A couple weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend my very first World Cup, so I thought it would be good to share some of my experiences there.
First, let me just reiterate how amazing it was. Every day I attended, I was in awe at how big it was, how many people were there, and how excited I was. In all reality, it was just another competition at Fort Benning, a place I have been to and competed at many times, but this time, it felt like I was in a completely new world. That could also have something to do with my new, happier mindset.
With this event being so big, it had a few issues. There were a lot of people to keep track of, so there was a little disorganization. On top of that, there are so many countries in attendance and with that, a myriad of languages. Along with this, there were few translators around, so, for a majority of the athletes, they had little to no communication capabilities which not only affected the other athletes, but also range officers, jury members, directors, staff, and attending audience members. However, this was a great opportunity for someone who is, say, trying to learn Korean for an upcoming trip to Korea, but difficult for everyone trying to get things done and trying to rush off to the next competition. Therefore, patience is key. Have patience with fellow athletes, because they are confused and sometimes just need help. Have patience with range officers and staff, because it is hard enough to take care of everything they are in charge of; they don’t need anyone breathing fire on them. Most of all have patience with you. These competitions will not lead to personal bests every time, but they do lead to bigger and better competitions if you simply focus on what’s important and do your best.
One of the biggest and possibly most important lessons that I learned was tuning out distractions while shooting and preparing to shoot. This seems like a simple principle that I should have already learned by now, but it is a difficult skill for any shooter to learn. I’ve been pretty good at this while on the firing line, and have always impressed myself with my ability for doing so. However, over the last few months, I’ve been discovering how not-so-great I was at this off the line. This was affecting my shooting, and needed to change. Ultimately, it is easier to put yourself into “competition mode” when you get to the competition, if you’ve been mentally preparing for it longer, and apparently, I hadn’t been giving enough time to that preparation off the line. That was until this competition. This competition I did a bit of self-reflection which led to a major breakthrough on how I was focusing far too much on comparing myself to other competitors, and not enough time on myself, my technique, and, most of all, my front sight.
With some of the “big life lessons” out of the way, I want to add some random fun facts and stories. First, as I mentioned above, I’ve been working on learning a little Korean. I’ve been using Pilsner language program on my way to work every day. I’ve never been good at languages, but I’ve dedicated myself to learning at least some basics. I’ve been anxious to try out some of my skills, so when I saw the Korean team enjoying the warm weather by the 25m range, I knew what I needed to do, but instead I cowered. I was so afraid that I would say the wrong thing! Then they would hate me and I would definitely have to cancel my trip to Korea. Well, maybe not that extreme, but it would be close. Eventually, I got up the courage and decided to approach one of the team members. I said hello, and she replied with a big smile on her face. She understood me! I began practicing the basic phrases, and everything was going great! Then I ran out of words. I used everything I knew, and now she’s asking me things, and I’m just standing there. I wasn’t sure what to do, and she could tell I was struggling. So she looks at me and says, “K-Pop?” I knew that! We talked in broken Korean-English about some of the bands and songs, and smiled at each other. I did it! She didn’t hate me! I still get excited butterflies over it! I conquered the basics of the language. It was great practice, and lots of fun.
Something else that was interesting was the new set up for the 25m range. This seems silly, because every range is different and will have a different set up. However, I’ve been going to this range now for almost four years, and it was different. It was exciting because now it was cleaner feeling, and there wasn’t a risk of spiders on your ammo while mid-competition (talking from experience). It was kind of sentimental too. All the times that I had attended that range, I was still considered a college-level competitor. Now, I used up my eligibility, so I can no longer compete in the NRA Collegiate Championships and the range changed with it. This didn’t affect my scores (if anything, it improved them because of the new placement of monitors), but it still was a sentimental, “I’m growing up, and things are changing” moment for me.
While I was there, I had my own rental car. This, at first, was a total disaster. The rental agency with my reservation had changed the price and didn’t tell me until I was there. Then all the other agencies had crazy ridiculous prices because I’m under 25. I was lost on what to do, and scared that I would be stuck at the airport with all my bags. It was terrible, until I last ditch tried with SIXT rentals. They saved me! My rental still expensive, but it was almost $250 less than any other estimates that I had received. Best of all, they were so nice. Nice people, nice deal, and nice car. It was a little corolla in blue, and it was all mine for the week. A lot of the other, older athletes recommended that I take it back and just tag along with other competitors for the competition, which if I would have thought of ahead of time, I would have done. This, though, was probably better in the long run. I enjoy driving because it gives me time to think on my own, which everyone needs at big competitions like this. Even in the room, there is a roommate, but in the car on my own, I was alone. It gave me an opportunity to clear my mind, enjoy some quiet time, and meditate. It was definitely for the best.
This was also a good opportunity to remind myself of how hot it gets and how many bugs are there. Those last couple weeks were nothing by comparison to what it will be like for Nationals, and as it stands, I need to invest in a few more t-shirts, shorts, and definitely more bug spray! Oh my goodness did I have some bug bites! The very first night I was there I had just a little tiny mosquito bite my ankle. The next morning, my ankle was the size of an orange or even a grapefruit. It hurt so much. Luckily, I had packed bug spray and Benadryl cream, but that did not stop them from biting me seven more times! It was awful. I just barely recovered from the last one on my calf. Any suggestions for next time?
It was such a good experience and competition for me to attend. Thank you to everyone who helped get me there and helped me out while I was there. Now, I just need to prepare for the next competition. USA Shooting Nationals, then University Games in Korea! Wish me luck!
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