Don't Be Afraid
By: Jace Walters
When we started practicing Friday at the Lancaster Archery Supply practice range I was so happy and smiling, but that might have to do with the roller bow case I just bought that I could sleep in since its almost bigger than me. I was so happy with how my practice went there so we packed up and went to the tournament location to meet some of my sponsors and walk around. I really wanted to meet the Hoyt and Carbon Express people to say thank you for sponsoring me. When I met with the Hoyt people I talked to them about my Hoyt Klash that Kames Sports gave me to shoot, I told them why I loved my Hoyt Klash and I shot a lot of bows before picking the Klash. When I left their booth they gave me a bunch of Hoyt wristbands that I use to keep my Bohning slip-on armguard on since their small is too big for my arm. Next we walked over to the Carbon Express booth and I didn't have to say who I was to the person there because he knew who I was. He asked me if my name was Jace Walters and if I got my first deer on my 10th birthday, and I said yes. His name was Mr. Paul and it was easier to talk to him knowing that he actually already knew of me. I liked talking to him because he was funny and nice and that made me happy.
The next day I met a lot of pros and got pictures and had them sign a one spot target for me that I hung up in my bedroom. Then I went to shoot practice in the practice hall and there were two lines of practice and I got nervous and tingly because there were a lot of people that I wasn't use to shooting next to. Besides my brother there was only one person I met before, she was a girl from Wayne County Archers. By the time I was done with practice I had calmed down and wasn't tingly or nervous anymore. When I went up to the shooting line for the two ends of tournament practice I was happy and not worried about any of the people. Tournament practice went really, really, really good, I averaged about a 9 each shoot. Once practice was over and the tournament started I kept looking at all the people there. I got all nervous again like I did in the practice hall and I felt like I had to win or else I was going to get my bow and arrows taken back since those 2 big sponsors of mine were both there. I started pushing myself more which made me shoot even worse, I couldn't even keep my bow steady at all and my shots didn't go good at all. The more I was trying to shoot better the worse I shot and the more frustrated I got and I shoot even worse and ended up missing the entire target a few times. I was so nervous during my shoot that my pepperoni did not even work, and it always worked before.
At the end of the tournament I just wanted to run back into the practice hall to put all my gear away and go home. But I went up to Mr. Paul from Carbon Express and there were people sitting by him and I got more nervous. I asked him to come with me away from them a little bit and I told him sorry for shooting so bad today. He said it is OK because when he was my age that happened to him too, that the nerves got to him. He then told me that some of his pros didn't make it to their shoot offs. I liked that he told me that its fine because it was my first big shoot and he said thank you for telling me what happened and just keep doing what you are doing and he believes in me. We talked for a little bit more and he gave me a hug and told me to kill more deer, I felt a lot better when I left his booth. Next time I shoot I will have less pressure of my back since I know Mr. Paul won't take my arrows back if I don't win.
Was the shoot worth it, yes because I got use to shooting next to a lot of people. I have a few small local shoots coming up and then the USA Archery JOAD and NFAA Indoor Championships. Now I am more prepared for these and other bigger shoots because I know how to react to them now because of Lancaster. So now I will try and not let the nerves get to me since I have been to a really big shoot. The USA Archery JOAD and NFAA Indoor Championships shoots will be big shoots, but not as big as Lancaster. If I do get nervous, afraid and shaky at another shoot and can't even keep my bow straight again, I will try and think of what Mr. Paul told me after my horrible shoot at Lancaster.
Yes we show up to win, but not everyone can win I learned that from racing motocross. And I shouldn't be winning or finishing good in any national event, yet! Like in racing the bigger and bigger the event, the better and better the competition will be and that will make you more nervous. No matter how good you are, some days you will shoot bad even if you think it's going to be the best day ever. If you are afraid that your sponsors are going to take your equipment away for having a bad shoot, then why would you want that sponsor? So don't think that way, stay positive and shoot the best you can without pushing yourself past the limit. Yes you might be having a horrible shoot, just finish the best you can, go home, practice and prepare harder and try and win the next shoot.