In Suwanee, Georgia the range for the 2020 USA Archery National Championship was packed. Every line was filled. There were so many archers an additional Friday line was added to help accommodate the athletes.
I’d signed up early to help ascertain I ended up with 1:00 PM times over Saturday and Sunday. Suwanee isn’t too far from Good Hope. Suwanee is on the cusps of Atlanta which means travel to the event can be tricky. One mishap by a driver hoping to get into ATL can screw up precision travel times. I got the 1:00 PM times. Picking 1:00 PM gives me a travel buffer.
The traffic was innocent over both days. Oh, there was a lot of it despite being the weekend but everyone was on good behavior.
During the Saturday shoot I was on the same bale as three women from a college team. Their manners were excellent. These women, however, were not about to slip off a very competition edge and there was minimal talking. Being stuck on an archery range in silence for four hours is punishment as far as I’m concerned. Fortunately, friends were in abundance on adjacent bales so company wasn’t lacking.
The Sunday bale was a whole lot chattier. One of the archers was a woman from the same college. In this case we knew one another and she’s fast to smile and laugh. Prior to the start we discussed when either of us hits three 10s on the same end the archer achieving the 30 points would do a celebratory dance similar to those performed by NFL players following a touch down. She struck first. Before she danced, and yes she danced, she wanted me to loudly call her score.
I complied yelling out her 10 – 10 – 10 score. She did a jig. We thought it was fun as did most of the folks nearby. A few seemed dissatisfied with the performance. When she hit 10 – 10 – 10 again I yelled again and she danced again. This happened a lot. (She only dropped about 9 point) Day two went by faster than day one.
The Sunday bale also had representation from Georgia Tech making me the only non-colligate archer on my bales over the weekend. When Tech showed up I was holding the clip to manually total the scores. I looked at the Tech logo and handed over the clip board saying, “You’re an engineering student, you can do the math.” He seemed puzzled asking, “I am an engineering student how did you know?” I pointed out it was a guess based on his Georgia Tech kit. He got 100% on his addition all done without touching his cell phone calculator for help.
Looking around over the two days noticed the athletes seemed more youthful than the past few years. I over heard one ex-collegiate archer lecturing to a group from Emmanuel College, “This is great now. But when you get out of school and have to get a job things will change.” He was referring to the time he’d had to practice in college prior to getting a job. The current students will, of course, cross that bridge when they get there.
The number one element of enjoyment during the Suwanee version of the Nationals, of course, was mingling with so many of the folks I don’t get to see outside of tournaments. Our conversations became infected with smiles and laughter. Shooting in competition is fun, practice is more fun, and hanging out with good people is the most fun.