I came into this past weekend feeling very confident in my shot. I knew things had been going well, and I was ready to put that to the test at one of the biggest shoots in the world. I was excited because not only would I be competing in the World Archery Festival Vegas Shoot, but unless disaster struck, I would also be competing in the World Cup finals Saturday night.
In order to not completely bore people with details, I will try to highlight each day, and give links to places to watch the events online.
Practice Day: I was drilling shots. I literally couldn’t miss the 10 ring, and I was feeling great.
Day 1: Pro women were scheduled for the 10am line, but R was shooting recurve flights, which meant a 7am start time. This meant I was up early with nothing but waiting, which is the only time I really get nervous. I tried to distract myself by watching him shoot and talking to people around me. The practice range was a disaster, with no available targets 1.5 hours before shooting, so I just decided instead of trying to mess with all that, I wouldn’t bother. We only had to shoot 30 arrows each day, and we had 2 official ends of practice beforehand, so I figured it wasn’t worth fighting the crowds.
I made it clean through the half way point (5 ends done, 5 more to go). I could tell I was being hesitant in my shots though, as I was trying to be “too careful,” so my X count was on the low side. I switched my target from top of the bale to the bottom at the half and I contemplated whether I should move my sight. I knew in Iowa going from bottom to top, I had to move my sight (shot just high after switch), but I talked myself out of it, thinking I would be ok. Unfortunately, I made the wrong decision as my first arrow after the switch was just out low. It was close enough to require a judge’s call, but it was called out and my chances for the “perfect” weekend were shattered. Luckily, I adjusted my sight right away after this first arrow and I was fine the rest of the day. In fact, R noticed my shots were much more aggressive after dropping that point and I shot like I normally do, increasing my X count significantly.
I knew I still had 2 more days to shoot my 300 score, but I was mad at myself for not trusting myself that I needed to move my sight. I knew I had made 30 good shots, but a dumb mental mistake had cost me the tie for the lead since one woman had cleaned day 1 (there were 5 or 6 of us down just 1 point).
Day 2 (morning): Most of the women were upset we had been put on the 7am line, but I was actually pumped. I love shooting first thing in the morning, and I felt like I finally had the advantage with our time (normally pros are shooting afternoon lines which are the worst for me).
I had a great start, and even moved my sight at the half (finally learned my lesson!). I was clean through 7 ends and 2 arrows into the 8th, when I drew back and instead of relaxing into my release, I got a little too aggressive and shot the arrow high. I knew the second I shot the shot, that I had missed the 10 ring. I knew exactly what I did wrong, but I knew I couldn’t dwell on it, as I needed to stay composed for 2 more ends. I did, and I came away with another 299 for the day.
Here is when the emotions of the tournament really got to me. There were 6 women who cleaned day 2 (one who cleaned day 1 also), which made me frustrated. I knew I had made a bad shot, and that cost me, as I moved down into 3rd place for the tournament. I was also frustrated looking at targets (and X counts) for the women who cleaned. Many of them had very few Xs (what normally count for 10s in compound), but they still got the perfect 300 and I didn’t. I know that is the nature of Vegas scoring, but it was hard to swallow. I now only had one day to get the magical 300 round score, but I had to shake all that off as World Cup finals were that evening (baby 10 scoring), and I was the #2 seed after picking up more points for the 4th round of the world cup (based on scores from first 2 days in Vegas).
Day 2 (evening): See my separate post on the World Cup Finals.
Day 3: After shooting until around 10:30 the night before and taking silver, I really struggled getting myself up and motivated to shoot the 10am line for the final day of the Vegas tournament. This was my last opportunity to shoot my 300 until next year, yet I felt no real desire to shoot, especially just 30 arrows at a target, with no head-to-heads or anything exciting. Some of you may think I’m nuts, but think of how you feel right after a huge adrenaline high…you have a low (just like a sugar rush), and that’s where I was. Since I was sitting in 3rd, I was on the top bale and would be shooting with Sarah (clean for weekend so far-score: 600), Kailey (one of the top 3d women-score: 599), and Paige (someone I had shot against all outdoor season last year, score: 597).
With scores so close I knew all I could do was control my own shooting. It would take Sarah dropping at least 2 and Kailey dropping at least one for me to win and/or get 2nd, however, I had a bunch of women one point behind me, trying to take 3rd from me. The first half I really struggle with my energy level. I felt so tired and out of it, that I had a tough time just holding my bow and focusing. I made it through the halfway point and managed to stay clean, with a pretty high X count (X count only matters for places 4th and down, as any podium ties had to be broken with a shoot-off). Even though I was now moving from bottom target to top, I made sure to move my sight (opposite direction of day before), and I just kept trying to focus on one shot at a time.
Around this point, Kailey dropped a point, and as much as I try not to focus on score since we were all on the same bale together, I obviously knew this, which also meant we were now tied for second. We stayed this way going into the last end. At this point, Sarah was still clean, and I knew there was no realistic chance of her dropping 2 or 3 in the final end, so Kailey and I were fighting for 2nd. I also knew the previous two days there were lots of women who dropped points in the final end, after being clean up to that point. Obviously, we all know that is a mental breakdown, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. I tried to just focus on making three good shots. I drilled three Xs, finally earning a spot in the 300 club and even better giving me 2nd alone, as Kailey dropped 2 points that last end.
At this point the weekend was over for me, and I had two second places to show for my efforts. I definitely couldn’t complain, but I would have loved to have taken first in one of the two events. For my first trip to Vegas, I have to say it was an overall success, and I can’t wait to go back next year. And finally, I am SOOOO excited to be heading to Nimes with Christie and Erika. In both the UK and World Cup finals, the three of us have been the top 3 seeds. As much as I enjoy doing well myself, I really love being part of a team and cheering my teammates on. I’ll get my first opportunity to shoot a team round while in France, and I couldn’t be happier to represent team USA with these two!