An Interview with the 2014 NFAA Indoor/Outdoor National Champion Melissa McBride

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Figure 1″Photo” Melissa McBride doing what she does best, shooting archery.

1. It’s been an amazing year for you in archery, what titles did you win?

I have had a fantastic 2014 archery season. I won numerous titles and set a few records within two organizations this year. One being the PSAA, which is the Pennsylvania State Archery Association and the other, is the NFAA, which is the National Field Archery Association.

In the PSAA, I won 3 regional tournaments and all 4 state tournaments in the female bow hunter unlimited class. I set the target and field & hunter regional records. I tied the state indoor and the 1200 target round record and set a new 900 round record. My husband, Greg McBride and I set the husband and wife record for indoor and field & hunter. We currently hold all four husband and wife bow hunter Pa state records. I was also on the Mechanicsburg Sportsmen female unlimited team and we set 3 out of 4 Pa state records.

Within the NFAA in AFBHFS class, I won at the state level indoors, sectionals and indoor nationals. And for the NFAA field & hunter, I won indoor sectionals in the Mid Atlantic section, which is made up of 7 states. I also won outdoor nationals, and set the national field record.

Figure 2 “Photo” Melissa”s 2014 National Field Archery Indoor and Outdoor Championship Trophy’s, Great shooting Melissa!

2. How did you get started in archery?

My husband got me started. He had been shooting for a few years and I was sick of being home alone. So I started to travel with him to tournaments and I quickly learned that archery is not a spectators sport. I asked him if I could try it. He borrowed a bow off a fellow club members nephew and got it all set up for me. I started out by shooting some blank bales in the garage, just to see if I would like it. After about a month I decided I liked it and wanted to shoot at the club. I made him take me late at night because I was shy and embarrassed that I couldn’t shoot as well as him or the others. Once I gained some confidence, I started shooting in the league.

Figure 3 “Photo” Melissa shooting at her home club, Falcon Archers in Canonsburg Pa

3. When did you start competing in tournaments?

In 2006, I started shooting tournaments and I asked to be able to shoot behind my husband as a safety net. I was shooting in the unlimited class when I started, but changed to the bow hunter class, so we could compete for the states husband and wife titles. In 2008 I decided I wanted to shoot outside, but stayed in unlimited class, because outside is a different creature.  In 2009, I started shooting on a national level. In 2010 I went and completed in the bow hunter set up, both indoor and outdoor.

4. How do you prepare and practice for a shoot?

When preparing for a shoot, I normally practice that target face up to the tournament. Since I shoot two different organizations, there are two different target faces. Normally I shoot two nights at the league, plus hit one or two small local tournaments on the weekends and throw a Sunday night practice in here and there. Our leagues are on a 3 spot target. But, if I am practicing for indoor nationals, which is a 5 spot target, I will shoot a 5 spot target at the league and convert my score over to a league score. I tried to practice the target face as much as possible leading into that given tournament; sometimes keeping score and other times not keeping score. For outdoor practice, it is the same except we don’t have a lot of local tournaments. So it’s just a lot of practice, either walking the course or working on a single distance.

5. What bow do you shoot?

I am currently shooting a PSE Phenom SD, set at 45lbs with a 24.5” draw length, and a Dead Center Stabilizer system. My arrows and sights change with competition season. Indoors I shoot a CBE sight with a yellow fiber optic. Outdoors, I shoot a Spott Hogg sight with 5 pins with .029 fiber optic.

6. Do you use a mechanical release or shoot traditional fingers?

I currently shoot a three finger Zenith back tension release. When I first started shooting I used a trigger release. When I decided to up my game, I realized I need to switch to a back tension. So in 2007, after indoor states, I bought a release and blanked baled for 6 months. I shot 30 arrows a night minimum. I had not started shoot outdoors yet, so that was perfect to give me time to learn how to properly shoot a back tension. After the 6 months were over, I moved to the archery range and on to a target.  I tried to shoot traditional fingers once, that didn’t go very well! I ended up shooting an arrow in the ceiling.

