No belt buckle for me
With my trip to Ohio (USAA Outdoor Nationals) just a week away, I figured it was time to finally update my blog. After a month off with only local tournaments and “fun” shoots, I headed to SoCal at the end of June, hungry for the win.
Just a week before leaving, we were informed there was to be a schedule change, with compound archers, now shooting late afternoon instead of first thing in the morning. To say I wasn’t happy about this would be an understatement. R still would be shooting at 8am, but I wouldn’t start until 3pm, essentially killing the entire day for us to do anything. Plus, we all now how much I love shooting at that time of day…
I tried to sleep in that morning, but of course I wasn’t able to, so I headed over to the field to watch the recurve archers shoot. I figured this would keep my mind off things and give me something to do, instead of spending the day cooped up in a hotel room. Once they were finished, R and I could grab some lunch and then head back for my turn.
As expected, the last thing I wanted to do when it was time for us to start shooting, was be shooting. I had a very tough time motivating myself in the first half of scoring. I eventually settled in, and while it was getting windier and others scores were falling (from the first half), I was staying pretty consistent. With one end left, I had worked myself all the way up to first (after being in around 5th place for most of the day). I shot a good last end, but it was no match for Erika’s perfection and she moved into first (dropping me into 2nd).
Although my score was lower than I knew it should be, I was proud of myself for sticking with it and fighting through my lack of motivation. I knew tomorrow would be my opportunity to shine, as we started bright and early with eliminations.
As the #2 seed, I had a bye the first match, but I practiced anyways, scoring like it was a real match. I felt great and my shots were going where they should, so I was looking forward to the rest of the day. The next round, I was forced to shoot against one of the Jrs, who had had some issues during qualification. This was a little bit of bad luck, as she was then ranked much lower than her typical shooting, and I knew I had to be ready for a fight. She struggled a bit with the wind, however, and I was able to close the match out.
Next up, another Jr, who has proven she is a force to be reckoned with this year. She took an early lead and continued to hold this lead through much of the match. It came down to the wire, with her last arrow determining if I had managed to win, or if we were going to a shoot off. Luckily it was a 9, meaning I would be moving on. It was great to see such talent and excitement among one of the younger shooters. I know she has a bright future ahead of her!
It was now time for the semi finals, with the winner going to the gold medal match and the loser headed for a fight for bronze. Both times I have been in this situation at a USA Archery event, I have lost, so I was determined to win this match. On the second end, however, I began to struggle and even shot a 7 (something I hadn’t done in competition in a year!). At this point I knew the match was over (I had given her something like a 5 point lead), so I just focused on shooting good shots and didn’t worry about the score.
And here was my big lesson for the weekend: the match is NEVER over. As we scored arrows on the last end (she had some bad shots this end), I went to sign the card and as I looked at the scores I realized they were tied. I looked at her and asked if she got the same scores or if I made a mistake (in my mind there was no way this was possible). She said, yes we are tied. This meant shootoff time.
At this point, I was confident that I would win the match. I love shootoffs, and was thankful for the opportunity to still make the gold medal match. I shot a great shot, but the wind took it a little, so it was a 9. Lucky for me, she shot an 8, so it didn’t matter. With that I had won and was going for gold!
Now that I had some time to reflect, I actually felt guilty going into the gold medal match. I knew I didn’t deserve to be there with the way I shot in the semi final match. Another competitor reminded me that the universe has a funny was of making sure things even out in the end. Some days you lose your match with a great score (ex: 2nd highest on the field) and other days you win with a bad score. You just have to take it and run with it.
After the bronze matches were shot, we were up. At this point I told myself as much as I wanted the win, I didn’t care if I won or lost, I just wanted to shoot well. Unfortunately, I drew back on my first arrow (we had moved to the center of the field), and I realized the sun was reflecting directly off my level, so I couldn’t see it at all. I tried to remain calm and focus on feel. This seemed to work, as I took an early lead after the first end. As the wind came into play, I became more and more frustrated that I couldn’t see my level, and I let it get to me…shooting ANOTHER 7.
Lucky for me, I still wasn’t out of it with her shooting a 27 on her last end. All I had to do was shoot a 30 to tie things back up, unfortunately one of my arrows was just out, so I had lost. I still wasn’t upset, until I learned that this was the tournament first place got a belt buckle (instead of a medal). I was soooooooo bummed at this point, knowing I had given this match away with my 7, and I’ve always wanted to win a belt buckle.
I didn’t deserve the win today, and it will feel so much better when I get it after shooting my best. I’ve continued to improve at each USAT tournament this year, both with my qualification score and my final placing. Next up is Nationals in a week, before I head to the final World Cup of the year in Poland.