Rebekah Tipping tells us what it’s like to shoot in Nîmes against the best – and what she took home from the experience
In January 2018, I attended the third leg of the indoor world cup in Nîmes, France. This is the third World Cup event I’ve been to as an archer, having attended Marrakech two years in a row. I hadn’t initially planned on attending Nîmes, but after finishing 5th in Marrakech, and shooting well at the British National Indoor Championships in December, I’d caught the bug for indoor archery. I signed up around five weeks before the competition and knew I’d have to get my strength up and my technique refined if I wanted to make the cut for the head-to-heads.
I always set myself a few process goals before a competition so I have something to focus on while I shoot. For this competition, I had a few technique points to keep in mind, but my main goal was to work through my mental process to keep my focus on the shot.
My qualification round was something of a challenge. It felt like one of those days where no matter what I did, the shot just didn’t feel right. I was catching my arm guard with my string, bruising my forearm up nicely, and my arrows were continuously avoiding the ten. It was quite a trial to keep working through every shot ignoring the previous one.
Another thing to contend with at international events is the inability to avoid knowing where you are in the rankings, as there is a screen behind the targets that updates every end. This was an added challenge for me as I was constantly moving between 32nd and 33rd positions, and only the top 32 make it through to the head-to-heads! I didn’t want this extra pressure on myself. I had told myself before the shoot that I’d be happy with wherever I finished as long as my process was good, so I avoided looking at the screen – when I could. But there is always that little voice in the back of your head that tells you not to settle, and that voice was telling me I was going to make the cut for the head-to-heads.
All I had to do was work through every shot, and I’d get to redeem myself on an extra few arrows in a head-to-head against one of the top archers in the world. And I did manage to make the cut, finishing on a score of 543, just one point higher than I’d shot in Marrakech this season, and although this score wasn’t what I was hoping for, I was absolutely thrilled to have made it.
Finishing in 31st place meant I would be shooting against the 2nd seeded archer, Rio 2016’s Olympic silver medallist Lisa Unruh. I have seen Lisa shoot before; she is an amazing archer to watch, with the solid form and consistency you’d expect from someone who shoots a qualification score of 592!
We had a few practice ends, which I used to completely reset myself from the qualification round, I had a friend and team mate behind me during my match, and she pointed out that I was swinging my bow arm left as soon as the arrow was gone. This advice was important, as I had not realised that I had been doing anything out of the ordinary, and now that I was aware I focussed on holding my bow arm strong on the target and delivering the arrow into the middle. My confidence was completely restored by a 30 in the final end of practice, and all I had to do was keep the tens coming.
There is something I particularly love about head-to-heads: the increased heart rate and heightened senses that come with the time ticking down as you prepare to shoot your arrows. I know that this always improves my shooting, and I live for it. It’s probably as close to an adrenaline rush you can get without doing something dangerous! For me, I find that my pounding heart gives me something to focus on between arrows, and the tunnel vision helps with the mental aspect of focussing solely on the target.
I opened with a 29 to match Lisa’s 29, and then a 28 to her second 29. I shot another 28, but she was not giving me any chances and put in a 30. I was shooting slowly, as I needed to mentally reset myself between each arrow. In our last end, I had seen that Lisa had shot a 29, and I had shot two 10s with one arrow to go – and I was battling the timer, with 15 seconds left to shoot my last arrow. My front shoulder lacked the new-found direction I had gained at the beginning of the match, and my weak shot flicked into the 7.
I can’t be too disappointed in that match though, as I shot a 112 dozen, well above my ranking, and it was a huge learning curve with regards to what I needed to do to keep the shots strong. One day I know I’ll be competitive with Lisa Unruh, I just need to keep working hard and the scores will come!
This wasn’t the end for me, as Nîmes has a second-chance tournament where everyone that went out in the 1/16th round gets to shoot another dozen arrows on the Sunday morning for the chance to win prize money (and a set of Easton X10s). I knew what I needed to do and I was determined to shoot another great dozen. My first end in scoring was a 28. A few clicks on the sight, and the next was a 30. My first score of 30 all weekend! And then another. At this point I was looking at the score flip boards above everyone’s targets, and could see that I was three points ahead. All I needed to do was shoot three more good arrows and I’d win. I stood on the line, feeling that adrenaline rush, and shot three strong shots, a 29. I finished on a 117 dozen – I’d never shot a dozen this high in a competition before! I was the proud winner of 300 euros and a dozen Easton X10 arrows.
I really enjoyed my few days in Nîmes, spending some quality time with like-minded archery friends, and seeing some of the best in the world compete for the top spot. One of the greatest highlights for me was standing on the line with Lisa Unruh in our head-to-head and seeing up close what a strong bow arm looks like. This trip was a huge learning experience for my own shooting, and gave me a lot to aspire to seeing world-class athletes such as Lisa and Brady Ellison shooting with such consistency and strength. I look forward to the day when I can be competitive with the likes of them, and hopefully inspire people as these archers have inspired me.
What is Nîmes?
The Nîmes Archery Tournament is currently the third stage of the Indoor World Cup circuit, held in the second half of January each year in the historic Roman city of Nîmes in the south of France. One of the largest tournaments in Europe, it attracted nearly 1,200 archers from 50 nations this year, in its 20th edition.
Can I join in?
Yes, you can take part – it’s open entry. There are multiple divisions including a masters tournament, and second chance tournaments too. Adult registration starts from €150. Next year’s event will be held 18th-20th January 2019. Be warned though – this year’s event was a sell out, so apply early!
Tell me a fact
Brady Ellison set the indoor recurve men’s ranking round world record at the Nîmes tournament in 2017, shooting 599/600. He dropped the single point on the last arrow of the first half. While the X count was not recorded, he claimed to have shot ‘about 55 of them’.
> Recurve men
Steve Wijler (NED)
Brady Ellison (USA)
Kim Jae Hyeong (KOR)
> Recurve women
Kim Surin (KOR)
Sim Yeji (KOR)
Lisa Unruh (GER)
> Compound men
Kris Schaff (USA)
Mike Schloesser (NED)
Paul Tedford (USA)
> Compound women
Natalia Avdeeva (RUS)
Yesim Bostan (TUR)
Andrea Marcos (ESP)
Full results at ianseo.net