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!
A lot has happened in the last couple of days. After the first day of unmarked distances I was in 19th place. That I was this high was due in large part to a competitor on my target from the Netherlands who took pity on me and taught me a nearly foolproof way to estimate distances. Apparently all the Europeans use this method but the Americans generally do not. I was very grateful to her. What good sportsmanship! Then yesterday we had the marked distances which are longer but I still did better. Unfortunately, two woman pulled ahead of me so I ended up 21st. Only the top 16 continue on to the elimination rounds which were today so my shooting is done. Last night we went to get gelato again and walk around a very busy night time Zagreb. What a lively town! Very safe and clean except for a tremendous amount of political grafity which covers the first 6 feet of almost every building.
I got to sleep in this morning until 7:00! What a luxury. Then donning my uniform, I went to the field to cheer on Team USA. I was able to help a bit with getting food and water to some team members who did not have enough of either, and watch some exciting archery competition. Now, I know all of you who have ever watched an archery tournament are laughing at my last statement, but at the world championship level it is exciting! Team USA had a great showing with 7 archers making it through the elimination rounds into the medal matches which will be held on Sunday.
Tomorrow I will go with a USA group to see a national park with lots of lakes and waterfalls. I have heard it is very beautiful. I will miss watching the team round but this is the only chance to do some sight seeing. I don't want to miss Sunday's medal matches and the banquet Sunday night so tomorrow is the best day to go.
2nd and 3rd day--I wrote a blog last night but it didn't send so this is for both days. First of all, hotel is very nice, food is good, slept the first night like the dead and only a few hours last night. Had unofficial practice yesterday which went well then walked a few blocks to a grocery store. Very strange to have to use the pictures to figure out what stuff is. You would think that with a goodly amount of German and a smattering of Spanish I might be able to figure out a few things, but Croatian is SO different. Makes me thankful I am literate. FYI-olive in Croatian is olive! Today was official practice. Shot better than yesterday. Afterward, borrowed a range finder and walked around the areas we are allowed to be in and practiced range finding. When we got back from the range several of us walked about a mile to get some really delicious gelato. When we got back from that a couple of the Croatian team members took us on a walking tour of Zagreb. It was very interesting and many beautiful sights. We walked several miles. I SHOULD sleep tonight which is good since competition begins tomorrow. I am really looking forward to it; it should be a lot of fun! Also, good news! Chelsea had all of her equipment arrive so we both get to shoot our primary bows. I would have willingly shared, but that would not have been the best situation for either of us. I would hope someone would do the same for me if it were necessary!
First day in Croatia: I arrived safe and sound after almost no sleep in the plane. Right now I have been up 36 hours with a couple of cat naps. More importantly, all my gear and luggage arrived. Not so for my teammate who has no clothes or gear and potentially the gear is gone off the radar entirely. I may end up sharing the bow I just spent the last two weeks tuning and getting sight settings with her so she has something close to what she normally shoots. This means it will have to be retuned and my backup bow will need to be gotten into shape in a hurry. She can't use my backup bow because it is too heavy for her. Hopefully, her equipment will show up in time or there someone's backup bow around that would work for her. I am also sharing my uniforms and clothes with her; they will be a bit big but better than nothing! Time for bed. I can hardly stay awake. Tomorrow is unofficial practice and I need to be rested so I can have a good practice!
People keep asking me if I am excited.to be going to Croatia. Honestly, ( I hope this makes sense) I am not thinking about it as going to Croatia. It is just my next tournament. Granted, my first big international competition, but it is a well, a tournament, not a vacation! Yes, I have had to do things like get foreign money, make sure my passport is up to date, etc., but mostly I have been too busy tuning, working on form, getting sight settings and getting my classroom ready for when I return to think about how cool this is. So, now that I am sitting in the airport looking forward to having 8 hours of relaxing ( that tells you how busy I have been!) it is finally sinking in. And yes, I AM excited. Hopefully the fact that I have been getting up at 4 in the morning all week to help reduce jet lag will overcome the excitement so I can sleep! Thanks for all the well-wishing and prayers!
Well, the World Field Championships in Croatia is only a couple of days away. I am doing five dozen last minute things to get ready including checking over my equipment, making an extra string, water and bug proofing my clothes, packing equipment, clothing and food, getting my classroom ready for the first day of school since I will be missing all the teacher workdays, and trying to leave my house in an acceptable state (I may fail on that one). This tournament will have my hardest competition in attendance, yet, since it is all the top field archers of the countries attending. A few days ago I was in quite a state thinking about it, but I now have my head on straight. We had our team conference call last night to go over last minute items. It sounds like this should be a very fun tournament. I am really looking forward to the competition, sight-seeing in what I have heard is an absolutely beautiful country, and being an ambassador for the USA!
Well this has been an interesting week. I made a real improvement in an extremely important part of my technique which made me wildly happy. Then for the next couple of days after a change like this, I live in a state of near panic as I try to incorporate the new change with everything else. At least now I know the pattern of my reaction as it seems as if I suddenly can't shoot at all, ànd can calm myself somewhat as I work through the changes. Usually though, I have my husband around to whine to, but he is off fighting forest fires this week in a remote area of California that doesn't get cell service. So on top of worrying about him, he isn't around for me to whine to and then have him kick me in the butt (figuratively!) so I come back to earth. ( sigh) This too shall pass. No one ever said this was going to be easy. Hopefully, by tomorrow things should start to smooth out and I can start to breath normally. At least I am in phone contact with Bob , again!
So what do serious archers do when it is pouring rain, but no lightning? They practice in it! This is the first good, hard rain I have had when I could practice in years. Usually, there is only rain accompanied by lightning around here. The problem with that is, my bow is basically a lightning rod. Unfortunately, in a tournament, we shoot in any weather except lightning, and it is important to know how rain will affect my shots. So, I donned my rain gear and spent two hours being drenched and cold. It was fun and I learned a lot! It was raining so hard, I couldn't see or hear my arrows hit the target or feel or hear my clicker (draw check device). I was still able to group the arrows, but the rain did cause them to go lower than usual. Important information to have in case it rains in a tournament.
I just came back from Nationals. We did not have much rain while shooting, but we did have some good wind the one day. It was another learning experience since I have new arrows. For the first time, I have arrows that are predictable in the wind. I ended up shooting fairly well, finishing 11th of the Americans and 22nd overall, including the foreign archers. I also had my best 70 meter score so far.
My next tournament is the World Field Championships in Croatia. Hopefully, all this new knowledge will help me to shoot well there. I am really looking forward to the international competition, not to mention seeing a beautiful new country!
full draw during practice at Nationals
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!
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.