After a two week break from archery to recharge the mind and body, I am back shooting, training, and obviously writing blog posts. I intentionally didn’t write this recap after getting home from Worlds, as I do my best during my break periods to really embrace the time away from archery, and fill my time with non archery thoughts and activities. Our seasons are long, and if I don’t do this, it’s easy for me to burn out trying to go 100% all the time. I also want to apologize in advance for the lack of pictures from this tournament. As many of you know in fita field, no electronic equipment of any kind is allowed on the course. This includes the usual suspects like rangefinders and phones, but it also includes watches, cameras, etc. I am always disappointed by this, as in my opinion, field courses are the most beautiful places we shoot, and I’d love to be able to document this with my camera. Luckily, Dean (and the other photographers) do a great job at capturing highlights for us.
I always pride myself on being someone who puts in the time and the training and never does things half way. However, I have a confession to make. I did not adequately prepare for this tournament. My plan for the summer was to spend time in July, since we had a large break between SoCal and Nationals, working on field. Then after Buckeye, I would go 100% field training mode, so I could go into Worlds fully prepared. Unfortunately, my injury in July thwarted my first plans, and then my lack of correctly reading a schedule meant I only had 5 days after Buckeye, not a few weeks like I thought. I take very seriously representing my country, especially at a World Championship, so I feel like I need to apologize to the other archers for not being more prepared. My goal in the Spring for Worlds was to make the cut (which has always meant placing in the top 16 after the two days of qualification). I knew this would be tough, but it was something I really wanted to do after my disaster at the last World Fields with my compound. Once I realized I was not going to be adequately prepared, I questioned what my new goal should be. I didn’t really come up with one, and I just decided to do the best I could with the training time I had put in.
I’ve actually spent a decent amount of time in Italy in the past, so I was looking forward to returning, but when I arrived in Cortina I was blown away. I had no idea I was in for such breathtaking scenery for the week. Stepping out on the balcony of our hotel room, I could see the mountain we would be shooting on, and it was gorgeous. Rain was in the forecast for much of the week, but the temperatures were right at my sweet spot, so all my cares of how I shot went right out the window, as I knew I was lucky to spend a week outside in this beautiful setting. After spending hours upon hours getting perfect sight marks leading into our Field Nationals, only to have them completely off when I arrived in Darrington, I had made the executive decision leading into Worlds to get rough sight marks (literally spent 10mins walking back and writing down marks), and instead focus my time on preparing for the other aspects. This gamble paid off big time. I was expecting to spend all of practice day getting my marks, but it quickly became evident after just a few targets at different distances, that my marks were almost spot on. I made a few tweaks here and there, but generally I was in good shape and that gave me an added boost of confidence for the next day.
I also learned during practice day that the format for this tournament had changed, and now 22 people would be making the cut (instead of 16). Again, anyone who knows me will be surprised to learn that I was just finding this out AT the tournament…as I am normally the one who reads and studies and knows all of this in advance…again I apologize for my lack of preparation, it’s not excusable! Anyways, I was pretty excited about this, as I knew I could keep my original goal of trying to make the cut, but it was a bit more realistic now. Day 1 the senior women all started on the furthest possible targets from the start area (yellow course for recurve). This meant we got to hike up the mountain not once, but twice! For those that follow my non-archery shenanigans, you’ll know my husband and I do a lot of hiking, but let me tell you, hiking with your bow and all your equipment is a whole different beast. We also had altitude to deal with, so let me just say I was sucking wind before we ever starting shooting the first day!
My biggest concern for this first day, which is all unmarked, was misfacing targets. This is something I have struggled with every time I have shot field (compound or recurve), and it is the easiest way to lost points. Of course, my first target of the day happens to be a single target on a bale, which I knew meant it was EITHER the 60cm or the 80cm target. I KNEW I was going to end up with a big fat ZERO for my first arrow of the day, and I wasn’t happy about that. I had told myself ahead of time that I would always go with my first guess, as 9/10 times when I have misfaced its because I’ve convinced myself my original guess couldn’t possibly be right. I know a lot of people like to wait for the other person to shoot their arrow first on targets like this, but I decided I was just going to get up and shoot quickly and adjust from there. The less time I had to think, the better chance I had of changing my mind. I drew back shot my first arrow, and I heard it hit! I looked through my binos and saw I had shot a 4! I was super pumped, and I followed that up with a 5 and a 6. What a great way to start the day.
