Back when registration first opened up for the Vegas Shoot, J and I both decided that we were crazy enough to have our first archery tournament be… oh, I don’t know… Just the BIGGEST archery tournament in the WORLD. Because – go big, or go home, right? So we signed up with no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
As the tournament got closer, I got more nervous and excited and kept trying to research what to expect. I looked at how my scores leading up to it would rank me compared to last year’s scores… We got the California State Indoor Championship under our belts a couple weeks before we left for Vegas, but I still keep saying that that one doesn't count as our first tournament because it felt like just another day shooting at our normal archery range. Plus – they still haven’t released the rankings, so it’s not going to seem real until I see where I placed.
Luckily we have family out that way, so we didn't have to deal with what we later found out were the most MISERABLE elevator lines imaginable. Just picture it – every two hours during the day there are around 200 archers trying to get downstairs to get ready for their shoot time or get back upstairs after they are done. I feel sorry for anyone staying at the hotel that had nothing to do with the tournament. Sure, it would have been nice to have a room to disappear to in the breaks between the two of us shooting to put our stuff away or to lay down for a minute, but it wasn’t too bad.
We went on Thursday to the South Point to check in to the tournament and get our bearings. J had the 7 am butt-crack-of-dawn shoot on Friday, so we wanted to make sure we knew where to zombie-shuffle to the next morning. We found where we would each be shooting on Friday and Saturday and then wandered the trade show for a bit.
Friday morning we got there EXTRA early because J wanted to try to get on the practice lanes to warm up – I did the same that day before my 1pm shoot time, but after seeing how long you have to wait in line and how you really only get about 3-4 ends in the span of 45 minutes (there are constantly people leaving and coming in, so every end there are people taking down or putting up targets and it takes FOREVER), we didn't bother trying to warm up (other than stretching - GOTTA stretch!) after the first day.
J's group day 1 and 2
My group Day 1 and 2
We had decided beforehand that we wanted to get to our shooting areas early each day so that we could have first pick of target position – we felt that starting with your target in the high position would be better because then when you move it to the lower position half-way through and your arm is tired, you don’t have to raise the bow up as high… We over-think things. A lot. But we each got our targets where we wanted them each day. And neither of us shot the wrong target after we moved them like we saw a few others do…. (BIG oops – shooting the wrong target = miss = loss of the points you could have gotten if you had shot the correct target) So that was good.
We had a “cheering” section on Saturday when my family that is local came to watch. I warned them that it’s not a super action-packed sport to watch, but they braved it anyway. There were also people from our local range that were there either to shoot or just to watch that stopped in each day. We were all constantly popping in and out of the halls to watch each other shoot and constantly checking the on-line rankings to see each of our people’s current standings.
We found out around 11pm Saturday night what our shooting times were going to be in the morning which SUCKED because I scored that horrible 7am shooting time. I told J on the way to the hotel in the morning that it was kind of a good thing because I was just too tired to care about being nervous. I shot my best round that day, so I was happy with it – it was closer to what my usual scores are. (I was having an off week… I don’t know if it was jitters or what, but I was pretty grumpy about how I was shooting all week) I shot a 285 (out of 300 possible points each day) Friday, 286 Saturday, and a 290 on Sunday which put me 19th out of 38 in my flight. No money, but I wasn't expecting to win anyway. I was actually pretty pleased with it because I moved up from pretty much LAST in my flight when they aligned them to the middle. And I was better than about 400 other people in my division, so not too shabby…
You can't see how tired I am right now...
J got a 271 Friday, 256 Saturday, and 254 Sunday. He ended up 20th out of 35 in his flight. He had been having a hard time shooting lately, so he was happy for the experience and to not finish last.
Now I am working on basically completely relearning how to shoot because I picked up a couple new releases for my bow that are more traditional target releases. I learned with a wrist release and I was the only person I saw in my division still using one. But I knew that it would take a good chunk of time to learn a completely new technique and I knew I didn't have that kind of time before Vegas. And I really wanted to wait until I could go to the trade show and actually hold them in my hand to see which ones fit me best. I ended up going with a Stanislawsky release because it felt good in my hand and they had a blank bale set up where you could bring your bow and actually try out the release.
It hasn't come in yet because it was back-ordered, but I just got the e-mail yesterday that it shipped!! Plus, I had bought a different style one from another company that is meant to be used purely as a training aide and I have been using that since I got back. I was SHOCKED by how sore my arms and back are after using it – it’s a different set of muscles than I was using before. And I’m also a little embarrassed at how terribly I am shooting. I've gotten a LOT better already – the first day was ridiculous. I kept flinching because I had no idea when it was going to go off (which is actually a good thing…). J and I were cracking up after one particularly embarrassing shot where I not only flinched away – I also scrunched my eyes closed and cringed away from the bow… Not an ideal shooting technique…
Basically… We both shot with really cool people each day and had a really good time. It was an AWESOME experience. We came home with a much better understanding of what to expect at tournament, some new equipment, and very sore muscles… Now we are looking into several other tournaments around the country coming up, but we might be a little too late to get in them this year… We are also definitely thinking about going to a tournament in Vancouver next year! No matter what, we will DEFINITELY be going back to Vegas!!
Maybe we'll even be shooting in here with the championship division sometime.... :-)