I have waited a day to give my final results for the weekend because I was feeling somewhat confused. Don't get me wrong, I know exactly what I scored and how well I shot, but not how I felt about it. Kind of strange, so let me explain. I ended up with 1217 points. A personal best by 25 huge points. Scoring over 1200 has practically been a lifelong dream. In fact, if I had achieved a 1200 score last year I would have been shouting it to everyone from the rooftops. I would have thought I was the bomb, I had hit the big time. I would probably have gone out to dinner to celebrate. You get the picture. Well...that is NOT how I felt yesterday. I knew I should be happy, but it left me discontented instead. So as I was driving to Ohio to the next tournament I was berating myself for being a baby, poor sport, prima dona, etc. I wanted the score to be higher; I was not satisfied just having reached this longtime goal and wanted to get right out to the practice field to try to do better. 1200 had become insignificant in light of my new, loftier goals! I finally called my wise husband and later texted my equally wise coach who very nicely didn't call me a baby, but validated that, yes, I have higher goals now, but also said I should be happy with having reached this previous goal.
So, I am sitting here trying to eke out a little bit of glee over my 1200, but I have already moved on. My reality has shifted. 1217, although a personal best, is no longer good enough. I am shooting in another world where the expectations are much, much higher. I can't wait to get back out on the practice field with a bow in my hands.
First day done. I scored my highest 70 meters this year and my highest 60 meters ever. Overall, tied with my best long half. I should be happy with it, but I am not, since I know I made some judgement errors with the wind. I am tired of making those kinds of errors. I am determined to do better! Watch out wind, I will conquer you.
Here I am on the eve of another tournament. This one, the Virginia Commonwealth Games is just a warm up for Nationals next week. There is usually some good wind here, so I thought this would be a good place to test out the new arrows and get used to them. This tournament is a bit different in that my husband was able to attend. He hasn't been able to accompany me prior to this because of the added expense of buying a plane ticket for him and because he works so many weekends teaching EMT classes. This weekend, however, he could drive here in three hours which is not only good because it does not require an expensive plane ticket, but because he can return quickly if he gets called to be deployed to fight forest fires. He is currently waiting for a crew to be assembled in NC; if they get deployed he will have to high tail it back to join the crew.
Thoughout all this, my husband has been a constant source of encouragement, my best cheerleader, and sets me straight when I get discouraged. He is the best of men, working long hours to help finance my Olympic quest, saving lives as an EMT, teaching new EMT's, fighting forest fires to help save homes, towns, etc. , putting up with me, and asking very little in return. So I just wanted to use this post to give credit where credit is due, to my best friend and first and only true love, Bob.
I am back from a marathon coaching session. Half of the time was spent tuning the bow to some new arrows. Tuning involves adjusting several different components on the bow so the arrows leave the bow in the most stable manner, resulting in the best flight correction possible. This should help the archer to score more points by having better arrow flight even in windy conditions or if the archer has a less than perfect shot. Tuning is a total pain! However, these arrows are far and away superior to the ones I was using, so I am looking forward to putting them to the test when I go to the Virginia Commonwealth Games in a couple weekends followed by the Nationals in Ohio. Thankfully, my coach knows much more about tuning than I do or I never would have gotten the bow tuned to these arrows. The rest of the time was used to get my form shaped up. Dave takes video of my shooting, and it is exciting to see the changes that have occurred since April, both in my form and on the target. Now, I just have to keep practicing to make sure I cement the changes into muscle memory. It is nice to have a couple of solid weeks to practice, but I can't wait until the next tournament!
A lot has happened since my last post. I continued to struggle with form changes before my last tournament, but off I went to San Diego for the So Cal Showdown. The first day I did not shoot well. I had not solidified the new form and couldn't go back to the old form. I ended up 30th, not very good. I was pretty hard on myself that evening, but talked myself around into a better attitude, went to bed and got a good sleep. The following day was the elimination round. When I got there, I started to warm up and my coach told me a better way to hold my head. What a difference it made! I was shooting much better than the day before. I won the first match 6-4 and tied the second match 5-5. This meant we had to have a shoot off. They are really intense and fun. Each archer shoots only one arrow and whoever gets the better score wins the match. My opponent shot an 8 and I shot a 9 so I moved on to the next level! This time I wasn't so lucky, and lost 4-6, but I had shot so much better this second day that I was pretty encouraged by my performance. Currently, I am tied for ninth in that tournament, but that will change once they factor in the average arrow scores. After the tournament I took the red eye home, and did, what else? Got out my bow and practiced before heading off to a mission trip with the youth from my church. I got back yesterday and am working on yet another form change. At least now I have more time to practice since school is out!
