What happens in Vegas… is archery?

I recently returned from an amazing trip with my archery team. In Vegas. Yeah, I went to Las Vegas, Nevada for an archery tournament.

The road to Vegas for most people begins with way too much money and boredom. For me, that road began in Kentucky. For the second year in a row, my team competed in the US Collegiate Archery Association’s indoor tournament. This was two weeks after the semester started.

Now, last year when I did this, I had just joined the archery team in September, and my first competition was this one in March. It was incredibly nerve-racking and was made worse by the fact that literally all of my equipment with the exception of my hat was less than two weeks old. That, and my string broke when I got there (I had an extra, thankfully).

But I still did fairly well. I actually shot the best round of my life, a 207 out of 300 (pretty good for my division). Overall, the Kentucky trip last year was a blast, and I was looking forward to going on this year’s trip.

That is, until things started changing. First, we were told that the competition was being moved from March to January. Which meant that we had a whole lot less time to practice than we normally would. This was made worse because I planned to take time during my Christmas break to practice, but then I had toe surgery and couldn’t stand up for very long for two and a half weeks.

For those of you who don’t know, archery is rather difficult to do sitting down.

Then, we found out that this year’s Kentucky event wasn’t going to be part of the nationals like it was the year before, but instead, was only going to be a true regionals. The top 8 shooters in every division from every regional competition would be going to Vegas.

I had to ask twice to make sure that my coach was talking about that Vegas when he was telling the team this.

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My teammate Evan and me shooting. I’m on the right. (Pic by Meredith Dissinger)

I was ranked 5th nationally last year, and my goal was to stay there. I actually ended up doing a lot better, out-shooting myself by more than 100 points, and I moved up to 4th place. Which secured my place on the Vegas trip.

As you can imagine, I was over the moon, and I was really happy that two other members of my team also scored well enough to join me on the trip.

Which was, of course, only two weeks away. *Cue 80s-style training montage*

I was in the range every other day when I could be, and I competed in a local shoot for two days longer than I needed to just to make sure my form was perfect. Because I’m an idiot and a glutton for punishment, I bought brand-spanking-new arrows and got them fletched the day before we left.

So I shot like a blind monkey for the first day of the shoot, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

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It was too early, but at least the sunrise was nice.

First, we had to fly to get there. Now I like flying. Most of the time. However, waking up at 5am Virginia time, flying all day across three time zones, competing two hours after we landed, and not finishing until 12:30am Vegas time. Yeah, that was less than fun.

The good news is that I apparently shoot better exhausted. Because after a whole day of phenomenally bad shooting (due mostly to the aforementioned brand-spanking-new arrows), I started shooting really well in the shoot-offs.

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My team standing with our bows and plaques. (Pic by my coach, Mitch Reno)

That is how I managed to come into the competition in 4th place and leave it ranked 2nd in the nation. The shoot-offs started at around 10pm Vegas time. My body thought it was 1 in the morning, so why I was able to stand up, much less shoot as well as I did is a mystery. I just kept praying as I shot that I wouldn’t just fall over in the middle of it.

That could have been… messy.

The rest of the shoot wasn’t as eventful. We did get to watch the World Cup of archery, so that was pretty cool. We also went to the trade show, and I picked up a sweet new quiver.

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Sweet new quiver

The trip didn’t end there, of course, but I’ll save for a later post the story of how my coach got us lost on the way to visit the Hoover Dam, so we just decided to run around in the desert for an hour. This post is a little long anyway.

I’ll end it by telling you that we left at 10pm Vegas time that day (Sunday), got back to Liberty at 11am on Monday, and I immediately had to go work for my other club until 8pm. Yeah, I don’t think I woke up again fully until Thursday.

If you’d like to here a little more about the trip and archery general, you can listen to the interview that another member of my team and I did for my friend’s radio show.

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Below are a few more photos from the trip if you’re interested.

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Freshmen are babies now… and other things that make me feel old

When I got to college I quickly fell in with a group of other freshmen honor students. We had lots of fun and thought that we were adults. We looked up to the junior and senior honor students that we hung out with sometimes. We called them the Bigs.

