lot of this up and down. I would make some really great shots, but my timing was slow all day, and I had some REALLY poor shots (including 2 misses). I ended the day pretty disappointed, but I knew anything could happen the next day, and even though I had a low seed, I didn’t have to face the #1 or #2 seeds until very late in the bracket, so I was confident I could make a run and improve on qualification.
Unfortunately, elimination day was more of the same for me. I would shoot 2 really good arrows, but then one not so good arrow. I managed to win my first match shooting this way, but in my second match we tied 4-4 and I lost the final set by an arrow call to lose the match. I knew I couldn’t be upset about losing bc I knew I wasn’t shooting well enough to deserve to win. I was mad at myself and disappointed that this was the first tournament of the year where I didn’t improve. I thought Nationals was going to be my big turning point on the season with my new form, but I realized recurve progress isn’t linear like we would like it to be. Yes, I had been working hard, but it’s not a straight path to my goals. I’ve told people I coach this for years, but it is much easier said then believed.
On the positive side, I got the opportunity at this tournament to talk to a few people and get some advice from some well known and respected coaches. As soon as I was done cheering on all my friends shooting in the finals, I headed to the practice range to work on some of tips I’d been given. For me, I’ve found my timing is key. If I can shoot a nice quick shot, like I did with compound, I can call where the arrow is going. It may not be in the middle, but that’s ok as long as it goes where I expect it to. For a variety of reasons, shooting with a recurve, I’ve slowed my entire shot process way down, so I’m working on turning that back around. It’s not just the shot itself, but the time between arrows. From now until Texas, I am spending my time focused on timing and my bow arm. I am too far down in the rankings to reach my goal of making the team (top 8 for this year), so my goal for Texas is not about score or placing, but simply to improve in those two areas I’m working on. I’ll be happy if I can end the outdoor season on a positive note and start my next build period, so I can be ready for next year.