Healing Practice

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

food/medicine

food/medicine

Warning, this post deals with healing an injury, the i-word, so if you’re superstitious and don’t even want to think about it, I suggest you stop reading right now.  I won’t blame you, at all.  I am the same way. We should only focus on what we want.  So go on.  Get off the internet. Go outside and play.  At least take a walk and bask in the sunshine and fresh air or snow or whatever it’s like where you are.
For those of you facing similar issues, this blog post is for you.  Hopefully what I have to say will help you.  Please please please, leave comments about what gets you through no-shooting times. I’d love to hear them.
Unfortunately/fortunately, I took a new job in March in order to have more money to be able to afford more archery equipment and tournaments.  Ironically, this job caused a neck spasm, so I could not shoot for several months. How very Catch-22 of my life.

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

Hippocrates

photo 1I have been saying for the last three years that I wanted to go to an acupuncturist.  After a quick visit to the ER to make sure I was not facing a life-threatening condition, considering how debilitating the pain was (I could not even hold my head up, it was SCARY), I went to an excellent acupuncturist at Porter Ranch Medical Center. (The muscle relaxers were doing absolutely nothing for me and I don’t like feeling so out of it).  Before I could get in to see Dr. Keh, the best thing I had done to alleviate the pain was take a hot bath with epsom salts.
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After a few visits, I asked my acupuncturist if I could start shooting again and plan on entering tournaments.  She very politely laughed in my face and told me it would be a few months yet.
I had already cleaned up my diet tremendously (gluten and dairy free for a few months now) but my body is still in a state of detoxifying from old bad habits. It took years to build them and it’ll probably at least be a few more months (possibly years) before I’m fully healed again.  I’m learning that habits built slowly are habits that stick around – for better or worse.  So might as well make them for better!
As per my acupuncturist’s orders, I’m on a grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free nature's candydiet. That means lots of fresh veggies and clean sources of protein. I realize I’m very lucky to live in LA, where such health food is readily available.  I have had to take my diet to the next level and I’m 100% processed sugar-free.  If I want sugar, I have some low-glycemic fruit like organic blackberries.
Habits and homeostasis are very powerful. They could work wonderfully against us, or we can harness that power to have the laws of nature work for us. What has  been helping me is to be patient and not demand everything to be changed and healed and fixed RIGHT NOW. Each new thing I want to do, I have to introduce slowly so as not to disrupt homeostasis too much.  Also, a reward system has been highly effective.  For every week that I’m 100% sugar-free, I get a new reward (something non-food related and affordable).
I have found that I feel best when I mostly consume vegetable juice throughout the day.  It’s not forever, I tell myself when I get sick of it, it’s just for right now, while I heal.
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“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.”

Hippocrates

Also, magnesium  is a great healing force.

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I miss shooting, to say the least.  However, here is another opportunity to experiment with visualization.  I want to see if I can make it a habit to spend just 10 minutes a day visualizing the perfect shot. I am curious to see if Lanny Bassham is right about visualization being as effective and perhaps more so than shooting itself. I’ll be honest though, I find it difficult.  I get distracted.  But, I am persistent and I think that is what creates success and lasting change more than anything.

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“Age is Just a Number” by Dara Torres showed me that even at my age I have opportunities for greatness.  I have to decide if my archery dreams are worth the sacrifices and I say, “YES!”  So, when I’m tempted to have a cupcake or cheesecake or any kind of cake, I remind myself that I can have that cupcake right now or I can be patient and allow myself to continue to heal and start shooting again very soon and maybe, just maybe, I can have a cupcake for a special occasion later.

“Walking is man’s best medicine. ”

Hippocrates

And,

“Stretching.  Lots of Stretching.” – Dr. Keh “Yes, that is the missing key.  Do yoga.  You need to be solid and healthy first.”
I’ve committed to yoga in the mornings and sometimes at night, at least 15 minutes and ever increasing the time as I go, until I finally get a normal daytime work schedule and can attend yoga classes.  For now, this will have to do. And, I plan on adding hiking back into my life, starting today!
It would be so easy to just quit my big big dreams.  It is exactly what I would have done in the past in the face of something so seemingly insurmountable as a demanding job and a lengthy recovery process.  I would have discouraged myself, saying I was too old, too fragile. But, I simply refuse to participate in those thoughts today.  And this is how habits are changed.  If I had a habit of quitting before, then right now, I am changing that habit.
“A wise (wo)man should consider that health is the greatest
of human blessings, and learn how by (her)his own
thought to derive benefit from (her)his illnesses.”
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A Return to Archery

Archery and self-discoveries

In October of 2013, being an adult, as measured more by my age than my emotional maturity, I had to get a full-time job. The winter sun only rising low in the sky, plus daylights saving and my very bad habit of having resistance to anything that smacks of self-discipline, forced me to take a break from archery.  I could have kept shooting on the weekends but I felt that it would be good for me to put all of archery on hold and see if I wanted to come back to it in the future.

For three months I enjoyed gaining weight at my sedentary job as an education coordinator at Moviola while indulging in another bad habit of eating cake every night just before bed, or actually as a means to make myself fall into a sweet diabetic type of mini-coma.

Then, there was Christmas break. All my friends and family were asking about my archery.  I had a friend that used to tell me that guilt was a useless emotion, but I have recently found that everything can be useful, even guilt (and disgust, don’t underestimate disgust, it’s very useful too, I became disgusted with my bad habits and so change came about).  If you got it, use it.

My mother has made many sacrifices to support me financially.  The thought of throwing it all away made me feel so guilty that I decided I had to become brave and ask my job to shift my schedule so that I would have enough time in the mornings to shoot at least 5 days a week.  To my delight, my boss said yes!

In the very beginning of this return, I’ll admit that I had this strange inability to enjoy shooting.  All I felt was the pain of waking up early and being out in the cold.  Haha, some of you who are snowed in will have a good laugh at what I consider cold, 54 degrees!  Yes! Blame L.A. photo 4

 

photo 2Then, within a week my shooting was beyond where I had left off.  I was shooting 6 into the gold at 18m without any effort. photo 4

 

 

 

 

I shot my first 3 triple X end effortlessly. See, no other holes in the target!  Proud of that.

 

 

 

 

Of course, the magic of having taken the break would leave me just a couple of days before the National Indoor Tournament that I was to attend in Tulare, CA.   I became very inconsistent and was shooting just as bad as I had during the first week I ever worked with the clicker.

Oh the clicker!  I thought I was having a mental clicker breakdown of sorts.  So, I went back to the notes from my last few lessons with Don Rabska.  Clicker drills were in order!

Just a couple of days before the tournament and I had returned to very basic clicker drills!  Still this resistance that seemed like fear of the clicker persisted.

During the tournament I focused solely on keeping my draw fingers relaxed as I drew past the clicker and remained in motion.  It helped tremendously with my release and I was proud of being able to practice that throughout the entirety of the tournament.

Oh and I won a very nice Alpen Spotting Scope!  I have very good luck with the raffles!photo 3

 

As soon as I got back out this week I became frustrated that despite my focus on relaxing my draw fingers during my follow through that I was still shooting very inconsistently.  Then, as all seemed dark and woe-is-me-ness, I made another important discovery from looking back at the notes from my lessons.  The notes said, once I have my fingers relaxed I can focus on draw scapula motion.  Aha!