I am one of the Bigs now.

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I had this realization the other day while listening to some freshmen discussing one of their classes. They were complaining about a class called Biblical Worldview. They thought it was hard.

*Laughs maniacally*

For context, when I got my concussion two years ago, I wrote a paper for that class that I actually don’t remember writing. I got an A. I’m a pretty smart cookie, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that you can pass that class with half your brain tied behind your back.

But these freshmen were telling each other how different it was from high school and how much harder it was. All I could think was, “Oh you sweet summer child.” They have no idea what they’re getting into.

I keep wanting to sit down every freshman that I see and tell them all the mistakes I made and how to avoid them. I want to hug them and tell that everything is going to be okay, that they’ll get used to this, even though it’s hard. I guess what I’m saying is that freshmen are giving me maternal instincts I didn’t know existed.

The other thing that freaks me out a bit is that kids that I worked with when they were eight and nine are on Facebook talking about exams in high school. It’s hard for me not to keep seeing them as the fuzzy-headed little cuties that would run up to me and hug me around the waist because that’s all they could reach.

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Is this what getting older feels like? If so, I don’t like it. I want to go back to when my biggest worry was whether or not I would manage to finish my two page Evangelism paper in time to go see a concert.

Forget all this internship searching and worrying about my future nonsense.

Things I’ve learned to value in 2016

The year 2016 is fast approaching its glorious end. It’s been a wild year, but not a bad one, mostly, for me. I’m not sure the world is better off than it was at the beginning of the year (then again, we’re getting rid of Obama, so…), so here’s to 2017 being a little more, um, sane? And here’s a list of things I’ve learn to greater appreciate this year.

1. My left big toenail

Of all of the body parts to cause me massive amounts of problems this last year, my left big toe has probably been the most consistently annoying. It’s been a problem for the last couple years, but the last couple of months have made me wish the little bugger would just fall off and stop hurting me.

But see, I’ve also come to realize that there’s a reason that we have toenails. Mine was only just starting to come back before my doctor unceremoniously cut it back off again a few days ago. So that means I have lived a few months with no big toenail. And let me tell you, it sucks. When people step on your toes or you stub a toe, yeah it hurts, but it hurts a whole lot more when there’s no nail to protect it.

So now, I still want the darn thing to come back and not look really stupid (fat chance). I value it more, but I also resent it more.

2. Non-insane politics

It’s not just me, right? This last year was crazier than usual? I mean, I know that I’m only 20, so I don’t remember most election years. Maybe they’re all like this. Who knows, maybe it’s always been this way, but I became politically conscious around 2008, and I don’t remember this much insanity then.

This past election was like a reality TV show, which I realize probably had something to do with the candidates. This was the year the media really showed who they really were, and a good portion of America collectively said “Screw you, we’ll take the psycho you don’t like.” I have to wonder how many people voted Trump out of spite alone.

Dear God, please don’t let this happen again next election cycle.

3. Positive people

In a year that was full of negativity, it was a blessing to find people who were trying to stay positive. I clung to people who could see everything that was going on this last year and still smile about it. Those who could still laugh at all this made this year a little more bearable.

Speaking of laughing…

4. SJWs

I know what you’re thinking, how could you learn to value social justice warriors? The answer is easy: they’re flipping hilarious.

I mean, have you seen the way they reacted when Trump won? The looting and burning wasn’t so funny, but the TEARS and the WHINING, bloody hilarious. I learned a new word in 2016: Shadenfreude.This was year they all collectively lost their minds, and It. Was. Glorious.

10/10 would tick them off again.

5. Books

I miss books. Being in college, for me, usually means not reading a whole lot. I’m the kind of person who can’t just sit down and read a few pages of a good book. It’s finish or bust, and finish sometimes means staying up till 3 in the morning. I can’t really do that when I have an 8:15 am class the next day. Sleep is a good thing. Which reminds me:

6. Sleep

I’m a college student. Do I need to say more?

