Ready to Head Outdoors

It seems every year in New England it starts to feel like Spring in the days/weeks leading up to indoor nationals. Every year, I wish I was outside shooting and getting ready for AZ Cup, but I know I have indoor nationals each February, keeping me indoors. Then, every year, like clockwork, the week after indoor nationals is a big snow storm and we are stuck inside, even though indoor season is officially over. This year was different. No, the weather STILL gave us some beautiful days in the two weeks leading into indoor nationals in MA, but this time I took advantage of the nice weather and got outside.

My indoor season definitely had its ups and downs, and since I knew indoor nationals was for sure my last indoor tournament (and in all honesty I probably would have skipped it if I hadn’t already paid my money and registered) I wasn’t concerned with staying indoors shooting only 18m. I went out, shot 70M and enjoyed the sun on my face for a few days. It was a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, the weather stuck to its usual patterns and since I finished indoor nationals, we’ve had some pretty cold and crappy weather, sending me back indoors to train.

I knew I wasn’t able to participate in the Indoor Finals event in Cincinnati, so indoor nationals for me was just about personal goals and finishing the indoor season on a high note. This is a tournament R and I have always shot together, so it was a little sad for me to be shooting this “alone” for the first time since we started archery. I know he says he didn’t want to shoot this tournament, but he didn’t have a choice, even if he did, because at the beginning of indoor season I stole his arrows (he had the spine I assumed I needed, so I just cut them shorter and used them all indoor season).

Our first indoor nationals

As I’ve mentioned, both Vegas and Indoor Worlds were not my best tournaments. I’ve been struggling with consistency and feel with my shot. As much as I wanted to shoot a personal best at indoor nationals (or at least hit the 290 I had shot at indoor trials in December), my main goal was consistency. Even the round I shot my pb, I had two good 300 rounds and two not so good. Outdoor season had been similar with typically one good half and one not so good half, which was frustrating bc even when I wasn’t a top compound shooter, my scores were typically very consistent from half to half.

Day 1 of indoor nationals I opened with a 30, and I thought, “yes, this is going to be a good day.” I then proceeded to shoot SIX 28s in a row. It seemed no matter what I did I would have one arrow hit the 10 ring and the other two just miss. I finally broke this streak in the 8th end, but not in the way I would have liked to (I shot a 27!). I then buckled down shooting a 30, then two more 10s. The final arrow of the half was an 8, and I realized that had this arrow landed in the yellow I would have shot my first all yellow round of the season. A 283 definitely wasn’t anything to write home about, but I felt good that with the exception of the last arrow, I didn’t have any “bad” shots.

I always tell my students the first step towards consistency and higher scores is getting rid of the flyers. The second half of the day felt much better in some ways, but I did shoot three 8s. I was being a little more aggressive in my shot, which I think resulted in more 10s (but also the few flyers). As we tallied up the final scores, I realized I had a 566, which meant I had shot 283/283. Again, this isn’t a score I’m PROUD of, but I was very excited to be so consistent. That felt really good, and gave me hope for the next day. I knew if I could just get rid of those four 8s, I’d be right where I wanted to be.

Then I got home, and I saw on facebook that John Demmer had shot two points better than me! Talk about making yourself feel bad 😉 In all seriousness, I want to give him a huge shoutout. Shooting a 568 with a barebow to me is AMAZING! For people who don’t know what that really means, barebow archers have no sight, no stablizers, no “modern” equipment. If you took that off my bow, I would be lucky to hit the bale at 10 feet away, and he managed to shoot a higher score than me at the same distance/same target size. Super impressive in my book, and he is a great ambassador for the sport, encouraging archers young and old to get out there and shoot!

Day two started a little rough for me. I opened with a pair of 28s. I wasn’t feeling great, but I just tried to focus on three arrows at a time. I shot a handful of 28s and 29s in this first half, and only one 27 (but also only one 30). I DID, however, get my first all yellow 300 round, with a score of 285. Again, I wasn’t jumping up and down over the score, but I was happy that I had now put together three consistent rounds. One more round left, and I could leave feeling ok with where things were. I opened the second half with a 27 (shooting all 9s). It was strange bc I thought it was a 30 until I walked down to pull arrows and saw they were all kicked, so they appeared different than where they landed. Ohhh well, can’t get them back, so just have to move on. I started to get into a little bit of a groove shooting three 29s and then a 28. And then…

The 6th end of the second half I was feeling good. My first arrow went off a little quick and was high and left red (typical miss area for me when shot is a little too fast). I thought it was an 8, so I didn’t freak out and just moved on to the next arrow. I drew back, timing was good and watched as my arrow landed in a similar spot as the last one. What? I pulled out my binos, and I realized the first arrow was a 7! and the second an 8, almost 7. Hmmmmmm. Because I expected my first one to be an 8/9 liner and because my second arrow was almost in the same spot as my first, I decided no sense in questioning what is going on. I just moved my sight and focused on making a good shot for the last arrow. I did, and the arrow landed on the left side of the 10 ring.

At this point the damage was done. Not only had I shot one (actually 2) out of the yellow, losing my chance at a “clean yellow” 600 round, I had dropped 5 points in one end! Since I had been shooting well, but not lights out, up until this point, I thought there was no way for me to break a 280, squashing my hopes of no “bad” rounds. Nothing else strange happened the rest of the round. I shot typical of how I had all day, but I thought the 27 (with an 8) in the second to last round, sealed my chances of breaking 280 that round if there was any hope left after my 25. Yes, I was bummed, but I tried not to dwell on it since I still had three arrows left to shoot. When AB line was up, I just told myself to end on a positive note. My score did not matter at this point, it was about staying strong, good timing, and leaving indoors with a good feeling. I shot two 10s and my final arrow of the indoor season was a beautiful, inside-out X!

This gave me a 566 again on day 2 matching day 1’s score), a new 1200 arrow personal best, and more importantly, I HAD broken 280 on all four rounds. Did I have any great rounds, no, but more importantly I didn’t have any terrible rounds either. Out of 120 arrows, only 7 landed outside the gold, and my four rounds were all withing 4 points of one another. To me that meant consistency. Would I have liked to shoot higher scores, of course, but I focused on the positives and knew that after consistency came tighter groups and more 10s. I was excited to say goodbye to indoor season and start preparing for AZ Cup. I can’t wait to feel the sun on my face and the wind on my back…Well maybe just a light breeze, who wants a strong gail force wind when trying to shoot 😉

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