It’s been a week of great success for me and the Plymouth University Archery Club team. After I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday dithering whether to switch to my new Easton X7 Eclipse arrows or not, I headed to the South Wales and West University Archery League (SWWU) Leg 1 on Saturday with both sets packed…just in case.
SWWU started…okay. I began with my X7 Eclipses, but the first half dozen saw me still unsatisfied with how they were flying, coming away with a total of 53/60. After asking the judge very politely, I was allowed to switch out for my Easton XX75 Platinum Plus arrows, the old faithfuls. This brought instant success, with my next four ends going up to 56, 56, 55 and 58. Unfortunately, a loose arrow (scoring a 7) saw the next end drop to a disappointing 53, but a final four ends of 57, 57, 55 and 57 saw me finish with a respectable 557 with 28 golds. This was in line with my main goal of shooting within 10 points of my personal best (565), but I definitely left feeling a little frustrated. This was compounded by the discovery that I missed out on 3rd place by a single gold, but I tried to use it to strengthen my resolve to improve.
Thankfully, our team saw a number of successes, scooping gold in the Men’s Recurve, Men’s Barebow and Men’s Novice Barebow categories, as well as bronze in Novice Men’s Compound. Our Experienced Team scooped bronze, as did our Novice Team, a great improvement on previous years!
Sunday saw another early morning as our 11-strong team headed down into deepest darkest Cornwall for the Archers of the West’s handicap shoot in Pool. I had enjoyed my best arrows the previous day when really concentrating on breathing during the shot cycle, so this shoot’s main goal was to keep the same breathing pattern on every shot. For our handicap ranking half-Portsmouth, I veered between feeling very strong and very weak on certain shots, this telling in my ends of 55, 58, 53, 57 and 54 for a total of 277. Unfortunately, on my final shot of the session I felt a massive twinge in my back, and I feared that I had done some serious muscle damage. However, a rapid application of ibuprofen gel, stretching and a generous calorie intake for lunch seemed to do the trick, and I felt a little bit like I had a point to prove for the full Portsmouth.
For the full round, I slowed my shot sequence down significantly, taking two full, deep breaths before even raising the bow. A further breath was taken as I raised, and then a slow breath as I drew. This was followed by a gentle, controlled exhalation at full draw whilst pulling through the clicker. I also managed to get into a really great head space during the shoot, and every single loose arrow (I shot five 8s) was followed up immediately by a 10. I’d say in general this was my most consistent shoot I have ever shot, with my half-dozen scores not dipping below 56. I couldn’t quite hit as many 10-10-10s as I wanted, but I still managed to scrape past my PB by two points for a very satisfactory 567.
This score was enough to secure me the silver medal in Men’s Recurve, my second silver in two competitions in Cornwall! Our team again did exceptionally well, bringing home gold in the Men’s Recurve and Men’s Barebow, silver in Ladies Longbow and Ladies Barebow (as well as my own), and a first ever medal for my girlfriend in Ladies Recurve (bronze).
All in all, it felt like a very productive weekend of shooting, and now I’m looking forward to switching out my 32lb SF limbs for my regular 38lb Hoyt Carbon 720s in order to get my bow set up for my X7s and continue my recovery from the shoulder injury that kept me out for nine months.