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06 July 2013

My One Month Anniversary

Exactly one month ago today, I held my new shiny blue bow (which I'm realizing needs a name) in my hands for the first time and attempted to shoot. I wasn't very good (obviously), and I had a lot of work to do to learn all about form and the mechanics and everything else that everyone else seems to have known forever.

Day 1- It begins
I've had great people helping me and giving me advice, and I've definitely made some progress. But, in all honesty, I've been mainly frustrated and annoyed that it was so hard and there was so much to do and to remember every time I drew back an arrow. And I wasn't feeling that I was making any real improvements. Everyone around me has been really supportive, and the amazing people at NC Hunter Supply have helped me to figure out the infinite number of adjustments that need to be made so that the bows shoots the way it's supposed to. Everyone keeps reminding me that the more I practice, the better I'll be, but sometimes it's slow going and daunting.

Throw in 9-day trip there when I don't even pick up my bow, and everything seems to fall apart.

I got back in the shop this week, and I could feel how out of practice I was (not that I was necessarily in practice to begin with!). My arms got tired quickly, and I could barely hit the broadside of a barn. (Okay, that's a little exaggeration, but I had definitely backslide since the last time I shot.) But I kept plugging along. Everyone is always telling me that it's not about a score, and I totally get that. Since I wasn't feeling any great improvement, I felt that I had to keep score just to give myself a gauge of how I was doing. So on Wednesday, I did just that. Started keeping score.

I had kept score just once before. On the Thursday before I left for my trip, I scored a 243 (245?) out of a possible 300 at league night. I told myself I would be happy if I scored that but felt doubtful given how long I had been away from practice. On Wednesday, I scored a 231 with 2 Xs. (Xs are essentially bulls-eyes.) Eh. Not great, but at least I broke 200, right? Most importantly, I felt more comfortable and natural with the bow than I ever had before, and that's a huge improvement.

I couldn't shoot on the 4th for obvious reasons, but I made sure to get to the bow shop on Friday the 5th. My goal was to beat Wednesday's score. Even if it was just by one point. Thankfully, I did just that. Scored a 238 with 3 Xs. Better. Improvement is what I was going for, and improvement was what I got.

The great thing about practicing at the shop is that everyone there knows SO MUCH about bows and archery and is always willing to help out. More often than not, I'll turn around and one of the guys -- Justin or Eric or anyone else for that matter -- is just watching me shoot. They know I'm new to it all, and they're always ready to offer suggestions to help me improve. Justin happened to be watching me as I wrapped things up on Friday and noticed that my arrows still weren't flying right. This was something that they noticed before and had attempted to fix. Clearly something was still amiss. They asked me to leave the bow overnight (since I was coming back today to practice some more) so they could figure it out. As it turns out, the timing in the bow was all wrong, and they got it all worked out and corrected. And what a difference it made!

When I got to the shop today, I shot a few practice rounds to warm up before I started keeping score. The difference was apparent immediately. I was shooting far more consistently and accurately. Today was also the first time that I felt 100% comfortable with the bow. I felt like I knew what I was doing, and I was calm instead of nervous/excited. I was taking less time with my shots, and I wasn't getting jumpy. It felt ... well, natural. Once I started keeping score, I was tickled pink with the results. A 260 with 2 Xs. An improvement of 22 points overnight! Of course, 99% of that improvement was adjusting the bow correctly, but still. 22 points!! I actually wanted to keep shooting after I was done. And that's definitely a first!!

So, after a month of semi-regular practice and a ton of learning, I can honestly say that I like it. I like shooting, I look forward to practice, and this is something I actually enjoy. I honestly never thought I would say (or write) those words.

So what that means for all of you is that you'll get to read a lot more about archery here in the future. I hope that doesn't turn you away!
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