Unlike the weather while I was in AZ, the weather at my house did NOT cooperate from the time I got home from AZ until I left for my month on the road. I needed to have my bow not only dialed in for the first (and second) stage of the World Cup, but also for Redding (meaning a sight tape) and the OPA. It was a lot to get ready in a short amount of time anyways, but the horrible weather just made it that much harder.
I spent the first few days home just shooting mentally or blank bale. I wanted to make sure I was ready to shoot like me before I played with setting anything up. I then spent a few days trying to get my orange bow dialed in. Once I had it where I felt was best, I decided to shoot it against my blue bow that I had finished out the indoor season with. Turns out, that bow appeared to shoot even better, without any outdoor fine tuning, so I decided to just go with it. Two days before leaving I decided to try out my new Hero stabilizers (made by Doinker) that had arrived, even though originally I wasn’t going to play with them until after I got home from my long trip. They shot well (and looked good on the bow), so I decided to go with them as well.
Arriving in China, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew I was shooting better, but I was worried I’d have another freak out like in AZ. I knew my bow was shooting well, but had I gone with the correct arrow spine, was it as forgiving as I needed, would the Heros be too stiff and cause me elbow pain after shooting them longer? I had all these questions running through my mind when I hoped off the plane in Shanghai.
The first half off official practice was an absolute downpour for the women. I decided to use this time to make sure I was fully prepared for the rain. I tested out my scope rain shield, my rain clothing, etc. By the end of practice, I felt confident that I could shoot successfully in rainy conditions if I needed to. All day I struggled with feeling like the bow wanted to jump up here and there, so on the final end of practice I decided to throw another ½ ounce weight on my front stabilizer (the hero front rod was different length then my elite estremos when you compared rod and dampners). It felt like that helped but with only one end to test it, I didn’t know if it was simply new equipment syndrome or not.
Women’s compound got to shoot qualification in the morning this year, which I was excited about. No more waiting around half the day before I could shoot. I opened the round up by scoring a 57, followed by a 58. My goal at world cups is always to shoot the highest score on my bale. Well after two ends I was losing ground to a girl from Korea, so I knew I had to get my act together. About half way through the first half I started to get into a good rhythm, and I rolled through the last three ends 60, 60, 59. I try not to look at scores while I am shooting, but unfortunately at these events you must check and sign your scorecard each half.
I went to count up my arrows and verify the scorecard when I realized I shot a 353, which was a new pb! Last year in Turkey I had shot a 352, so I was pretty excited to beat that by a point. I knew I couldn’t think about it in the second half, but instead just needed to keep doing what I was doing. I heard my name over the loudspeaker multiple times in the second half, but I tried to not really listen so I didn’t know where they were saying I was at. Around the 9th end, however, it became difficult to really block out how well I was doing and not think about score. I ended up becoming a little too cautious, trying to shoot a little too perfect, slowing down my shot and ended up with a 58. I followed this up with two more ends of 58.
I knew going into the last end that I had blown my chance of shooting my first ever 700, but I figured if I shot a 60, I might still be able to get a 350 for this half…Yes, I realize how dumb this is as a math person. 350+350=700 I figured I had nothing to lose because even if I didn’t shoot a 60, I had a good day and I’d have a solid score. This was just what I needed to tell myself because I went back to my timing and finished qualification with 6 Xs!
It wasn’t until we were down at the target adding up scores that I realized I had shot a 352 the second half, only one point less than the first! Then it REALLY hit me…that meant I had just shot a 705! Not only did this mean I had a new pb, this means I had a new pb by NINE points. I shot my first 696 at my first ever outdoor world cup in Poland 2 years ago (a huge pb at that time) and since then, I have shot a handful of 695s and 696s, never breaking that mark.
It wasn’t until I got back to the tent where the men’s team was sitting cheering us on, that I realized I had gotten a new American record. At that point I was in complete shock. First the fact that I had finally shot above a 700 (had never done this even in practice), just blew my mind. I had truly started to believe that I would never do it. Then to think that I had learned to shoot in pretty calm conditions was another shock. Typically my scores in calm weather are equal to mine in windy conditions. And then finally to break Erika’s American record? I NEVER could have imagined that!
