My name is Sarah Eshman. I’m a junior in highschool and have been shooting with NASP® for four years now. Archery has been an interest of mine for nearly half my life, even though I only shot a bow twice before I ever joined my current archery team.
When I was eight, I became interested in archery. When I was thirteen, the principal at Wynnbrook told us about the upcoming tryouts for archery. There were new coaches and a real possibility for a great team. I remember how nervous I was attending the meeting before tryouts. I ended up sitting next to my mom the entire time instead of with the small number of other archers at the adjacent table. Despite my nerves, however, by the end of the meeting, I was hyped and ready to join the team. It seemed like everything I had hoped it would be! Little did I know that it would become more.
The first archery season began smoothly. My first in-person tournament score seated me in 2nd place, and at the time, it was the most exciting part of my archery career. My score steadily climbed throughout my first season. I qualified for nationals in IBO 3D by placing in the top 10 at state. Then COVID-19 began, and nationals were canceled. Our team’s grand plans for the biggest tournament of the year were crushed. Practice slowly became more restricted until it was canceled for the foreseeable future.
When practice returned, I was in a slump. My average dropped by nearly forty points. Nothing that I or the coaches did helped me to shoot well again. It was a frustrating and stressful time. But after weeks of extra practice and support from my teammates, my score began to rise. I ended the season by reaching my former average. My second season hadn’t been anything like I’d hoped. I was discouraged.
Then the third season of my archery experience began. There were several awesome new archers whom I befriended. They made the team feel more like a family. The regional tournaments flew by. My scores remained impressive. The state tournament was a massive disappointment when my score dropped, but I quickly cleared my head. Nationals was coming up. When Nationals arrived, I was stressed. My scores were falling short of my goals. It felt like each flight only led to further disappointment and frustration.
Finally, I only had one flight left. The IBO 3D Championship. My coach, Chuck Raymer, talked to me right before I shot. He told me how much confidence he had in me and that he truly believed I could win. I didn’t quite agree at the time. The round started and I was shooting exactly how I wanted to. After each and every round, one of my teammates would check and see how I was doing. I felt incredibly encouraged each time we talked, even though I was anxious. This was a different sort of anxiety than it had been earlier in the day, though; earlier, I had been doubting my abilities. Now I was realizing the potential. I had two rounds left. Only two, and my score was nearly perfect.
I finished the tournament with a score of 297. The award ceremony came and I placed first overall in the female division. I couldn’t believe that I had won the national championship. Now that I’ve had some time to process the fact that I won, though, I have a new goal for the 2023 archery season.
To do it again.
–Sarah Eshman is a 2023 student contributor-