Thursday, 26 November 2015

Archery, CRPS and me...

I keep a journal in which (amongst other things) I write about each archery session or competition I shoot. Things such as how it went, what went well, what I could do better. I thought it might be interesting to post one such entry on here. It might give an insight of the benefits and frustrations of trying to do something the best you can when you have a chronic condition which makes doing even the simplest thing really difficult and most things impossible.
So here it is... 

Archery today - shot Portsmouth, scoring 528
“Focus on what you’re doing not the target” or “don’t think, just shoot” are definitely the mantras I need to focus on I think if I am going to shoot at my best all the time. There is absolutely no reason why every arrow shouldn’t score nine or ten. I have the technique, it’s my head that’s letting me down. A 2 for pity’s sake, where on earth did that come from? 

As soon as I think about it I become tentative, not “squeezing’ the shot on release but somehow trying to guide it in. A bit like lifting your head on a golf shot, something I trained myself not to do. Of course the former keeps the power on and in-line, the latter can mean slight angles creep in which makes the difference between the gold or worse. It comes down to anxiety/fear of failure/self-applied pressure of not getting the arrow in the gold every time. That is what I expect of myself for a Portsmouth (or a WA 18m to be honest). If I can chill out a bit more things will be much easier!!!

To a certain extent I suppose guiding it in has crept into my shooting because of my arms. When everything is stiff and range of movement is rubbish I literally do have to do what I can to get the arrows to that all important yellow bit of the target. Just getting to full draw and holding it there is hard enough, let alone going that little bit further. 

The good thing is that I really feel my release is better, more consistent. As my coaches always gently reminds, ‘just try and pull that elbow back that little bit before release’. I can tell the difference as the arrow comes off the bow. I love that felling when you know it’s a great shot without looking at the target. Not much beats that if I’m honest.

I know that I should be proud of what I am scoring, and I am….yes really. Doubting it even as I type it!! Useless Mrs P!!  It’s great to be as good as I am considering I shoot with a really basic setup compared to those I shoot against, a 28 pound 64” bow, and extremely unorthodox body position by anyone’s imagination! It would be very interesting to see how others would do if they sat in my wheelchair and shot as I have to!! Perhaps I should challenge someone…. 

I suppose I’m frustrated that my body ALWAYS lets me down, to varying degrees. When my arms don’t want to play ball at all it’s not so bad. It’s the rounds where I’m shooting really well, but then just can’t keep it going. Be it pain, stiffness, locked up left arm, getting cold or just plain exhaustion I always seem to go through a bad patch part way through, or it drops away at the end. I’m disabled so I shouldn’t expect so much of myself? Nope, it just doesn’t work like that. Well not for me anyway. I get this glimpse of what I could do if I was an able-bodied archer and then it’s snatched away.

Me, shooting outdoors
I can’t and won’t give up. I will continue to improve and shoot better scores if it kills me. Archery gives me the chance to be ‘me’, the competitive, driven person I was before that fateful day in December 2005. The day CRPS got me. There isn’t anything else in my life that comes close to giving me the buzz archery does.

I’ve just read through what I've written and realised I haven’t even considered the effects of recent days.  The day before yesterday I couldn’t even keep water down. Such were the side effects of an ongoing attempt to increase the dosage of a new drug we were trying to move over to, which we hoped would improve my pain relief (see my last blog post for details).

It didn’t and my body demonstrated it’s utter disgust by reacting so violently. Yesterday I managed to eat toast and a bit of soup. My pain control is worse until I can get back to the 50mg slow release Morphine that did a better job than I had ever imagined. I’m nowhere near a 100%. It’ll take a month or so to get back to where I was. Common sense says 'What am I like’ to even try and shoot a complete round today? 

Hmmm... anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that I don’t do common sense! 

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