Learning the hard way
Sunday was the second to last indoor “warmup” tournament at Hall’s Arrow. I had played around with point weight in my arrows the day before, so I was looking forward to seeing if my score improved.
I started the day with two great practice ends (29 & 30), so my confidence level was high, but I was also trying just to focus on one shot at a time. My hold wasn’t completely steady on the target (as it had been the day before), but I felt like even my “bad” shots were hitting the big 10 ring. I was moving right along, happy with how I was doing. Yes, there were a couple of shots here and there that weren’t ideal, but overall I was shooting well and my score was reflecting that.
My scoring partners were both impressed that I was able to keep my composure and shoot so consistently throughout the entire round. I hadn’t had another 30 (after my last practice end), but I also hadn’t scored below a 28 either. That is until the final two ends of the day…
All day I felt like I knew where my shots were going. In fact, if anything, shots were shooting better than I expected them to, with misses missing less than I thought. However, in the second to last end of the day, all the wheels came off. I shot two 8s and a 9 (a 25!). I thought WTF, at least two of those shots felt like they should have been dead center, but I chalked it up to nerves and assumed I had let the pressure of knowing I was going to finish with a great score get to me.
I was frustrated, but I was determined to finish on a high note. I took my time, cleared my head and shot a “perfect shot.” I looked down range, however, and I couldn’t find my arrow. Then I realized, it was nowhere near the center. In fact, it appeared to be another 8. Ok, I thought, something isn’t right. I checked my stabilizers and they were both screwed in tight, so again I thought it was me. I then said now my score doesn’t matter, as I’ve just killed it so just have fun these last two shots.
I setup, drew back and my release went off like butter. This time I knew my shot was dead center, there was 0 doubt in my mind, as everything had felt perfect. I looked down and guess what, it wasn’t in the 10 ring either, but nearly identical to the first arrow. At this point I KNEW it was not me and something was wrong with my equipment. I started checking all the bolts and screws; my stabilizers, scope, sight, etc…I kinda looked around not knowing what else to check.
At this point I realized, this wasn’t a huge tournament, I wasn’t shooting for money, so just shoot my final arrow and be done, then I could figure out what was wrong. I shot what felt like another good (though not perfect) shot and just like the others, was right on the 8/9 ring line. As everyone finished shooting, I began asking around to figure out what could have changed, as even my scoring partners knew something was wrong by my final shots.
After checking everything we could all think of, I decided to seek more professional advice. Turns out this individual knew exactly what was wrong, once we described how my shots were hitting. Check your 3rd axis he said. What the heck is my 3rd axis, and how do I check it? Through this exchange, I learned that my sight actually has x/y axis, which is what the level and tuning screws are for, but there is also a 3rd axis adjustment, designed for use when you aren’t on level ground, shooting targets at strange angles, etc. Apparently this bolt had come lose (didn’t even know there was a bolt in first place), so while I thought my shots were lined up, they actually weren’t.
I got further advice that because I shoot a compound bow, there is a lot more vibration and movement going on each shot. Because of this I need to be checking all screws and bolts on a regular basis since they will loosen up with as much as I am shooting now. I was glad to have learned this lesson now vs in Arizona or at nationals, but it still was a bummer to see my score tanked bc of a “mechanical” failure.
Even ending with 6 bad shots, I was still able to score my highest score yet at a Hall’s warmup. No I didn’t hit or break my personal best overall, but it was definitely a step in the right direction, and I was glad to see what an improvement I gained with changing the point weight in my arrows. Overall, the whole day was a lesson for me in making sure your equipment is working for you. I need to constantly be testing and changing things to see if I can find something better (good isn’t good enough), but I also need to learn all my equipment (how it works and more importantly how to maintain it or fix it if something goes wrong).