Olympic Day 2019: Channeling My Inner Merida
Last year I spent Olympic Day kayaking on a river, and had a ball. (I still want to buy a kayak!)
This year? It was a little harder to pick something. What sport do I pick?
After some inner digging, I realized that the choice was staring me right in the face:
- Brady Ellison just won the world championship.
- Out of all the YouTube Olympic channels worth following, archery was the most fun to watch.
- I love all the characters that use bow and arrows. (Especially Legolas.)
So I chose archery!
The hardest part was finding a place that would accommodate my tight schedule. Many state parks offer archery classes, but at specific times of the week. There are sportsman's clubs that have both archery and gun ranges. But as much as I looked, I couldn't find anything that worked.
Finally, I found a Yelp review from a girl who went with her husband to a place called Michiana Archery for a small lesson and had a blast. Turns out that shop wasn't too far away from me, and I could pick a time that worked for my schedule.
So I did it!
The store was offering a 2-for-1 lesson, but I couldn't find anyone in the area to go with me, so I ended up going by myself. Of course there was apprehension about that, and the fact that the store ended up being in the back room of a party store didn't help. But when I stepped foot in the store, I wasn't nervous anymore!
I was greeted by a pretty young girl and her father. They had both spent the day taking an archery instructional class, and they were really nice to me. The girl said she was an intern, and her dad mentioned she got paid in lessons and equipment - a pretty good deal! She said the workers would be with me soon.
I met Wes first, who had me sign a waiver and get me ready for the lesson I'd have with Matt. The waiver was nice to have right away, because it gave me the option to consent to having my instructor touch me to adjust my stance or not. (I said it was okay - it ended up not being a problem at all.)
Next I met my talkative instructor Matt. If I wanted to know anything about archery, from competitive archery to hunting, he would be the guy to ask. I probably learned more in the lesson than I would have in eight lessons from anyone else!
He first figured out which eye was dominant with a very easy test (I am very much right-eye dominant), got me set up with an arm guard that would protect me from the string, and then read me the rules. Because this deals with pointy objects and projectiles, it was very important to pay attention to all the rules, and he made them very simple to follow. I learned that I needed to stand behind the red lines until the signal to collect my arrows. If I drop anything in front of the red line, I should let my instructor pick it up instead of getting it myself. Even when getting my arrows, I need to make sure to wait my turn and not try to get them in a big crowd (or tempt getting poked by a sharp item).
The actual instruction didn't take long at all. Matt took the bow, showed me how to click the arrow into place, where my hands and fingers needed to be, how my thumb should hook under my jaw and my fingers above it on my teeth, and then how to aim and simply relax my fingers for the release. Then boom! I had the bow!
I started with a compound bow that he adjusted to be a little lighter. I clicked the arrow, lifted the bow into place, aimed at the bullseye, and...whoops! I went north of the target - didn't even hit the paper!
However, Matt was never critical of my shooting. (He also wasn't lazy.) He immediately figured out the two things with which I have always struggled: my shoulder and abdominal posture. Archery requires the body to align naturally to provide the best shots. Out of everything, that was probably the thing that took the most effort to fix. A couple of times Matt used his hands to shift my stance, but it was never awkward. Every time the instruction made sense, and helped my shots.
I was expecting to be in the lesson for an hour. I ended up being there for two and-a-half! While taking a lesson at any other time might have resulted in a lot of people shooting with me (this range is where the Notre Dame archers train!), Saturday evening was pretty dead. Matt's "better half" Christine arrived near the beginning of my lesson, and she, Wes, and I did a bit of shooting together, which made me feel even more comfortable than I already was. Everyone was easy to talk to.
In the end, I think I did six rounds of five. Only a few of my arrows missed the target altogether; many times my arrows ended up near each other, which Matt said was a good sign! That meant consistency, which is key for professionals in any sport.
By the end, I felt really good about my shot. I wasn't Olympic-caliber by any means, but I was starting to feel the routine of picking up an arrow, clicking it into place, positioning my head, drawing the string back slowly with three fingers, hooking my hand into place, aiming the arrow, and relaxing my fingers. Even while I was tired, I wanted to keep going! And Matt decided halfway through that I should try a recurve bow, and I really liked the feel of that bow!
The shop itself was very interesting. Michiana Archery is strictly an archery shop and range. It sells all kinds of bows, strings, and accessories, and has professionals that can help tune and adjust your bows. They offer classes and have special promotional nights, too. (Next Friday is Ladies' Night, with lessons for ladies taught by female archers!) You can rent the range to shoot for an hour with your own equipment, or pay a little more to use theirs. And their membership costs are very reasonable for someone who might want to keep up their archery skills. Even I'm thinking about it!
If you don't believe that I actually did it, here's a video of me actually doing it!
I hope everyone has a Happy Olympic Day, and that you find some time to get out and do an Olympic sport - even if it's as simple as running or biking!
To find out more about Michiana Archery, check out their website and Facebook page. They work with archers from all over the country!
Tokyo 2020 Prep
I got an email in the middle of the week saying that I had to "reconfirm" my ticket request. I did that yesterday, and found that they had attached ticket costs to them. If I were to get everything I chose (which I won't) I would have to spend $6000 on tickets alone for 30 events! It turns out that's pretty good; I saw others who said their projections ranged from $15,000 to over $40,000!
Next week, if they release the results of the lottery, I will write a whole blog about what I got.
Weekly Cauldron Check