-Bryleigh McKeithan- Have you ever tried your hardest at something but still didn’t succeed? It is an experience that everyone needs to have. It hurts, but you can look at losing like you lost, or like you learned something.
Before the 2022 ALAS Bullseye Tournament in March, I had stepped up my practice routine and was shooting small practice tournaments at my house with scores in the 240’s and 250’s. I was really confident in my shooting, and I felt setting a goal of shooting 260’s at state was reasonable. The whole way there, I was really excited to just shoot.
When we arrived in Shreveport, I was beginning to get nervous, but I did my usual tricks to settle in: eat some skittles, control my breathing, and talk myself through the shooting steps. My first practice round from 10m was great! I thought I was definitely about to reach my goal score, but I was wrong. My first scored round from 10m was awful. I’m not sure what I did, but I adjusted too much to try to correct it. Then in my next round, I adjusted again to finally get on track, and then I started to panic. Maybe adjusting wasn’t even my problem? I never could get my aim quite right, became emotional, and I ended up finishing with my worst score of the entire year.
My performance was the worst. I was sad, and I was angry and frustrated with myself. I thought, “All season I have learned from others and worked hard to advance my skills and technique just to shoot my lowest score at the biggest tournament.” It didn’t feel good, and it felt like all of my hard work and days outside in the cold and rain were for nothing. But I did gain something; I gained more on the ride home than I ever would have shooting 260+.
On the way home, my mom, dad and I talked about all the times we had experienced defeat despite trying our best. They explained that losing when you tried so hard is tough, but it’s life. It’s necessary to help you grow and makes you appreciate winning that much more. Losing doesn’t reflect you as a bad archer. In some people’s eyes that’s how they see it, but losing only shows that you are human, aren’t perfect, and have room for improvement. In my opinion, you only lose if you don’t try again.
Bryleigh is a 2022 NASP® student contributor. Watch for her future submissions.