This past weekend was USA Archery’s outdoor nationals, along with the US Open. Last year I did not do as well as I had hoped during Nationals (it was my first ever full FITA), however, I made my first top 8, and ended up finishing 4th in the US Open. This year I was excited to see my improvements one year later.
Typically mornings are the calmest part of the day, so as archers we always hope for the morning time slot. Unfortunately on Day 1 of Nationals, we were not so lucky. Unlike some of the other tournaments this year with wind, this was not a strong, steady wind, but instead a very gusty wind. It seemed most of the compound women struggled this first day, as scores across the board were quite low. It was a rough day for me, and I began just counting down the arrows I had left, knowing I just had to get through it (I actually shot worse as the wind died down).
After a miserable day (my lowest score all year by around 20 points), I was sitting in 8th place. I was definitely not happy with this, but knowing I was only 4 points out of 4th had me holding out faith for day 2. I was able to get my ribs put back in place by one of the RAs, so I knew the next day would be better.
On day 2 we had to shoot in the afternoon, so we were just hoping the winds stayed calm as they had been that morning. Throughout the day my shots felt good, however, as the wind was constantly changing direction, I kept having the problem of the wind one direction when I drew back and aimed, but it would be a totally different direction when I shot the shot, causing my arrows to go the opposite way I had planned for. This was pretty frustrating, as I was happy with my shots (unlike the day before), yet my scores were still not very good.
I managed to finish the day in 6th, moving up 2 spots from the previous day, which is a huge improvement from last year. I was disappointed, but I also felt lucky to have finished this high up, with as low as my scores were. Although Nationals was over, with as good as my shot felt (and my personal record for X count in a tournament), I was confident going into the US Open the next day.
The day started with just a light breeze, and I was drilling shots. I had a bye the first match, and as we started the second match, the wind (and rain) decided to come. It was pouring my first end for score, so I just shot 3 quick shots, hoping to keep my scope from getting wet. I put my arrows all in a nickel size group, and was happy to get under the tents where it was dry. Unfortunately, as we were walking back from scoring, we could see some crazy lightning approaching and the field was closed.
We all rushed to cars and waited until we would get the ok to return. After about an hour, we were allowed back on the field and given 2 ends of practice. The rain was gone, but there was still wind to deal with. I shot “ok” the rest of the match, but I managed the win and moved on. Next round was a tight match clear until the last end. I started on fire, but my last 2 ends weren’t as tight. I managed to take the win by 1 point in the end, moving on to the semi finals.
At this point I was shooting against Erika. We were told we would be the tv match that round, so we had to head to the middle of the field. I was excited for the chance to be the featured match, and I was confident that I could beat her. The first three ends we matched each other shot for shot. The wind was a little tricky on this part of the field, as it didn’t have the tents behind to block it from that direction. In the fourth end, I misread the wind big time on one of my shots, shooting an 8, causing me to go down 2 points in the match. In the end, I wasn’t able to make up for this in the final end, putting me into the bronze medal match.
I was still happy with my shots, as they felt probably the best in a tournament they have to date, so I was confident going into this match, especially after seeing the scores in the other semi final match. I took an early lead, but on my last arrow of the match I shot another 8, tying things up. This meant shoot off time, which I had never lost. We both drew back at the same time, trying to time the wind. She shot a 10, and I was a little too aggressive in my shot, shooting a little high (9), meaning I had just lost.
I was very frustrated at this point, knowing I had let the last two matches slip out from under me, especially when I knew my shots felt great. Even though I shoot in wind at home almost every day, it just shows you how we all can get better reading/judging the wind. In the end I finished 4th, which was the exact same place as last year, however, I feel like I shot on an entirely different level to get there this year. In the end I’m choosing to focus on the positives, I shot a ton of Xs, my shot is feeling great, my ribs are back in place, and I get a chance to shoot against the best in the world next week in Poland.
*Thanks to USA Archery for the photos