It was a local fundraiser. The drive to the indoor 3-spot tournament was less than 30 minutes from our home in Good Hope, Georgia. It was held in one of my favorite towns, Madison, Georgia. The ‘turn out’ was excellent and the range was filled with archers. My bow seemed to be back in order after a new string, re-tuning and checked for every possible malady. My last practice had been a good one. It seemed the planets were aligned for a good score.
Madison, Georgia is a beautiful historic Southern town. It is one of the major historic attractions in the Peach State with around 100 antebellum homes that have been restored. When we moved back to Georgia it is one of the towns we searched for a home. In fact we found one, however it was in the city limits and there is a law against shooting a bow within city limits. Had that not been the case, we’d have likely ended up living in a restored home. We didn’t and archers will understand the decision not to settle there. Madison is close enough to where we ended up building that we can visit on the spur of the moment.
The tournament was held in the new Morgan County High School gymnasium. Arriving an hour early I was lucky to have gotten a parking place that wasn’t a half of a mile away. At first I thought I’d gotten my information wrong – there seemed to be too many cars. But, no the morning line was packed full, as were the bleachers.
The Morgan County high school gym in no way compared to my high school’s gym. This modern gym was more like what I’d experienced in college. Not all the bleachers were open. The upper bleachers behind the line were packed with friends and family that had come to watch the tournament.
The target of the day was a 3-spot. I’ve been practicing against a 3-spot for over a month. While my scores have been mimicking the Stock Market, my more recent practices had diverged and begun to rise. I knew I’d be shooting against some good archers in the 21-49 year old age group. I felt ready, and I was for a while.
My first twelve arrows had all been smack in the center. Number 13 followed suit, as did arrow 14. At full draw on the third arrow of the end, with 40 seconds on the clock the whistle sounded. Three blows of the whistle. It wasn’t time to pull arrows. Did something happen and the next two blasts got halted due to some injury? No one knew. We all stopped shooting.
Looking down the line at the judge he made no comment of gesture. Everyone waited. Then, we waited some more. The clock was down to 26 seconds, 25, 24, 23 – people began shooting.
Not me. I was worried. Whatever had happened something was wrong or had gone wrong. Ten seconds. I looked toward a friend on the line and he shrugged and said, “Just shoot.” Eight seconds. I shot with 1 second remaining. Eight.
I knew I was now out of it. An eight against these archers meant I was now on the range for practice. For a flash I considered packing my gear and heading home I was so disappointed. I didn’t, I stayed and worked though the 8.
I don’t know if the whistle hadn’t have incorrectly sounded whether or not the day would have gone better. I expect it would have been better. What it did do was provide a teaching moment, albeit a rare one. Still, having a major distraction and getting through it was good practice.
In any competition things outside of your control can happen. An athlete needs to be prepared to deal with the distraction, block it and move forward. I doubt I’ll have this sort of mistake happen a second time. If it does, I’ll be better prepared.