Gauvin 100% committed to recurve switch

A former swimming athlete, Crystal Gauvin picked up archery at the end of 2012 while looking for a new sport to practise with her husband. In archery she saw an opportunity to fulfil a life-long dream of becoming an Olympian – so she started with the recurve bow, the style that’s included in the Games. But it wasn’t easy.

“It was a disaster,” Crystal confessed on her personal blog.

She switched to shooting the compound bow, and that worked better.

After only three years of national and two of international competition, Crystal boasts a prize cabinet that includes: bronze at the 2016 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Odense, Denmark; silver at the 2015 World Archery Championships in Copenhagen, and team silver at the world indoors in Nimes in 2014.

But after more than 10 international medals in total, Crystal considered taking a break in 2017. Instead, she took her husband’s advice and gave the recurve a second try.

“I realised my goals were no longer aligned with the sacrifices I had to make. When I started in the sport, I was hoping to make a career of it,” said Gauvin, who said that forging a job out of archery was tougher than she expected.

“With that in mind, and the fact I have dreamed of going to the Olympics since I was very young, I decided to make the switch.”

That switch officially occurred on 7 November 2016, when Crystal went to the US Olympic Training Centre to learn the basics from USA Archery head coach Kisik Lee.

“I think it's very important to get started correctly right from the beginning. Find someone who knows what they are doing and learn from them right off the bat. I can't stress how much easier it is to learn if you don't already have bad habits or preconceived ideas,” said Gauvin.

“Go into the switch with the right mindset. You have to know why you are switching – It has to be for you and not someone else – be prepared for things to feel weird or awkward, especially at first, and be willing to learn, sacrificing immediate results for long term success.”

Crystal, who describes herself as too competitive, said the most challenging thing about changing to recurve would be sitting on the sideline while learning the new style rather than shooting on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit, especially since one of the legs in 2017 is scheduled in the USA, in Salt Lake City.

“Mentally, it's tough to reprogramme my mind from going into every tournament expecting to win versus taking each as a learning experience to help me down the road. I hate losing, but even worse, I hate not performing at what I know is my best. Essentially, I'm having to learn patience, something I've always struggled with,” she added.

Throughout the two months since she first strung her recurve, Crystal has woken up early to practise before heading to work. Her archery routine, although not changed excessively with the new style, has focused more on increasing fitness level, running, swimming and doing basic strength training exercises – as well as pure technique.

During the process, she has also been surprised by how many people have been willing to help her and offer encouragement.

As the reigning world number two in the compound women’s category her departure from international competition will leave a hole, but with high expectations on herself – although she won‘t reveal goals until she’s discussed them with her coach – and an internationally recognised drive for excellence, it‘s not a good bet that she won’t quickly climb the ranks in the recurve division.

It’s not a complete divorce, as Gauvin will continue shooting her compound bow – but just as a training tool, for play and to shoot 3D archery tournaments close to her home.

“Who knows what the future will bring,” she said. “But for at least the next three and half years, I am 100% committed to competing with my recurve.”