After Bangkok, I was home less than a week before heading off to Michigan for the US World Team Trials. Two years ago I attended this same tryout (held in Florida that year) and took 3rd, making my first World Championships team. Unlike last time when my goal was simply to make the team, this year I had set a goal of qualifying first (though to be honest, after the previous week, I was questioning whether that was still possible).
First, I want to say great job by USA Archery and the Demmer Center staff at Michigan State. They made their range available to those of us competing at all times of days, both before and during the competition.
Since I don’t have a cheap or close place to practice indoors (unless I shoot through my house), I decided to head to Michigan a day early. I knew I could work during business hours and shoot over lunch and after the work day this way. I’d made a couple of tuning changes with my bow, and it seemed to be doing better (I wasn’t shooting anymore shots outside the yellow for starters). Both unofficial practice at the Demmer Center and official at the fairgrounds went OK for me.
Scoring started the following morning, and boy was it a disaster for me right off the bat. I felt like I was in an alternate universe where the 10 ring was repelling my arrows. Instead of shooting mostly 29s and 30s with an occasional 28, I was shooting 28s, with the occasional 27 or 29, no 30s! I quickly became frustrated and started to over analyze things, probably making things worse in the process.
After the first 30 arrows I was in 5th or 6th place, having shot the worst 300 score I’ve shot in over a year! At that point I called a friend over to just take a look to see if I was doing something crazy wrong, and I mentally just had to do a reset. I reminded myself that it was a LONG day (120 arrows for score) and the next day would be even more points up for grabs, so I had plenty of time to move up.
All of a sudden, it was like a light switch got turned on and suddenly things started going in the middle more. I couldn’t feel anything different I was doing, but I was trying to remain relaxed and just shoot. My next 3 games were much more respectable, and I ended up qualifying in first after day 1.
Lesson of the Day: Never give up and count yourself out. This is also a great reason to not follow scores or check where you are ranked during a competition. A lot can happen over the course of a qualification round. Just focus on you and your shots for the best outcome!
Day two is just a bunch of round robin matches, where all of the top 8 from qualification shoot against each other once. You get points both for winning matches, as well as your arrow average. I knew I needed to shoot well to keep my goal of being the top finisher.
As the #1 seed, I had a bye my first match, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. I started the day just as rough as the first day. After my bye, I faced the #7 seed, and I came away with the win (just barely!), but I shot a terrible score and knew that was going to cost me in arrow average. As the rounds continued, I slowly began to get the “magic” feel of the day before.
In fact, I went on a run of shooting 27 straight 10s! I shot back to back 149s, which were a record for me. In the end, I finished in 1st place, but I was even more excited to see I had won every stage of the competition (qualification, all my matches, and arrow average). I knew I still had some work to do with the new bow, but I finally felt like I was making real progress.
I also spent some time talking to Jesse and Rod about my setup and they gave me a few tips to try once I got home (Thank you!). Overall, I left Michigan feeling much more confident and knowing I’m starting to become one with my new equipment!
*Special thanks to Emily Bee for being the photographer for the event!