December was definitely a high point for me with the recurve. I hit my season goal of shooting a 290 (and I did it IN competition first!), and I qualified for our Indoor World Champs team. However, even with a 3rd place finish at Lancaster, I’d be lying if I didn’t say January was a bit of a struggle for me. It was one of those valleys AFTER you peak, when you really just want a plateau. I decided to use Vegas as a test for Worlds the following week, trying some things, make changes, and make sure I was ready to be back in top form for Worlds.
Vegas is really all about the compound division. They get “recurve” 10 scoring, and it’s all about shooting a perfect 300 each day. Shooting Vegas with a recurve is no different than any other tournmanet; the scoring is the same and there is no added pressure of huge money on the line. Last year I shot flights in Vegas. It was my 2nd tournament with the recurve, and R and I were on bales next to each other each day. We had a great time competing against one another (yes, he won…), and we both walked away with some money. Because I wasn’t eligible for World Cup Finals and because my focus was the following week, I again signed up for flights. First mistake!
After stealing his arrows this fall, R hasn’t been shooting this indoor season, so he didn’t sign up for Vegas (brought his golf clubs instead). As it worked out, this meant I had no one around me shooting flights that I a)knew or b)was someone to compete against/push myself to beat. Day 1 we started scoring and I felt more relaxed than I have in years at a tournament. I felt like I was just shooting practice in the backyard, so guess what? I shot exactly as I had been in practice, which was not very well!
Day 2 was more of the same. My shots were feeling very good. I felt like I had finally got my timing figured out, I felt in control of the bow, and my bow arm and release felt better than they ever had with the recurve, however, I was getting weird fliers I couldn’t explain. I had one shot that JUST clipped the 6 ring. If it would have missed instead, I would have won $ in the next flight down…hahaha, when can you ever say you wished you would have missed instead of catching a scoring ring! Overall, I just couldn’t call my shots and where they were landing. Good shots woudl be all over the place, while “bad” shots would be in the 10 ring. My scores for the first two days were pretty much the same as I had shot the year before, a month and a half after picking up a recurve, so I was pretty frustrated.
This is when I knew I needed to call in favors from my resources. After a month of my scores slowly declining, yet my shots “feeling” better, I decided it was time to look at my equipment (I HATE people that blame equipment for everything, so I really didn’t want to go down this path). I talked to Doug (the recurve engineer at Hoyt), and he agreed to spend some time with me in the practice range going over everything and making sure nothing looked crazy, especially since I had Worlds the next week. It turned out that I had a lot of things slightly off, adding to big changes in my tune. I had in my head, once you set a recurve it just kind of stayed bc you are putting it together fresh every time. I learned a valuable lesson, just like I am always telling my students, “you need to check your equipment regularly!”
I also, caught up with Coach Woo (the US women’s coach) to see if she noticed anything that had changed (negatively) in my form from late November when she last saw me. She agreed that I had made some positive changes in pieces of my form, but she did notice my grip had gotten a little off. We worked on that before I had to run to give a seminar (people seemed really excited about the possibility of a recurve academy). Between the slight form changes and the bow re-tune, I was feeling pretty positive about day 3. I knew it may not be the best score, but I was excited to be heading in the right direction for Worlds.
Form wise, day 3 was a struggle. After the changes made to my bow, it just had a different feel to it, and if there is one thing I’ve learned shooting a recurve, it is that it is all about feel. I was hesitant and not executing shots well because it didn’t feel the same. However, I was super happy that arrows were actually going where I expected them too. I knew it would take some time to get used to the changes, but my bow was outshooting me, which was a great sign moving forward. I wasn’t happy overall with my performance, but I was happy I had made corrections.
I was also reminded in Vegas that I NEED pressure to shoot well. I’ve known this and told people this, but Vegas made that abundantly clear to me. Shooting in a side room with a bunch of weekend warriors didn’t give me the extra motivation I needed. If I want to improve I NEED to shoot against those better than myself to push me. In the end, I learned some valuable lessons, got to see many of my international friends I haven’t seen in a year (that’s the hardest part about this transition is not seeing them on a regular basis anymore), and I felt much more positive heading to Yankton then I had in the past month.