If you’re over the age of 25, you may remember a charming little Warner Brothers and Steven Spielberg cartoon called “Pinky and the Brain.” The show chronicled the efforts of super-lab-rat-genius Brain and his dim-witted sidekick Pinky as they hatched plot after nefarious plot designed to take over the world. As evil masterminds go, Brain wasn’t terribly successful. However, he was consistent, as evidenced by their nightly signoff:
Brain: Let’s go, Pinky. We have to get ready for tomorrow.
Pinky: What are we going to do tomorrow, Brain?
Brain: (maniacal evil look) Try and take over the world!
I trot out these relics from the 2000s to illustrate an important truism about archery: “Archery is about doing the same thing, over and over.” Provided you have a good technical base, archery is about consistency – a single-minded determination to find something that works, and to keep doing it, repeatedly. I’m glad the Brain never turned his overly-large ambition to the archery world, or we might have needed much smaller uniforms for the USAT team.
“But Brain,” says Pinky, “What does this have to do with shooting arrows in Las Vegas?” Patience is a virtue, Pinky.
The Vegas Shoot is huge. I mean gigantic. Cram 3500 archers from all over the world into a Las Vegas world-class hotel, casino, and spa, and you’re talking an effort of gigantic proportions. For the first-time attendee, the word daunting comes to mind.
Fortunately, the organizers know this. While they necessarily do everything in their power to promote and augment the idea that THIS IS HUGE, they do provide a lot of help, especially of the electronic kind. The best way to sign up is online at the NFAA’s Vegas Shoot site.
By doing so, you’ll automatically receive emails at crucial moments leading up to the shoot. This includes a QR code that you can print on paper or display on your smartphone, which eases the check-in process considerably. Most importantly, you’ll receive email updates about your target assignment and shooting times for the Friday and Saturday shoots. You’ll receive your Sunday target and time on late Saturday evening, based on your performance and placement during the first two days.
In addition, “there’s an app for that.” The Vegas Shoot now features a smartphone app in both iOS and Android variants. Just search at your favorite app store for “The Vegas Shoot” and download it, free of charge. The app has several useful features, especially an up-to-date event schedule, event maps, and lookups for all of your favorite archers, their time and target assignments, and their scores, updated with every scored target.
Electronics in hand, you have what you need to successfully navigate the venue. The other thing you’ll need is time.
Like I said, this event is huge. Build a little extra time into your tournament routine. Instead of arriving an hour early, consider coming 90 minutes ahead. The walk will be further and the lines will be longer. Consider checking in the day before if possible, especially if you’re one of the early 7:30 am shooters. Archers can be assigned in one of four different shooting rooms, so give yourself time to get the lay of the land and find your place.
Even navigating to your shooting bale can be a challenge, With shooting lines starting every three hours, you’ll pass hundreds of archers coming in and going out, each of them with their own unwieldy bow and collection of sharp pointed sticks. Give yourself time to patiently navigate your way safely and calmly to your assigned spot. Better to arrive early and wait, than to rush to your spot and shoot that first end with a stressed-out heart rate.
One advantage to having the shoot at a hotel is… well, the hotel. It’s a very nice if slightly dated resort (a regular business traveler might notice the quaint lack of wall-mounted USB and network jacks), You can easily leave your bow case and other non-essentials and traverse the halls with just your bow and quiver, as you can get to the event site without ever stepping outside. (Be prepared for looks of dismay and alarm from unprepared guests who are wondering why there are 100 armed people walking past the craps tables).
Even commuters who stay at other hotels can take this option, leaving their cases in their car trunks, as the covered parking garage has ample space and will take you directly to the venue.
So, you have the app. You have your assignments, You came early enough to handle the massive milling crowds and the sprawling layout. You probably even took a peek at the incredible trade show, featuring every manufacturer and vendor you ever heard of, and some that you haven’t. You’re standing at your target butt, in what is likely the largest indoor shooting venue you’ve ever used. Your brain is probably saying, “man, this is INTENSE.”
George “Griv” Ryals, world-class archery pro and coach, and owner of The Archery Learning Center in Atlanta, gave us a very important observation at his Vegas Shoot seminar. The Vegas Shoot promoters do everything they can to convince you that this is extraordinary and unlike any other tournament in the world. They have to do this, because they want everyone to come! The best of the best will come because this event matches that claim – the best of the best. But they’re not quite correct.
Do yourself a favor. Look at your bow, your arrows, your tab or release. Look at the target butt. Nothing has changed. It’s the same equipment – bow, arrows, accessories. It’s the same five-color FITA target. It’s the same 20 yards as your home range, at the same height, and the same lane width.
Remind yourself, over and over, that this may be an amazing venue hosting amazing archers – but you’re still the same archer, and this is the same NFAA round you shot over-and-over at your home range or in your basement. Use this in your routine – in your practices (don’t overpractice), in your mental prep (don’t cram), in your form (don’t tense up), and in your shot execution (don’t change anything).
While everything about you is screaming at the differences, stay calm and resolute with the firm confidence of the Brain and his pal, Pinky. What are we doing tomorrow? The same thing we always do, Pinky!
This article is third of a five-part series. Be sure to check back for more!