I visualized the scapula motion before each shot and soon found  that I had absolutely no fear of the clicker if I simply focused on the motion of the scapula.  Then, I made a very important (and slightly embarrassing discovery).  For the last two years I had been only using my arms and shoulders to shoot!  No wonder I was so inconsistent!  I was never truly taking advantage of the body’s natural strong stable platform of the rhomboids and latissimus dorsi!

Only very briefly did I lament this sad fact. Truly, I felt empowered with the self-discovered knowledge of HOW to shoot with these muscles.  There were a few rare days when I had gotten completely into my back but they were only during lessons with Don and then the very next day I would have lost the feeling and become very frustrated that I was unable to get it back until the next lesson.   Now that I had found it again, on my own, my body now knows.  There’s no going back.

My bow arm now has length and strength. I feel the back muscles connected to both arms moving toward the target for every shot.  I am no longer afraid of the clicker because I have a good feeling of motion as I shoot.  I moved my extended clicker at least an inch this morning and I’m only 1 cm away from being able to put the Beiter back on and not have the shotgun like kickback of the extended clicker.   A target pin was cut and used to make the extender, if you look closely you can see it on my bow.  Don is very good at MacGyvering things.

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All this time, nearly two years, my back muscles have rarely been utilized properly.  I had to lower my arrow count to 40 arrows per day. It’s ok to take baby steps, especially now that I’m using the right muscles!

Personally, I have made some new discoveries as well.  No more excuses for my behavior and circumstances – time to become a real adult.  If I want to be an internationally competitive archer, then I must behave like one.  I’m tackling my bad habits one by one.

This morning I discovered that I can never seem to remember to do my bow arm exercises, which before the break I did nearly every single day for about a year.  I realized that the only time I have to do them is in the evening when I get home around 9 pm from work or in the morning before shooting.  It is no wonder I forget to do them, I’m too exhausted when I get home from work!  I have learned that whatever is most important to me needs to be done first thing everyday.  Plus, I must admit that I really enjoy having the archery range all to myself nearly every morning. photo 1

I have created a new habit of getting up earlier to get all my archery training done before going to work.  This also required a shift in when I go to bed, which with the time change has been a slow process but manageable.  I have also stopped eating after 6pm in order to fall asleep earlier, which has led to me eating a lot less junk because I used crave it most at night because I was so tired.

The Olympic Gold dream is not a mere fantasy but a project extraordinary enough to inspire me to become my best self.

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Inner Coach

“Look at what you want to hit, then hit what you’re looking at.” – Malcom Alexander

 

On Wednesday the 31 of July, while shooting at 70m I rediscovered something very important to being an athlete who must coach herself.  That I can.  I have authority over my own body and mind.  I know what is best for me.  There is a deep intuition programmed within me that has inherited millions of years of experience.  I was reminded of the times I very successfully taught myself some very difficult skills.

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When I was 19 I was absolutely in love with snowboarding.  I even moved to Tahoe for a brief period.  (I took home a few medals from half pipe competitions after just a few months of snowboarding).   I never had a coach.  I never had a proper lesson. Some guys here and there would tell me some small piece of advice but most of my progress came from discovery and spontaneity and even out of dealing patiently and gently with my fears.  I ride regular foot (left foot forward).  I am right handed and strongly right eyed dominate.  So my left side was a huge blind spot.  It felt like falling into oblivion, to have to turn left.  So I never did.  At first.  I simply refused.  Now, a good coach, would have probably forced me to, but I had no good coach, only the great one within me who said it was ok not to turn left.  As a result, I would simply turn right and then turn my back foot, my right foot forward and ride that right side.  With time and practice I finally overcame my fear of turning left and I had inadvertently taught myself to ride switch.  Everything can be useful (even our fears and weaknesses), if we just stick with it.

In archery my “blind spots” are really just the things I’m learning to do.  Let the arrow off in time, find a rhythm.  I have to befriend and move past the clicker.  I have to keep my shoulders down.  Only think about my scapula moving toward the target and yet what’s this new thing I discovered:  I also have to keep my eye on the gold.  Oh what?  My coach told me to see the entire bale.  And yet MY inner coach says, “See the gold.  See the gold until the arrow lands there and the arrow WILL land there.”  Or as Malcom had said in the comment to the Texas Shootout post: “Look at what you want to hit, then hit what you’re looking at.” The doubting part of me raised an eyebrow: Oh baloney, that’s just for 18m, where you can actually see the bullseye.  Well, ok, then, let’s just go out and try it at 70m?  Ok, then.

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At 70m, well what do you know.  I haven’t shot 70m since The Texas Shootout in April and today I scored just 2 points below my personal best of 257.  Not too shabby.  Especially since I didn’t even shoot at all last week, while I went through a crucial period of rest, perspective, and re-comitting to my archery practice.

Only very briefly do I want to mention that last Tuesday I parted ways with the venerable archery coach, Don Rabska.  I am most grateful to everything he taught me about biomechanics and getting me into alignment and for all the equipment he had lent me.  I left with a great foundation for my Olympic recurve archery technique.

Now, my new coach, my inner coach, tells me that all I need to do is remain present with whatever is happening and have unconditional acceptance, love and compassion for myself no matter what and focus on the process.

I often write compassion on my wrist as a daily reminder.

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And that it’s OK that sometimes my process is not conventional.  At another time in my life I was teaching myself how to play the piano.  I wanted to learn an absolutely gorgeous nocturne by Chopin.  I did not know how to sight read but I would not let that stop me.  I simply learned to play everything on the left hand until it was memorized.  Then I memorized everything on the right hand and magically they knew how to play together and I could focus on the beautiful feel of the music.

I believe that working on my archery follow through is very much like my piano playing.  There are two hands at work at once.  And for me, perhaps, I simply had to learn one hand and then the other and put them together. And now I can focus on the feel of the shot.

Reflecting on these first 9 months of shooting FITA, I see how I was trying to do too much too soon.  My impatience, however, lead to invaluable experiences that I do not regret.  I see how I have a great talent that I must honor with the simple act of regularly practicing and doing the work to the best of my ability. Sometimes that means I will hate shooting, that I will face heart aching anxiety to just put the archery backpack on and head out the door, that I’ll want more than anything to give it all up with pathetic excuses like, “I can’t afford to be a top archer.” (That is why I did not end up going to the SoCal Showdown.  I simply could not afford the gas, let alone the hotel).  I will accept that sometimes I am miserable and that’s ok.  I will shoot anyway.  I will learn to sit with all the feelings and do the work no matter what.

Archery in itself is a great life teacher.  Likewise Teachers like Cheri Huber’s books like “There is Nothing Wrong with You” and Brene Brown’s Ted talk on vulnerability and the art of improv and meditation and unconditional love and acceptance and being present and my /Inner Guide are great archery coaches.

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, by some extraordinary project all of your thoughts break their bonds.  Your mind transcends all limitations.  Your consciousness expands in every direction.  You find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents come alive. You discover yourself to be a greater person than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” – Patanjali

 

 

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Texas Shootout 2013

“Feast and Forget” – Olympians

May 2013 1525

Night before the Texas Shootout.  While driving back from dinner with Jennifer and Anthony Kaune and their friends we had a conversation about how they could probably cut my arrows if I had them with me.  Of course I should have brought some extra uncut arrows, just in case.  I am down to 8.  I broke one while accidentally shooting at 40m, thinking it was 30m.  In my defense I had just driven about 3.5 hours from Dallas, TX.  Speaking of Texas.  I love Texas.