Form changes are always problematic. At first it seems like taking a step backwards, especially when things get worse before they get better. It takes a leap of faith to change something that is working pretty well to a new way that should work even better. It also takes patience and determination to get it right. But it is oh, so sweet, when it starts to fall into place. My biggest problem is trying to make changes between tournaments and having enough time to solidify the new form. Luckily, I have a husband who understands my nearly fanatical practicing. Basically, if I am not at work or sleeping, I am shooting. Ha! Even when I am falling asleep, I wake myself up as I "release" an arrow in my sleep. So far, I haven't hit my husband too hard! This week and next is my really busy time at work--lots of final projects to grade. Oh well, I guess something will have to give. I know, I won't bother to clean my house! Oh wait, I already gave that up...
Back from FITA Field Nationals. The first two days were the National Championship. I got second place! Shot the third day to finalize who makes up the US World Championship Field team. I hung on to second by the skin of my teeth. Didn't shoot as well the third day and the third place woman shot very well. They take the top three so I am on the team! Flew home and pulled out my bow to practice and try to figure out what I was doing on the third day. Three and a half weeks until the SoCal Showdown, the next USAT ranking tournament. I have a lot of work to do to nail the new anchor which was giving me trouble at Fields. I am looking forward to lots of practicing. It is wonderful getting to spend hours each day "having" to do what I love doing! The challenge of working out the problems that arise keep it very interesting...For now, time to grade some papers.
This week I am off to Texas for the USA Archery National Field Championships and World Team trials. "Field" is different than the "target" competitions I have been attending (which have all archers in a line shooting at the same distance) in that we move through a course from target to target, with varying distances, hills, slopes, etc. There is an unmarked distance day and a marked distance day. I shot this type of round three years ago and did fairly well, so I am hopeful to do so again this time. Stamina for walking over hill and dale while carrying all your equipment, food, water, etc., shooting well, and being able to estimate distances accurately are all important in this type of competition. Wish me luck!
I just returned from Florida and the Gator Cup. We had hot, sunny weather as might be expected in Florida, not too much wind. I was hoping to do better than I did in Arizona, and I did. My score on the qualification round was higher, although I did not hit 300, yet, but got closer to it, and I made the top 16 in the elimination round! It was very exciting and fun. I had to shoot a one arrow shoot off to beat my opponent in the first elimination. I wanted to get the experience of doing that at a lower level of competition since it seems to happen quite a bit at the higher elimination rounds. I found that it is quite intense and enjoyable, although the cheering of my friends was rather humorous. It's not like I was going for the gold medal, but I did appreciate the support! I still don't know my final ranking as it has not been posted, yet. As of right now I am tied with 7 other people for 9th. Once the average arrow value is calculated we will be placed accordingly. Next stop, Texas, for the Field Nationals and World Team trials. I can't wait! Meanwhile, Coach has taken away my pacifier. I have shot with a "shelf" on my finger tab since I started shooting and he has me trying it without. Initial attempts seem to be successful and this is another step in the direction of cleaning up my shot. Hopefully, I can nail the new anchor quickly. This constant competition schedule doesn't leave much room for form changes!
I thought for this week's post I would tell you about my training schedule. I get up at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning, depending on that day's workout. Two mornings per week I swim 3/4-1 mile, two mornings per week I run, do push ups, and sit ups, and two mornings per week I lift free weights. I work a full day teaching high school Mon.-Fri. At night I shoot anywhere from 2-3 1/2 hours, depending on what I am working on. After I grade some papers I work on the Bosu ball, a device that helps exercise the core muscles and builds better proprioception, both of which are important for having a strong stance when shooting. Somewhere in there I cook and eat dinner, although making large amounts and eating left overs are becoming more frequent! Many weekends I am traveling to tournaments or training, but if I am at home I spend the time working on equipment and shooting, what else?! I also spend two hours on Saturday afternoon (and two hours one evening per week) running an archery club for kids so they can experience the joy of shooting a bow. :) I go to church and Sunday school on Sunday morning, shoot some more in the afternoon, and crash Sunday night so I can do it all over again! This weekend I travel to Gainesville, FL for the Gator Cup. Wish me luck!
