The weekend of the Georgia Cup in Conyers, Georgia was a hot one. The temperature was in the low 90s. It wasn’t the hottest outdoor archery tournament that I have shot in but it was near the top of the list.
The field of sweaty (soon to be sun burnt) archers was impressive considering the overlap with the ASA Pro/Am being held a few hours away near Augusta, GA. The tournament moved along as fast as possible in the heat. There were times when walking back from pulling arrows seemed to take longer than usual. No one was running wind sprints to return to the line. Of course, the slower people walked the hotter it became with the day bearing down on us. Shade was a precious commodity.
I show up at tournaments here in Georgia as a solo athlete so I don’t bring one of those nice pop-up canopies. Bringing a canopy for one person seems excessive. Thankfully, there is usually a group under a canopy that offers shade. At the Georgia Cup that shade was provided by a group of archers I’ve gotten to know over the past year shooting here. I was thankful.
The Georgia Cup is a two-day event put on by the Georgia Archery Association. Last year I lost to a friend from Savannah, Georgia who took first on the final few arrows. Paul, last year’s winner, got into a flow and just couldn’t miss the X. He was absent for the 2019 version.
Day one is the qualifying day. That is, for any that might not know, 72 arrows at 50-meters for bracketing on day 2 during the elimination rounds. Day two archers are paired into brackets based on qualifying score. Those pairs shoot against one another. Eventually, some lose and have to sit down; others shoot on until there is one archer that wins. If you score high enough on day one you may end up with a bye or two for the eliminations on day two.
Day one earned me a couple of byes. As such I didn’t have a competition round until two and a half hours after the eliminations began. That was a long hot wait. When I was finally up the first archer I had to shoot against, Buddy, has beaten me a number of times.
Typical of Buddy, on the first end he shot X, 10, 9 and typical of me I shot 10, 9,9. I like Buddy, it always a challenge shooting against him. At each tournament, we’ve already shot against one another at 3 in 2019, he always asks, “Have you been shooting?” I always rely, “Yes.” The he adds, “I haven’t picked up a bow since the last time I saw you.” Right.
He’s a State record holder and isn’t going to make too many mistakes. It was tight going into the third end when Buddy gave me a couple of points.
They way I look at it, in archery we all start with the maximum allowable number of points. In elimination round, during each head-to-head competition, each archer is given 150 points. You shoot to keep those points. To keep them all you need to do is put your arrow into the 10 ring. Every time you don’t do that you give away a point or more.
I gave Buddy a few points, he gave me a few points and by the time it was over I was less charitable with my points.
Making it into the final match for Gold or Silver there stood Jerry in the lane next to me. Jerry has been flinging arrows for over 30 years. Going into the second end I had one point on Jerry. With three more ends to shoot against an opponent with significantly more skill and training I needed to not let my mind drift over to the potential advantages Jerry has over me.
With his experience and skill Jerry’s earned a Mathews kit, a brand new Mathews bow and top-level arrows. Thirty years in the business of shooting arrows gets you top-level support. On any given day Jerry can beat me. But, I had this one point advantage and that pirate saying in my head, “Take what you can; give nothing back.”
Not really. There was no pirate mantra in my head. I was thinking, “Just shoot your game” and “Perfect form equals a perfect shot”, and “Don’t rush the shot” and “Paul is not here this year” and “stance, hook and grip, set-up, set…” and “Brenda (my wife) is going to not like this is I lose,” and “feel the Force,” and “see the arrow landing in the X,” and “the kids and grandkids are coming over to celebrate my birthday this afternoon” and “Mama will be proud if I win,” and “My father in law will be disappointed if I lose,” and, “please wind stop” and “man, it is hot,” and “is that a squirrel on the range,” and “I’m thirsty” and “silence your thoughts” (that one didn’t work).
When the final tally was complete Jerry had been too generous with his points. It was still hot.