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What I do not love is Texas weather.  The day started out absolutely perfect, overcast, warm, and no wind blowing.  It rained some during our 70m shoot, which did not bother me at all.  I shot 48 points more than my Arizona Cup of 190 with a 238.  A new tournament personal best (PB).  My practice PB is 257.

Then the clouds began to break, the sun reached out, and the winds showed up.  The horses in the pin behind us began neighing in warning.

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The winds were fairly manageable for 60m and I still shot 2 points over my Arizona Cup with a 247, so another tournament PB. My practice PB for 60m is 272, which I  just shot the Sunday before the tournament.  I was averaging in the 250’s so my score here made me happy, especially with the wind.

Then, we had a lovely BBQ lunch, although normally I don’t eat beef or pork during a tournament because it takes too long to digest, but it was the only option I had for lunch.

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I had preemptively written my coach, Don Rabska, because I fear, I dread 50m, which he says is half my problem – my attitude.  “Embrace it as your favorite distance.  Right now it is intimidating you and the reason you are trying hard and holding long trying to “make” the arrow go in the center.  That does not work.  It is no different than any other distance, have fun with it.”

When I said the wind was hurting my feelings, he responded with: “Resist the urge to hold in the wind. YOU need to shoot fast and strong and pick a place to aim off and shoot at. The faster you shoot, the better you will shoot.”

I did my best to follow his coaching but that fear and dread was stuck in my bones – for that day anyway, I will overcome.  Soon.

My last update to Don for the FITA Round explains best how it felt to shoot in that terrible wind.

“I am strong physically but not enough in my technique. Today showed me that very clearly. In the wind I swayed this way and that, my bow arm, which caused me to hold too long for fear of launching the arrow off into the Texas grasslands. And of course my shots came off weak as you very well know. By 30, I had no more strength left and barely got all my arrows out of my quiver, not that it mattered because those last two were misses, but at least I shot them.  The only time I did alright at 50 & 30 was when I dug deep into my lats and braced myself, the only way I could get a strong shot. And that’s when I realized I need to do that all the time and I don’t. I’m too up in my shoulders.

Lots to learn.

I have to get that strong fast shot down. Nothing else matters.”

Ariel Gibilaro, who shared the target I was on, did not seem very bothered at all by the gusty winds swirling about us.  She ended up taking home the bronze medal.  I only saw one moment where she looked frustrated and was talking to Guy Krueger.  Whatever he said worked like magic because she shot something like a 10,10, 10, 10, 9, 9 the very next end at 50m in those ridiculous winds.  Although small and very lean she is like a brick against the wind.  She did not sway about like I did and she scored as if the conditions were perfect.  I was very impressed.  When mentioning this to Guy Krueger while in line for lunch he said that she’s a very strong girl and had put on about 10 pounds of muscle mass alone while at the Olympic Training Center.  She comports herself very professionally for being a junior shooter and I learned a lot by watching her.  I am always grateful to be put on a target with USA archery team members and/or resident athletes.  As a result I am joining a gym and getting lessons on how to work out for archery.

The USA Team member I had shot with in Arizona Cup ended up winning the tournament, Michelle Gilbert.  I was very surprised and in awe when I learned she was still finishing up high school, not simply because she was so young but her demeanor is so mature and professional.  She told me she started at age 9, so she has nearly a decade of shoot under her belt. I was very happy to learn that she won.

In second was Miranda Leek who I shot against in the 1/16 round of the Olympic rounds.   I love the Olympic Rounds! The first set was close as I shot a 25 to her 26, two of my arrows being 9’s very close together and close to the 10.  I saw how mentally she began to break down  – although she still kicked my butt 6-0, whereas my “breakdown” was all technique (follow through), which will get stronger with time.

Miranda Leek & I

Miranda Leek & I

This is a tournament to forget – the last half anyway.  However it did point out my areas of weakness in my technique.  Don has been saying from day one to have a strong follow through.  The Texas Shootout drove the point home as I faltered in the wind because I did not have a strong follow through.  And now I find myself working up close focusing on nothing but the feeling of following through with my scapula.  I plan on focusing only on follow through until I have a very strong, consistent follow through that will carry me through these tournament, high pressure situations.

My next tournament coming up is the SoCal Showdown in Chula Vista, CA.

If you’re preparing for a tournament soon please share some of your rituals in the comments.

 

 

 

 

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AAE Arizona Cup – My first USAT Qualifier

“Chance favors only the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur

Arizona Cup

To be prepared for a national tournament involves so much more than fletching arrows the night before at a decent hour and getting a decent amount of sleep, both of which I managed not to do. I couldn’t sleep between my nervousness and and my upstairs neighbor stomping around in boots on hardwood floors until about 3:30 am, only having to get up 5:30 and drive 6.5 hours to Phoenix, AZ, sign in, and then sight in.   I managed to check my sight markings at 70m, 60m, and 50 m but did not have enough time for 30, which I wasn’t too worried about but I felt wretched with only two hours of sleep.

To be prepared involves just showing up and experiencing the tournaments.   My theory is to start competing in national tournaments right away so that tournaments are as much a part of my PRACTICE as my practice is.  Don reminds me often that I have only one technique and that’s Practice Technique. So really there is no being ready, you simply show up and shoot what you shoot just as you would in practice.  However, I do none of this perfectly as you will read in this blog.

So all the week up to the tournament I was working on my form and my FOLLOW THROUGH and I had some very beautiful groups happening at 70m and 60m.

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However in the tournament at 70m when I stood on the line to shoot my very first arrow of my very first USAT qualifier, I was so nervous I completely spazzed out and missed my first two arrows!  I ended up with a 190.  The girls I was shooting with said it was pretty good for my first tournament and especially for only shooting 70m for a couple weeks.  By 60m I was a little more relaxed and I felt I was making good shots and shot a personal best of 245.

For some reason I had heard or read that at 50 and 30m we shoot only three arrows.  So while on the line at 50m I felt something was very odd, it seemed people were shooting more than three arrows.  I had to lean over after Heather Koehl had finished a shot and asked her while how many to shoot.  She was very gracious and answered that we shoot six and afterward said it wasn’t a problem.  She was very kind and helpful throughout the whole FITA.   At one point I had nearly forgotten to shoot an arrow had stepped off the line but then saw it and stepped back on the line with 19 seconds to shoot.  When I finished and walked back Heather was standing at the waiting line and said that she was ready to shot out a 5 second warning if it had come to that.  Now that is sportsmanship!

After the lunch break, I was dreading  50m because I had noticed earlier in the week that a peculiar thing happens at 50m, suddenly everything goes way left and I can’t seem to recover – not even at 30m.  I was getting completely sucked into aiming because suddenly at this fairly considerable distance we have a much smaller target.  After missing 5 arrows within 2 ends, I frantically called Don Rabska for some help.  Fortunately for me he returned my call by the 3rd end and knew exactly what I was going through and reminded me to relax my hands and focus on follow through and to relax and just point the arrow in the general direction of the gold and red rings and to maintain motion and the energy in the bow and have a strong follow through.  All the lefts were caused by a weak follow through from trying too hard to aim.  Sure enough, my last two ends were excellent and I managed to shoot a 202.

At 30m I hadn’t fully recovered from being sucked into aiming let alone the 12 hours of shooting in the 90 degree heat and 20 mile winds.   I had at least two misses and scored my lowest score ever of at 30m – 255.

My overall FITA score was 892.  My overall rank at this point was 46.  Once they took out the juniors my rank is 34.  So 892 is my national tournament FITA personal best.  I can’t compare it to anything because I had never shot a full FITA before the tournament – not in practice or in a qualifier.

