You’re Touching Me, You’re Touching Me

I’ve done a lot of sports competitions. They’ve ranged from full contact sports like football and karate to less physically impactful sports like archery. Even cycling is a contact sport where bumping shoulders and elbows while sprinting is normal. Sometimes you crash in cycling – I have the scars to testify- and that is full contact. In triathlon during the swim you can bet, you will be hit, pulled, clawed, and kicked. Many sports include physical contact. Not so much in archery.

I am in that mass of swimmers – there was contact during the swim

At smaller indoor tournaments space can be at a premium. Occasionally, there can even be unforeseen obstacles that reduce lane size. This is simply not a problem to worry over, if it happens it happens. Or so I thought.

A touch during a bike ride can hurt

At a recent indoor competition a problem occurred while I was standing at the left side of my lane. The archer next to me, in a lane beside an unforeseen obstacle, found he had slightly reduced real estate. Therefore, he needed to position himself at the extreme right of his lane. I needed to stand at the extreme left of my box because the target, set by the range keepers, was not centered. Even when I was due left, I was shooting at an angle. Nothing that I was going to cry about and nothing I couldn’t handle. As you can envision, the two of us were closer than usual.

To avoid being touched during a run simply run faster than everyone else.

The atypical box arrangement meant, that on occasion, when my bow was down, its side stabilizer touched archer’s, in the next lane, puffy fanny gear pack. Well, it wasn’t exactly a fanny pack; it was a large bag puffed out holding stuff. Many of us have smaller ones on our quiver belts.  The one in question seemed to be the gallon sized edition. It happens that my side stabilizer doesn’t extend with much of an angle.  It runs nearly parallel with my bow pretty much the exact opposite direction of the front stabilizer.

There can be a lot of archers on a line. It will be tight. You might get touched – be prepared to deal with it

I never felt my side stabilizer touch the fellow’s puffy pouch. It didn’t matter, he made certain I knew. Of course, I did everything possible to not touch the fellow. With my best effort, while not shooting, my side stabilizer touched the archer’s large waist purse more than once. He made it clear he did not want to be touched.

Proposing, after pointing out he was shooting from a size reduced box, if he slid his waist purse around an inch there would likely be no further contact. His waist purse, I implied, seemed to be extending beyond his invisible vertical box limit into my lane. He was not inclined to slide the offending purse off his front hip.

After a while I was reminded by another archer that some folks are whiners. The sad and sometimes touched archer, his stress exhausted, stopped whining and began to imply that I didn’t need to worry about a potential future touch. I supposed he realized that much of the fault was generated by his need to adorn large archery attire. Long before this decree of box freedom, I had stopped paying attention to him.

Without reservation none of his shots were in anyway affected by a foreign stabilizer brushing past his front facing fanny pack. On every shot, prior to loading an arrow, I leaned back to ensure there was ample distance between the two of us.

Archery is not a contract sport. In other athletics, where contact is the norm,  I’ve been injured severely enough to require hospitalizations and surgeries. Contact with another athlete has never caused me mental stress even though at times has resulted in physical discomfort.

Justifiably, archery is a mental sport. Part of an archer’s mental conditioning should include preparation under less than optimal shooting circumstances. Otherwise, how is a mentally squishier competitor going to deal with it?