Many of you who have followed me for awhile know the annual Lancaster Classic holds a special place in my heart. This tournament in 2013 was my first ever “real” archery tournament, and I truly believe finishing in 18th (missing the cut by 2 places) was a big part of my early success. In the years since then I’ve shot well and had some bad luck, not shot well, and had the tournament cut short due to snowmageddon, so for one reason or another I’ve never gotten the opportunity to participate in the Shoot Up. This is something that is unique to the Lancaster tournament, so besides wanting to participate bc that means I can win the tournament, I have always wanted to just experience shooting in a different format then I’m used to.
After 4 Classics with my compound, last year was a “repeat” of 2013, with it being my first “real” tournament with a recurve, and I missed the cut by 1 spot! This year my goal was to make top 8, but deep down I knew my real goal was to be in the top 4, so I could shoot in the Shoot Up. However, the few weeks leading into this tournament, I’d been struggling, so I really didn’t know what to expect.
Qualification on Friday was pretty rough. I started VERY slow, and I managed to find my rhythm part way through the second half, but I knew it was too late. I knew I still had a decent chance at making the top 8, but I also knew there was a chance I’d miss the cut again depending on how well the rest of the field shot. Because I had shot during the first line, I got to refresh scores all day, seeing where I would come in.
Luckily, I managed to squeak by in 7th, giving myself another day to shoot. Unfortunately, I realized that meant I had to shoot against my good friend, Gaby (originally from Mexico, but now lives in the Netherlands). She had shot a miss the day before, so her score was lower than it should have been, based on how she was shooting. She is also an Olympian, so I knew it would be tough to win and make the Shoot Up.
Matches for those that made the cut were Saturday morning. I changed up my warmup from the day before, and I felt a lot better going into my match then I had for qualification the day prior. We started the match, and I opened up strong with a 32 (out of a possible 33), shooting two Xs and a 10. Unlike normal recurve matches, we would be using cumulative scoring instead of set system, so I opened up with a decent lead. I had a pretty good second end, where I gained a few more points. In the third end I started to get a little nervous, and I gave back some points when I shot a 9, X, 10. I wasn’t upset about losing some points because that’s a 29 normal recurce scoring, which I can’t complain about.
The final end I knew I just needed to finish strong. I started to shake as I came into full draw, so I just told myself to focus on a strong bow arm. The first shot was a 10. Good. Then, I forced the next shot, giving me an 8, so I regrouped and shot another 10 for the win. I was getting to shoot in the Shoot Up for the first time!!!
Shortly after winning my match, I learned that one of my students had also made the Shoot Up! That morning had been her first ever experience shooting in a head to head elimination style match, and she had won her way through a tough bracket to earn a spot on the big stage. I had the pleasure of standing behind her during her match, and I was impressed with how well she maintained her composure under the bright lights. As always, I felt more nervous standing behind her “coaching” then I do shooting myself.
The next morning was my turn for my long anticipated chance to shoot my way into 1st. I was the 4th seed coming in, which meant I would have to win 3 matches (against, 3, 2, and finally 1 seed) in order to get the W. My first match was against a fellow New Englander, Sue Bock. We’ve shot at local tournaments together, and it was great to see her having such a good weekend.
I managed to squeak out a win by 2 points 114-112, which guaranteed me at least 3rd place. Next up, I was to shoot against Casey Kaufhold. If her name sounds familiar, that is because she is the daughter of Rob Kaufhold, the man who runs the Lancaster Classic. She is only 13 years old, but I knew she was a fierce competitor. Plus she was on this stage for a few matches last year, having finished in 2nd.
I started pretty decent, and we tied the first end. I managed to take a big lead with a great 2nd end, but in the 3rd end I suddenly realized I couldn’t see my string. Instead of just trusting my shot and what had been clearly working for me so far, I started doing weird things, moving my head to try to see the string. This caused me to start shooting crazy left and rights (7s and 8s), and I threw away my entire lead. We went into the 4th and final end tied, and I was not feeling confident. I was questioning things instead of just shooting.
I opened up with another 8 (she shot a 10), but it came down to the final arrow. An 11 would give me the win, so I focused on making a good shot, ignoring my string (or lack thereof), but the pin was a tad low when I shot. I was bummed bc I knew I needed an 11 to win and it wasn’t going to touch the X ring. I then realized that if it touched the 10 ring, we would actually be tied and get to shoot tie breaker arrows. It was close, but it ultimately was called out (a 9), so I had lost the match by a point 112-111. I was bummed I lost, but more importantly I was frustrated with myself for getting flustered when I realized I wasn’t seeing my string. I’ve learned from my mistake, and in the end walking away with my first recurve podium makes me excited for the year ahead!
Special thanks to Dean Alberga (Dutch Target) for the awesome pictures at this event, and congrats to Mackenzie on her back to back wins at the Lancaster Classic and Casey on her b2b 2nd places!