I always have mixed emotions heading in to NFAA indoor nationals in the middle of March. Part of me is soooo excited because it means the end of indoor season, but the other part of me is excited for another shot at winning a National title.
Because outdoor season comes on quickly after this tournament, I typically am splitting my time between outdoors and indoors once USAA Indoor Nationals is over. Because I shoot a different bow indoors and outdoors, this means getting adjusted to a different feel, along with the differences due to the distance.
The 5 days leading up to Louisville, however, I went back to only shooting indoors in preparation for the tournament. I can honestly say it was the best my shooting has felt all season. I was shooting great practice scores; going multiple games without dropping an X (something I had NEVER previously done). So to say I felt good heading into Nationals would be an understatement bc I felt great. I assumed the long distance, outdoor shooting had tightened up my form and forced me to stop being lazy after a long indoor season.
I arrived at the practice range on Friday, set my bow up and first shot out of the bow was an X. I was pretty surprised bc usually I have to adjust my sight when I take all my equipment apart, fly, and then setup in a new location. Part of this I think is just do to varying lighting, but I also assume the distance is just a hair different from one place to another. However, I proceeded to practice and never dropped an X the entire day (including during practice with the pros). That meant I went roughly 129 arrows without shooting one out of the X ring. This was not only a record for me, but also not typical for me on a tournament practice day.
The next morning I shot the 7am line. It started VERY slowly, with an end taking as long as 40 minutes! This made it very difficult to get into any sort of rhythm, and I dropped 3 Xs within my first 3 ends! I was bummed, but I tried to regroup and just shoot good shots. However, it seemed like I was fighting the bow all day and while I didn’t drop another X, it just didn’t feel good either.
After all the scores were tallied I was in a three-way tie for 4th. It ended up that I was the “lucky” one that got to shoot on the top bale, meaning I would shoot with the two women who were 1 point down and the one that was 2 points down. We started just after 3pm, which is my “favorite” time to shoot…I was exhausted and in all honesty really didn’t want to be there. I tried everything to keep my focus, and I managed to stay clean through 5 ends. In the 6th end, however, I caught myself making weak shots on my first two arrows, so on my 3rd I told myself to shoot my shot. Well, my aggressiveness caused me to pop it out the top, dropping an X.
I was pretty bummed at this point bc I knew I could clean this target and now for the 2nd year in a row I wouldn’t. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of my struggles either. A few ends later, I shot what felt like the best shot all day and guess what, he landed in the same hole as the last X I dropped (high). I started to feel more awake and functioning by this point (we were now at 5 or 6pm). I got in somewhat of a rhythm and I was moving along…until the last end. I decided to let me bow arm drop and I missed one low (just out!). That meant I was down 3 for the second day in a row, down six for the tournament.
What a disaster! I didn’t even care that this bumped me to a tie for 6th, I was so embarrassed with the way I shot. I truly couldn’t understand how I could go from shooting the best scores I’ve ever shot, to dropping 6 Xs in 120 arrows! Lucky for me, I HAVE to quickly put this behind me as I leave for my first outdoor tournament in exactly a week, YES 1 WEEK!
I’m trying to stay positive about the experience, so I will say I got to witness some great shooting by others. Erika Jones tied her record with a 600 w/119 Xs, shooting clean on day two. Christie Colin and Sarah Lance also cleaned day two. Although she dropped two in her last end, Paige Pearce got on the podium for her first time at an indoor tournament. Also, there were tons of girls shooting in the youth and young adult divisions, which is definitely a breath of fresh air. So do I wish things had ended differently for me? Yes, but all I can do is keep moving forward and working hard to get back to where I know I can be.
*thanks to BowJunky for the pictures included in this post