Alexander Freshman Gilbert Garcia Wins State Archery Championship

Gilbert Garcia Jr. knew he screwed up.

High school freshman Alexander had landed the perfect shot. He knew that by leaving his hand, he had hit the bullseye. His arrow hit dead center X.

The problem was that he had shot the wrong target.

Fate in his hands

The 15-year-old was in the finals of the 2022 Texas Field Archery Association Indoor State Championship at Cinnamon Creek Ranch in Roanoke two weeks ago and he had his fate in his hands.

He had already clinched the state season title in the young adult (15-17) division at Bowhunter Freestyle by posting the highest cumulative score of the year between his top three events leading up to the state tournament. in Roanoke and his perfect score of 300, he posted on Day 1.


But he had yet to lock in the official state tournament championship despite scoring a perfect 300 with 45X touchdowns on Day 1. He still needed to beat his teammate – a 17-year-old boy named Shaun Stone – to be crowned. state tournament champion.

Then he fired at the wrong target. The pressure got to him a bit, which his father – also named Gilbert – fully understood.

“When you get on stage and all these people are staring at you and you feel like, ‘OK, I’m the center of attention now,’ that’s exactly how you feel when you’re shooting,” her dad said. “Especially when you’re in the top three or top four and competing for that division.”

Garcia had given new life to Stone.

By shooting the wrong target, he received an automatic zero for his round five in the 12-round event. All archers shoot 12 sets of five shots with a possibility of five points on each shot, with a perfect score being 300. An absolutely perfect score is 360X, which means the archer has hit the X in the center of the target with every shot throughout the day.

The 17-year-old took advantage of the error. He entered the day five points behind Garcia, but his day took a turn with the shot before the target missed. Before Garcia’s error, he had missed the center of the target and scored four points. Stone took advantage by scoring a five-pointer, and the Alexander freshman was a bit frustrated.

That’s when he shot the wrong target.

This is an understandable mistake. At events like these, there are two targets in front of each competitor: one up and one down. Each contestant shoots at one of these targets – up or down – each round. But because Garcia was frustrated with himself, he lost focus and shot the wrong target. It was a perfect shot that hit a dead spot X, but that didn’t matter. It was an automatic zero.

“Targeted Panic”

Garcia has dealt with some anxiety while filming in the past. After winning a state championship as a fifth-grader, he faced “target panic,” or what might more commonly be called “the yips.” Athletes in all sports face this problem and it is extremely common in archery.

“Every archer who competes has a kind of panic towards the target,” Garcia Sr. said. “If someone tells you they don’t have a panic target, that’s a lie .”

The problem was so widespread for Garcia that he actually took several years out of the sport. He couldn’t hit an X for a long time, which caused his family to seek help for his mental game for a few years. Then COVID-19 hit and his time away from sports stretched even longer.

It was not something easy for him to recover from, but despite the struggle, he found his way back. Then, in his first tournament of the season, Garcia Sr. knew his son once again had a shot at winning a state title.

“His score on the first day – or the first shoot he went to (of the year), was at McAllen – he left with no pressure and all of a sudden he shot a 298,” he said. -he declares. “I just knew there was something special there. Not having shot at all for two and a half years, almost three years… I knew it was going to be special.

Going into the state tournament, Garcia had one of the best aggregate scores in the state with a high score of 298 and a low of 293. Then he came out and shot a perfect 300 with 45 X on Day 1 to lock the state title. for the season.

barnyard competitor

Considering he doesn’t even have a place to film outside of his backyard in Laredo, that’s a huge accomplishment. Many other competitors, including Stone, have their own stores where they are professionally coached. Garcia Sr. freely says that’s not who he is.

“I’m not a level I, II, III coach,” he said. “There are different levels of coaches, even up to level IV, United States coach. I just trained him as I learned.

So when Garcia shot his 300 on Day 1 and took his score to the man following them at the event, the official got a big surprise.

“When he went to return his 300 to the president of the association… he said to him, ‘Son, you didn’t write the name of your shop’ and (Garcia) looks at me and I look at the man and. .. I’m like, ‘He doesn’t have a store’,” said Crisela, Garcia’s mother. “And he looked at me and he was like, ‘He’s shooting in the garden?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, he’s shooting in the garden.’ And (he asked), ‘And he got a 300?’ So, in and of itself… that’s why we’re so proud of him.

rake the leaves

Garcia has been shooting since he was 3 years old. His parents knew he had a talent for sports when he was 5 years old.

Even as he went through his struggles with target panic, they knew he would work hard to get back to where he was. So when he finally started to get competitive again, he was actually past his old arc.

Work found him after that, as Gilbert Sr. and Crisela saved him money to buy a new one. The family has a big tree in their garden with lots of leaves covering their grass. They paid him $5 a bag to pick up those leaves.

Hours of raking and bagging later, he had his new bow and he was back on the competitive trail.

Then he was back in state, but even after shooting a 300 and winning the state championship for the season, he felt his nerves getting on top of him. After missing the target, things got worse.

5×5

Garcia was ahead of Stone by four points, then fell one by missing the target. All Stone had to do was hit 5 the rest of the way and he would be crowned the state tournament champion.

But nerves are a fickle thing, and so is confidence. Garcia’s mistakes came in the third and fourth innings of the final day. He had 16 rounds and 40 moves left. In 14 rounds, Stone was sailing. He had it in the bag.

Then Garcia thought Stone had gotten a little overconfident and he missed late. It opened the door, if only slightly.

Stone then hit all the other targets to end his day. Garcia didn’t know he was going to do this, but what he did know was that when Stone missed that shot, it gave him an opening. He could tie Stone overall and win the tournament on the stroke of X (he had more than 30 X more than Stone, which would guarantee him the tiebreaker) if he could hit five 5s in the final round.

That’s exactly what he did. And for good measure, he hit five more Xs to take his total to 85 Xs in two days. He was state champion again and he knows how special this one was.

“It was more special,” Garcia said. “I had to earn more. Especially with high school – he was busier with homework – this one I had to earn him more.

Garcia has now won three state titles in his lifetime – two indoors and one outdoor – and he has his eye on another outdoor title in the coming months.

Her parents couldn’t be happier.

“I guess the pressure was good for him,” Crisela said.

“I was extremely proud,” added Garcia Sr. “I was ecstatic.”

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Earnest A. Martinez