Unfortunately, as excited as I was about the day, I knew at the end of the day qualification means nothing at World Cups. At least in the US, qualification counts for USAT ranking points, but at a World Cup you get nothing but a bye into the 1/16ths (not always a good thing) by qualifying well. In addition, I had mixed team to shoot that evening once the men’s compound shot their qualification. I tried to enjoy the moment, but then once they started scoring I tried to move on and think about what was next.
It’s well known that I’ve struggled A LOT when it comes to shooting mixed team. China in particular seems to give me fits, as it starts getting dark and they turn the stadium lights on, and the lighting seems to change drastically throughout the matches. Alex ended up being the top qualifying US male, so we would be shooting together. I was hitting 50/50 9s and 10s during our warmup, but when we started to score I opened with two 8s! They didn’t feel like they should have been 8s and both were low so I spun the dial on my sight for the next end, but I knew it was probably already too late at this point.
I only ended up shooting one 10 during the match, and once again the #1 ranked US mixed team lost in the first round to the #16 due to me. I HATE letting the team down, so the fact that I shot so poorly was very upsetting. I was reminded that no one gets paid for mixed team, but I knew I had just lost the US a good chance at a medal. I was frustrated bc I had just shot so well earlier in the day, so why couldn’t I shoot then? Why is it that mixed team gives me such fits? I could understand if I had a very weak partner and felt like I had to carry the team that maybe I was letting the pressure get to me, but every single US man I get paired with is one of THE best shooters in the world. I don’t have to worry about whether they will shoot 10s bc I know they will shoot all 10s. Luckily our recurve mixed team had better luck, and the entire team was able to stand behind them and cheer them on. They won every match, meaning they would be shooting for gold on Sunday!
Back in the hotel that night, I made a conscious effort to focus on the positive parts of the day. Tomorrow was eliminations, and I needed to be ready. I ended up with 2 byes, meaning I didn’t shoot until 4 or 5pm, so I headed to the field to cheer on my other teammates throughout the day. My first match was against Andrea Marcos from Spain, who also qualified for World Cup finals last year (and won Turkey I believe). I knew this match wasn’t going to be easy, but the conditions were still pretty favorable, so I told a couple of people that I was going to get my 150 today. The first arrow of the match, I had a slight misread of the wind and shot a 9, just out right. I quickly corrected and finished out the match with 14 straight 10s for my first ever 149 outdoors!
Next up, I faced Kristina Heigenhauser from Germany. When I first started in archery I remember watching videos of her on ArcheryTV. Since I’ve made the US World Cup team, she hasn’t been at World Cups, so this was my first opportunity to shoot against her. Going in to the last end, I had only dropped 2 points and I had a solid lead. I just told myself to “not do anything stupid,” and I just shot 3 quick arrows, two 9s and one 10. This gave me a 146 and a ticket into the quarter finals.
I now only had to win one more match to make it to the finals on Saturday. Unfortunately, my opponent was my good friend, Linda Ochoa. Linda opened up the match on fire with three perfect 30s for a score of 90 after three ends. I did not open up so well, with an 8 on my first arrow and a 9 in the second end. Down 3 points with just two ends to go, I knew it was time to buckle down and take this match seriously. I managed to gain back a point in each of the next two ends, but in the final end I knew I needed a 30 since I was still down a point. My first arrow was a 9 and that was enough to seal my fate as Linda also shot a 29, giving her a one point advantage after 5 ends.
I was pretty bummed about not moving on after I felt like I had had such a great tournament, however, I chose to again focus on the positives. I had shot a HUGE personal best in qualification with a 705, only the second woman in the world to post a score this high, I had shot 3 solid matches (usually I have one less than stellar match score), I had shot a new pb of 149 in match play, and the tournament was another opportunity to spend time with all of my archery friends from around the world.