The count down has started. Only one week away from the first trials. The last two weeks have been tough-not shooting my best although trying really hard. The last couple of days have been much better and I am back to shooting my best form and scores. Archery is not like running a race. You can't see your competitor a bit in front of you and put on a burst of speed to overtake them. You just shoot one arrow, then reboot. Over and over. You must stay calm and focused. Adrenaline is not your friend. That is the hardest part for me, just shooting my form, trying to beat myself and not let the pressure change my shot from the way I do it in practice. I will be simply trying to think only about the shot I am about to take and nothing else. Shoot my best form, stay focused, and remember that this is what I love to do. God willing, if I do this, the score will be there and I will make the cut. Please keep me in your prayers for safe travel and strong, consistent shots!
With just a little over two weeks until the Olympic trials, I am intensely focusing on cleaning up every little thing that is sloppy. I recently went to Maryland to work with my coach one last time before the big event, and, as usual, he saw more than I ever see. Hopefully, I can polish things up and add a few more points to my average, which has steadily been improving to my all time high over the past few weeks. I have been reminiscing a bit about the last 16 months after my coach made the comment that I had come a heck of a long way. My friend Lynne Albert and my husband pretty much had to talk me into going for this, not because I wasn't confident in my abilities, but because I realized how much improvement I would need to be truly competitive and how much time that would take away from the rest of my life. Or should I say, I thought I knew how much improvement it would take? Luckily, I was extremely naive or over confident about my abilities, because if I had known the truth of the matter, I probably would have thought it was an impossible task with the little bit of time I had. My coach wasn't kidding about how far I have come, technique-wise and mentally. I am a far better archer than I ever was, by leaps and bounds, and my mental game is, well, let's just say I didn't have one before. I was pretty clueless what it meant to compete at this level of intensity. I think I am better equipped now due to great coaching, unwavering support from my husband, family and friends, and, yes, I will take a bit of credit, dedicated hard work. One thing I promised myself before I began was that I would not change who I was, what kind of person I was, in order to do this. What I meant was that I would not become cut throat or a poor sport, behaviors that I have witnessed in some of my competitors; however, I have been changed. I am more confident in my ability to set and reach a goal, more cognizant of the fact that no one can reach their potential without great support from family and friends, and more sure of the fact that without God I would not be able to have come as far as I have.
Part 2: The philosophical part. When I returned from Nationals, there were only about 2 months before the first Olympic Trials, so everything is focused to that end point. I turned up my bow two more pounds and shortened my arrows to be able to take the weight and went through the process of tuning the bow. It was more difficult than usual due to the fact that I am right at the edge of tunability with these arrows, but don't want to go up in spine to another arrow since that will diminish the advantage of addition weight. With only two weeks before my next tournament I was working hard to get it right while getting used to the additional weight. I didn't quite finish, but off I went to the VA Commonwealth Games where I shot several personal records including my best by far full FITA score, in spite of bow issues and a bee sting on my pulling hand, a real boost to my confidence. Am I satisfied? NO! At the risk of sounding like a spoiled child, I want more. I need to do better. I can't be satisfied because there are always people better than I (in my case a whole bunch of them) and pushing from just behind. I still need to do a lot of improvement if I am going to make the cut, so it's off to work. Get this bow tuned right, keep strengthening and working on form, continue to improve my mental game. Only six weeks to go before the first trials which will determine the shadow team. Yikes! Gotta go practice!
Part 1: It has been a month and so much has happened. I shot very well in CA, even shooting a personal best score, in spite of the fact that I was sicker than a dog. Ihad three take offs and landings on the way to Chula Vista, and what started as a mild cold turned into ear and sinus infection. I have never had to shoot feeling so bad, and it was good to find out that I could do it. I had less than a week at home and then went to Nationals in Alabama, expecting hot and humid conditions but getting very windy and thunderstormy conditions instead. The weather conditions made it hard to shoot high scores, but I did well and ended up with my best showing in the elimination round this year, tied for 9th. Again, I got booted out by the one who ended up winning the whole thing!
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!
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.