But I’m Not Ready for a Tournament

The archery tournament is over.  Scores are added, compared, submitted to the scrutiny of judges, and logged in formal records.  Bows are cased, arrows are tubed, targets are rolled away.  It’s over.

And the self-analysis starts.  How did I do?  Did I make good shots?  Bad shots?  Did I make my goals? Did I win anything???

In this particular tournament, although I met my personal goals, I placed pretty much at the bottom. I expected this going in – this was a national tournament, and I wasn’t a big cheese even back home.  In short, I was going to lose.

This did not prevent me from going anyway.

“Why?” some of my students ask. Why travel to a tournament when you have no chance of winning?  Why endure the pressure? Why deal with the heat, and the wind, the judges, the bad shots, the other competitors, the other coaches?

As an archery coach, I often encourage my archers to enter their first tournament.  More often than not, the response I get is, “Who, me?  Oh no, I’m not ready for a tournament.”  This response isn’t limited to just the beginners.  More experienced archers may be feeling a bit off – training has been lacking; scores have suffered; performance hasn’t been ideal.

These responses comes down to this attitude:  If I’m not going to win, why bother going?

For my answer, I like to paraphrase Warren Buffet:  “If I’m going to get better, I must be among those who are better than me. No one improves without constant challenge.”

Archery, like any sport that requires athletic development over time, is more than just about winning.  Archery is about the road to self-improvement; the testing of limits.  It’s about setting realistic but challenging goals and striving for them.  And then setting new goals, and achieving those.  And then doing it again, and again.  It’s about getting better, one arrow at a time.

Archery is not a race – it’s a journey.  And like any journey, it starts in fits and jumps, with the leaps forward mixed in with steps backward.

If I’m going to get better, I must be among those who are better than me.  No one improves without constant challenge. 

This advice serves me well in my archery, in my work, and in my life. May it serve you just as well!

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