Leading into Gator Cup this year, I wasn’t feeling overly enthusiastic about my shooting. I had just gone from shooting my best since making the switch, to getting very sick, to a disappointing AZ Cup, and the weather here at home was doing strange things (90 one day, 50 the next, etc). My practices were much like the weather with a lot of inconsistencies. I would shoot some really good ends (or arrows), and then I would have some really bad ones. Instead of worrying about performing well at Gator Cup, I decided to focus on eliminations and 3 arrows.
Obviously I wanted to do well in qualification, as that is a large piece of our ranking, but I knew that I couldn’t expect something different than what I had been seeing in practice. And at Arizona, even with being so weak from being sick, I had still managed to finish in 3rd for arrow average during eliminations, so I decided to focus on improving my head to head placement. I also knew Gator Cup would be hot, so I made sure to plan ahead using my own tips for dealing with the heat 😉
With the new schedule recurve women (and compound men) didn’t start our tournament until the other division were completely finished, which meant a 2:30pm start time for qualification. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t thrilled about starting a tournament in the absolute hottest part of the day, especially in Florida where the humidity is brutal. I knew being out at the field all day would not help me, so I went for a relaxing morning, got some work done, ate well, and headed to the field with enough time to shoot some blank bale to warmup (inside the air conditioned building), before heading to my target to start the round.
My first 36 arrows were very interesting. My shot timing was the best it has been yet, my shots felt easy and effortless, yet every single end of the first half I shot one arrow in the blue. It was always in a different spot on the target, and was a different arrow as well. We definitely had wind to contend with, but I was still getting slightly frustrated that I couldn’t figure out why I kept having “that one arrow!” As we continued through the round, the wind got better and more importantly for me, the sun started to sneak behind clouds, as it went down in the sky, which gave us a bit of relief from the heat. My first half was pretty upsetting. I had shot a 297. This was the first time in a long time that I hadn’t broken 300 in a round, so I was pretty bummed.
I did remind myself that I had told myself I wasn’t going to “care” about qualification, as eliminations were my focus for this tournament. The second half, luckily started much better. I had four ends that I was very happy with, followed up by two more ends under 50. This was not how I wanted to finish, so again I was pretty upset about the day overall. However, I’ve really been trying to focus on the positives each time I shoot, so as I examined my score I realized I had actually shot a new tournament pb for the second half (316). It wasn’t until later when I got home and was entering scores into my notebook, that I realized I had actually shot an overall pb for the round as well (not counting my scores from indoor 70M shoot).
This was a big lesson for me. As upset as I was and frustrated because I felt like I could have shot so much better, I am still making progress and moving in the right direction. The other good news is the scores for the entire division are rising. Even with significantly higher scores, I am still finishing roughly in the same spot. This makes it easy for me to feel like I am not progressing in any way, but that’s why its not a good idea to always compare yourself with others. If your competition is also rising, then you may be improving vs yourself, but appear stagnant when compared to them.
Also, I constantly am telling students I coach that they are too hard on themselves. I explain that all PBs should be celebrated, and every small step of progress should make you happy (just not satisfied). This tournament I needed to listen to my own advice. I walked away feeling pretty ehhh and not enthusiastic about things, but in reality I SHOULD have been excited that I shot a 36 and a 72 arrow pb. That’s a big deal and not something that happens every day!
With that all said, how did eliminations go? My real goal was to make the top 4, as I wanted to shoot in a medal match again (I haven’t since Texas last year), but I tried to tell myself I would be happy with a top 8 finish. The day started interesting. Compared to the previous day my shots didn’t feel nearly as good, and my timing was definitely slower, but I was scoring a lot better. I won my first match 6-0 in the 1/32 round, but then I moved on to face a girl from Canada. I had a bit of a slow start in the match before closing with a 29, 27 to win 6-4.
At this point I had to shoot against my old World Cup roommate, Ariel. She has been one of the US top women recurve archers for the past 5 or so years, and I really respect her a lot. She has competed at all the big international events, and I knew she was shooting well after seeing her score from qualification. However, I had to get past her if I was going to make top 8 (and have a chance at top 4). I tried to focus on myself and not worry about who I was shooting against. Also, in my favor, we had now gone down to one person per target, so I didn’t know where her arrows were when I was shooting mine (something I definitely miss from shooting compound ORs).
I managed to win the first set with an “ok” end, then we tied in the second. I was up 3-1, so I told myself I couldn’t give away the lead and had to just stay strong. I ended up winning the next two sets to win the match 7-1. I was pumped to make it to the round of 8, but I knew I needed another good match to beat Nicole (who had been shooting great all weekend) and get my spot in a medal match. Nicole and I tied the first end, but after that she gave me no breathing room. I was getting some high arrows which I couldn’t explain, and she was shooting mostly 10s, giving me no where to make up ground. I was “ok” with how I shot all day, minus my very last end. I shot a 7,8,7 in a group smaller than X ring size high. The shots felt good, and I was just really bummed to kill my arrow average, and to have a second tournament in a row where my last end of the tournament was my worst. Definitely something for me to work on moving forward!
So as I said, I left the tournament with disappointment, but since being home I am embracing the successes I did have, and moving forward. I’ve already made some minor tweaks to my form since Gator, and I’ve got a pretty new Epik to test out as well. I’m going to spend some time fine tuning whichever setup I decide to run with, as I have Field Nationals (World Field Trials) and SoCal next up on the docket, and they are back to back weekends.