Recurve: It’s never a straight line
Recurve: It’s never a straight line

Recurve: It’s never a straight line

Last weekend was Nationals, and overall I have to call it a success. However, as I am learning more and more during my journey with recurve. Success is not linear. Every time you think you are on the cusp of figuring it all out, reality slams you in the face and wakes you up. I know people complain about tournaments in Ohio, but I have to say, I am a huge fan for a number of reasons. First, I was born and spent the first 22 years of my life in the state, so obviously I think it is a pretty great place. Second, I have always found the organizers and local clubs to be very welcoming and put on great events. And lastly, any tournament that I can reasonably drive to is a win in my book.

After SoCal the true seniors (those of us aged out of JOAD) and non World Cup members had a bit of a break. I had planned to shoot a few local tournaments during this time, but between the weather and my work schedule, they never worked out quite right. I took a mini break from shooting shortly after SoCal, spending time hiking in the White Mountains with my husband. It was a nice break, and I like to think it was relaxing, but as a few friends have pointed out, hiking large mountains is definitely still work!

Shortly after this, I managed to injure myself with an every day occurrence, not archery related. Knowing I had two big tournaments in August, I decided to re-write my training plan with less arrows, but higher quality. I also decided to focus on really testing my epik vs my faktor to know which was shooting the best for me, and make my periodization a little more extreme with the remaining weeks. Similarly, I had a student who felt great and ready to go, a couple weeks before Nationals. We had a talk and also modified his plan to make sure he wouldn’t be burnout or on a downward cycle coming into the event.

So the tournament…Day 1 went “ok” I felt. When we finished, I was very happy to see I had shot identical scores in the two halves, but from end to end I had been very inconsistent. For example, I would shoot a 49 then a 54, a 56 then a 48. I tried to pinpoint what I was doing differently, but I never could put my finger on it. In the end, I felt like I had given away a lot of unnecessary points, and I was disappointed. I then realized, that much like Gator Cup, I had shot a new 72 arrow personal best without even realizing it (by one point!). I reminded myself what I routinely tell my students, and that is we have to celebrate all wins, even if they are small. Personal bests don’t come around all that often, so we can’t minimize their importance when they happen. It was funny to me too, because this was definitely equal or even slightly better than how I had been shooting in practice lately. That to me is a win in and of itself.

I shot mixed team that afternoon with Jack Williams, and we had a lot of fun, finishing in 5th. I realized how much I’ve missed shooting mixed team (and regular team) not being on the World Cup circuit. I have to thank USA Archery for bringing these events to Nationals and letting us all have fun with the sport again!

Day 2 was another great day in terms of conditions. The first half I was pretty happy with. Even with shooting a 4 one end (whoops!) I still managed a 51 that end and 5 points higher than my halves from the day before. Even more promising was the fact that my end scores were much more consistent then the day before. I was feeling pretty good about my shot, but I knew I had definitely given away points again, so I was looking forward to improving in the second half. I was again consistent each end, but I unfortunately couldn’t keep enough arrows out of the red (or I could say I was hitting too many 9s vs catching 10s). I thought my second half was going to be significantly lower, and I was disappointed, but when we were all done, I realized it was only 2 points lower (amazing what not shooting a 4 will do 😉 ), giving me a new 72 pb by 8 points!!!

The struggle for me came with knowing that even though I shot a new personal best, I still fell a spot from day 1 in the rankings, and I was a whopping 30 points off second place for just the day. It was definitely an internal battle between being happy, and being frustrated that even my best is still not close to good enough. Overall though, I celebrated the fact that I had finally broken out of that 11-14th position that I seem to be stuck at and managed a top 8 finish. I was excited because that meant I should have a “slightly” easier bracket for elimination rounds the following day. Team round followed this, and I had a blast shooting with Mackenzie and Heather. We got knocked out earlier than we would have liked (to the eventual 2nd place team), but I was happy with my shots and felt confident going into head to heads.

What really left me with a great feeling that evening was hearing BOTH of my students attending the event had shot personal best BOTH days! Regardless how I felt about my own shooting, this was the good news I longed to hear! I knew they both had worked hard lately; one having made some decent form changes and the other having battled through some previous injuries and less than ideal amount of time to shoot. Knowing they were able to peak at the right time, left me with a nice warm and fuzzy feeling and reminded me why I love coaching so much, even though it can be tough at times when trying to shoot at the same time.

And then Saturday…just like that the wheels decided to come off after such forward momentum. I don’t know if I didn’t warm up enough or what, but all through the practice ends and the first 2 ends of scoring I STRUGGLED. And by struggled I mean I felt like I had never shot a bow before. Every arrow was a battle, and I was spraying the target (I had yet to hit an 8 or better). I beat myself up, let a friend knock some sense in me, and I finally felt like I got it together in the final end of the match shooting a 9,9,8 with the two 9s touching and the 8 just a hair high, but where the pin had been when the shot went off. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that even though my arrow average was now abysmal, I was confident I could win my matches and make it deep in my bracket. And then the sky opened up with torrential rains. Because there was not yet any lightning we had to shoot in this. Knowing the rain was going to cause me to hit low and a little left, I hedged my bets aiming high 8 and a touch right. I shot a quick but solid shot, and I saw I had hit a high right 6! I was then tentative on my next two shots overthinking things and gave away the first set. I was now down 0-2, and the field was cleared for lightning. I now got to sit in my car for the next hour thinking about things and wondering what had happened that morning.

I decided over the break that I couldn’t control anything that had happened so far, so all I could do was go out and shoot good shots moving forward. I did that, but unfortunately my opponent also opened with a great first end back and I was now down 0-4 (after shooting a 28!). Now I was mad. I WAS NOT going to lose 0-6 to a lower seed. I shot consistent the next two ends, winning them as she had some fliers, so now the match was tied 4-4. As much as I love shootoffs, I knew I wanted to win outright instead of going to a tie breaker. My first arrow was blown a little more than I expected by the wind (8), so I regrouped and shot two in the 9 ring. Unfortunately for me, she shot three 9s, giving her the set points needed to win 4-6. I was bummed to lose, and even more so when I realized I would have won the match by a decent amount if we used straight score like compound. However, I tried to remind myself that all I can focus on was my shooting, and with the exception of the first end, I was happy with my shooting and that’s all I can ask for.

I’d be lying if I said losing early AND with a terrible arrow average thanks to my first match (aka costing me a good ranking for the tournament), didn’t make the drive home alone that much harder. However, I tried to remind myself that we get to do this all over again in 2 weeks, and all I can do is work as hard (or smart) as I can and let the chips fall. At the end of the day, I want to make sure no one can say I didn’t give it my all. I want those that look up to me to see I pushed when it wasn’t easy, I didn’t slack off when given the chance, and I continued to do all of this while gaining responsibility at my real job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *