If you’re going to play in Texas…
The 2013 Texas Shootout was my second national qualifier event, but it was also the first archery tournament I would be traveling to alone. I was both excited and nervous, knowing I would have to handle everything on my own.
I shot about 100 arrows on practice day, getting adjusted to the way the wind blew on the field. Overall, I was very happy with the way my bow was shooting, as we had just done a much needed tuning the day before I left, and it seemed to be paying off with much smaller groups (aka my less than perfect shots were much closer to the center then they had been). Weather was warm and I forgot to reapply my sunscreen, so needless to say I had a nice burn on my arms.
Day 2 was qualification day, and I was excited for the opportunity to show both me and the bow were much improved from Arizona. I had gotten time to shoot outside, and more importantly, had actually practiced shooting in the wind. The morning started cold and rainy, but I was shooting really well. The worst issue I had was trying to keep my scope dry, so I could see through it. Definitely learned some lessons regarding keeping parts of my bow dry while shooting, so this was my first lesson of the day (remember, this year for me is all about learning all that I can).
I shot a 325 for the first round of 36 (13 points higher than my highest in AZ) despite the poor conditions, so I was pretty excited. I had been in around 3rd/4th place until I started to slide down near the end of the round, but I was still happy I was overall making good shots.
Unfortunately, as the rain let up, the winds kicked up. One of my goals for this tournament were to not have any misses, after I was pretty upset with this happening in AZ. Unfortunately 1/2 way in to this second set, I had a miss just shy of the 5 ring on the right (wind was blowing left to right at this point). I was mad at myself and knew I had let the wind push my bow arm as the shot went off. Knowing it was out of my control now, I tried to refocus and just work on making strong shots. Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned when two ends later I shot another miss, in almost the same location.
At this point I was pretty bummed, knowing I had to have fallen out of the top 8, and my strong score from the 1st round was becoming a distance memory. I didn’t break 300 on this second set with 2 misses, but overall I told myself it was a long day and I still had two more rounds to shoot. There was plenty of time to make up ground, and I knew that I was shooting well considering there were gusts up to 35mph. I just needed to focus on timing my shots, so I could get my shot of outside of these gusts if possible.
After lunch it seemed the winds had gotten stronger, and the heat was turned up. I knew what I had to do, so it was time to make it happen, as I was determined to finish in the top 8 for women, securing me a spot in the world game trials on Sunday. The gusts now were up over 50mph and people were letting down shots all around me. I had never done this in a competition before, as I was too afraid to have the shot go off when letting down and miss the bale completely. As the wind started to get really crazy after I had pulled back on one of my shots, I thought now was the time to let down. I figured I had nothing to lose, as I had already had 2 misses, and the wind was so strong I wasn’t able to even hold my bow on the bale, much less the target.
This was lesson #2 from the tournament, I let down successfully, without firing my bow. I was proud of myself, until I drew back, setting up my next shot and right as I shot the shot, a large gust came, meaning you guessed it, another miss 😦 At this point I was just embarrassed, knowing I had already had 3 misses, and one was after I had successfully let down. I ended up with one more miss in this 3rd set, really causing me to question myself. I knew others were struggling, but they were at least hitting the 5 or 6 ring (there are no 1-4 rings on the target used in outdoor competition for compound archers).
So with one set left to shoot, I tried to clear my mind and think of the positives. My goal was just to bring my score for my final 36 arrows back up above 300. I knew if I could avoid the misses I’d had previously this was definitely a reality, as my last 2 had been just one arrow shy of 300. I was sitting in 9th, so I figured if I could finish strong, I could at least earn my way back into 8th, which would be a huge improvement from AZ.
I started this set on fire, shooting a 57 in the wind, putting me alone in first place for the set. My next two ends were decent, not as great but respectable, keeping me in the top 1/2 for the set. Unfortunately in the 4th end, I had my worst miss of the day, with my arrow actually ending up on another target on my bale. It didn’t matter I told myself, just 2 more ends and the day will be over, as tomorrow is where is really counts.
I finished ok, and ended the set with a 291, my lowest score all day. However, when I looked at everyone else and their scores, I realized that comparatively I shot much better in the 4th and final set. Other scores all fell dramatically from the 3rd to 4th sets, as the wind had gotten to be a nightmare, so the fact that I was only one point lower than the 3rd was an achievement I figured.
Scores were updated and I managed to finish in 8th place out of all the senior women, which considering the day I had and 5 misses, I was thrilled about. I had managed to score higher than my AZ total even with so many misses, so I knew once I could conquer wind gusts or we had a calmer day, I was ready to play with the top dogs.