I have to admit that going in to this shoot, I was mentally and physically drained from being on the road away from home. I had looked at changing my flight from Colombia to go directly home, thinking I’d just skip this shoot. I had originally signed up excited for the event, but as the days on the road drug on, I just wanted to go home.
On practice day the month of travel finally caught up with me, and I felt like I had jet lag x 1000. I was exhausted even after taking a 4 hour nap. The organizers put on a great dinner that night to go over the rules and bring everyone together, and as nice as it was, I was honestly checked out.
Friday was the start of the tournament, and I struggled to find the motivation to shoot my bow. In fact, I was interviewed on the first target of the day, and it was probably the worst interview I’ve ever given. I really hope whoever has a copy of that tape deletes it! All I could think about was getting home, so I wasn’t in a very good mindset. I want to apologize now for anyone that interacted with me this day, especially Sharon, Paige, Samantha and Stacy who had to be in a group with me. I know I was not myself, and I am sorry if I upset you in any way with my poor attitude!
The first target of the day I shot at the 12 ring (which is on the bottom of the 10 ring), and my arrow landed above the 10 ring in the 8 ring. Hmmm, what had happened? I quickly discovered over the next few targets that I was off on my sight tape. Now whether this was just me aiming differently at the animals then a target or what, I’m not exactly sure. Unlike Redding, I tried to react and correct quicker, taking yardage off as I went throughout the course. I shot for one 14 that day, and I got it, but I just couldn’t hit 12s (missing high and right most of the day). In the end, I finished at even, shooting only two 12s all day. I was disappointed because I knew I had SHOT good shots, my sight tape just wasn’t dialed correctly for 3d animals.
This put me in a tie for 11th place in the women’s division, which meant I’d be in the 3rd peer group from the top (5 per group) on Saturday. I spent the morning shooting at animals to make sure my sight tape was on for the day. After center punching the 14 at 80 yards, I was feeling pretty good. As predicted, the weather was less than ideal. With the tournament being held on top of a mountain, it was beautiful when we left our hotel, but by the time we got to the summit it was cold, rainy and foggy. In fact, the fog was so severe that there was a 2 hour delay in the tournament, so rangefinders would work!
My group didn’t end up starting until just after 2pm. It was raining and the wind was whipping pretty severely. I NEVER get cold, and I was having trouble feeling my fingers to shoot. As we started the day, I made the mental decision that I was going to have a fun day. Yes, I wanted to be home, and yes the weather was miserable, but I was going to make the best of it. Being in a bad mood would not magically make the weather improve or get me home any sooner, so I might as well try to have fun shooting my bow!
First target of the day was another 8 for me, as I didn’t correct enough for the strong winds, and my arrow drifted out right of the 10 ring. I didn’t let this get me down, as our entire group struggled. As the day went on, there were some targets that were VERY hard to see in the conditions. One in particular was a black bear in the middle of the woods. It was so dark, I couldn’t see anything and was lucky to shoot an 8 on it. Overall, spirits in my group were pretty low as we weren’t shooting that great and the conditions just continued to beat us down. There were some steep slopes we had to go up and down and people were struggling not to fall or land on their bow.
Throughout the round, I had probably 4 arrows that landed JUST out of the 12 ring. This got me a little frustrated, knowing I had already shot two 8s, but I tried not to get upset. I really kicked myself, however, when I forgot to go for the 14 on the 12 yarder at a 30 degree angle. I was confident in this shot, and I nailed the 12, but I had planned to go for the 14 and just completely forgot after a long day in bad weather. With just a few targets to go, I made the mistake of cutting off too much yardage on a long shot, and I ended up with a 3rd 8 on the day (missing the 12 ring low). Now I figured I’d probably end up even on the day again, so I was a little bummed. I contemplated going for a 14 on one of the remaining targets to make up for the 8, but I decided just to keep with my game plan and finish out even.
On the last target, I managed to hit the 12 ring, so I was feeling a little better, figuring I might be +2 on the day (or at least even). Connie then asked me if I wanted to know how many 12s I shot, and she informed me it was 9! What? I was in shock. In my head I had missed so many, that there was no way I had caught that many 12s. We quickly did the math and realized even with my three 8s, I was still at 12 up for the day! Wow! I was so pumped to be done for the day, but when I heard that I realized there was still hope for me making the shoot down (top 5 make it).
We trekked back to the clubhouse, and I learned once the final two groups were finished that I was sitting in 2nd overall. Paige was in 1st with +16 (she had shot +2 second day), I was +12, Emily and Renee were at +8 (they shot +4 and +2 respectively), and Brittany would have the final spot at -2 (down 6 on the day). I now had to quickly regroup and decide on my strategy for the shootdown, something I’ve never done before.
As the #2 seed, I would start on the second target, which was a very 14able target. After consulting with my friends/advisors, I decided I was going to try to win the tournament vs trying just to play it safe. I went for the 14 and missed it by a hair out right. I’ve been asked by a few people if I regret going for that, or if I would do anything differently in terms of what I was shooting for, and the answer is no. I’m happy I went for it, and I made a good shot, I just think my windage was off a little, as looking back at video, I think I missed most things out slightly right.
That takes me to something I did learn (and would change next time I’m in a shootdown). It is very fast paced, just like a World Cup finals venue. The difference is you are trying to range the animal, set your sight and decide what scoring ring you are shooting for. I’m used to shooting at the same target, same distance and just focusing on making a good shot. In the moment, I got a little overwhelmed and didn’t think to bino my arrows. I was just being told their score. In World Archery events, I can see my arrow on the big screens and know exactly where it hit. I remember looking up out of habit to see the screen, but there were none there. I had my binos around my neck, but I just never thought to use them.
Because we started the shootdown so late, the sun was already setting, and it was pretty dark from an already cloudy day. Many have asked why I wore sunglasses, when I was having trouble seeing the targets. My Oakley Prizm Golf lenses brighten things up, so I find they really help to see colors in darker conditions. In fact, I could not make out the orange on the turkey without them on, but once I put them on, the orange dot lit right up. Unfortunately, on the tan animals, the sunglasses didn’t seem to help, as I couldn’t see the orange with or without them on. Not being a 3d shooter, this left me no reference point on where to aim on these animals, which cost me more 8s.
After all arrows were shot, I finished 3rd, which I was disappointed with at the time because I felt like I had made good enough shots to win. However, once I reminded myself that I was getting a check for $5k, more than I’ve ever gotten for WINNING a tournament, I wasn’t as upset. I definitely feel like I learned a lot for next year. I had a great time, once I truly embraced reality, and I was happy to see in both the men’s and women’s division the goal of the tournament had been met. Both podiums had a mix of 3d, field and target shooters on them, meaning the tournament truly had brought together the best from all forms of archery in one setting.
I personally loved getting to shoot with many of the 3d girls that I have only watched shoot from the comfort of my home. I learned things from them, and I hope I taught them a thing or two in return. I truly hope there are more of these tournaments in the future, as I think the vast majority of shooters had a great first experience, despite the weather not cooperating.
In the end, I’m very glad I didn’t end up going straight home from Colombia. Overall, my month on the road was a pretty successful one with a 5th place finish, a second, two silver medals, and one 3rd place, but man am I happy to be home for a couple days before heading to Gator Cup later this week!