So tomorrow morning I fly to the Lausanne World Archery Masters Championships. I am shooting in the recurve men’s category. Badly.
It’s difficult to express how frustrated I am with archery at the moment. Nothing seems to be going right. Nothing. Because it is a sport that demands far more time that I can give it, and consistently reminds you when you are not paying it the attention that it deserves.
My only goal, really, is to perform at the best of my ability and deliver at a reasonable level. That’s all anyone can do, right? Yeah. Well, I seem to be unable to do even that. I don’t expect to be able to keep up with internationals. I expect to be able to execute a shot with at least reasonable consistency and it produce some kind of a group when I go and actually perform. Sadly, that just seems to always just fall out of reach. So I’m left in a situation where I am hoping not to finish last, hoping not to collapse completely. That’s not really where you want to be for an international tournament. I’m completely out of my depth. And it’s no longer funny.
This has been compounded by a lack of practice, but this time, not through want of trying. The outdoor practice sessions at the club near where I live start and finish too early for when I finish work – I can barely get 45 minutes shooting in and I don’t have any say in the distance (long story). So I currently have a sightmark for 80 yards, but not for 70 metres. What a fucking amateur. I tried, a while ago, to contact a club much nearer my workplace who shoot on weekday evenings, but in typical UK archery style, no one bothered answering my email. And today, I tried to go out to my club in London, but I don’t have a key to our outdoor ground anymore and nobody wanted to come out and play in the drizzle. I can’t set up a boss at home – it’s just not big enough and the ceilings are too low. So in the short term, I am massively underrehearsed.
I hate the fact that I’m relying on a pile of components, all of which are mission critical, and I don’t have enough spares which I am sure are all working and shot in and identical and so on. I hate the fact that I can’t tune a bow properly, despite following instructions to the letter, because I’m always second guessing myself and there’s always something I’ve missed and all the sets of instructions are different and apparently don’t take things like different arrow rests into account. Oh yeah. Arrow rests. I hate arrow rests.
I hate fletching arrows. Someone was kind enough to sit down with me a few months ago and teach me a nearly foolproof method for fletching recurve arrows, just before I went to Vegas. Brilliant. A process. Repeatable! I followed it to the letter a couple of nights ago, or so I thought. The results look ham-fisted and clunky. With a couple of vanes to go the stupid jig lost its little ball, the one that guides the turns through 120 degrees. It rolled under the sofa and down the floorboards. I jam the last couple on and heave the fletching jig, with its shitty design and worse instructions, into the bin. I have eight working arrows, and a bareshaft. If there was time, I would have done it properly. There isn’t time.
I hate the fact that I’m still slightly over-bowed. Not much, but enough to fuck up the last few ends of any session. It’s fine, until it’s not, then I want to throw the thing on the floor. I’ve managed to put in some strength work at home, but not much. My shot is finally coming together, thanks to Kate, my coach, but everything around it… sheesh.
One of the reasons I like archery it because I find it very difficult, because it forces me to think and do things in a certain way. And I chose to do this tournament. Nobody forced me. But I wanted to. And I’m finding it so difficult to enjoy it and make it part of my life, because it seems to always force you back to square one all the time. I’m a really busy person, and I want to shoot as an escape valve. Every time, right now, it seems to throw something in the way, and I don’t have the seemingly endless amounts of time needed to patiently work through all the technical and physical problems. (I’m not the most patient person in the world with a lot of things).
There are no excuses. I know. But I manage to organise my life in many other ways no problem; editing a magazine, running a household, commuting and working a job, cooking and cycling and being with people and having a life. I want archery as part of that too, but not to be everything. Enough to go and have fun with it. It’s lost a lot of joy at the moment. And I have to go and shoot this week and be embarrassed by people who are better than me, because I thought I could be better too. And I’m not. And I hate that.