As usual, I am trying to improve things. If any of you play golf, tennis or bowl, you understand the pursuit of perfection of every little detail as other things that you had down decide to start being difficult! My coach refers to it as the wack-a-mole game. Boy is he right. Facebook just reminded my, by posting a memory from a year ago, that I was trying to improve the very thing I am currently, STILL working on. I have two major tournaments coming up in the next month that are pretty critical, so it is important that it all comes together. If hard work and dedication have anything to do with it, I will succeed. I am finally able to shoot the quantity of arrows per day needed to really get the work done right, and usually shoot 250-300 per day. Tonight I will send in my registration for the first Olympic Trials in September. Kind of brings home the urgency of the situation! While I am not the poet that my mom or daughter are (they always rhyme and have perfect iambic pentameter), I have tried to write a prose style poem that (hopefully) shares the intensity of feeling that goes into each day's workouts and practice, and the impatience I feel when other things get in the way, like work, eating, and sleeping! (Ask Bob about the line of shooting in my sleep. He tells me I keep hitting him with my bow arm!)
5:30-Pachelbel Cannon, dog in face.
Big stretch to put the joints in place.
Feed dogs, wash up.
Stretch and stretch. Feel the tightness loosen up.
Lift, push ups, sit ups, swim, run.
Always hungry, never done.
Cajole young minds to understand. Watch the clock.
Grade during lunch. Watch clock.
Almost time to shoot. Out the door.
Inhale dinner ‘til I can’t hold more.
Video camera, water, shooting music, check.
Bow and arrows, Warm up and stretch, check.
Tired before I start. Come on, let’s go. I have waited all day for this, what the heck?
First shot, heavy. Second shot, better, third shot energy picking up!
Shoot, watch video, shoot, watch video, shoot, watch video… never let up.
No, not right. Come on, you can, you can, you can. Shoot, watch video…
Better. Focus, concentrate, think. Shoot, watch video…It’s starting to sync.
Better. Do it again, and again, and again.
200 shots, 250, 300, driven, hungry, striving.
NO! Not time for bed, yet. Must keep going…
Go to bed hungering for more, shoot in my sleep.
5:30. Smile. Repeat, repeat.
I have not posted in awhile, but not due to neglect, just because I have been so very busy. I shot the Gator Cup a couple of weeks ago, where I shot better than at the Arizona Cup, but got beaten early in the elimination rounds by the woman who won the event. Still, I am somehow holding on to 11th place in the rankings, although that could change quickly as some archers who did not shoot as adults last year start racking up the points this year. So, what am I doing to improve? For one thing, my shoulder is much better and I have increased my workouts accordingly. This also means I can shoot more arrows, which not only makes me stronger, but more arrows in a practice allows me to work on problems better since before, I would just get going and then have to stop due to shoulder pain. Unfortunately, going right from rehabbing my shoulder and shooting indoor distances to shooting 70 meters, did a number on my confidence, so my coach has me doing remedial archery right now (my term, not his-you know, teacher jargon.) I went back to 30 meters and shot that distance until my scores reached a certain acceptable level, then moved on to 40 meters. I will work my way out to 70 meters, all the while working on cleaning up form and building confidence in manageable but realistically challenging increments. It is actually rather fun and I am enjoying the process, while finding out just how good I can be. My form is also improving and becoming more consistent as I try to increase my scores so I can move on. Doesn't sound like rocket science, but I had to be told to do it since I hadn't thought of it myself! Thanks, Coach! Luckily, I have time to do this as my next big tournament is not until June 19th, at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. By then, I should be shooting 70 meters with confidence and much improved form!
This was not a good scoring day for me. I don't think my shooting was horrible, but in several ways slightly off. I simply need more time with the new additions to my form. Unfortunately, the score was abysmal, leaving me the 24th adult US female, but with adding in the other countries and the junior shooters, 61st. I hate to share such bad news, but I have to be honest with my supporters. I still think I am on the verge of truly solidifying my form which will result in much better scores, but for now I have to be patient and just keep working. I went to the practice field after the competition was done, and will practice some more tomorrow, since I won't be competing again until Friday. The good news is my shoulder is feeling great, so I CAN practice a bunch instead of taking a day off. This is definitely what I need.
Today is the first day of competition at the Arizona Cup, the first tournament for the US Archery Team rankings, and also the first day to determine the World Championship Team for this year. The weather is beautiful, the tournament is well-run, and it should be a lot of fun. My shoulder is still not 100%, but is much better than it was last year and it continues to improve. My form has also improved, but is still a work in progress. Only the top 16 US women, including the Juniors, from today continue to complete for the World Championship team, so today is a big day. Although I go into this ranked 12th, there are a number of juniors who have beaten me before, so it will be a challenge for me to make the 16. I will do my best for today, and that is all I can ask of myself. If I am on top of my game, I may make it, but no guarantees, since there are so many super archers at this event. I am really looking forward to this shoot!
I know this is long overdue, but frankly, I have had a hard time figuring out what to say. Since October, I have gone through a period of no shooting, using an 11 lb bow, a 24 lb bow, a 36 lb bow and finally up to my 41 lb competition bow. I have done countless hours of stretches, massage therapy, and exercises. I have also worked tirelessly on every detail of my form, using the rehab time on the light weight bows to learn new techniques and firm up ones I had already been working on. The time has not been wasted, and it has been intense. It has also been two steps forward, one back, the whole time. Psychologically, this has been my most difficult time. When an athlete is coming back from an injury, doubts about recovery can run rampant.
