It’s not the pressure of competing for placement in a national archery tournament that gets to 15-year-old Macy Robles, it’s the few minutes after.
“I get very nervous after the fact,” the Harrison County High School freshman said recently. “I realize just what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished. Then I look around and see how many people there were.”
What she has accomplished is no small thing.
At the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) National Tournament on May 8, Macy placed fourth among 1,466 high school girls, marking the third consecutive time she had placed in the top five for her division.
“Macy has been able to achieve what most student archers have not, truly staying focused on the target,” said Harrison County High School Archery Coach Melissa Shepard. “Archery tournaments can be very noisy with hundreds of spectators. Macy has proven that she can block out all distractions, which is a must during competition.”
After shooting 15 arrows from 10 meters and 15 from 15 meters, Macy scored a total of 293 out of 300 with 23 perfect 10s during the main competition. She tied with two other girls and had to go into a shootout to determine third, fourth and fifth place.
In the tie breaker competition, which was in a separate area from the main shoot, there was quite a large crowd.
“A couple of thousand people are watching three girls shoot against each other,” said Macy.
To break the ties, each girl shot five practice arrows and five scoring arrows.
“[It was] very nerve wracking,” she said.
But that wasn’t the end - Macy earned the fourth place spot, putting her in the top five who competed for scholarships. So she had to shoot another end (the term in archery for a round) – again five practice and five scoring arrows – to compete for the scholarship money.
Macy’s shooting was so tight, her own arrow dropped her score. She shot two arrows to virtually the same spot in the 10-point circle. The second arrow ricocheted off the first and landed in the nine-point circle.
“Because she was so tight, it cost her the point,” her father Serf said.
As if the tiebreaker end wasn’t stressful enough, Macy had a glitch during the scholarship end. One of the fletchings – which stabilize the arrow as it flies – came off and she had to call her dad down from the stands for a replacement.
She stood out in front of the crowd alone while Serf made his way to the floor with the new arrow.
“I had to shoot this one arrow with everybody watching,” she said.
“Thousands of people in there and you could hear a pin drop,” added Serf. “And they’re all waiting.”
Macy garnered fourth place again in the scholarship end.
It would seem that Macy was practically born with a bow in her hand, but that’s not even close to the case. She only started in archery her sixth grade year – one year before she placed in Nationals.
“I said, ‘Oh cool, archery,’” she said when she found out the middle school had a team. “And dad bought me a bow… so I just decided to go for it, go for the team.”
Like most athletes learning the fundamentals, Macy started out rough. Then she started putting in the work.
“We started getting a lot of videos, watching a lot of YouTube videos” she said.
“We watched a lot of real, good archers and studied their form,” Serf added.
So Macy set to work and improvement came – lots of improvement.
“Lots of practice, lots of videos,” she said.
And it paid off – she started placing in competitive shoots.
She went up from there, making waves at several tournaments across the state.
She placed second in 7th grade and third in 8th grade in the middle school girls division at the national level. Her scores were both 293 those times as well. In fact, she tied with the world record for a seventh grader with that 293.
Her performance last year led to the world competition in June 2013, where she placed fourth in the middle school girls division.
She was the overall winner at last year’s Bluegrass State Games, where she put a 296 on the board.
“It was her highest score ever,” said her mother Krista.
How does she do it? Focus.
During a shoot, Macy said she tries to stay focused on the target, so the other archers and the crowd isn’t a distraction to her.
“I don’t notice all the people, opponents or anything,” she said.
Macy’s performance earned her a spot on the All American team, which represents the United States in various competitions. It’s essentially the top ten boys and girls archers in the country.