A Week in the Desert
I decided to go straight from Mexico to Arizona, instead of coming home to the cold for a couple days. The house I was staying at for the first two days was closer to archery range than the tournament venue, so I decided to practice there until R joined me.
I had gained some confidence with aiming off and shooting in some wind while in Mexico, but wow, I had forgotten how strong Arizona wind could be. Not only was there a strong steady wind, but there were crazy gusts that didn’t allow me to hold my bow on the target I was aiming at. I did spend all day out there, as my sun burnt shoulders proved, but I got to shoot over 300 arrows, which while on the road is pretty good for me.
Once R joined me Wednesday, we decided to shoot at the venue, even though we could only use the practice range before Thursday. Because there were so many countries in attendance, and many had come in early, the practice range was jammed packed when we arrived first thing in the morning. There was a lot of chaos with no timing system, any official rules, and that many people which made it tough to really focus on what you were doing and find your groove. R and I ended up staying until we were starving, so I only got in a little over 100 arrows.
We ended up shooting some guns that afternoon, where R busted his finger, and then called it a night. Next morning we got up and headed right to the field. It was official practice day, which also meant bow inspection and even more people. Luckily the field is much larger and they were running 2 lines right from the beginning, so we had no problem finding a place to shoot. Things were going well for me, and I felt ready for the next morning (women were in the morning this year, meaning we wouldn’t have to deal with the crazy afternoon winds AZ is known for!).
It was cold (for AZ) the next morning when we arrived. I was happy to have my Swiftwick compression arm sleeves to keep me warm until the sun broke over the mountains. Unfortunately, the compound women weren’t as lucky as we thought, as the wind was blowing pretty hard when we began scoring. I managed a 56 for my first end, which normally I would not be happy with, but considering the wind, I figured I’d take it. The next end, however, I couldn’t seem to even hit the gold and shot a 53 (three 8s!) and I was now pissed.
The wind lost some of its gusts as the temp warmed up, and I was able to slowly work my way back up the field. I was closing in on second (found out after I was done shooting), however, the last end of the day was dead calm and suddenly I couldn’t hit the center, shooting a 56 and finishing in 4th behind three fellow Americans.
The next day was team round day, which I had really been looking forward to. My team was supposed to be an international “dream” team, with each of us from a different country. However, organizers made changes to the schedule the week before, losing one of my teammates. Luckily, we found a fill in, but then there was confusion on when you could actually sign up, and after repeated attempts on my part (each time I was told I had to wait until a later point), it was announced the team round was full (only 8 women’s teams accepted), so our team was shut out. I was pretty bummed and made this known, even offering to shoot in the men’s division (they allowed 16 teams and had openings), however, I lost the battle and had to settle for coaching R’s team.
That left me with a completely open Saturday. I watched R shoot his elimination match, spotted arrows for his team and practiced over on the practice field, so I could be ready for eliminations the next day. I also, needed to rest up after my complete domination at mini golf the night before…I not only beat Rich for once, but I also beat the unofficial world record holder!
Sunday morning we arrived bright and early at the field, and we were greeted with some nasty wind. People were wearing tons of layers and fighting to keep arrows on their targets. I luckily had a bye the first round, so I was able to stay warm and just shoot a couple ends to loosen up. I figured there wasn’t much since in shooting the whole time and fighting against the wind before it was necessary.
My first match of the day started pretty rough. I opened 7,8,7 and my opponent took an early two point lead. I was frustrated and knew I had to battle back…I wasn’t about to go out in the first round! I slowly worked away at her and pretty much sealed the deal going into the last end. I kept my composure, knowing anything could happen and won the match.
This placed me up against one of the top American archers, who will be representing the US in China next week. I knew even though her qualification hadn’t been stellar, she would be a tough opponent, so I had to be on my A game. I took an early lead, when she shot a couple 8s, but I was never able to build a legitimate lead, with her hitting lots of Xs. I was up with one end to go, so I knew all I had to do was shoot a 30 to win. I also knew I NEEDED a 30 bc I couldn’t open the door at all and give her a chance to beat me. I was able to read the wind and put all three in the 10 ring, giving me the match.
After a break while they reset the field, I went up against the top archer from Mexico, someone who was supposed to be my teammate in the team round AND who had tied with me in qualification. Throughout this match I really struggled to read the wind correctly. I couldn’t feel the wind blowing me around, yet, I consistently didn’t seem to be aiming off enough, as EVERYTHING was going right. I didn’t adjust enough and easily lost the match to make the final 4.
In the end I finished 6th, right behind the #1 archer in the world, so I couldn’t complain. Was I disappointed, yes, but when I compared this tournament with the same tournament last year it was a world of a difference. I’ve made huge strides in a year, and I have to keep reminding myself of this…you can’t become the best overnight!