As we moved through the targets, I was pleasantly surprised with how well I was judging. Unlike in the past, I felt like my judging was saving my not so great shooting, instead of the other way around. The first major angled shot we came to happened to be a bunny target. I actually got excited to shoot this downhill, as I had learned how to correctly shoot these short, angled shots at the OPA tournament a few years back. The first two girls stepped up to this target and both of them struggled, their first arrows scoring less than 2 points each. It was now my turn, and I was excited to pickup some points on this target. I set my sight where I knew it needed to be and nailed a 5 for my first arrow. The hardest part about this target for me (and any of the bunnies) was trying to hold steady enough to aim on that small of a target!
We continued through the course, and I had a few really poor shots that cost me. However, as we were walking off the course, I realized I had misfaced ZERO targets for the day! That was the first time EVER in a fita field round that I have done that. I had shot a 321, which I had no clue where that put me (I was first on my bale), but I was just happy to have judged so well. I really didn’t care where that placed me. It turned out that that put me in 16th for the first day, which I was feeling very good about. I knew I could now relax as everything from here on out was marked distances, which I felt much more comfortable with. Although we had made it through the first day with no rain, it didn’t look like we were going to be so lucky on the next day, so we all bundled up in our rain gear to head out for day 2.
Once again the senior women were on the furthest possible targets, so by the time we got to our target, I was sweating and hot. I made it about 5 targets before I decided I had to take off my rain pants. One of the judges joked with me that I better not do that, and I said sorry I’m dying of heat I have to. She said well if it starts raining we are all blaming you. Sure enough 2 targets later, the skies opened up and we were hit with a horrendous downpour. Of course, my bale had just gotten to the steep uphill 60m shot. The rain was coming down so hard, and the target was in the woods, making it almost impossible to make out the target. I had two decent arrows, but my third one was a miss as I completely lost any reference point and made the mistake of shooting anyways. Climbing up to get our arrows was a huge challenge, as the hill was steep with poor footing to begin with, but in the pouring rain it was like a sheet of ice as well. Just trying to maintain your balance was a struggle. In fact, after shooting the next target, I fell coming down off the hill, landing on my bow, with the bottom limb a good foot into the soft ground. Let me just say, it’s never good when you pickup your bow and you have about 5 pounds of “earth” hanging off it!
My group was moving pretty quickly all day, so we ended up shooting 4 targets in the worst of the rain. This definitely made an already challenging course even harder. I definitely lost some unnecessary points during the rain, as I just wasn’t paying enough attention to things I should have. Even once the rain stopped, we found it had made the ground so slick that everyone in our group took at least one tumble during the day. Every shot was either up or down hill, with no targets on flat ground. I was doing “ok” with this until we reached a very steep uphill shot, with very poor footing. The stake was placed on a steep part of the hill (so steep we could not set our stools down without them rolling down the hill). Due to the rain from early, it was even slicker, so trying to hold yourself upright from falling was a challenge before you even picked up your bow. I drew back and had a mile to go on my clicker, so I let down. I struggled like this a few more times, trying to setup and angle my body properly, but I also had to keep from falling down the hill. Eventually, I decided to do what I had to do and I just moved my clicker up for this shot. That worked, and I was able to get 3 respectable shots off without falling. This target was definitely one of those that you were wishing you had done more stability disc work!
