My First Steps

I started shooting a few years ago and I caught the bug. Archery is very calming and very emotionally fulfilling, especially when you make the shot. About a year and half ago, maybe two at this point honestly, a friend of mine came to me with a proposition:

BILLIE: So I found a place that gives archery lessons, do you want to take one?

ME: I will if you will.

And so we did. Simple as that. Well–maybe not as simple as that. We went to Banger’s Sports Shop located in Winslow, NJ, for our lessons. They have set up varying levels of classes which works out wonderfully because you can repeat any level and if I had been forced to stand, draw, aim, and hold the way that I do now when I took my first lesson–I may not have caught the bug. We started with a lecture about the parts of the bow, which, if I must be honest, I didn’t actually know. It dawned on me then that although I had been shooting for about five years by that time that I really didn’t know much outside of nocking my arrow and pulling the string back.

By the time I was in the level three class, Billie had stopped coming with me. He just wasn’t that into it and didn’t see the need to learn more about a sport which would only be a hobby.

I grew closer to my coach, and now friend, Orion White. In fact, I was the first person to complete all five levels of classes at Banger’s and had very frequently talked with Orion about competing. As you’ll see in the coming posts: I’m very competitive. I enjoy pushing myself to be better. Orion told me to join USA Archery and begin registering for events. I was so psyched about it that I went online that night, bought my membership, and looked through all the events which had been posted.

Not that many are in my area. Not that many are near me period.

I used that as an excuse not to register. In all honesty, I was afraid. All that work and I knew that I was going to fail. It’s not a great feeling to have. So, I chickened out of my first competition and never registered.

I was ready when the second one came around. I went to Columbia, PA, and competed for the first time ever. It was nerve racking. Orion had told me about being timed but it was weird to actually see and hear the whole system. So many things happened that weekend. As I drove to Columbia, I was actually developing a nasty case of bronchitis. I didn’t know and just thought I had a bad cold. The night before my competition I had to take some NyQuil so that I could actually sleep. During the competition I lived on Halls cough drops. The cherry kind-they’re the best. I know for a fact that I was stinking up the line with the smell of menthol. But hey, at least I wasn’t coughing on any one.

For the first time ever, I kept track of my score officially. When I’m in my backyard I just mark the color. Anything outside the red rings I consider a miss.

My shots all went left. So very, very far to the left. When I compensated for it they started going to the right. I attribute that to nerves. If you aren’t an archer it probably doesn’t make too much sense at first. Archery is about consistency. You have to do the same thing over and over and over. Touch the same spot on your chin, pinch the same muscles in your shoulder, stand with the feet the same length apart as you did last time. Otherwise your grouping will be more spread out than girls and boys at an elementary school dance.

So, I was nervous and undoubtedly not paying attention to my form. Although, I had 120 seconds to shoot 3 arrows, I probably took, max, 30 seconds for each round.

Tomorrow, I start the first of many intensive shoots as I get ready for outdoor season. Orion will be tightening my bow to increase the weight and I will start the first day of my new training regimen: shooting 100 arrows 5 times a week. It will be grueling, I will be in immense pain for the first few weeks, but I want to do it.

Because I want to be a member of Team USA’s Archery Team. I want to be a world ranked archer and I believe that I can do it. I have seen my good days (I’ve seen my bad ones too, but I am choosing to ignore those right now) and I know that I can shoot what I need to if I just focus.

I will focus.

I will make the shot.

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.

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