I’m going to Vegas. I’m not just going there to write and report. I’m going there to shoot. Regular readers may remember this isn’t my strongest point. Although I’ve improved a lot over the last year. Have I?
This picture, taken tonight at Thanet Archers who are currently welcoming me as a guest in east Kent, sums it up pretty well. (They always shoot a Portsmouth round on Tuesdays. I didn’t wanna demand they put up a three-spot or something).
I’ve been working hard. Shooting. SPTs. The gym. Of course, there’s the hitting of another odd plateau; the one where you know you have at least half-a-decent shot in the armoury, but can you put three of them down the range one after the other? Can you f**k. One of them will have to fall by the wayside, like some kind of mandatory offering to the archery gods.
I know there is no excuse, no cure other than disciplined practice, focus, and listening to your coach. There is no sentience in that arrow. It does not listen. It does not represent me. But nevertheless it sits there, wrong, away from the others, laughing at me. Like a little gremlin. Even if you know you’ve improved and moved further towards something rather strong, there’s an inkling that you’re still an imposter at this party. It’s not fun. But I’m going to do what I can. I will stake whatever I can bring. I’ll try and drag you along with me.
It’ll be my first time at the Vegas Shoot, the longest running, largest indoor shoot in the world, and one that is most famous for its professional compound open division – the recurve class is very much a sideshow, and the recurve division I’ll be shooting in is rather more about making up the exceptionally large numbers.
I’ve been to Las Vegas before, but only to play poker and gawp at the world’s largest playground for adults. Will I manage to produce enough decent archery to do myself justice in one of the world’s most notoriously distracting cities? Who knows.
“At that point I ought to have gone away, but a strange sensation rose up in me, a sort of defiance of fate, a desire to challenge it, to put out my tongue at it. I laid down the largest stake allowed -and lost it. Then, getting hot, I pulled out all I had left, staked it on the same number, and lost again, after which I walked away from the table as though I were stunned. I could not even grasp what had happened to me.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler