-S. Nicola Chmelir–
Searching for a Superstition, a Goodluck Charm? Me Too.
Is it just me, or do you also “search” for a superstition or good luck charm during competitions and practice? After shooting your best shot, do you only look at what you did right, or do you see the consistencies of your environment, appearance, and mindset to carry to the next shot?
Being a Robot
After shooting well during one flight of competition, and not wanting to change or mess anything up, I remember actually going up to my friend and saying “Good luck, not that you need it!” before every single flight, for both practice and scoring rounds. Why, I’m not exactly sure. I tried to turn my mind into that of a robot–just going through the motions. I forced my environment into a gap in time–paused and perfect forever.
During another competition, I vividly remember my mind going through the exact same thoughts, yes thoughts, while on the shooting line. I would cycle through a reassuring phrase or prompt–something like: “You did this before, you can do it again” or “Only one more shot, then you’ll be alright”–until I messed up. As if waiting, longing for that next bullseye, I would feed myself another phrase, changing it every time until one backed me up, until one worked. Why do I, and I’m sure others, feel the need to have a lucky charm?
A Lucky Charm
Only weeks ago at the Oregon State Competition, while getting ready at the hotel with my friends, one of them told me she had worn the same pair of shoes and her hair up in a lucky ponytail for every archery competition she had ever attended. Although a bit skeptical about the whole lucky charm notion, after recalling her achieved #4 placement at every state tournament, I started to wonder about its magic?
Was she succeeding because her hair was pulled back in exactly the right way to give her optimal sight? Did her worn-black-high-top-Vans steady her balance and remind her to bend her knees just slightly as not to faint? Or, did the magic charms give her the confidence and assurance that steadied her mind and body to allow her to perform her best?
Repetition & Resilience
After that same competition and shooting well, I found myself thinking: “How can I do this again? Should I wear my hair like this every time or always wear this type of arm guard? Should I always be that friendly to those I shoot with?” I was searching for security and steadiness that exists in each moment of success that I could hold on to.
Why do we latch onto anything that might help us reach our goals, or maybe someone else’s goals for us?
Pressure. Reassurance. Confidence. Ground.
Some may hold onto a charm, either physical or mental, as a result of that underlying weight that others place upon us–pressure.
Others wear a charm as a reassuring symbol of their past victories and successes, a visible reminder in their mind or sight of that redundant, yet never failing phrase: “I can do this!”
While another bunch carries this charm, just as Katniss Everdeen wore her district-made golden Mockingjay pin, as a symbol of pride.
Others may grasp onto that one thing that keeps them grounded, calm, and able to shoot their best.
However, as much as one of these innumerable written and unwritten reasons fits the answers to my lucky habit, another might fit yours. And, as unique and lucky your charm is to you, mine is just that for me.
Although these “lucky” charms prove to serve us more like a helpful companion on the shooting line than a purely luck-filled device, we hold onto them for a reason. A reason that is simultaneously unique to ourselves and common for millions of others around the world.
These helpful charms assist us to be our best, whether that means boosting our confidence or lifting our mood, grounding ourselves or deflating our pressure, or merely giving us a sign that reminds us of our talent, excellence, and potential.
Like those who support us through tough and triumphing moments, the good luck charms and superstitions that follow us to every competition help our greatest capability and character shine through our faulted, human characteristics. And, as this sport attracts individuals from across the globe into common spaces, the “lucky charm” that carries both one’s insecurities and strengths links a beautifully vulnerable and unique trait in us all–the trait of resilience.