7. What arrows do you use?

For indoor archery, I use Carbon Express Line Jammers with 175 grains up front with 4” feathers.

Outdoors, I use Easton ACG 810 with 90 grains up front with 1.75” AAE fletch.

8. Do you prefer indoor targets or outdoor 3D?

I would have to say field archery is my favorite. Indoor comes in second.  Field & Hunter is 28 targets per round and you shoot four arrows at each target for a total of 20 points per target, with known distance. We shoot from 13 feet to 80 yards at different size targets. A field target is mostly white with a black bull’s-eye and a black ring. Hunter is all black with a white bull’s-eye.  Since I shoot bow hunter, I find it challenging. I only have 5 pins that are set at 25, 35, 45, 55 and 65 yards to shoot from 13 feet to 80 yards, so I’m constantly thinking! It’s not just put the pin in it and pull! Plus since it is outside, you have terrain to think of and weather conditions. Not every shoot is the same like it is inside. I have tried 3D targets a few times and didn’t like it at all. Not sure if it’s because I don’t know how to judge distance or never learned the animal.

Figure 4 “Photo” Melissa shooting at the Pa State Target Round in 2014.

9. What advice would you give other women who are interested in starting to shoot archery?

If a woman decided she wants to get started in archery, first I would recommend that she borrow a bow. We have a very small selection of bows to try when we walk into a shop! Make sure you get your draw length measured right. Don’t just shoot something because someone says oh this looks like it will fit you. Make sure you trust the person who will be helping you select your bow and arrows. Arrows are not a one size fits all. Make phone calls and get at least a second opinion. If you need hire a coach, they can also help with your selections. I’m a lucky lady, my husband is my coach and he does an awesome job!

Don’t set your goals too high that you are unable to reach them. You will just be discouraged when you have made unrealistic goals. For example: if your average on a 600 round is a 500, don’t set your goals to shoot a 580 at every shoot this year. You will be heartbroken when you only shoot a 480 or a 510 at your tournaments. Trust me, I have been there and done that! We all want be super stars and shoot 600’s, but it takes time and practice. It has taken me years to accept this. Some days I still don’t want to accept it.

I had this discussion with a lady at outdoor nationals this year. She couldn’t wait to shoot with me and on the last day of competition we got to shoot together. As we were shooting, we talked about our goals for the season. She shoots from 490-505 out of 560. She told me her goal was to go to outdoor nationals and shoot in the 520’s. I told her I thought that was unrealistic and after my explanation she agreed with me. I told her she was setting herself up for disappointment and that would lead to negative thoughts about her shooting.

Take baby steps and increase your goal only by a few points a year, if that’s your goal. Your goal may just to finish in the top 15 at every shoot and not worry about your score.  Try to keep a journal, put your goals in it and read them often. Write in it after every time you shoot, whether it’s practice or a tournament, whether it was a good or bad shoot.  Read some books on mental training. This is also a very mental game! Least of all, make sure you have FUN!

10. What are your archery goals for 2015?

Well I didn’t hit my 2014 midterm goals, so they will go on 2015 goals list. So off the top of my head, the goals I want to achieve for 2015 are to make the shoot off at the Lancaster Classic, shoot 100X’s at indoor nationals, shoot two 150 quarters per game and to shoot consistent mid 530 field scores and to continue to understand my shooting. I am also thinking about adding to my skills by learning more about working on my own bow.

When I set up my journal, I include long term goals, midterm goals and short term goals. My long term goals have been in place for 3-4 years. I finally achieved them this year! I won both silver bowls and hold the national title. My midterm goals I did not achieve so they will go back on this year’s list. I achieved both of my short term goals also, which were to shoot a 297 and a 300 half.  I did this at a tournament and practice.

Recently, Melissa McBride took 1st Place in the Women’s Open Division of the 2015 Lancaster Archery Classic and was awarded a check for $1,845.00. Great job Melissa, keep up the good work and thanks for inspiring women interested in archery to have fun and enjoy shooting!

Figure 5 “Photo” Melissa winning 1st place in the 2015 Lancaster Archery Classic, Women’s Open Division.

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