Change can be good
Change can be good

Change can be good

I actually wasn’t planning to shoot indoor nationals this year. Here in the Northeast, indoor nationals in MA is always same weekend because we are only able to get the large facility needed to host the event during school vacation week. When I first started archery, this location was always during the first weekend of USA Archery’s various locations. That has changed over time, and with the addition of the finals in Cincinnati, we have now become the LAST weekend of competition across all locations (even though its still the same weekend).

I’ve always shot Friday and Saturday and then I switch over to outdoor season right away on Sunday. Without fail it seems like every year we have stretches of beautiful February days leading up to indoor nationals, where I would love to be shooting outside. Then as soon as i’m done with this tournament the weather turns and it’s snowing, raining, and/or crazy wind storms with cold temps to contend with. This year was no different unfortunately (as I type this we are under a severe weather advisory for dangerous winds and my house is shaking!).

Anyone reading this blog, probably knows this indoor season has not been the best for me. I’ve chalked it up to my training plan getting thrown out the window early on, and even as I got back on track I just assumed it was still catching up to me. My practice scores have been averaging just shy of 15 points below where they were last indoor season. Having made a bow change, a few times I have pulled out my bow from the end of outdoor season to make sure it’s not the bow and it is in fact me.

Wednesday night (two days before nationals), I decided to shoot a 600 round at the range. I shot a 273 and a 272, which unfortunately was right in line with this entire indoor season (I haven’t broken a 274!). Driving home it was clear I was frustrated. As I talked things through with R, I voiced that I felt like my form was more solid (and video seemed to confirm that), but my scores were still way below last year. He agree that he thought I looked better then last indoor season as well, so he asked what I had shot at indoor world champs trials last year when I shot my pb of a 290. While he drove home, I started pulling up pictures and my equipment notes from that tournament last December.

Essentially EVERY SINGLE piece of equipment was different than what I was shooting currently except my arrows and plunger. R suggested that we set that bow and everything back up to match, have me shoot it the next day, and see if it made a difference. I was skeptical…as a coach I always tell people not to make changes (especially huge ones right before a big tournament). However, he made a good point when he told me, “you clearly have no confidence now, so why not at least try something that you at least KNOW worked for you at one time.”

This is why it is crucial to keep notes on your equipment setup and any changes you make!

The next day we headed to the range, and I had the new (old setup) with me to test out. It had a lighter draw weight but was much more front heavy, so it definitely took a few ends before I could even comfortably shoot an end with any consistency. I then said, well let me score a 300 round just to see where I am at with this bow (fully expecting it to be no better than my current setup).

But guess what? I shot a 285! With a 25 my last end. Yep, I had just shot 11 points better than I had all indoor season overnight. I knew there was no question that even though I didn’t feel “comfortable” yet with this bow, I was taking it with me to indoor nationals. So how did that end up for me?

Day 1: I opened the round with a 27, but the rest of the first 300 round I was scoring pretty well. I did, however, feel like my timing was a little slow. With the changes, I was seeing faster sight movement which was causing me to be a little tentative in my shot, holding a little longer than I should. As we added up the first half, I saw I had shot a 286 and I was pretty ecstatic!

The second half I was just sort of worn down. First, I had shot the 5pm line, which meant I worked a full day before coming to the tournament. Also, mentally I was somewhat drained from “fighting” a new setup I wasn’t completely comfortable with, and I just think I ran out of steam. My shots got longer and longer, and I started dropping arrows out low (8s), as I wasn’t keeping a strong bow. I ended up with a disappointing 274.

The blue (and high red) were practice ends…my sight was a little off to start!

No one wants to shoot 12 points different between each half, however, I reminded myself that two days prior I would have been happy if you told me I had shot a 274, as that would have been at the top of my average this season. In addition, something I’ve struggled with is the BAD ends. I will shoot a 29 or 30 and then the next end with be a 25. I can’t count how many 25s and 26s I’ve shot lately, yet through the entire round I had nothing below a 26. I choose to focus on the 286 and knowing that I was moving in the right directly with things.

We met and shot together last year, and ended up next to each other on the line again this year!

Day 2: I opened with a 2X 30, but I felt like I couldn’t find my rhythm. I would shoot two good arrows, but without fail it seemed like I had an 8 every end. 10, 10, 8 9,9,8 10,9.8 etc etc. I finished the first half at a 275, which I knew I should be ok with, but I obviously really wanted more.

After the break at the half it was like something clicked, and I started to find it again. I still would say my timing was a little slower than I would have liked, but I could feel a strong bow arm directed at the target each arrow, I was consistent shot to shot, and my anchor was solid. I let down shots I needed to and reset. I ended up with a 284, dropping just two arrows out of the yellow. One being my final arrow that I struggled a little to get through the clicker with and pushed it out high.

So while I am content with how things ended up, I am obviously still not happy. I want more than a 9th place finish in the senior division or a 13th place finish when all divisions are put together. I hate scoring 13 points lower than last year, but all things considered I had a lot of positives to take away from the event.

And the moral of the story is this. Always trust yourself and your shot. If you feel like you are shooting better than you are scoring, don’t be afraid to make drastic changes. Document everything. Take videos of yourself shooting; both when things are going well and when they are not going well. Overall, I’m not encouraging you to blame your equipment (I think enough people do this already), but believe the voice inside that tells you something isn’t right. This is where keeping track of things really helps, because it gives you the ammunition to trust your gut!

Leave a Reply

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