Since learning about FITA Field, and its associated World Championships, it’s been my goal to make the US team. This past weekend in Yankton I was given that chance. The trials for World Championships were held in conjunction with this year’s US Field Nationals.
Last year was my first (and only attempt) at competing in FITA field before this tournament. With more and more women participating in this type of archery, I knew I needed to be on my A game to make the team and do well at Nationals. Luckily for me, I had a week and a half after the final World Cup (Antalya, Turkey) to prepare for FITA Field, since I wasn’t able to go to SoCal this year.
One of the big problems I had last year was I wasn’t able to see my pin on the “bunny” targets. I found my orange fiber tended to blend into the yellow at the close range/tiny targets, especially with the different lighting conditions you experience in field archery (bright sun on you/dark on target or vice versa). This year I decided to go with a blue dot, which seemed to not cause me the same issues. Because I lost the majority of my points last year on the bunnies (10-20 yards on a 20cm target), I spent the majority of my limited practice time shooting at these targets.
Day 1 of FITA field is unmarked distances. When I came across my first bunny target, I was optimistic, knowing I had spent time practicing this size target. And guess what? It worked, I not only shot a 6 my first arrow, but I 18’d (highest possible score) the target. However, the very next target, I wasn’t so lucky.
One of the tricky things in field is remembering when you shoot and what target you shoot at. In FITA field you alternate shooting first and second every other target. In addition, whoever is up first shoots the top (or left most target), while the person up second shoots the bottom or right target. Half of the targets are single spots, however, meaning everyone in the group shoots at the same target (there is only one per bale). The way the day had gone to this point, every time I had been up second we were shooting a single face, and every time we had multiple faces, I was up first. Add that to the fact that for scoring purposes I was “target A”, I got in my head A spot (top or left).
The target after the first bunny was a multi face, and I was up second. I reminded Linda and Brogan they were on top, and then I sat down to spot their arrows. After they finished, I stepped up to the stake to shoot mine. I drew back and made what I knew was a great shot (broke right in the center of the target). I hear a pause before my arrow is called, and as I look back Linda says “ummmm, Crystal, you shot my target.” I look, and I had drilled a great 6, right in the middle of Linda’s target. I had totally forgotten I was supposed to be shooting the BOTTOM target this time.
I got really mad at myself and ripped off a quick and angry shot, scoring a 5 (barely). At this point, Toja told me to take a minute and clear my head. Six points wasn’t going to lose me the tournament, but if I let it get to me THAT would. After a slight breakdown, I regrouped and shot a solid 6. I managed to shoot well the rest of the round, and I finished with a 406, I think roughly 50 points higher than last year, even with a miss! This had me in 1st place for Nationals by one point, which I was shocked about. I knew I had a lot of work still to do in order to make the World Champs team, so it was time to rest and get some food.
Day 2 is all marked distances, but you are still not allowed to use a rangefinder. I had a rough start shooting a 16 on the first target and a 13 on the second! At this point I was frustrated, but I was determined to keep fighting. As the targets wore on I was dropping more and more points. I was hitting low on some, left on others, just nothing seemed to make sense. About half way through I knew I wasn’t going to win Nationals, as Jamie was shooting well, and I had already lost too many points to her (and only had a 1 point lead going into the day). It was at this point that I began to give up. I knew I’d be settling for ANOTHER silver medal at a Nationals event (my 6th straight now!), which just didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.
Even though I was upset with my day, I was super pumped for Linda. She shot AWESOME all day, with long stretches of 18s at a time. In fact, she finished with a streak of 8 straight 18s, meaning she didn’t drop a single point the last 8 targets of the day. The thing that really impressed me wasn’t just her score, which could very well be the highest women’s marked score ever, it was the fact that she was just catching 6s, she was shooting tiny groups, right in the middle of the 6 ring! I can honestly say, if my day isn’t going so well, it’s great to be able to witness someone else shooting really well. I was very happy she was in my group for day 2, so I got to see how well she did up close!
Once the shooting was done for the day, and I had time to reflect on things, I realized my biggest problem. Much like R has pointed out to me during my typical 50M shooting, I wasn’t making adjustments when I needed to. Unlike on unmarked day where I would quickly adjust after the first arrow (because I assumed I was off on my yardage guessing), on marked day I didn’t. I knew my sight tape was dead on (shout out to Perfect Markings!), so I assumed it was me whenever an arrow didn’t land in the middle. What I didn’t think about was even though it’s marked distances, that doesn’t mean it’s exactly accurate (or synced with my rangefinder).
My goal for the 3rd day, which was the trials for Worlds, was to simply work on adjusting quicker. I wanted to make the team, and I obviously wanted to do well, but my number one goal was to make sure I was adjusting after EVERY first shot accordingly. This seemed to work, and I shot better than the day before. I still feel like I have work to do with the marked yardages, but I was lucky enough to make the team (and in the first place position). This means I have almost 3 months to figure it out.
I can now say I’ve made every World Championship team I have tried for, which includes 2 Indoor, 1 Outdoor and now Field. I can’t wait for Ireland in September/October, and I hope the weather is as miserable as everyone is predicting 😉