7. Classes that start after 9 am

My class schedule sucks donkey balls next semester. I have 8:15 classes EVERY DAY, and I am not a morning person. I’m hardly human before 10 am. I’ll also be spending more money on gas, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to wake up at 6 am to catch the hour-long, bumpy shuttle to Liberty’s campus. I like living off-campus, but not being able to walk to class in the morning is a bit of a pain.

The only good news is that I’ll be done by 2pm every day. I am seeing a lot of naps in my future.

What have you learn to value more in 2016? Let me know in the comments.

A short little story about my day

*Read to the end. There’s a point, I promise*

So today, I woke up with the sniffles, which sucks, so I decided to sleep in a bit and just drive to school. Forty minutes of extra sleep isn’t that much more in the grand scheme of things, but it helped a bit, I think. In any case, it didn’t stop me from getting to school on time.

I enjoyed my morning class as always, partially because my professor is awesome. We got another talk about the importance of registering to vote, and because it was taking everyone else forever to do theirs, I redid my registration. Now I can vote in the right place. Woohoo, I guess.

Moving on. While I waited for it to be an acceptable time to eat lunch, I got some of my reading done. I realized once I got home that I did, in fact, read the wrong chapter… So, I guess I’m ahead, or something.

I got through the rest of the day. Avoided improv in my directing class. Wrote a screenplay in my video production class. Hung out with friends.

At the end of the day, I had about half an hour till the bus got there, so I worked on one of my video projects. Finally, I packed things up and headed out. I called my mom on the way back to ask what she thought about me going to Florida for an internship. She was amenable, fortunately.

The bus got back quickly, and I just fell into my bed, exhausted…

Not a bad day, right? Go back and read the first and last last sentence of the story, and you’ll understand why I’m face-palming myself right now.

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#WowThatWasDumb

Adventures in Adulting

For the last three-ish weeks, I’ve been living in my new apartment. I have to say, there are a lot of advantages to living off campus, but there are also some hurdles to jump and adjustments to be made.

First off, the usual turn that I make to get to my college when I’m driving (usually I just take the bus) is apparently the busiest intersection on the planet. I’ve taken to leaving my house an hour ahead of time, just to make it to class on time. Mind you, I live about 5 minutes away… on the weekends. The last time I drove to class, I sat at that intersection for 10 minutes. If you think I’m exaggerating, I’m not. I timed it.

Unfortunately, taking the bus is not necessarily easier. It just has problems of a different variety. Mainly, I have the absolute worst time staying awake. The 50 minute bumpy ride rocked my butt right to sleep. I may be awake when leave my apartment, but by the time I step off the bus bus, I’m like:

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It makes staying awake in class that much harder. Luckily, my earliest morning class is taught by my favorite professor. He loves to make us laugh and is usually able to wake me up sufficiently.

In addition to travel-related issues, I’ve been very slowly attempting to further my cooking horizons. The extent of this so far includes making spaghetti last weekend and baking Digiorno pizza today. Otherwise, freezer meals. I do intend to try and make Hamburger Helper tonight. Baby steps, guys, baby steps. I don’t want to set the apartment on fire.

I would have pictures of the inside of my my apartment to show you, but my phone takes terrible photos, and I seem to have misplaced my usual camera. I’ll have need of super expensive cameras at some point in this semester, so I’ll try to get some nice photos then.

Until then (or until I come up with something else to blog about), Auf Wiedersehen!

Have you had any adventures in adulting lately? Let me know in the comments.

What’s happening in our colleges?

Have you guys read some of the stories about college students who can’t handle… well, anything? If you haven’t, allow me to list a few.

It’s ridiculous. College is supposed to be a place where you can stretch your mind and find out about new ways of thinking. It’s not supposed to be a safe space. There should never be anything safe (intellectually speaking) about college. As far as I’m concerned, if you make it through your entire collegiate career without once hearing an opinion you don’t agree with, then it was all a waste.

Not only are today’s college SJWs wussies that can’t handle chalk writings that will wash away when it rains, but they are also just plain obnoxious. I recently watched this video (and a few others like it) and was appalled.