I was going to bow out of shooting the team rounds but then saw that my teammates were closely ranked with me so I felt that I wouldn’t disappoint too much.  However, I fell into the same “aiming” trap again.  During practice my first shot was an X at 70m and then two 9’s right on top of each other, but as soon as we shot as a team and were timed, I fell apart completely.  But, it was great practice.  I learned how to shoot on a team.  I learned not to shoot after the buzzer or else you lose your highest scoring arrow.  (I did not do this, the woman who anchored did but to no fault of her we had only given her maybe 20 seconds to shoot both of her arrows).

Mexican Team

Mexican Olympic team

It was thrilling however to get to shoot against the Mexican Olympic team who ended up winning overall against the US Olympic team 220-211.  I noticed they had a very consistent and quick rhythm to their shooting and would be done before our anchor even got to the line.  (We got to take a photo with the Mexican but I’m still waiting on that pic, will post as soon as I get it).

For the last day of the tournament we had Olympics Rounds (OR).   I did have a moment of confusion when the announcer kept saying what I interpreted as “30 second” rounds.  I kept wondering how in the world we were supposed to shoot 3 arrows in 30 seconds.  I even had to ask Phil just  before the first scoring end, how long we got and she repeated to me very slowly as if speaking to a bewildered child, “Two minutes.”  I had to laugh at myself when I finally took a look at the score sheet and saw that we were in the 1/32 rounds.

I know that I must trust my technique and have only practice technique and I am grateful for this experience that showed me how I can get sucked into aiming and trying too hard.  There is only surrendering to the shot and trusting the form.  I managed to do this for Olympic Rounds (OR) on the last day as I was determined to regain my focus and created some attainable goals, which were to shoot my practice technique, focus on follow through, and be relaxed.

In the OR rounds I was relaxed and comfortable.  I walked up to the line and set my foundation from the ground up, got heavy – breathing deep into my belly and focused on my technique.  As a result I won 2 set points during the second set with 25-24, which was a shock to both myself and my competitor and her coach.  I also learned an invaluable lesson during the fourth set.  LOOK AT YOUR ARROWS THROUGH YOUR SCOPE! At least for me during this early stage of shooting when I am not yet consistent with my follow through.  I had shot a decent group and the first shot felt so good and I saw it had flown straight down the middle but I did not see that it dropped just below the 1 ring (still on the target though).  The other two could have been decent but they followed that first one into the 1 ring, resulting in losing that set with a score of 2!  At that point I just found such mistakes funny.  Really funny.

While watching Phil Turonek, who had shot great all weekend, in the 1/16 round, Karen mentioned the raffles and I expressed my regret at not buying any to which she replied that there was still time.  Once the last set of the 1/16 round was over I went and bought $5 worth of tickets and put all three in for the SKB Recurve bow case, thinking $5 is a good return on investment when I win the case.  Then I walked over to get a massage, the whole time already being thankful for my new case – I just had that winners feeling.  After the massage I heard people shouting at the raffle table as they were picking up their prizes.  I asked where we found out if we won and Phil announced that I had won the recurve case.  Sure enough I saw on the sign my name printed in large letters and I handed over my tickets for verification.    I started jumping up and down with glee.  I got to leave the shoot a winner after all!

SKB bow case

 

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70 meters is a great teacher

70 meters is a great teacher.

“Shoot Your Shot,” Khatuna Lorig, five-time Olympian, team Bronze medalist and current US Olympic Team archer, said authoritatively, “I’ll watch your arrow.  As my coach says, ‘Once you shoot the arrow there is nothing you can do about it.’  Everyone wants to watch their arrows.”

I had asked Khatuna to help me guess where to move the bar on my sight to shoot at 70m so that I wouldn’t end up losing too many arrows in the process of finding my sight marking.  Very generously she offered to help me out.  She had me move up instead to 60 m to start because she knew I had my 50m and we started there.  “The first arrow will be on target,” she said.  The first arrow was on target.  I’m very good,” she said half-jokingly.

We made a note of that sight marking and moved to 70m.  The first arrow had gone just to the right and a little high but was easily found since my bow’s draw weight is only 30 pounds – not enough power to drive the arrows into the ground from that distance.

behind70

I took the plunge to shooting at 70m for the first time.  I gave myself one end of 8 arrows to sight in and then put up the used 122 cm target that someone gave me.  (Now that I think about it, I realize that I probably should have spent at least a day blank baling at 70m but the AAE Arizona Cup was approaching way too fast!)

I told myself, “just shoot your shot like Khatuna said.”  With each shot I noticed that immediately as the string left my fingers that I could feel almost exactly where the arrow would land and I didn’t need to see it hit, which is a good thing since from that distance without my contact lenses, I can’t see where it hits anyway.  I highly doubt that even with my contact lenses I’d be able to see it.

I reminded myself, “You are just beginning. It’s exciting to have a place to begin and watch your scores evolve.” Don’t be discouraged because this is like when you were shooting traditionally and you started at 174/300 (which was pretty darn good for only shooting for a month) and then I quickly climbed to 245 within a few months, so allow yourself that process now of beginning and watching your scores quickly climb to a competitive level.  Yes, you have Phoenix in just a few weeks but you will be where you will be and as Janet Dykman said to me, every score will be a tournament PB for me.

I did two rounds of 70m.  I shot a 213 and 218.  I focused on the rhythm of the shot and really surrendered to the technique of the shot and just “feeling the shot.”   “Don’t get sucked into aiming,” I’d hear as a reminder in Don’s voice. I hardly aimed at all, just pointed in the general direction of the target.  And I worked on absolutely not holding the bow with my bow hand and voila!  Better scores.

fulldraw cu

70m is a great teacher.  Immediately in that instance of shooting the shot I:d know what went awry.  Not a strong enough follow through is about the most common of my failures at the moment.  The other is having this compulsion (from the original habit of holding the bow like a long bow with a light grip but still gripping and “steering” the arrow), to grip the bow at the moment of release.

I’m reading the Second City almanac of improvisation and there is a lot written in that book about failure. “It’s so important to learn to fail and know how important failure is to get to the goal.”

In this case, every shot not hitting the X is kind of a failure but each shot teaches me how to shoot an X and at one point I did shoot an X.  And when I shot that shot I don’t think I was at all concerned with where it hit.  I think I had the reaction of “that was a good shot, that felt like a good shot and I wonder if it even hit the bale.”  Or sometimes I could see that a shot hit in the blue and I simply respond with, “where it lands doesn’t matter, that was a good shot, that shot felt very good.”

photo (22)

As I felt the competitive part of myself get tugged into wanting higher scores I had to remind myself to allow myself to take my time, to put it all together, to simply learn.  I was beginning to group, but my groups were all very far left, nearly off the bale.  My aperture would not move any farther left.  I knew at this point something was going on with my form.  I highly doubted that the sight apertures wasn’t made properly.

I also discovered that the only way to feel properly behind the bow was to raise the bow arm directly up to target – as my coach had been trying to get me to do for some months now.  Also I absolutely had to have a strong follow through or else the arrows would fall short.

back70

I have my lessons with my coach, Don Rabska, at 9 AM on Sundays.  Upon my first shot he immediately saw the source of my left arrows.  I was raising up my chest once I got to full draw.  A very common mistake, he insisted.  He immediately began adjusting my stance and draw, and especially my bow arm, hand and wrist.  More important discoveries were made.  The throat of my grip was too narrow and pinched the skin of my hand as I raised up.  The grip was too slick as well and often while transferring my bow hand would slip.