OK. Now to the present. I have started shooting some indoor tournaments with mixed results. I shot the worst score of my life a few weeks ago. Luckily, when I sent some video to my coach, he was able to figure out it was a clearance issue. My form had actually become so good, that the string was very close to my body and was catching on my clothing. I have since been working on the hardest form change to date, trying to get my head out over my toes without changing all the good things going on with the rest of my body alignment. Whew! Not easy. I am starting to see some good results in practice and scores have gone up at tournaments ( I won the state indoor target and field championships), but I am still struggling to perfect and be consistent with the new stance. For the first time in this saga, however, I have some time to accomplish this. Indoor Nationals are two weeks away, and the first big outdoor tournament is still 5 weeks away.
One of the things helping me to practice is the fact that my family is very nicely (against their better judgement) allowing me to shoot through the house! I can reach 17m by shooting from the living room, through the kitchen, laundry area, mud room and into the garage (indoor competition distance is 18m). This helps me to see if my technique is working or not, which shooting 7m (the distance I was shooting in my garage) just can't show, and the weather has been so bad this year, that I haven't had much opportunity to shoot outside.
Finally, I want to thank, again, everyone that donated during 2014. It made everything possible. Last year this fund raised about two thirds of what I needed to cover expenses for 2014. I am so grateful for this help; it takes away an additional layer of stress that would only detract from my training and competition. This year is pretty much a repeat of last year, and I will again need about $12,000 to cover all the travel, tournament, and equipment expenses. I want to conclude with what is hardest for me to do, appeal to y'all to spread the word to friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else you are comfortable asking, to please consider donating to my cause. This is the final year leading up to the 2016 Olympic Team trials which start in September!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I know I have a lot to be thankful for. I appreciate all the support I have been given this past year as I pursued my goal. I thoroughly enjoyed the hard work and fun of competing and know I couldn't have done it without all my supporters.
I do have good news! I have been working very hard to get my shoulder back in shape and it seems to be improving. I am back to shooting my competition bow and increasing my workouts daily. Using a training bow actually turned out to be beneficial, as I have made several significant improvements in my form as I worked toward healing my shoulder. My therapist/trainer says I am now past the point of backsliding (unless I do something really stupid) and can start to increase the volume of shots. Woo hoo! I am not a very patient patient.
Also, I have been invited to apply to the Women's Excellence Program at the Olympic Training Center, a program designed to improve the performance of the American archers. If I am accepted to the program, I will be able to attend four training camps at the Olympic Training Center throughout the next year. Keep your fingers crossed!
The 2014 outdoor season has ended, with me nursing a sore shoulder and going crazy because I can' t shoot until it feels better. I didn't embarrass myself at the Texas Shootout, but I didn't impress anyone either. I did shave a few points off my overall ranking score for the season, passing a couple of people by, but a couple others were bumped up to where they should have been all along. Overall I ended up 12th in the rankings, not as high as I had hoped to be. I do know what I need to work on to improve my shot, and you can bet that I will master it before next season starts. You can count on it.
I am off to the last big tournament of the outdoor season. I am really sad to see it end; this has been the most intense, focused few months of my life and I have eaten it up. It hasn't all been happy and wonderful, with some low scores and injuries mixed in with the fun and improvements, but it has all been worthwhile. I have one more chance to do my best for this year before refocusing on the improvements and hard work through the winter. I will enjoy the weekend, whatever the outcome, giving it my all, take a few weeks off to let my battered shoulder heal, then dive back in whole hog. I can't wait.
I have been back a week from Croatia and am finally doing the last blog for that trip. The last day of the competition was for the medal rounds. I was not shooting, but I acted as archer agent for most of the Americans. This means that I helped to score their arrows and and pulled them after scoring. This was a fun way to support my teammates and still be involved. It was a wonderful experience to be part of Team USA. I plan on trying to be a part of it as many times as possible in the future! We had a banquet that night once the shooting was done, but most people went back to the hotel pretty early to finish packing up. I had to be up at 2:45am to get the shuttle to the airport. The flights were uneventful and the two hour drive from the airport went smoothly. All total, I was enroute for 22 hours. Once I got home, I did laundry so I could wear my uniform to school the next day and crashed into a deep sleep! The next day I dove into normal life, waking up early to work out, teaching school, which was interesting as it was the second day of school but my first day there, then back home to eat dinner and shoot. Unfortunately, I was so groggy I thought I might shoot myself if I tried to practice that I went to bed instead at 8:00! By the next day, however, I truly was back in the swing. On Saturday, my archery club had a back to school fun tournament and bake sale to raise money for me. I was totally floored at the end when they presented me with $388 plus the $75 from the sale of the PVC bow that one of my coaches, Greg Ernandes made, donated and sold on ebay. What a fantastic, energetic and generous group of people I have supporting me at Wolf Ridge Archery! Thank you to all of you who baked, helped set up and run the tournament, and bought food or shot. It sure helps having your support backing me up!
We went to Plitvice Lakes National Park today. It is natural beauty like I have never seen, even in the pouring rain and thunderstorms we had. Made from the action of time and water, the karst topagraphy has resulted in a chain of teal colored lakes with waterfalls between each. What gorgeous sights. We then had dinner at a quaint and delicious Croatian restaurant in a small, picturesque village. Their specialty is trout which was fresh from the spring fed lake that the village surrounds. We had a wonderful day!
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!
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.