Long time no update! That is because I have not been going to tournaments. Winter is time to work on form and boy have I been. Trying to bring my release up to world class form, shooting lots of blank bale (no target face), at 6m in my garage. In order to get this right, I need to just concentrate on what I am changing and not bounce between that and going to tournaments. It is pretty lonely shooting thousands of arrows in my garage, but it needs to be done. I haven't shot with anyone in months, haven't even worked with my coach since Thanksgiving, so I am getting pretty tired of my own company. Just in time for things to start to crank up! Next week I fly to CA to a camp and international tournament at the Olympic Training Center, with archers from the US, England, Canada, France, Spain and Japan . I am really looking forward to warm, sunny weather, a chance to shoot a lot of 70m and be with other archers. Then later in the month I will shoot a local tournament in VA, then Indoor Nationals in Lancaster, PA. I am really looking forward to seeing if all the hard work pays off in better scores. I will be using the next two months to transition from 6m blank bale to 70m shooting, a task that always takes me a bit of time, so I know it may not happen immediately, but I know it will happen!
The last two weeks have been difficult. Trying to get back into the groove after taking off a bit of time to let my body rest, getting used to shooting after work, in the garage, etc., resulted in horrible shooting. Slightly terrifying, actually. It was like I had stepped back in time. When I sent some video to my coach he listed a bunch of things I was doing wrong. It was like I couldn't remember how to shoot. NOT! Let me explain. There is this thing called muscle memory, which develops over time with many repetitions of an act. Let's just say that the motion, posture, etc. becomes ingrained. On Thursday this week when I was trying to fix the things my coach pointed out, I finally had a couple of shots at the end of a long practice, when I was tired and relaxed, that felt alright. Kind of like, "oh yeah, that is what it is supposed to feel like". Then last night while I was dream shooting (this is a common occurrence!) I "remembered" how to shoot. It felt so much better and "right". It was then that I figured out that my more recent muscle memory that was created only in the last few months was battling with my much older muscle memories of over half a life time, and the older ones were mostly winning! I woke up excited to get out to practice and start shooting correctly and noticed it was really dark. It was 6:30 so it should have been light by then. I looked at the weather and saw rain, rain, and then thunderstorms, so I quickly got outside and shot for several hours in the rain, trying to beat the thunderstorms, all before breakfast! After a much more satisfying practice, at least as far as my shooting went, I went inside to make breakfast at 10:00, just as the rain was pretty much ending for the day. sigh... The weather guessers got it wrong, again. At least my shooting is getting back in shape and I had the rest of my day to get things accomplished!
Some people dislike losing Daylight Savings because the early darkness makes them depressed. I have never felt that way, rather it seems cozy when I get home in the evening. However, right now I am not liking it, because it means that I no longer have daylight after I get home from work in which I can shoot. I will be rigging lights if it isn't raining or shooting in the garage if it is. This is the hardest time of year to train because A. it is a long time until outdoor season, B. shooting at such a short distance as is in my garage tends to change my form, C. shooting in a cold rain is not very fun, and D. life is really busy with projects to grade and holiday preparations. At least this year I am not contending with an injury as I did last year. Hopefully, I will be able to make improvements to my form and improve a little bit. It will not be easy, as I have already found. I back tracked a bit in my shooting form, I think due to shooting in the garage, but now that I realize this, I can safeguard against it. Now is the time for me to really dig in and nail good consistent shooting so I can make the next cut. I am keeping my eyes on the goal ahead!
I am quickly approaching the 6 months before the next trials point. That sounds like a long way off and it sounds like no time at all. I have taken a little bit of time off this past month, shot a little less than usual, in order to give my muscles a bit of time to heal from the constant demands on them. It is REALLY hard for me to not go full bore because I keep thinking about how much I still need to improve to be competitive with the best archers, but I know I need this, and this is the time to do it. This weekend I will start ramping up again so I can polish and tweak my form even more. I need to pick up a smaller number of points now, but they are much harder to achieve. I am at the point, however, of having the mental capacity to focus intensely on small details, and am more determined than ever to put in the necessary work to get the improvement. I have rested, recovered, read a book or two to rejuvenate my mind and had my "sports medicine team" of Pam Paul (massage therapist), Dr. Jena Friedel (chiropractor) and Kevin Perrone (massage therapist/trainer) get things in good shape for me to train again. I even have done a little bit of house cleaning (don't get excited, Mom, notice I said a little bit). Now, time to dig in and train!
After the second day of round robins I pulled my way up to 10th place! I also had the 8th highest average arrow score which makes me very happy, since that says I was shooting really well. This places me within reach of the top 8 cut at the next phase of trials in April. Now back to work! I have over 6 months to train so I can break into the top 8! Thank you to all who were praying for me and sending well wishes my way. I felt very supported. I am very thankful that I was able to justify your faith in me and constant support.
I did it! I made the shadow team (top 16) in spite of this day being months ahead of when I expected it to be when I started this, in spite of a serious shoulder injury last year, and in spite of being 50 years old and working full time as a teacher. By now, if you have been following this saga, you know I believe I couldn't be doing this without God's help!Tomorrow and Monday the trials continue with round robin matches to further rank the top 16. Thank you to all who have supported me so far! The fun continues until the second trials in April!
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!
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.