Don warned me that in fixing these equipment problems the grip wouldn’t look so pretty.  When he was done filing away at it, I admired his art work and compared it to the hatch marks on a wild dolphin’s skin that I had once seen from about 3 feet away while surfing several years ago in Malibu.

Placing my hand into the grip, it immediately felt better, more secure.  He also moved my clicker back because we discovered that I was moving my neck forward and bending my bow arm to accommodate the clicker.  “We can always move the clicker back, instead of you adjusting to the clicker.”  He gave me a drill of using only the bow arm to complete the transfer.  It became very clear to me in this instance that when the bow arm is moving forward toward the target, the arrow has nowhere to go except straight.

Later that day I shot half of a qualifier at Long Beach and I found myself constantly reminding myself to drop my ribs while at full draw, which would cause a chain reaction of adjustments, relax the bow hand, lower the bow shoulder, and keep the draw shoulder down.  I felt something very interesting happen during one shot.  My hand was perfectly placed on the grip, my ribs were down, I was grounded 60% of the weight in my toes, my shoulders were down, I transferred quickly, keeping the motion in my draw scapula, my bow arm was moving toward the target and as I shot I knew the arrow would go straight into the gold and of course it did and I told my body, “Remember that shot.  That’s the shot.  That’s the shot that will get me X’s every time.”

However during the following week I was distressed over the 100 point drop at 70m and at all distances despite my shot feeling so much better.  Don is a wonderful coach because he was there to talk me through some of the possible culprits – the main one being that I was possibly “pulling through the clicker” and “over-expanding” and this could cause the right arrows that I was now shooting. He is going to meet with me soon to watch me at 70m and also see what my bow is doing to get me back on track.  I am so grateful to have Don as my coach.

EASTER WEEKEND

photo (20)

Brought my target bag to Manteca.   Blessing in disguise that I could only shoot from a few feet away so I could focus on the above issues of keeping my draw bicep relaxed and following through with my scapula (to try and eliminate one of the possible issues before I see Don).  At some point tonight while doing my mirror work, I simply stood there with my shoulders down, only moving my draw scapula back the way I would at follow through and I found that small exercise helped tremendously.  It reminded me of when I used to play piano and if ever I got tripped up on some passage of music I would break it down and focus in on the troublesome combination of notes until it was effortless.

70m is a good teacher (or at this moment for me – a harsh taskmaster), but I am determined to get my draw correct and effortless.  I am confident my scores will return back and above where they were the very first day of shooting 70m.

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I Need More Practice

“I Need More Practice” – Kuk Sool Won slogan

yellow belt

“I need more practice, sir!” Is the response you give your teacher when you are presented with your next level of belt at the promotion ceremony.  Kuk Sool Won is a Traditional Korean martial art that I practiced for little under a year.  I got up to red belt, was about to test for my brown belt when a knee injury refused to heal unless I took a break from the martial art – at least for a little while.  I would love to go back if I had the money but right now archery training is my priority.photo (16)

I need more archery practice!

Every Saturday I up my arrow count by 10 arrows.  I was very delighted to finally be back up to 130 – eight arrows at a time.  I was at 150 until abotu the New Year when work took over my life and I didn’t shoot for nearly the entire month of January.  After that experience I said no to allowing work such power in my life.  During the US National Indoor Championship I was called during dinner on Friday night and offered a job.  I made my demands to not sign a 12 hour day contract (typical of the reality television industry) and my rate.  The VP of post said, “That sounds reasonable,” and with that I was hired.

Faithfully for two of the last three weeks of work I got up at 6 AM every single morning, minus the one day I must take off per my coach Don Rabska, and I hauled my-sleepy-self to Woodley Park Archery Range (WPA) and shot my arrow count come rain or come shine.  Usually there is only one other archer out that early, Darra -a dedicated, talented, and tenacious archer, who I enjoy chatting with for a few minutes and shooting with when I don’t feel like going out to the long range.  Then the third week of work came with a great big lesson in balance and proper rest.

Sunday mornings I have my archery lessons.  Last Sunday there were a lot of changes.  A pair of Hoyt Gold Medalist  limbs, heavier if only at 30 pounds were lent to me (it was so fascinating to watch Don “MacGyver” the limbs to fit and line up with my gorgeous Win&Win riser), the clicker moved back 3/16th of an inch, and a MAJOR solution to a technique conundrum was found by my wonderful coach.  Don later said that I shot some of my best arrows yet and he was proud of me. The solution was simply keeping my thumb relaxed, which set off a wonderful chain reaction of then keeping my shoulder down, bicep relaxed, and having a cleaner and stronger follow through and also having a longer draw.  And there was the time change!

I took Monday off as planned.  Then, Tuesday, I was so utterly exhausted because most unfortunately I did not allow myself proper rest over the weekend.  I debated with myself the entire way to the range whether or not it would be more productive to my archery to just go home and go back to sleep or just be “disciplined” and get my arrow count in.

Well, I learned that sometimes the answer will be forced on you.

photo (17)

With my new form change, there was no room for half-effort or half-concentration.  With each shot I felt my body drain of energy it was not able to regenerate quickly enough for the next shot and by the 32nd arrow as I was walking up to the bale to retrieve my arrows I burst into the type of sobbing I’ve only ever seen come from an exhausted child who refuses to go to bed for her own good.  I allowed myself the release of the good cry and sat in my chair and wrote a page in my much neglected Artist’s Way morning pages journal while assessing the situation.  Despite the tears I kept the debate going about whether or not to go home and sleep.  After one more end and feeling panic looming on the horizon like a dark and cold storm with thoughts of quitting and not being able to afford my dreams, etc. I knew I simply needed to soothe myself with more sleep.  I shot about 45 arrows total and that was enough.  It was OK to  rest when needed.  I also gave myself permission to not even come the next day but sleep since I knew that Tuesday I was working a 13 hour day. (Just because I don’t sign the 12 hour day contract, doesn’t mean that a 13 hour day won’t pop its head up here and there).

Thursday I returned to the field gingerly, planning on a very light shooting day of only 32 arrows and then again on Friday, allowing myself to stop when I felt even an inkling of tiredness, which was at 80 arrows. This Saturday morning I allowed myself to sleep in and I was grateful I did because I finally had restored enough energy to get my arrow count to where it should be if the week had gone as normal to 130 arrows.

at 30m

at 30m

Even though for the last three weeks I was not able to do my mirror work or strength training or hiking I had found what was absolutely crucial to work on – the actual shooting.  Each shot was precious to me because of my limited training time.  Each shot brought to light an aspect of a new solution to my archery technique because my mind was concentrated so beautifully, up to the point of course where I needed a coach’s eye and experience.  I also made the pleasant discovery that I absolutely love shooting in the mornings.  I love the solitude on the field and watching the hawks, herons and other small birds fly about freely in the sacred early hours of the day.

From the tournament and reading a passage in “There’s Nothing Wrong with You” by Cheri Huber, a Zen teacher and author of 18 books, I learned to practice with more “compassionate self-discipline.”  I learned to focus on only one critical thing for each practice and be aware of two other things.  For me the first two weeks were all about keeping my shoulder down, which lead to my telling Don in my last practice that I had figured out how to keep my shoulder down throughout the draw up until the point of transfer and follow-through, to which he found the aforementioned simple solution of keeping my thumb relaxed.  This week I focused on keeping my thumb relaxed, which revealed to me that I do something funky with my bow shoulder.  I could hear Don very clearly telling me to raise my bow arm straight to target and so the focus then shifted to raising my bow arm straight to target while being aware of keeping my thumb relaxed.

photo (18)

And then today an interesting thing happened when I put the target up at 30m, the reflex ingrained in me during my traditional days of shooting a recurve like a longbow and gripping my bow took hold and all my arrows flew right because my bow arm and hand were “helping” the arrows.  That technique worked for traditional (up until I got tired) but absolutely does not serve me now.  I had a moment where I was very frustrated with this “reflex” or “old habit”  of steering the arrow and was starting to worry about my scores since I first noticed it while scoring a 30m round but then I gave myself permission to take my time to learn and practice and to see the upcoming AAE Arizona Cup as merely another tournament practice – practice for becoming familiar with shooting in tournaments. Upon completeing my 30m round I moved back to 50m and I told myself to shoot as if I were blank baling at 5m even though I had kept the target up. With this awareness and acceptance I was very pleased to get to a place where I focused on keeping the bow hand completely relaxed as though it were a piece of clay and the bow was pressing into it – as Don has coached me.   Upon this surrender of being present and focusing on technique rather than aiming I felt that incredible sensation of the target coming up close to me as though it were only 5 m away and the arrows began to fly straight again.

I’m finding that usually around the 80th arrow something is revealed to me to help correct my technique and I relish in the easy feel of shooting the rest of the arrows until I began to tire within the last 10 arrows. That’s quite a warm-up of 80 arrows.  I keep asking myself how to warm up sooner since in tournaments usually only 2 ends are allowed.  I’m sure I’ll learn the answer as I gain more experience.  Or perhaps more experience is the answer.

This last week was a great lesson in awareness, gentleness, surrender and balance and the importance of proper rest.  I am ever grateful to everyone and everything that shows up in my life as a teacher, especially my coach Don Rabska.

I look forward to my new found freedom to train all day again.  I need more practice!

 

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44th US National Indoor Tournament: Tulare, CA

“Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”  -Woody Allen

Tulare, CA

Tulare, CA

First arrow: Miss. Or as they drew on my scorecard, a sad face :-(

I did not even get the arrow back through the clicker and it felt almost like a strange spasm in my hand, my arrow was not even close to the paper, but luckily still on the target butt.  My nervousness was caused by energy leeches who I suspect purposely brought up the one subject that would be sure to accelerate my heart rate within the last minute before the tournament was to begin.  Otherwise I would have been just calm and excited enough to shoot my best.  My coach had warned me beforehand that women were the worst at this head game.  And upon hearing my tale, he believes that it was no coincidence.  So beware energy leeches.  Walk away.  Put your fingers in your ears if you must but don’t let them get in your head.

Well, the miss was a blessing in disguise, I was now free to not try but simply focus on technique.  I could hear Don’s voice in my head, when I asked him what my goals should be.  “You only have technique goals.  Once you achieve those, then you can have scoring goals, even though you’re already scoring.”

Also, I find that sometimes anger gives me just the right amount of energy needed to enhance my focus.  The very next shot was an X, although they don’t count X’s in this tournament so just a 10, and then a 9.   I managed to shoot a 248, I had 8-10’s and 4-9’s. The second round I shot 249 with only 2-10’s but upped my 9 count to 12, for a total of 497, which Janet Dykman, three time Olympian, kept told me was really good.  She was shooting on the same line as me on the next target and after that first end she told me to just let go of the miss, it happens.   Phil, Janet’s students, who was sharing the line and the target with me, told me the most important thing, to just have fun.

USA archery Indoor

My beautiful bow and I

As the tournament progressed I realized that there was a certain tacit etiquette to shooting and I was lucky to be taught simply by the actions of Phil and Janet.  If I was at full draw and either one had finished shooting their arrows, they would wait for me to shoot before stepping off the line.  I also learned not to raise my bow when either was at full draw.  I was very fortunate indeed to be shooting between these two women because they were also very positive, uplifting and fun.  At one point they included me in passing the gold coin to wear on our quivers for whenever someone shot a spider.  I only had it for two ends before Janet shot another spider.  Phil joked that Janet had a habit of only letting others hold the coin for about two ends.

spider

spidey

Phil was indispensable for my having a smooth first tournament experience.  She suggested that I should only keep 3 arrows in my quiver and to keep one upside in my quiver in case I needed an extra right away in case I accidentally dropped an arrow too far over the line or blew out a nock, which I did at one point.  She also taught me that you must have all the same color nocks once she noticed that I had two different colors on my arrows but luckily I had been shooting the tournament with just one.  She also gave me crap for marking all the arrows toward the center, a trick taught to me by someone who I should have known was doing something that would possibly get me scolded by the judges.   I also learned the hard way to have your initials on your arrows during equipment check, but luckily they let me come back to the front of the line once I had marked my arrows.  I prepared the best I could but there is no substitution for experience.

Everyone had warned me how cold it would be and even upon the first moment I said hello to Phil, she handed me some hand warmers and said it’s cold in there.  Actually I was quite comfortable.  Also, many people warned me about how horrible Tulare smells.  I didn’t notice at all because I grew up in the cow town of Manteca, which also had chicken coops and a sugar beet factory and was nicknamed, Manstinka.  It simply reminded me of home.

The evening of the first night Jill, Douglas, Karen, Phil, Malcolm, Rose and Kirk, my parents and myself went out to La Piazza.  It was a lovely dinner, talking archery and enjoying new found friends.  My mom commented on how it felt like when I was in high school and she would attend my track meets.  Ha!  I never thought at 35 I would have my parents coming out again to watch me compete in sports.

That night I spent some quality time with the television in the hotel room (I don’t own a tv and don’t have internet capable of streaming TV online, so it was a luxurious indulgence), watching episodes of 30 Rock, which had a mention of The Second City, where Tina Fey studied and where I am currently a member of their conservatory program.  Improv has taught me a lot that I have taken into the mental game of archery:  Commit to what you’re doing.  Get inside your body and out of your head.  Trust yourself.   Warm up.  Be present.  There are no mistakes. More action, less thinking.

I had met Mel Leach and she asked me how I got into archery and I told her it was because of acting and the book “Zen in the Art of Archery” and how archery seemed like a very fun way to learn how to meditate.  She rewarded me with an anecdote about how once while shooting she noticed a very tall woman dressed all in while who captivated her attention because of her utter focus and concentration, nothing would have disturbed this woman who turned out to be Gina Davis.  She figured that the acting aspect gives one a mental focus advantage in archery.  In my experience the two activities go hand in hand.

Early in the morning of the second day I spent it preparing mentally.  I looked at Jenny Nichols’ scores from last year and I saw that her scores improved 20 points on the second day and I had that number in my mind as to how many points I would like to increase my scores by.  To my delight I increased my scores for the second day by exactly 20 points.

Here’s a mental game tip: never watch anyone else shoot.   Ever.  It’s a skill in itself but unless you’re watching someone with impeccable form, it’ll only mess you up. Don’t look at others’ targets either.  During a traditional 3D shoot I discovered this mental game trick.  Our subconscious tends to want to shoot the same as the arrows we’ve just seen in the target.  So, unless you’re looking at someone with all X’s or 10’s, don’t look.  And when pulling your arrows, pull the lesser value ones first and the 10’s last so that your mind sees the 10’s and says, “Oh yeah, that’s how we shoot, 10’s,” and you reinforce the 10’s and are more likely to keep shooting them.  That’s why I prefer to shoot a 3 spot.  However for this tournament the likelihood of dropping arrows because of hitting a five was more of a probability than losing a point for a kiss out, which I did lose a point because of a kiss out on the last end of my first round of 30.  It should’ve been 3 X’s but I heard the last arrow hit one of the other two in the X’s and then it landed in the 9 perfectly in line but at a strange angle up into the target.  Overlooking my scores I would have actually saved that point if I had shot a 3 spot because except for the one miss, I didn’t shoot below a 6.  Next time.

Tulare Targets

The second day of the shoot I was much more focused and less nervous.  Someone teased me while I meditated outside on the bench, asking me, “Does that work?”  And another person tried to tell me there was such a thing as trying too hard, but I swear by Jason Selk’s  “10 Minute Toughness.”  So the answer to his question is, “yes.”  The first 30 arrows I managed to shoot a 259, a personal best out of 300.  The next round was a 258, which considering that before the tournament my pb was only 257, I like to count that as a personal best, too.   I upped my 9 count to 26 and my 10’s remained at a consistent 10 total for both rounds.

I was very pleased to have shot so consistently and to shoot at the top of my game without any extra effort.  I felt very confident about my shooting, just focusing on technique and doing my best to not get sucked into aiming.  All the  while learning how there is that moment, after the clicker has gone off and I’m still ever so slightly pulling back, when I steady my bow arm to near motionlessness and aim at the bullseye.

Overall I shot a 1014, which according to the preliminary results has me at 18th.  Unfortunately (since I have taken so long to post this blog), the final results came in and I ended up in 24th.  I must remind myself, I’ve been shooting for less than a year overall and FITA only since November.  I’ll get up there with Miranda Leek and Jenny Nichols and Khatuna Lorig.  As my coach says, “patience, you have a long archery career ahead of you.”

The next tournament is just around the corner, the AAE Arizona Cup in Phoenix, AZ.  I am preparing.  I average 300’s at 30m and have only shot 50m once and never 60 or 70m.  I’m not daunted at all.  It’s all about technique and getting my bow tuned – I have new Hoyt Gold Medalist 30 pound limbs on and a new string from Guy Krueger on its way from Chula Vista, the feather fletchings will be stripped and spin wings added – and allowing myself to shoot at the top of my game during each practice and then shoot the tournament like I practice, so 60 and 70, should be shot no differently than I would my 30m.  I am a consistent archer.

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The Archery Habit

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

My brother Marcos texted me the other day asking why there have not been any new blog posts lately.  My answer is that I’m into my archery habit.

Archery is my priority.

photoforgephoto

The real challenges that are facing me in archery are not so much those found on the field.  It is a matter of time and money.  Simple, burdensome and must be taken care of.

My work is off and on.  I’m a video editor for reality television and documentaries.  It’s a decent day job. Although now that I have a very hefty goal in sight, I had to put my foot down and be up front when writing my cover letters that I will not sign a 12 hour contract, if hired.  I simply cannot function in general working what amounts to a 13 hour day (especially months on end), let alone do any real training.   I’m looking for that great job like I had at Current TV in San Francisco, where I worked only 40 hours a week.  To have that type of job here, now, in Los Angeles would be a dream come true.  (fingers crossed)

A quote I love from Joseph Campbell and repeat to myself often is, “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.”

Archery is my bliss.

I make sacrifices.  I find ways to cut my daily expenses (I’m on a diet of mostly brown rice and beans, fresh veggies and vegetable juice), and save up for USAT qualifier tournaments and archery gear I’m still in need of.   I acquire equipment as I go and borrow the rest from my very generous and trusting coach, Don Rabska.  Although I’m very happy to report that I just recently purchased a new Shibuya RC carbon sight and 2 dozen ACC 750 shafts and a target bag so that when I begin working again I will have absolutely no excuses and will be able to shoot during the week  no matter what my hours are.

With a great amount of luck I stumbled upon “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp, which has shown me that when you boil down success the main ingredients are sufficient preparation, hard work, and a solid routine made up of a series of productive habits.

Inspired by Twyla’s work ethic I have become much more consistent in my training schedule.  I train about 8 hours a day, 6 days a week.  I begin each day with prayers before even getting out of bed.  I then have a ritual of distributing treats to my patiently waiting cats and then writing out my dream of winning gold at the Olympics, using a special arrow shaft pen made for the 2012 Olympics given to me by my coach.   Then, I write in my journal for 3 pages, then meditate for 9 minutes, make breakfast and go for an hour long hike.  Afterwards, depending on the day of the week, I go to yoga for 1.5 hours or I go directly to the archery range and shoot for two or three hours.  Then, I do mirror work and my bow arm strengthening exercises (holding a bottle of water out to my side perfectly straight as though I’m going to shoot and making tiny little circles for 2.5 minutes, three times and then repeating again an hour later), which adds up to another two hours.  Usually an errand or two and lunch has been slipped in somewhere in there.  Then, I spend a few hours on the internet searching for work and reading and then it is off to bed so that the next day I can do it all again.

One other key thing I have learned is that I must give one day of the week entirely to myself, no doing archery, no “errands” or a “to-do list” to follow, just time to rest and enjoy myself.

photo 2 (7)

Although this week I spent that one day off from shooting, fletching my new arrows with my new jig and a little help from Huey.

photo 3 (7)

I am getting ready for the 44th US National Indoor Championship hosted in Tulare, CA.  Don added two pounds to my draw weight so I’m near 30 pounds.  With each shot, whether blank bale or on target, I focus on form.  I stay in the present.  If a problem or issue arises I focus only on the solution.  I keep up the mentality that I know I can correct anything and soon enough that problem or issue is gone.   I’m very happy to observe my scores progressing at a consistent pace.

With gratitude in my heart for what I am able to do right now, I have faith that I will continue to find the easiest path for me to train full-time to make the US Olympic Archery Team.

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it.  Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.  It can be no other way.  This is not philosophy.  This is physics.” – Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

 

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just go

This blog is pre-pinkfletchings, a practice blog of sorts and I kinda like it.  I hope you will too! (not about the grammar, I started to edit it, there was a lot of missing capitalization at the beginning of sentences but then it started to lose its flow, so I’ve left it mostly as I had written it).

6 am, alarm, avoid rolling over cats, turn it off, neighbors must hate
me because I sleep with earplugs in and never hear it right away.
Or I will put it through sooze for an hour straight. Not this
morning, got up, wanted to shoot.  didn’t want to rush.

meditated for 15 minutes.  wanted to leave by 7 am, left by 7:37 am,
need to leave the range by 8:30 am, would that be enough time to
shower and head to work by 9 am and enough time to shoot?  would it be
worth it?  yes.  just go.

driving to the range, LA commuters insane, rude.  God grant me the
serenity to accept the things I cannot change: people swerving to get
in my lane.  Stressed.

Arrive.  I see a short man on the short range.  Another man, Reggie Hamilton, at the farthest left bale of the long range.  I string my bow, which I prefer to do after I’ve warmed up but I didn’t feel like carrying the stringer out with me to the range.  I wave to
Reggie with my bow slung over my drawing shoulder as if it were a
longbow.  It’s a recurve, a PSE riser with very nice Hoyt limbs; a
loaner from Bob Bingham.  Without stopping to talk but slowing down
just enough for a short polite exchange I ask, “You just get here?”

