Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pearls, Nail Polish and Horoscopes: What Every Archer-girl Needs

It started with a hole-in-one, or a ‘bullseye’ as it were. Golf and archery are very different, but both dictate that putting something in the middle – in the center – is a good thing.

But at that moment, it wasn't such a good thing.

It was Sunday morning and the weather forecast was calling for high, high HOT temperatures. But days of the week and high temperatures were not my concern right then. I was about to participate in an archery tournament and my nerves were a The tournament was distance-challenging and feelings of ‘I’m not experienced enough to tackle distances my bow isn’t strong enough to do’ had me inhaling antacids by the bottle-full. I shoot recurve bow with a draw weight of 20lbs, and since I've only been at this whole archery thing since January, I think I was allowed my over-the-top angst. I hadn’t planned on doing this particular kind of tournament for at least a year or so, but my loved ones – along with my adventurous side – talked me into it.

And I guess deep down I was a tad excited as the true archer I am painted my nails blue to match my bow (it was fluke or fate that the blue nail polish I bought on a whim about half a year ago sort of matched my bow). As I continued with my pre-archery beauty regime, I was sure not to forget my pearl earrings. I have made it my personal ‘cheeky statement’ to always wear pearls to archery.

That’s right – PEARLS.

But that day I chose to go ‘all out’ in honour of the tournament and opted to also wear a pearl pendant saved only for special occasions.

Just as I was clasping the necklace around my neck it snapped and the pearl pendant slid down and off the chain. The pearl bounced and spun and twirled around the bottom of the rounded sink faster than my hand could clamp down and stop it from its dreaded destination – the drain.

Yup, down it went.

It was fate! It was karma! It was a sign I should NOT be participating in the tournament! Serves me right for making a cheeky statement I thought as I stared at my pearl sitting in the bottom of the pipe. It was silly of me to think I, of all people, could compete in such a tournament. Who did I think I was? All the confidence-building techniques I had worked on (and wrote about) throughout this new sporty venture of mine went right down the drain as well.

I couldn’t get at the pearl without risking forcing it further down the pipe. The onsite/in-house repairman kindly offered to dismantle the pipe – just for me. “We can’t do that NOW!” I shrieked. “There’s no time! We have to GO! Oh this is DEFINITELY a sign I shouldn’t be doing this tournament! Oh what was I thinking?! What am I DOING?!” I wailed and moaned all-but renouncing the sport of archery right there in my tiny office/bathroom.

As I downed a few more antacids in angst, the onsite/in-house repairman promised he would work on the pipe after the tournament and proceeded to leave DO NOT USE signs over the sink.

With reassurances and promises of ‘it’s an easy fix’ and kind words of encouragement about my archery skills to coax me out the door - along with the promise of an Ativan-enriched smoothie on the way (well not really, but I sure could have used one right then) – we loaded up the car with our archery gear and snacks and off we went.

But all that pre-tournament excitement had made me a hungry momma, so first was a stop at the good old ‘golden arches’ for a breakfast sandwich and a DECAF coffee (and no, they don’t sell Ativan-enriched smoothies) (I asked). True, my stomach was already in nervous turmoil which for anyone else would ruin their appetite, but I’m an athlete, you see: I MUST fuel-up.

The morning news was playing on the in-restaurant TV screen and just as I was about to sip my coffee a commercial came on – for nail polish of all things. AND they showed a shade of blue even closer in colour to my bow than the shade I was wearing! What were the odds? Was it a sign? I was still rattled by the pearl-down-the-drain business, but the ultimately PERFECT shade of blue nail polish? Now THAT was a sign if I ever saw one!

So a plan was hatched to visit the neighboring drug-store for a bottle of the blue goo. As an archer I know to always go prepared; the nail polish would not only be good for touch ups on my nails, but for any scratches on my bow, as well.

As we dove into our breakfast sandwiches the onsite/in-house repairman passed me the newspaper (he, too, was in the tournament but our young offspring archer was sitting this one out). That’s a good idea, I thought. Some nice quiet pre-tournament newspaper time might do me wonders.

And then inspiration struck.

I quickly flicked through the newspaper to the horoscope page. I don’t regularly read horoscopes but on a significant day, I will.

And I choked on my coffee as I read the first line. By the time I got to the end of the horoscope, I was speechless (which is rare).

I showed the onsite/in-house repairman and he, too, was mystified.

“Well,” he started. “I guess that’s a sign, for sure!” (He isn’t as into signs, luck, superstitions or anything-that-can’t-be-explained, like I am)

So with our bellies full, my nails re-painted and my Scorpion zodiacal sun in astrological alignment (or whatever it is) off we went.

The tournament started after an equipment check and practice and as the tournament progressed, I was calmer than I had been all morning. But the various ‘signs’ – good and bad - that had started before the tournament were not to leave me yet. At about the ¾-mark of the day my BELOVED onsite/in-house repairman sheered a fletch right off my arrow with one of his, embedding the plastic little arrow-wing in my target (three of us shot on one target).

(note: an arrow has three 'fletches' or the little wing-things at the end - I was by then down to two)

I was doomed! Destroyed! Defeated! My archery career was over before it even began! Although I had tried to be prepared what with the nail polish and all, I had no back-up arrows – a mortal sin in the archery world.

“Just keep shooting,” ordered the unflappable judge Helena Myllyniemi as I panicked and wailed about my faulty arrow. “It will shoot fine,” she pacified as she gave my arrow a twirl to test for straightness.

“But what about…”

“Just shoot it.” She interrupted with an order, handed me my arrow, and sent me a penetrating stare. “It will shoot fine.”

Sabotage! I thought as I sent my onsite/in-house repairman the most deadly 'you will die'-glare of all time. I won't disclose the retaliation I planned as we walked back to the shooting line. But I was also worried - and panicking, of course. Would the arrow shoot okay? Was the tournament over for me that day?

And Helena was right (of course). The arrow shot MORE than ‘fine’. I got quite a few ‘10’s’ with that arrow before the tournament was over – a ‘10’ being the highest score you can get (aka: a bullseye, or an ‘X’). I deemed it my lucky arrow.

And after all was said and done I came home with a wicked sunburn, a feeling of pride and accomplishment that I even participated in the tournament at all, and a score of 779 out of a possible 900 on the three target distances of 35, 30, and 25 meters. I had a fabulous time and my pearl earrings and blue nails were a hit (well not really; I was the only girl in the tournament. I sure showed those guys!), and we DID eventually get the pearl out of the pipe.

The lesson learned? Even when things seem to be going down the drain, keep aiming forward. You’re bound to hit something good, eventually.

For results of the tournament, visit The Victoria Bowmen Archery Club.