BUCS indoor finals took place this weekend and what a day it was. Plymouth University sent a team of 6 archers to the finals held in Bristol at Coombe dingle sports complex. Three archers in the men’s recurve category, Alex Rowe, Hayden de Noojer and Joe Tripp), Jessica Mooney for women’s recurve, Emma King for women’s longbow, and myself in the men’s barebow category.
Following an early start on Sunday we arrived and set up, female recurve and both barebows shot in the first session which meant that no one got a lie in as both drivers were in the first session. After shooting some really nice practice ends my shooting levelled out pretty quickly with no end coming in at under 20 in the first half, unfortunately I started struggling with sugar and water levels half way through the second half, resulting in 2 ends of 19 before I managed to pull myself together and eat something. At the end of the qualifying round I was sat 10 points clear of 2nd place. This set me up well for the H2H meaning I should have a clear run to the QF if I continue shooting as I had been. After the WA18 I decided to have a tactical nap after taking some photos, and ensuring that the rest of the team was set up and ready to go, this took me almost to the end of the second round and ready to prepare for the H2H.
In the men’s recurve Alex seeded 4th, Hayden 9th but unfortunately Joe did not make it to the H2H, both Emma (2nd) and Jess (28th) qualified. Unfortunately our team’s lake of H2H experience started to show and resulted early losses, with only Alex making it to the second round. The format of the H2H mean that there is a lot of pressure on every arrow, this is something that is very difficult to practice for without doing many competitions in the format as there is no real way to simulate the pressure of shooting so close to your direct challenger. The psychological element of competition prep really comes to the fore here and this was especially noticeable in my 3rd round which I should have won in straight sets but I didn’t get my head in the game till the third end. Unfortunately Emma lost her SF causing her to lose focus, not realising she still had the bronze medal match for which it was then incredibly hard to focus for.
In these situation it is incredibly easy to lose concentration for even a split second, costing you the end or even the match.
To shoot first or not to shoot first: I prefer to shoot first in a H2H for two main reasons, I don’t like knowing what I have to match before I have shot as this usually results in scoring that score or lower, and second, having seeded in first I am in the comfortable position of knowing that if I continue to shoot as I have I should win and have the possibility to tighten the pressure on the opposition if I put a good arrow down range.
In my experience university competitions are always great fund usually friendly, with each team supporting their teammates on the line. We even found ourselves rooting for Ben Trudgill of Exeter to win the Mens recurve. Our teams support and vending machine runs were invaluable during my head to head as I was again starting to lose concentration as my sugar levels dropped.
I think my main takeaways from this event are first that thinking about what to eat when before a competition is really important, and can mean the difference between an enjoyable day and good performance and an unsuccessful frustrating day. And the other is how important head game is in archery and especially in the final head to head rounds when the pressure is turned up to 11.
One way to “get in the zone” is to prepare properly before each round and even end, whatever this is for each archer, it could be a specific set of warm ups or just mentally rehearsing the draw and loose process, whatever it is it doesn’t really matter. This also helps forget about the other competitors and their performance if I am concentrating fully on what I will do on the line.
In the past I have found that bringing a kilo of flapjacks to an archery usually event ensures that I keep my sugar levels up and always having enough water on the waiting line is also important. On the second point I am hoping that our club will hold some more events both internally and externally to get both new archers competing and improve the head game of those that already take part in competitions.