He obviously just got there, he’s still unzipping his cases.  “Yes,
just a few minutes ago.”

“I’m going to go work on my form.” I inform him as I continue walking.

As I walk over to the bale farthest right, as suggested on the posted
signs for shooting close up, I try to remember why another guy looks
familiar, brown hair, somewhat balding, shooting a stickbow,
recurve, doing a walk back, shooting at a white piece of paper.  I
stop looking.  I don’t usually watch other people shoot, unless they’re exceptional shooters.  I give up trying to figure out who he is.  I am going
to shoot mostly with my eyes closed so that I can internally see my
form.

I do my warm-ups.  They are very effective.  They take me at least 10
minutes.  I incorporate a few yoga moves and I find myself looking at
the world upside down for a few moments, which is highly refreshing, relieving the tension in my neck for just a few
essential seconds.  I shake my head while upside and enjoy the feeling. Done
with stretching out my neck, arms and shoulders, I stand there, hands
in the pockets of my Second City sweater and begin the 10 minute
toughness meditation, which I picked up from Jason Selk’s book. So, in
all my warm-up, physical and mental, takes 15 minutes.

Bear with me, I’m revealing a vulnerable part of me to you.  Take it
with all the grains of salt in the sea if you must or use it as a guideline
for your own mental workout.  I do it before EVERY practice and
competition.  Mostly it does me a hell of a lot of good.

(Woah!  The following has changed a lot but I like to see where I used to be and how it has changed.  I’ll update some things paranthetically)

1) 6 second in breath, 2 second hold, 7 second outbreath
2) What I say to myself while shooting, if anything at all: See the
shot, Trust the Shot -Honestly though I’ve still been working this
part out, sometimes I say, “aim small, shoot small” I know the
expression is “aim small, miss small” but I don’t like the connotation
of “miss” and sometimes it’s much lengthier with: Keep the bow arm
straight.  Hit the X.  Aim small, shoot small.  Trust the shot.”
The actual meditation is usually of a jumble of all of the
above. (today it’s more like: focus on form, build from the ground up, it is like me to keep my draw arm bicep relaxed as I draw from my scapula, relax my draw fingers, reach with my bow arm, see the spot, explosive follow through – yup I’m obviously still in the stage of going through everything consciously until my body knows the routine)
3) Highlight reel of my shooting so far: Shooting the CA state 900 round at Oranco, at 60 yards 1st end, seeing the shot clearly and scoring 52 points out of 60;
shooting at the Riverside Big Cat 3D shoot and scoring 265 points, 3
points away from beating the adult male recurve 1st place.  having the
guy who handed me my trophy be told that I shot better than him, he
says, “barely.”  another guy who works there later coming up and
congratulating me on my great shooting, beating second place by 101
points.
Shooting Big Bear.  Putting the shelf on the belly of a large Ox that
is just under 50 yards away and hitting an 8 and turning to Bob Bingham and
telling him so.  He says he had told Bill I had done just that. And
how Bob says, “I know you don’t think so but you’re doing much better
than you think.”
Hearing my name called, “In 1st place with 213 points, Carla Garcia,” I
get my trophy, smiling, a hug from Wayne Raupe, president of CBH whose table
is near the trophies, a hug from Bob who lifts me up and says, “i’m so proud
of you.”
4) The next BIG shoot: Kern River on the weekend of Oct. 27th and
28th, a teaching lesson with Sandy McCain, CA grand slam winner and
holder of several CA state records who I just met at the Oranco
Tomahawk shoot that I took 3rd place in spite of (or because of) my
heavy attitude and overly critical self-talk.
I picture following her around,  just
being around her my game is elevated and I score really high and hit a
lot of spots and enjoy myself and learn a ton because there is no
spirit of competition – only of learning.  I’m a very good student.
5) The next shoot: Field Round this Sunday at Oranco with Darwin and learning what I can from him and Greg. (I shot a 214)
6) Why I think I have what it takes:
I have the best eye, form, instincts, strength, mind, mental
toughness, & whole-heartedness (courage) in the world.  I’m a multiple
Olympic gold-medal winning archer.  I am an amazing, phenomenal, legendary archer.
7) 6-2-7 breath

And now I’m ready to shoot the first arrow.

I picked up my quiver and took out the arrow with the point barely
hanging on and put it beside my purse so that I didn’t have to
constantly bother with avoiding it.  I’ll have to ask Connor to glue it back in for me.  I wrecked it while at the Oranco Tomahawk shoot.  I kept my sweater on and decided against the redunancy of my new arm guard.  I pulled up the sleeve since it was
slightly warm.  I found my finger sling and went up to the bale only 5
yards away.  I let fly the first arrow and was fully aware of the
string just barely hitting the edge of my right nostril.  I knew I had
forgotten my tape so i would just have to make the effort to keep my
head turned toward the target.

Warmed up, I remove my sweater and put on the arm guard without taking off the
finger sling.  I am grateful that I was able to purchase it recently.
It’s nice and easy to put on, comfortable, and a good fit and
relatively cheap.  Eventually I’ll continue to add and upgrade my
archery accessories.  First things first.  I think I’d like a longbow
soon.  Maybe I’ll get one for Christmas. (ha!  I had no idea I was just a weekend away from switching to Olympic recurve!)

The next arrows out of the quiver I loosed while trying to focus on
initiating the release through the right back muscle mostly to no avail.
I could tell that I was plucking the string.

For the next quiver full – I am down to 8 useable VAPS, Victory Armor
Piercing, v6 600, arrows, I closed my eyes after coming to full draw
and focused on keeping my head toward the target, my bow arm straight
and steady and being “in the bow” and again initiating the release
through my back muscle and I relax my bow arm hand and let the bow
fall but it kicks back into my hand instead of rocking forward. It
reminds me that Connor wants to put a weight on it.  It takes me a
while until I can feel my back muscle initiating the release and I
move on to focus on keeping my hand sliding back along my cheekbone.
Connor also wants me to shoot for a while with a clicker.  I am
considering it, except that I wonder if I’ll simply go back to not
fully drawing once it comes off again.  I do not want to rely on it. (Now it’s my best friend!)
For now, I keep my bow bare.  close my eyes to feel being in the bow
and letting the bow release.  It feels spiritual in the sense that I’m
allowing my body to take over the process without much interference
from my mind.  The next few quiver fulls went like this and I trusted that my body
would know how to correct itself.  My bow arm began to ache, which has
never happened before.  I listened to the complaint of my shoulder and
stopped.

I almost always shoot best when I shoot alone in the
early mornings.  I caught glimpses of the miracle

of the blue clear skies and fresh trees and Henry the Heron, and a

couple of yellow labs being jogged on the path between the range and
the slow crawling 405 freeway.

I want dogs.  I want to be exercising more.  I want to find a way to
have a job that allows me to have more time to myself and still pay
well. (hmmm … funny I should read this now and see the connection there between dogs and jobs – I am seriously considering pet-sitting, as my part-time profession of choice.  Everyone I’ve pet-sat for have said that I do a fabulous job).

I drive off in my 22 year old Honda Civic and I think about how
grateful I am to have it and that it runs.  I look up at the smiley face
Fernand drew on my oil change reminder sticker on my windshield, 216,
000 miles.  Still, I dream about the Subaru Impreza I want
and notice that 3 subarus have just passed me, although all Outbacks.
Back to my place and then off to work at World of Wonder.  I don’t even bother checking
the time and I’m surprised to see that I left earlier than I
anticipated.

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