Just watch (language warning).

These people can’t handle hearing opinions they disagree with, and they don’t even have the decency to walk away. They have to shout and complain and disrupt the entire event just to be contrarian.

And you know what the kicker is? This entire show was called “The Triggering” and was supposed to be a discussion about free speech and political correctness gone too far. Obviously the people in the audience didn’t realize that they were proving the speaker’s point by acting like idiots the whole time.

The only ones these protesters (or loud, whiny morons if you prefer) are hurting are themselves. They are depriving themselves the experience of hearing another’s point of view. I know from experience that the only way to counter an argument you disagree with is to have better arguments, which requires knowing what the original argument was in the first place.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to go to a school where people can handle opinions they don’t agree with. We’ve had speakers come to convocation that most of us don’t like. Most students at Liberty dislike Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Yet, all 10,000 of us sat quietly and listened politely.

It was probably good for us. In the case of Bernie, I’m willing to bet that there were a few students who’d never seen was socialism looked like. For Trump it was good to see the obvious attempt at pandering. You learn things when you take the time to just listen.

You don’t have to like it. But you don’t have to act like a jerk. Liberty students give me hope that maybe my generation isn’t doomed to destroy themselves looking for “safe spaces.”

Grades vs. Education

I’m quitting a class that I think I would really like and one that I would probably learn a lot in. I’m not doing it because I don’t like the professor. I’m not doing it because I want an easier course. I am quitting this class because I worry about my grade.

You see, I’m here at Liberty on an academic scholarship, full-tuition actually. To continue to receive the financial aid that I need (because Lord knows I couldn’t even begin to afford this school otherwise), I have to stay in the honors program. To stay in the honors program, I have to keep up a GPA of 3.5. Which is fine. I don’t normally mind having to keep my grades up. I’m kind of a perfectionist anyway. The issue is that I am beginning to feel like I am actually sacrificing my education for sake of my grade point average.

I started out this semester in Theology 201 Honors. I like the professor, and I think the discussion-based aspect of the class would make it instructive and fun. But unfortunately, the professor has a liking for pop quizzes of the essay variety (why I hate essay exams and quizzes is a whole other post). If you’ve ever had to do something like this, then you’ll understand that it’s really hard. When the reading is 40+ pages, it’s even harder.

I realized after taking the first quiz that I probably won’t get an A in the class. Now I could keep going and accept whatever grade I get, but I feel it isn’t worth the risk to my GPA. I want an education. I want to learn, but to keep attending Liberty, I need to keep up my scores. There are certain things that I can’t take the risk on if I want to keep going, including overly-difficult honors courses.

But at the same time, I probably won’t learn as much in a normal theology class as I would in my honors one. So I wonder if it is worth it to me in the long run. I wonder if I’m handicapping myself later by choosing to be more careful now.

I’ve long said that if I was rich I wouldn’t go to school full-time. I would take one or two classes a semester just for the sake of learning, and spend the rest of my time applying my knowledge. I want to learn but when it comes to grades, well, I would really rather not care.

If I wasn’t being graded, I could delve more deeply into subjects that interested me, that really allowed me to grow. It’s one of the things that I loved about homeschooling, that amazing freedom to do as I liked. But as things stand now, I am so focused on grades that I wonder if I am really learning or if I am instead just performing.

My education is more than just my grades.

It’s a nasty dichotomy. I must get good grades to keep up my educations, but my education feels shallower because I must focus too heavily on my grades.

I also wonder if this feeling of wariness will continue with me when I leave school. Will I be trained to avoid risks that might further my career or personal development? Will I become so careful that I do not progress, that I become stagnant?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, and I don’t know if I ever will. In the meantime, I’m left wondering and frustrated, praying that I will learn enough in the honors class, PSYCH 101, to make up for what I will miss in the theology class.

P.S. On an unrelated note, you should check out one of my other blogs on Medium. I had to make this one for a Journalism class. My handle is @RatherBeWriting, and I recently wrote a post about what makes good writing that is worth a look.