I’d like to propose a question for all of you to reflect on. How do you determine when you should continue fighting against the current and pushing through the struggle to reach your goals, or when you should actually be using your strengths and natural talents even when that seems like the “easier” road? Sometimes I wonder if determination is just stubbornness, and ignoring the gifts you WERE given is not actually being strong, but just stupid. Basically, I have no good answer for this, as I think we all need to figure this out on our own, but it’s definitely been on my mind lately. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and comments on this!
After some disappointment at Outdoor Nationals earlier this month, I was home for a few weeks before heading back to Ohio for the last USAT of the year. Since making the switch, one of my biggest areas of inconsistencies has been in my anchor. Unlike in compound, where I felt like it was easy for me to find my anchor consistently every shot (with my “head flip”), I’ve always struggled with trying to match my hand to my jaw the way you need to with a recurve. Right after Nationals, I happened to notice that my hand was able to connect much better with my jaw when I was warming up with a stretch band (with no tab). I then jumped in front of a mirror with my stretch band and my bow and tried to compare the two to find the source of the difference. One slight change in my thumb position when using my bow felt a lot more solid, and instantly I saw my scores jump up, with way less fliers.
I headed in to Buckeye feeling very confident. I thought I had finally reached the break through I had been looking for with a recurve, and I was excited to head to the last USAT of the year to show all the time I had put in was finally paying off. I was also super excited for this tournament because it was the first one in over a year that Rich would be joining me at. Yes, I have a lot of friends in the sport, but nothing beats having those you care about the most there with you. Friday night I got to see a friend from high school that I realized I probably haven’t seen in over 17 years! It was great to catch up, since all we’ve known about each other since is what we see on social media. Then it was early to bed for qualification the next morning.
The first half of qualification was interesting for me. The wind wasn’t super strong, but it was switching back and forth enough and in intensity that you really had to pay attention every arrow. Half of my ends were 55s and the other half were 49-52, producing a 317. This was a new personal best, but for me the important part was 1)knowing this was in line or slightly above what I had been averaging in practice, 2)my 10 count was solid, and 3)I saw that I had the potential to shoot even better. With 3 mediocre ends, I knew it was within my ability to break this score. I don’t follow scores when I am shooting, but I learned after I was in 3rd or 4th at the half, which again was reassurance that I was headed in the right direction.
The second half started a little rough, opening with a 49, 50, 51. However, I distinctly remember thinking going into the 4th end that it wasn’t a big deal. I had had 3 similar ends in the first half, so all I needed to do was buckle down and shoot 3 solid ends to finish. I opened up strong with 9, 10, 9 my first three arrows of this next end. On my fourth shot, I knew I had another 10. However, when I looked in the scope I couldn’t find my arrow. A girl on my bale had very similar colored arrows, and together we had a group in the low left 9/10 area, so I assumed it was with this group when I looked back and Rich shrugged his shoulders signaling he didn’t know where it was either. I finished up the end with an 8 and a 9, and was pumped knowing I had a 54 or 55, and I was right back in things. When I came off the line, Rich said that arrow I couldn’t find had flown way out of his binos high and right, suggesting maybe I had shot it off the plunger. Sure enough, we got down to score arrows, and I only had 5 arrows on the bale. The bale to the right of me did, however, hold my arrow (up where the numbers are). In this instant I felt crushed. I had never done this before, and to have it happen in a tournament was heart breaking. I was then so distracted by this that I didn’t pay attention that the tail wind had switched to a strong head wind the next end, and I opened up with a 5. That left me with a 45 and 47 for two ends in a row, and as much as I tried to fight through, it was difficult.
The hardest part of all this wasn’t my score or my ranking, but knowing I had let Rich down. With me shooting qualification in the morning, our plans had been to head down to Cincinnati to see our college and friends we haven’t seen since (we met at Xavier). I had forgotten the new schedule had the morning session shooting their 1/32 round at 5:30 after the afternoon session finished up. And guess what that miss ended up costing me a bye (I was the first archer without one), meaning we had to cancel our plans, and he was stuck sitting at an archery field all day. I hate letting people down, so I was pretty upset by this point. We grabbed a relaxing lunch and headed back to the field, watching the compound women and recurve men finish up their qualification rounds. My friend ended up stopping by to watch my match, and I was determined to shake the morning off and win. I did just that winning 6-0, though I felt like I wasn’t shooting at my best still.
After some scheduling mishaps, rushing around, and then lightning delays, it was finally time to shoot my 1/16th match. My friend was back again, this time with her boyfriend, so I was happy to have a cheering squad, but more importantly to introduce new people to the sport. I was disappointed when I realized I would be shooting against my friend and a very good shooter in this match. She had had a rough qualification, so she was seeded much below where she normally would rank. We had faced off at Gator Cup, where I won the match, but I knew I had to bring my A game in order to win. Unfortunately, I didn’t have it and lost 6-2. After starting the year with such strong match scores, it was disappointing to once again feel like I didn’t have my best during elimination rounds. My tournament was over early, and I knew that would cost me my ranking for the year. When I got home, I learned that it didn’t just drop me a couple spots, it had cost me making the National team, as I had tied (to the decimal point) with another girl for the final 8th spot. Based on tie breaker procedure, I would lose, knocking me off the team. SO moral of the story boys and girls is pay attention and don’t shoot an arrow off your plunger…
Now it’s time to prep for World Field Championships in Cortina, Italy next week, and when I get home it will be time for a much needed break.