Shooting Sports are the Best Sports

Shooting Sports are the Best Sports

Last Thursday I packed up my bow and went to our sportsmen's club with the hubby to get some target archery practice in. I was itching to shoot since we basically took the summer off to travel. Being back on the range felt so. darn. good.

Back in one of my favorite places! This range goes out to 70 meters, the full Olympic distance for a recurve bow.

Part of why I wanted us to shoot is that I signed us up for a match. We just picked up archery this March, but we are already signed up for matches. I cannot help it - I am a competitor to the core. We are registered for the Cobweb Classic at Ace Archers in Foxboro, Massachusetts on Sept. 16. That's less than a month away! 

The match will have us shooting 60 arrows total. The shots are split up so that we'll shoot three shots in sequence within two minutes then go score them. That is called an "end". This repeats twenty times for a total of 60 shots. After not shooting my compound bow regularly for a month and a half, I need to get back in the habit and build up endurance to shoot 60 shots.

The match will be indoors with the targets at 18m, so shooting outside at 30m isn't quite the same. But just drawing and shooting will help me get my bow muscles back, and Thursday was too nice of a day to pass up the chance to soak up the sun for one last outdoor archery practice. Typically there is an archery league at my club on Thursday nights but we must have missed the announcement that the league ended because we were the only ones there. It turned out great, because the solitude let Josh and I chat and take photos and make goofy comments without fear of judgment. 

Josh shooting his Hoyt Pro Comp compound bow. We experimented with the "action" settings on our iPhone cameras with great results. We each have a photo of our arrow immediately following release from the bow.

Josh shooting his Hoyt Pro Comp compound bow. We experimented with the "action" settings on our iPhone cameras with great results. We each have a photo of our arrow immediately following release from the bow.

As I drew back on my first shot, I felt so happy just to be on the range. I need to fling a few thousand more arrows down range to truly feel as comfortable shooting my bow accurately as I do shooting either of my competition rifles. Still, there are certain skills that translate between shooting sports disciplines.

Having a shot plan is one of those skills. When I draw the bow back, I have steps in my mind that help me execute each shot. I must have subconsciously identified it while training throughout the spring and early summer. To really solidify it I'll need to write it down and modify it until my shot plan is an accurate representation of what I need to do for accurate shooting.

That first shot back felt right. I focused on the front sight, making sure the bubble level was true and keeping the sight picture clear. I squeezed my shoulder blades together like I've been instructed to do, and the shot released. I smiled.

This is the face of an archer who just nailed the ten ring. I asked my husband to take this photo of me in this moment, because I knew things just felt right on my first shot back after a month and a half of traveling.

It was a 10, a perfect shot.

Dead nuts, center of the target. On closer inspection it turned out to be ever so slightly low and right but from 30m downrange it sure looked and felt perfect.

First shot back from a month and a half off - it's a bullseye! 

Since no one else was there, we went downrange to inspect and document this momentous shot. I was elated. That's exactly what target shooting is all about. Develop a process, live out that process, execute cleanly and reap the rewards. 

I know that sometimes it isn't that simple. I've had my share of shots, stages, matches, and whole competitive seasons where things just don't go my way no matter how much practice I put in. Moments like that were horrible to go through, but the only thing worse than going through the tough times in the shooting sports would have been to quit the shooting sports. Then those bad shots, bad matches, bad seasons would be the end for me. But I do not define my history with the shooting sports by any one shots, one match, one season.

Each day that I pick up my rifle or my bow I am redefining my experience in target shooting. Every shot is a new chance to achieve perfection. The shooting sports are challenging. The outcome of a shot, match, or season depend entirely on the shooter and her ability to master her mind, the conditions at the range, and the process of firing a well-executed shot. It is that challenge keeps me coming back, driven by the desire to "get it right" on the next shot.

And on the shots that I do get it right... Man, it reminds me why shooting sports are the best sports.

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