My only past trip to Redding, CA for the annual Western Classic Trail Shoot and NFAA National Marked 3d Championship was a disaster of a trip when my bow decided to get lost by the airlines on the way there. The archery community is great and helped me piece together all the parts I needed to get a shootable bow and arrows, but after running around collecting pieces and parts, while also trying to get in touch with the airline with little to no cell service, it made for a stressful and unsuccessful trip on so many levels.
Then last year, this shoot overlapped the first World Cup of the year. If I wanted to go to Redding, I had to miss practice day in China and simply show up the morning of qualification after flying half way around the world. That didn’t make much sense to me, beginning my first full year of World Cups, so I made the decision to skip it.
Fast forward to this year, Redding fell in the weekend between World Cup #1 (Shanghai) and #2 (Medellin). In my mind, living on the east coast, the only way Redding would be feasible would be if I went straight to California from China and straight to Colombia from California. I signed up, bought my plane tickets and as the days got closer to leaving I began to regret my decision to go. I wanted to try the tournament again, but I knew the schedule made for a long and stressful month away from home. I decided that there was no way mentally I could make all of these tournaments “A” events, so I would focus on World Cups and just have fun at Redding (and OPA).
I was able to get my sight marks dialed earlier in the week with coming straight from China, and my marks were confirmed during the Pro/Am on Thursday. I can honestly say my marks at all yardages were the best they have ever been (usually I seem to have a couple of distances just a little off), so I was pumped for the weekend.
I was lucky enough to have a partner this year for the shoot, which meant not only would I be competing in the individual shoot, but I also would get to shoot in the women’s team event. Serena, Grant (her husband), and I all shot together for practice. It gave us a chance to get used to one another calling arrows, check our sight tape/rangefinders, etc. All three of us felt confident with how things were geling when we finished up on Thursday.
Friday morning came and so did the rain…Our first target of the day was an uphill shot at close range. I stepped up and made a terrible first shot (I assumed I had missed the small animal-much less the dot-out the top). Serena told me I had caught it, which I was shocked about, but excited. My next shot was a good one and I missed out low by a good amount. Hmmm, I thought. I must have dropped my bow arm or just gotten lazy in my shot.
We slowly moved through the next 8 or so targets, getting ready for bigfoot, and I kept finding I was missing out very low, even though I felt like I was making good shots. I KNEW my sight tape was on from the day before, so I didn’t want to make any adjustments. As the rain picked up on and off, I figured I could add about ½ a yard or so to account for that, but I still was missing out the bottom. I was afraid to add too much and kept thinking it was me because my tape had been so good one day prior.
Finally, I decided to stop being stubborn (after shooting a million 21s, one 20, and not a single 22) and just add a ton of yardage. I figured I was down so many points at this point what would it hurt if I missed out the top? As I started adding more and more, I found I was finally catching the bottom of the orange dot and able to start scoring 22s (perfect score on a target-two 11s). We got to big foot a couple of targets later, and I was pumped to go for it. I set my sight on around 103.5 (usually you shoot it for about 100.7) and decided to go for it. My first arrow hit, and I was stoked. Right after I shot my second arrow, I felt a slight gust of wind from the left and sure enough my arrow hit about 1/2 an inch out to the right…dang, I ruined my perfect streak at bigfoot.
We moved through some other tough targets throughout the day and the weather just got worse and worse, until we could barely make out the orange dot on each target bc the rain was coming down so hard. Along with dealing with the rain, we were all tired from being out there so long, and the sound of thunder and lightning in the distance was not a welcoming sign. I ended up shooting (and scoring) very well through the remaining targets even with the less than ideal conditions to finish the day dropping 11 points.
As bummed as I was at the fact that I didn’t make an adjustment sooner and threw away A LOT of points at the beginning of the day, I reminded myself I was just here to have fun. Even though we were one of the last groups off the course (meaning we got the worst of the weather AND didn’t get to relax until HOURS after most of the shooters), my group had a lot of fun on the course and kept things laid back, yet competitive.
My goal for the tournament had been to shoot in the teens, but I told myself as long as I broke 1500 I’d be happy. I calculated and -11 meant I was on pace for roughly a 1507-1510, which I’d be fine with. My goal was just to try to shoot that or better each of the next two days, without worrying about score. Day two started in with more rain. It wasn’t the heavy downpour we had finished in, but it was a lingering rain that just would never go away. We had some tough targets on this day, but the 2nd target of the day we were shooting bigfoot’s feet at around 32 yards and in the misty/foggy rain it was tough to make out the orange dot in my scope. On my first shot I saw the orange originally, then lost it right away. I figured it was a pretty big orange dot and I would be fine, so I went ahead and shot it. Big mistake, I should have let down because I missed the orange dot and only scored a 10. I was smarter on my second arrow and hit the 11, but I was already down another point after only 2 targets!
Using the same sight tape correction I had used the day earlier (once I actually adjusted enough), I was sailing through targets, 22ing them one after another. By the end of the day, I felt like a wet rat, but I realized the only point I had dropped all day was on the 2nd target, meaning I was only 12 points down now after two days. That moved me from somewhere around 7-10th place all the way up to a tie for 2nd! Better yet, I had shot the highest score of any female that day, without even feeling like I was trying, thanks to my group keeping things lighthearted. Also exciting was the fact that my partner had 22’d the target I hadn’t, so as a group we had cleaned the entire day!
I was told my group had the easiest section of the course on the 3rd day. I was a little nervous after doing well the day before that I would relax too much and lose a lot of points on the easy section. On the 3rd target of the day, we shot a 15 yard butterfly at a decent downhill slope. The previous two days, I had always been on the lower half of the dot on these short-range shots, so I reminded myself to make sure my dot stayed in the upper half. I made what I thought was a great shot, but I heard Serena say it might be out the top. Hmmm, I thought. Was it something I did, or was my sight off? I decided to give it a click and just focus on making a good shot right in the middle. I did that, and I hit just below my other arrow, though clearly in.
Serena stepped up and shot her first one in, but then her second arrow hit low and I couldn’t tell if she caught hers or not. We walked down to score and both of us had to get our arrows called by multiple members of the group. Unfortunately, neither of us got our arrow called in. I was bummed that I had dropped a point so early in the day, on what should have been an easy target. I was worried that was a sign of what was to come, but I was more upset that she didn’t get hers either meaning we couldn’t clean the day again as a team.
We worked our way through the course, with some sections with backups. 90% of our last 10 targets were uphill and after noticing I was just catching low on these, I quickly started adjusting by adding a little bit more to my sight on these shots. There were some easy shots, but we had a couple tricky ones, but I was able to make it through all of these without dropping any more points. Another day at -1, another day posting the highest female score for the day and giving me -13 overall. This put me 2 points off of Paige in first who tied the course record.
To say I was shocked with how well I finished up would be an understatement. I did not come in to the tournament feeling very prepared, knowing my time in practice needed to primarily be focused on 50M and getting ready for the World Cups. Even more exciting than my individual 2nd place, was the fact that Serena and I took home 2nd in the women’s team event after winning a shootoff on the 88 yard elk (thanks to my teammate!).
I may be the Silver queen walking away with two second place finishes (AGAIN), but I had a great weekend and I even made a little money. I was just hoping that momentum would carry with me into World Cup #2 the following week in Medellin, Colombia.