Messed Up Fun at the USA Indoor Nationals

After 18 months of recurve archery I felt ready for a major tournament.  My average scores during training at 18 meters were on track.  The poundage increase was at a holding point.  Then it fell apart.

The first indicator was the placement of my arrows.  The groupings were less consistent.  At times I’d catch sight of an arrow in flight with a cockeyed path.  When I pulled arrows they’d often have a variety of angles as they poked into the target.

It wasn’t awful.  I blamed it on hand placement. I was mistaken.

The mistake was bent limbs.  These weren’t expensive limbs.  They were 42# limbs retailing for $149.00.  I’d moved up in poundage from 32#, 36#, 40# then 42# over 18 months.  The latest upgrade, to 42# was new.  I was at 8000 or so arrows when my scores began to decrease.  An expert bow tech pointed out, as I was leaving the range after practice, the limbs seemed warped.

He doubled checked the limbs.  His associate verified is claim.  It isn’t like they were working towards a sale of limbs.  That particular shop doesn’t offer ILF limbs.

To triple check I drove to another town with a bow shop where they do have IFL limbs, World Champion archers train there, and their bow tech are some of the best in the work. The bow tech there when I arrived is well known around the world.  One look and he confirmed the 42# limbs were bend.  At this point it is two weeks away from the USA Indoor Nationals where I’d registered to compete.

Of course, it was the weekend, late Saturday afternoon and closing time for most archery shops.  On Monday I called Lancaster Archer to let them the under warranty limbs had been confirmed warped.  When I told them who verified the malfunction they didn’t even question me.  They gave me a return authorization.  As soon as they received the limbs I’d have a full credit toward an exchange.  The limbs left for Pennsylvania on Tuesday.  They would arrive at LAS on Thursday February 10th. (9 days before the Nationals)

In the meantime I only had 40# set $149.00 limbs to use for practice.  Going down 2# felt light.  Sadly, my scores didn’t improve.  In fact, they got worse. We, the local bow techs and I, noticed the 40# limbs warped worse than the 42# limbs.

While the warped limb potential remedy was under discussion an ex-pro golfer (top 10 PGA earning golfer, Tim Simpson) and bare bow archer had dropped in and was listening.  He noticed the $149.00 limbs and said, “I was pretty good at golf, but I couldn’t have won shit with clubs from Wal-Mart.”

Yeah, I get it.  I knew my gear was entry level.  I’m entry level. There’s no point in buying expensive gear until you are ready for expensive gear.

The remedy turned out to be a Galaxy Solstice IFL riser and the same 40# WNS limbs. The thinking here is that the PSE riser was the root cause of the limb problem.

This set up didn’t do much.  The bow felt very light.  The serious problem was the arrow rest.  On Thursday February 17th, two days before the Nationals I noticed the plastic Hoyt rest was cracking.  No one anywhere near had another arrow rest available.

An archery coach at the shop told me if the little plastic arm breaks off the arrow would still sit in the rest. “Just make sure you don’t let it fall off before you shoot,” he added.  Well, Easton X7 (the arrows I shot for indoor) arrows have a larger diameter than X10 and that whole ‘don’t let the arrow fall off the rest’ wasn’t confidence booster. It was easily foreseeable the plastic Hoyt rest would fail soon.

That afternoon, February 17th, the PSE riser returned to action.  It has a nice arrow rest. Before it was tested I’d tweaked the bow in every imaginable way possible.  This led to the bowstring at least lining up into the string grooves.  Looking at the bow during full draw it was plan to see the letter ‘S’ produced.

Friday February 18th I left for Newberry, Florida and the Easton Sport Complex. I’d paid; I’d rented an Airbnb, and was going compete for the experience. That’s when things really feel apart.

The Airbnb I rented was advertised an old quiet Southern home located in the charming city of High Springs.  The house was old.  Down stairs was a store.  Next-door there was a construction site on one side and a pizza joint on the other.  Directly across was a nightclub all on a busy intersection.  I knew this wasn’t realistic relating to quiet.

I pointed out the noise and the ‘Host’ offered to go buy me some earplugs.  She claimed success sleeping using earplugs.  I thanked her and told her I had earplugs with me. I needed them – they didn’t do much good.

I searched for anywhere else to stay. My wife searched online from home. We came up short.  My wife suggested I simply come home. I was stuck. A nightly live band outside across the street that can shake a building or house is beyond the 32 dB earplug comfort zone.

To make matters worse the upstairs of the old Southern house had no heat. The bed only had a sheet and spread.  By early Sunday morning there was no electricity. The temperature at night was in the 30s.  I used everything I could find: towels and clothes to pile on top of me at night for warmth while I lay awake listening to a band and being shaken by their drums and bass.  I could literally hear the words being belted out. Under different conditions I’d have enjoyed it. The band was good. They were not conducive for sleeping.

The first day of the tournament I honesty tried. By the second day I truly could have cared less where my arrows landed.  I used the event for practice.

When I got home my wife’s brothers came over for dinner.  One of them asked me, “So what ‘life lesson’ did you learn?” He was referring to the Nationals.  For a few minutes I simply stared at him.

Nothing that wasn’t foreseeable occurred.  I took a chance on an Airbnb, which I’d expected might not be great.  It wasn’t, it was as awful as everything I’d imagined.  My archery equipment did as well as possible considering the warped limbs.  I shot consistently on the low side of my scoring bell curve.  I shot the same as I’d been doing since the limb problem started.

I found the question both arrogant and condescending. He is, however, my wife’s brother so I kept my initial response to myself and said, “Never stay at an Airbnb that is a room in a stranger’s home and the best pizza ever is at The Steak Out in High Springs, FL.”