100 Arrows In

I was 40 arrows into my first 100 and I was already sore. My coach, Orion White, had just adjusted my brace height and tightened up my bow. Now, instead of shooting 28 lbs with a brace height of 8 3/4 inches, I am shooting 30 lbs with a brace height of 8 1/2 inches. You wouldn’t think anyone would feel the difference, but I assure you I am still feeling it.

At one point while shooting today I was certain I had hurt my shoulder. To make sure you fully understand this worry-I need to describe archery to those who don’t shoot. (If you do shoot, feel free to skip the entirety of the next paragraph)

I start with my stance: my feet are shoulder length apart and angled over the line so that I have a sturdier approach during windy days. I check my feet, I lock my hips, I stand up straight, and then relax my shoulders. I usually take a nice deep breath here to relax and clear my mind. Then I look directly at the gold on the target. I stare is down as I dip my bow hand and then raise it in preparation to draw my shot. It’s really more of a scooping motion than it is a dip-but it’s meant to keep my shoulder from raising during the shot. I carefully, purposefully, draw back to my anchor points. Anchor points are used by archers for consistency. The string sits in the center of my nose and touches the right corner of my mouth. The knuckles on my right index finger lines up with the bottom of my jaw. I hold that position for a few beats as I expand to watch my arrow sit carefully along the edge of my clicker, a device which literally clicks when I pull to my full draw length. I hold that position until I am ready to transfer the weight to my LAN 2 muscles (the lower trapezius and latissimus) and release. I expand my muscles to release. Click. Boom. Gold. Then I start all over after I reflect on what needs to change and what needs to stay the same.

So-I felt like I hurt my shoulder. Shortly after my transfer, during holding and right before release, I felt my right shoulder cave in from holding the weight and I released. I think I was too far into the motion to have stopped myself. Immediately my shoulder hurt and I knew I’d done something wrong. But there was no pop. There was no tear. And so in my coach’s own words, I had to “stop being a baby” and work through it. I was 75 arrows in and decided I could take a break.

When I began shooting again, I could feel that the shoulder was sore and not damaged. My coach came up behind me and placed his thumb on my shoulder blade, a drill he’d done to me before. The goal is to move or pinch his thumb using only my LAN 2 muscles. He did this when I was 90 arrows in. Needless to say I was sore. I was sore at 40-I was sore at 50-I’m sore now.

I moved his thumb but I felt it in my muscles.

It took me 20 arrows before the new settings on my bow didn’t feel awkward. Tomorrow: 100 more.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.