Well, this past weekend I drove to Maryland to work with my coach, Dave Gilbert. Dave and Sue (his wife) graciously invited me to stay in their home. It was a very productive and fun weekend. Dave videotaped my shooting and found a small flaw in my release that when corrected will lead to big point differences. He introduced me to the Form Master, a training device that I have dubbed the Torture Master. It is very awkward and uncomfortable to use, but it really shows if you are not pulling correctly. The difference in my release before and after using it was dramatic. I decided it is a wonderful (if annoying) invention, then ran right out and bought one of my own to use! I also made a trip to Lancaster Archery to try out some equipment. Somewhat informative, but I will need to go back again before I make my final decision on a new bow.
I have been watching videos of my shooting that my coach Dave Gilbert took of me. He also commented on them as he moved it frame by frame. What a wonder technology is! This is really going to help me continue to improve my shot!
My name is Allison Eaton and I am a high school science teacher in Hillsborough, NC. My quest is to make the USA Archery Team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio!
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My History: The road to the Olympics is a long one. For some, longer than others. I started doing archery in college in a phys ed course. I had always wanted to shoot, but didn't get the opportunity until my sophomore year at Miami University, near Cincinnati, OH, the "Cradle of Archery". If I had known that I was going to start competing in archery, I couldn't have chosen a better school, with George Helwig, and Charlie and Mildred Pierson coaching the team, we had the best available teachers. From the first day I picked up a bow in class, I was smitten by the archery bug. When George asked if I wanted to be on the team (before I had even shot an arrow, just from looking at my beginning form), I never hesitated and answered a resounding "You bet"! Within two months I was second in state, within one year I was All American, and by the time I graduated I was the number 5 collegiate woman in the country, with a world record in clout, long-distance target shooting. The year after I graduated I started my first year as a high school science teacher, which made it extremely difficult to have enough time to practice. I still managed to qualify for and shoot the 1988 Olympic Trials, and came in 25th (only the top three make the team). I continued to shoot for a couple of more years, always managing to stay in the top 25 while working full time, but then more important priorities came into my life in the form of my baby daughter and then a son (hard to believe there is anything on Earth more important than the Olympics!) I could not work full time and be a good mom if I was centered on myself, so I set archery aside. I never stopped thinking about it, and in fact if I ever talked about who I was, I still called myself an archer. Zoom ahead 17 years. I was then an experienced teacher and my kids were teenagers. They still needed me, and I was always at all their activities, but it wasn't a 24/7 job anymore--Ha! I not only lived with them, they went to the school in which I taught, and even took my classes! Even so, they were becoming independent, grown up people who encouraged me to start shooting again. The final impetus was when I talked to my dear friend Ann Clark, (who made her living as an archer), from my Miami days, who told me that the National Target Championship was going to be back in Ohio, again. I decided it was time to get back into archery. Much had changed, besides me. The rules, the dresscode, the equipment! I took my old bow to the tournament and was laughed at and asked why I was shooting a kid's bow. I was the only one on the field with a fiberglass bow instead of a carbon bow, but I knew that my coach, friend and bow wizard Wilburn Wooten had it in top notch shape. They weren't laughing when I finished 12th. You see, all the while I wasn't shooting, I was thinking about how I could improve. Before I even picked up my bow again, I started to lift weights and run to build myself up. Archery is a life time sport, even in competition. Some of the top archers in the world have shot in numerous Olympics and are still winning them, so I knew if I did it right, I could be better than I was before since I was more mature and stronger mentally. That was five years ago.
Archery Championships: I have won the National Field Archers of American Outdoor National Championship (women's recurve division) three years in a row now (2011, 2012 and 2013.) I also won the NC Field Archery Association's Indoor Women's Recurve Championship in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The Present: Now, as I sit in my hotel room in Arizona on the first day of the US Archery Team trials at 4:00 am in the morning, I have decided to put everything I have into making the USA archery olympic team. My boss is supportive, the parents and kids of my archery club are supportive, and mostly, my husband is supportive (even to the point of letting me shoot inside our house when the weather is bad--that is love!)
Sponsor Funds Needed: The road to the Olympics is a long one, but it is also extremely expensive. Tournament expenses, archery equipment, and coaching fees really add up. Especially on a public school teacher's salary. I KNOW I can make the team, but I cannot make it to all the qualifying tournaments without financial support.
Please help me represent the USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.