As a three-time Vegas Shoot winner, Chance Beaubouef knows a thing or two about how to get prepped for the biggest indoor shoot in the world. We had the chance to sit down and get some thoughts from Chance about how he goes about preparing his gear and his mental game each year. After all, it's never too early to start planning your trip to Vegas.
Preparation for the Vegas shoot is much more than just equipment. I spend more time working on my mental preparation than anything.
There is a massive difference between thinking you are ready for Vegas and knowing you will put yourself in a position to win by the end of the weekend.
For me, this comes much easier some years than others. I think it has a lot to do with the exposure to high-pressure situations leading into the Vegas shoot. Going to other national-level events, like Iowa, Lancaster, Yankton, or other larger indoor shoots to feel the nerves and to learn how to handle them and be able to perform and trust yourself when you feel these nerves is a huge part of being successful.
I have always found that setting achievable goals - that make you really push yourself in practice - is a great way to build confidence. It's also a great way to get a small dose of the nerves that you need to learn how to overcome. I have always set daily goals, weekly goals, and monthly goals. Each set of goals helps to achieve the next.
Winning Vegas is the end goal, but all of these smaller ones daily, weekly, monthly, all help make the end goal of being on the floor in Vegas in front of everyone.
All of these goals help prepare you mentally. They are continually reinforcing that you belong in front of everyone. That you deserve to be there. When it happens, it shouldn't be an uncomfortable feeling being there.
The months leading up to Vegas is where the work and time come in. Personally, I usually start in mid to late November, preparing for the indoor season. I like to take a mental break every year from tournament shooting, anyway. I am still shooting, but it is my hunting bow in my hand during this short break.
In November, I'll begin shooting blank bale getting back into shape for the upcoming indoor season. If you’re not familiar with it, shooting blank bale is simply shooting at a blank target butt with no target to aim at. Elite has a good post on blank bale shooting if you’d like to learn more. I won't shoot at a target for the first week or so because I know my sight picture won't be what it should be yet. I know that I'm not in shape for it - and I don't want to create poor habits or form. When I do begin practice, it's not just shooting arrows. I am always working on something specific. Whether it's my shot execution, my aiming, or whatever else I think I need to work on.
I have some sort of goal for the day. Something that I want to improve on.
Most of the time, I am working on shot execution. This is what I fall back on more than anything. When I know that I have to perform in moments of pressure, I always fall back on my shot execution.
The best method I have found to work on this is to alternate shooting at a blank bale and at a target. I will hang one Vegas Face, shooting my first arrow into the blank bale, then alternate shooting a scoring arrow and then another blank bale. I'll repeat this throughout my entire training session that day. The end goal is to get the blank bale execution feeling while aiming at a target and shooting a scoring arrow.
My practice schedule during the indoor season is daily. I shoot every day. I am continually working toward some goal I've set. I don't know how many arrows I shoot every day. To be honest, I've never kept track. I can tell you that I will go through usually 5-6 scoring rounds a day. That doesn't include the arrows I shoot blank baling or not scoring. I have an indoor range here at the house but have always made it a point to shoot local leagues. Shooting around other people or in different locations helps take you out of your comfort zone. Being able to perform at your top level while being watched is a huge stepping stone. It can be unnerving that others are watching you, or you feel like they're pushing you. I like to use the first couple of tournaments of the year to reinforce everything that I have been working on while at home. Being able to travel and perform at a high level will help prepare you mentally for the three days Vegas will put you through. All of the things I have listed above will begin to prepare you mentally for what you will feel in Vegas. Without having been to the shoot and experiencing the feeling it gives you, it is hard to explain and impossible to replicate.
There is no other tournament in the world that compares
to the nerves you will feel in Vegas.
My practice schedule the week leading top to Vegas is pretty routine. Mostly I am working on execution and feel. I shoot a lot of blank faces, I will shoot an entire round changing faces each end to shoot a clean target every end. I am preparing myself for the sight picture that I will have during the shoot-off on Sunday. I know a lot of guys who shoot a large aiming dot that covers most of the yellow, so they don't see arrow holes. But with my sight picture and set up, I need to change targets every end to see the clean target face.
Once I get to Vegas, I will check my equipment on Wednesday, go down and shoot a few arrows to make sure nothing has moved from the flight. I won't shoot a scoring round on Wednesday. I always get jet lag flying out, and my sight picture isn't what it should be the day getting there. Starting Thursday, I will shoot quite a bit, not scoring as much as I am trying to get everything to feel what I think it should feel like. I know that my shot execution is what matters. Everything I am working on is not to shoot a 900, it is to put myself into position to win on Sunday.
The 900 is just a byproduct of my training and shot execution.
During the first three days of scoring, I am honestly just trying to have fun. I am actively working to reinforce positive thoughts. I have a set routine during these ends. Reinforcing positive thoughts about my shot execution and how things are feeling is a big part of it. You have to create a method that allows yourself to tune everything out and have complete focus on what you are doing. Perhaps the best way I can describe it is that it almost feels like you're daydreaming.
Shooting a 900 and making the Vegas shoot off is definitely a goal every year. But, it's not the end goal. It's just a step in the process. The feeling I get once I shoot the 900 is hard to explain. It is a relief, but I always remember that it is just a small step toward the end goal. The hours from flinging the last arrow for the 900 until we get to the shoot-off are nothing but mental preparation. Getting to the point where you are really comfortable standing out there in front of everyone, and being able to perform and tune it all out is how you win. The feeling of being the last guy out there and being the Vegas Champion is surreal and is really hard to accept. I've been there three times - and each time - it always take me some time to really process it and accept that I've done it.
I have always only taken one bow with me to Vegas. If something were to break or to go wrong with my bow, it's usually too late to fix anything and still be in contention to win. I have had a couple of instances at other national events where having a backup bow would have helped, but for the most part, when something breaks, it is too late. I do bring plenty of arrows, just in case. I have seen target bales fall over, breaking all the arrows in the bale. Other than that, I like to keep it simple, one set of everything.
This past year, I brought this small batch of equipment to The Vegas Shoot: