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