The last target of the day was a relatively easy bunny target (compared to the rest of the day), however, I opened up with two 3s. I was frustrated and told myself, stop being a wuss. You’re not going to finish on a bad note, and with that I shot what might have been my first 6 on a bunny target the whole tournament! I was disappointed because although I had once again come out the top scorer on my bale, I felt like I had thrown away a lot of unnecessary points throughout the day. I managed to break 300, but just barely with a 302 (thank goodness for that final 6 I thought!). I knew the courses I had shot for the two days were much harder than Darrington, though I had scored better, so I had to be happy about that. As we walked in, I was dreading seeing the rankings, as I knew I had fallen from 16th spot, I just didn’t know how far. As it turns out, a lot of people seemed to struggle on the course, and I actually had moved into 14th place! Those following scores throughout the round informed me I had actually moved as high as 8-10th spot for a good portion of the day before sliding back down. At this point I couldn’t have been happier. I finished one spot below a European Field Champion and great archer, and I had met my goal of making the cut AND my original goal of top 16!
Elimination rounds were the next day, and the new format meant the lowest two in each bracket would shoot the 6 target course, then the winner would shoot the 3rd lowest, etc. For those familiar with the Lancaster Classic “shootup” style format that is essentially what we were doing in each group. My sight marks seemed off a little while I was warming up in the practice range, so I made a quick adjustment and felt ready to go. However, on the first target I shot a really low 3 to open up. I adjusted and then shot a 5 and a 6, but I was already down in the match. I chalked it up to my first arrow and nerves, so when I did the exact same thing on the next target, I new it must be my sight marks. So heading into the 3rd target, I knew I needed to make an adjustment, so I did. Unfortunately, I corrected way too much and shot a high 3! My next shot was a low 2, so I was now frustrated and confused. Unfortunately, this led me to be questioning things at full draw, causing me to hold for a long time and then force a shot off, shooting another 2! Lesson learned, trust your decision and make a strong shot. My next three targets were much better, but it was already too late in the game, and she easily won, shooting the highest score on the course. I was disappointed, but I must admit I did feel better when I realized all of us that “came in” that round lost to the person who had been out there shooting the previous round. I obviously don’t think that made a difference in my match, as she was shooting very well and I wasn’t, but I do think the new format did hurt some of the better ranked archers.
I now got to spend the rest of my trip cheering on teammates and coaching friends. I even was able to get my weekly report done for work, while my teammates were warming up the one day. Thanks again to DeAnna for letting me use your hot spot! Team USA ended up with a lot of archers making it to the finals field, including a few of our teams.
I wish someone would have had a video running to catch the expressions on people’s faces when they came up over the hill from where the buses parked and saw the finals venue for the first time. I know many of you have seen pictures or the video from the finals, but let me tell you, none of that truly does it justice. I have never seen such a spectacular archery venue as this one. I think we were all in awe of it, and it was really cool to see World Archery had gone the extra mile to make sure we had a venue truly worthy of a World Field Championship final. I heard no negative feedback, and many of us who didn’t make the finals were wishing we had, just for the opportunity to shoot the 4 target course.
I always enjoy cheering my teammates on during finals matches, but this time I spent the bulk of the two days in the commentating box for World Archery. This was tough because 1)I had to remain impartial and couldn’t be cheering for my favorites, but also 2)because I didn’t know in advance, so I couldn’t prepare. This is the second place I need to apologize in this post, as I really feel terrible for not knowing a lot of names of the archers out there, or much about their background. If this was a normal “fita” tournament, I would have known the majority of archers, if not personally, at least their names. However, being only my second ever World Field tournament, and a lot of archers who aren’t your usual’s at World Cups and things, I really struggled with giving everyone their fair due, so I must apologize. Those I do know definitely got more of my attention, and their names instead of just the country they were representing. I hope all those shooting in the finals’ matches understands this and knows that I really tried to do the best I could with what I was given.
I have to say after ending the USAT season feeling pretty down about everything, this tournament was exactly what I needed. Could I have shot better, yes! However, getting the opportunity to shoot in a place like this was truly an amazing experience. It really didn’t matter how good or bad you were shooting. All you had to do to feel better was look up and take in your surroundings. For me, this was the perfect end to the season, and an experience I will never forget!
And a few more pictures for those of you that can’t get enough…