I’m still not sure who had the bright idea to move Outdoor Nationals to Alabama in July, but everyone paid the price for it. The week was full of wind, rain, lightning delays, muddy fields and more. This caused headaches for spectators, archers and officials alike. There is always enough to worry about at a tournament this size, so I truly feel bad for organizers and volunteers who had all the added stress due to things out of their control.
Here is a quick recap of my Nationals experience…
Practice Day: After a nice first class upgrade on my flight the night before, I was feeling ready to go and arrived at the field first thing the next morning. My bow felt strangely light (I kept thinking I was missing some weight on my stabilizers) and I never could get it to hold well. I struggled and finally decided to just call it quits after about 55 arrows.
That evening was the opening ceremonies, where the members of the World Champs team (plus alternates) got to participate in an autograph session for anyone who attended. It was a great event (even though they wouldn’t let me have both chicken and pulled pork in the food line!), and I really enjoyed getting to meet so many young archers.
Scoring Day #1: Women were on the field first, and we quickly saw it was going to be a windy day. Unlike most of our tournaments in the wind this year, the wind seemed to be constantly changing. Sometimes it would change end to end, other times arrow to arrow. This made for some tricky conditions, so you really had to pay attention. I actually felt like I read the wind really well for the most part. The problem was I kept shooting stupid shots. I just wasn’t making good shots, and I was paying for it. The first half had one brutal end where many of us were ecstatic to shoot a 50 (my worst ever end in competition). Between that end and my poor shooting, I shot my lowest ever first half score. I was upset bc this tournament always seems to give me fits, no matter how well I am shooting leading up to it. I managed to shoot 1 point better in the second half, but that left me with a miserable score which I knew would put me pretty far down in the pack.
Lucky for me, I think the wind had a greater effect on the other girls, so I was actually sitting in 3rd at the end of the day. The top two women (Jamie and Lexi) were tied 7 points ahead of me, but one point each of us from 3rd to 6th. So as excited as I was to be in 3rd after shooting so poorly, I was definitely nervous for day 2 knowing I had so many good shooters right on my tail.
Scoring Day #2: Women compound were supposed to be in the afternoon this day, after the men. However, the men didn’t start until our start time of 1pm, after countless delays all morning. They were given a hard stop time of 4pm, so they only got through 7 or 8 ends before they were called and their tournament was over. We were supposed to start at 4:30 with a hard stop of 9pm. My motivation level to shoot by this point was a big fat 0. After things getting delayed 30 mins at a time all day, I just wasn’t in the mood to compete. Add to that the fact that I knew we could have our own delays and may not get a full round in, I wasn’t excited about having to shoot. In my mind, I was too far back to catch 1/2 unless I shot a full round (and even then unlikely), but the people on my heels could easily catch me if we shot as little as one end. I really didn’t want to lose a podium position, so I kept hoping they would just cancel things and let our day one scores be the final.
I wasn’t lucky enough to have our line cancelled, but we did managed to shoot our entire 12 ends of scoring. It began getting dark during our round, so they turned on the stadium lights over the field. The trouble was there were no lights on the targets themselves. This made it difficult for many to see targets depending on what they were using to aim (black dots were almost impossible to see) and how good their eyesight was. I felt good throughout the round, but I kept making little mistakes here and there that cost me. I had more “just out” then I think I’ve ever had.
It wasn’t until the 2nd to last end that I really struggled with seeing the target. I did the best I could and on the last end I can honestly say I couldn’t see anything. I could see the white outline on the target paper when I first drew back but once I was anchored I couldn’t see scoring rings or colors. I closed with a 57 which I was both happy and upset with under the circumstances. It was at this point that I now could know where I was sitting (all I wanted to know was if I had managed to hold on to 3rd or if the girls had caught me). One of the other women shooting came running over and said, “what did you shoot?” I told her a 57, she said ohhh well you were in 2nd going into this end, with a 2 point lead over 3rd. I was shocked to say the least bc my goal all day was to not lose 3rd, as I didn’t think I had any shot of catching the top 2 with how I was scoring. Now all I could do was sit and wait to see if 3rd was able to shoot a 59 or 60. Thankfully, she also shot a 57, so I held on to 2nd!
That leaves me with a silver medal at both nationals this year (indoor and outdoor)!!!
US Open: Day 4 was the annual US Open tournament, which is only for the adults at nationals bc all the kids have elimination rounds counted as part of their nationals. I’ve gotten 4th both years I’ve competed in the US Open, so I was hoping to finally get on the podium this year. I was shooting 28s every end all day, it was actually kind of scary. Including practice and my matches, I literally only shot 2 ends that weren’t a 28 (one 27 and one 29) until the last end of my quarter finals match. I shot an X,X,6 to lose the match by one. There is no excuse for me shooting a 6. There wasn’t any crazy wind or gust to carry the arrow into the 6 ring, it was just a poor shot on my part that I paid for.
Overall, like most tournaments this year, I had my ups and downs. I was thrilled to finally get on the podium at Outdoor Nationals, I was happy to shoot another 694 on day 2 (even though I felt like I had left a lot of points out there), and I was pumped to see some young archers making it far in the US Open since that was my own first real breakout tournament in archery 2 years ago. Now I’m home for 2 weeks before heading off to Denmark to represent the US at my first ever Outdoor World Championships!