After talking to shooters and the Hoyt engineers, I came home from Vegas, and I decided to start from scratch with my backup bow that was still exactly how it came from the factory. I had seen glimmers of awesomeness with my new bow, but I had yet to find the magic formula that worked for me. I am a creature of habit, and I hate change. I know there are plenty of people who can pick up a new bow and have it dialed in a day or two, but I am not one of these people. I need time to adjust, and unfortunately when you are in the middle of tournament season, time is the one thing you don’t have.
Lucky for me, the changes I made after Vegas were the solution for me. I literally could tell the first night I shot it that I had figured something out. Never one to trust the first couple days with any new equipment changes, for fear of it just being a fluke, I was excited to test the bow out at the state championships that weekend. That way I’d know how it performed under tournament pressure, so I’d know if it was ready for Indoor Nationals the following weekend.
I was a little all over the place during the warmup ends, but I didn’t stress too much. However, I opened with my first three ends all being 29s, and I started to get a little frustrated. I was thinking, here we go again. This is going to be another long day, and then I get to go home and try something else. Probably not the best attitude to have during a tournament, but hey I’m just being honest!
Sidenote: For anyone not familiar with USA/World Archery scoring; compound shooters score only the little 10 ring (Vegas X ring) as a 10. The rest of the yellow is all scored as a 9.
In the 4th end, I finally shot a 30. From there things just seemed to take off. Even when I didn’t make the perfect shot, I still managed to hit the 10 ring. I managed to make it to the 9th end before dropping another point. This gave me a first half score of 296, one point off my pb. After a break at the half, we jumped back in to scoring and I continued where I left off shooting 30s until the 15th end, when the arrow landed exactly where the pin had been (just a little high of the 10 ring).
At this point, I realized I was on pace for a really really good score. First, I had a chance to get my first ever 299 (beating my pb by 2 points!), but I also had dropped 5 for the entire round, meaning if I could clean the rest of the round, I would tie the World Record, something I never imagined possible when I witnessed Erika shoot the 595 two years ago. I remember asking her how she did it bc I couldn’t fathom dropping only 5 points in 60 arrows.
I made it through the next two ends feeling good and staying clean. However, with three ends to go I felt nerves creeping in. As someone who rarely gets nervous, this was a strange feeling. I told myself to just keep shooting one arrow at a time and do what I had been doing all day. This worked, and I shot another 30. With two ends left, I could feel myself shaking on the shooting line. I tried to slow my heart rate, but nothing seemed to work. I shot another 30, giving me three arrows left in the round.
That final end was pure torture. I now understand how people who get really nervous at tournaments feel. I shot 10s the first two arrows, so I had one final arrow to shoot. I drew back and my pin was all over the place. No matter how much I tried to relax my hand, I couldn’t get my release to fire. Unlike in the past when I might have forced the release, I smartly let down. At this point, I heard R in the background talking about me. I tried to block it out and just focus on my shot.
In my mind I just wanted to get a quick shot off. I knew if I tried to make the “perfect” shot, I would just have to keep letting down. So I drew back again, and as I was settling on the target the shot went off too early! I knew instantly it hadn’t caught by the collective groans of the crowd. I was upset with myself for dropping the last arrow, but I also was really really excited for everything I had accomplished that day, including:
-shooting 594, a new pb by 5 points
-shooting a 298, a new pb by 1 point
-letting down 4-5 times during the round (i’ve struggled with letting shots down over and over again during my short career in the sport)
What I was most excited about, however, was I knew I didn’t “shoot” the best game of my life. Yes, score wise it was, but I had some shots where I didn’t shoot my best. That signaled to me that I had finally found the magic bow setup for me. I now knew that this bow would out-shoot me, so I couldn’t wait to have the day when I did shoot my best. Watch out world because when that does happen, any record is possible!