I’ve had foreign competitions before (World Cups), but this was my first completion in a foreign country. It was so new and exciting, but I had prepared myself mentally for the competition itself. I knew there were going to be lots of people and athletes watching and training around me, sizing themselves up with me. I knew it, but it didn’t bother me. I was there. That was good enough for me, so it didn’t matter what they thought about me or how good they thought they were. I was there to represent the United States, and I was going to beat them.
Mentally, I was set. Physically, I felt well trained and well prepared to do my best. However, there was a few things off-the-line that I wish I would have realized before I got there.
One: This completion isn’t really that new and shiny. I was prepared for everything to be different, but it was exactly the same as the other competitions. I didn’t know what exactly I was expecting, but it was for something to be different. Nothing was different. The targets were the same and were at the same distance. I was going to shoot them the same way I always do with the same gun I shoot them with. There weren’t any surprises, new elements to the competitions, or anything. Why was I so overly prepared for something to be different? What was I expecting? I don’t know, but it was the same, and it was comforting.
Two: Along with everything being the same, the same rules apply all these competitions as every other completion. One of those ever important rules: always be early for relays, and always recheck your competitions posted schedule before the first relay of the day. Even if that means being there several hours before your relay, and having to sit around (or preparing yourself with all your extra free time). It would be well worth being early than ever being late, or worse — missing a relay. One of our teammates in Korea missed his relay. I couldn’t even imagine the horrible feeling of realizing you missed a relay at a competition like that, especially for the reason it was missed. He checked the schedule the night before, and he was on one of the later relays. That night, some of the relays were changed, and the athletes were rearranged (no reason was indicated for why it was changed, but it was changed). He got to the range with plenty of time for his original relay, but by the time the mistake was realized, it was too late. He had already missed it, and there wasn’t to room re-schedule him for another relay. It was terribly disappointing for everyone, but there was a lesson in it. The rest of the trip, I made sure I was at everything early. It was worth not missing something important.
It’s surprising for me to look back on my trip and have those two details really stick out for me; nothing is different between one competition and the next, and always be early for the relay. I felt like there should have been more. Some big philosophical insight into myself, which there were other things, but the two big things were just that. I will be able to take this information with me for now on, applying it, and will gain from it.