I’ve always struggled at NFAA indoor nationals in KY each year. I think it’s been a combination of a target I rarely shoot at (blue and white 5 spot) and the fact that it’s always RIGHT before my first outdoor tournament of the year. I tend to go into the tournament with a bad attitude, not wanting to be there, wishing I was outside getting ready with my outdoor bow, etc. So this year I decided to take a new approach. The day I got home from Indoor World Champs, it was a beautiful 70 degrees outside. Anyone who knows New England winters, knows how rare this is for the beginning of March. I decided then and there that I was only going to shoot 50M leading up to Louisville. I was going to take every advantage of shooting outdoors that I could, while the weather was nice (it was only a couple nice days before reality set back in, however).
I figured this had two benefits. First, I wouldn’t be so worried at Louisville about getting home and getting practice at 50M if I already had been shooting this. And second, I’ve practiced on the 5 spot the last two years leading up to KY, so why not try something else (not practicing on it at all). So when I showed up in Louisville this year, I had literally not looked at a 5 spot once the entire year (last year I also did Iowa and Midwest Open, where you shoot the 5 spot on day 1). I went in not expecting anything from this tournament, I just wanted to go and try to enjoy the weekend (vs being miserable like past years).
Me and my travel mates journey getting to KY was a little more exciting than we planed, but eventually we all got there. I shot a couple ends of practice and then got ready for the Pro-Am. Typically this is shot on a random target face (etc: a bunny field target) with unique scoring, so that is what I was expecting. I was wrong, however, and we shot on the normal 5 spot, with just a change in scoring. I felt bad for my amateurs bc I shot pretty terribly during the event. We had fun, though, and I just focused on that going into scoring the next day.
I’ve always shot the 7am line, but due to sharing a car, I was forced to shoot the 11am line this year. I wasn’t excited about shooting over lunch, but I was excited to actually get to shoot with people in my same division for once. I dropped an X early in the second end, but I didn’t even think about it. The score wasn’t even on my mind during that round, as I was just enjoying spending time with some friends/competitors that I literally hadn’t seen all year. When we finished, I realized I had crushed my personal best at this tournament, shooting a 300 59X. Once all the scores were in, I was tied for first with Sarah and Holly. WHAT??? I was literally in shock, especially after the indoor season I had had, that I could be tied with two of the best indoor shooters on a 5 spot target.
Day two bale assignments are redone, so you are shooting with the people you are ranked with. In other words the top bale will have 1-4 in standings, bale two will have 5-8, etc. That meant Sarah, Holly, myself and Jaime (who had tied with Paige at 58X) would be shooting together on the top bale. It felt like ages since I had shot on a top bale, primarily due to the fact that in FITA tournaments there is nothing like this. I was looking forward to a fun day. Haven already shot a personal best for the weekend, I honestly didn’t care where I finished up.
I struggled during both ends of practice, and the first end of scoring I had an arrow JUST out. Everyone on my bale was nice and felt bad bc it was so close, but it was just out so the call was fair. In the second end, however, I shot another arrow in the same exact hole! Now while I didn’t care about score, I was frustrated by this. I’d rather shoot one way out then JUST miss like that twice in a row! I adjusted my sight a little more and just kept on shooting. I made it all the way until the 6th end, when I had ANOTHER arrow in the same spot. This time I felt like I had to call a judge just to make sure. Unfortunately, it was in fact out, meaning I had now dropped 3 points in just half the round. Again, I wasn’t frustrated with my score or the fact that I knew I wouldn’t be on the podium, I was frustrated in HOW I was losing points. I mean what are the chances you shoot 3 arrows out of 30 in the same hole that close to being in, but not!
Just like in Vegas, at the half we switch our targets from top to bottom or vice versa. I started on the bottom, so I moved my target up to the top. I managed to clean the next 5 ends. Bottom shoots first, so once they started coming off the line, I heard all the chatter about scores and where everyone was at. Before stepping up for my last 5 shots, I was told if I cleaned I would win the bronze, but if I dropped an X, I’d be in a 3 way tie (with girls on bale 2) for third and we would have to have a shootoff. I decided right then the fun for the weekend was over. I was not going to lose a spot on the podium. I drew back 5 times, each time just working on shooting my perfect shot. It worked and I had a solid 25 with 5Xs, giving me 3rd place at my most dreaded tournament!
Once I got home and started making notes in my archery journal I came to a realization. ALL but one point I dropped this indoor season at tournaments where you switch between top and bottom, were on the bottom. That’s 11 out of 12 points…hmmmm, definitely gives me something to look into for next year. I always start on the bottom, so am I just struggling to get started in the beginning of rounds, OR is it that I’m struggling on the bottom target itself. I’ve made a note and definitely plan to spend some time figuring this out next indoor season!