Sarah Eshman March – In the book One’s Own Room, Virginia Wolfe wrote, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” If I were to add on to this quote, I’d add one cannot shoot well.
Over the four years that I’ve shot in NASP, I’ve participated in almost seventy tournaments. While I didn’t record what I ate for all seventy corresponding pre-shooting meals, I do know some things about different foods that play major parts in score.
We’ll start with the most important one. Protein! If you’re a dedicated gym-rat or nutritional devotee, you’re likely very familiar with its benefits. It helps to lose weight, build muscle, and is a wonderful source of energy (if consumed properly). Protein is critical and should be very important to your pre-tournament meal or snack.
The morning that I won the national championship, the main portion of my breakfast was a greek yogurt smoothie. Greek yogurt is a wonderful source of protein. I highly recommend it as part of your meal before a tournament. It doesn’t matter if it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Be sure to eat your protein!
Next is sugar. You might think that it’s smart to avoid sugar before you shoot- you don’t want to get all jittery, hyper, and shaky, do you? While this is generally a good rule of thumb, it’s not always the case. If you have a tendency to get low blood sugar levels, be sure to eat something sweet. Now, this isn’t an excuse to go and feast on cupcakes and candy before you shoot. This just means that having a snack or side dish like fresh fruit is a good idea. Low blood sugar can cause a variety of issues with your shooting (such as shakiness, dizziness, or trouble focusing), and foods that contain plenty of natural sugars can help to prevent these issues.
Caffeine is my next topic. I’m a caffeine junkie- I love everything from Coca-Cola to espresso, to Monster energy drinks (Peachy Keen is my favorite!). The way that caffeine affects my shooting has slowly changed over the past- in my first few years of archery, drinking caffeine helped me to focus better while on the line. However, after a short period of time, the increased focus turned into increased restlessness. My score would drop several points when I drank caffeine. So I ditched caffeine as a pre-shooting drink.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve experimented with caffeine, sugar, and protein at practice. My caffeine and sugar levels don’t cause change. My scores on days with zero caffeine were about the same as my scores were when I had 150mg of caffeine an hour before shooting.
However, protein did have an effect. On days that I didn’t eat well or ate minimal protein, my score dropped. I maintained my average score on days that I did eat enough protein.
It’s important to remember while reading this that everyone is different! Even though caffeine doesn’t affect my score, drinking caffeine might drop your score significantly! If you’d like to experiment with how sugar, protein, and caffeine affect your shooting, do it at home or ask your coaches before practice. Never begin experimenting while at a tournament.
To sum it all up, nutrition plays a vital role in your score at a tournament. Maybe you have a pre-shooting routine. You might listen to music or isolate yourself to focus. It’s time to add a new step- a pre-tournament snack! After all, they do say you are what you eat… you’ve got to eat like a champion to shoot like one!