ARCHERY COACH HONOURED AT SPORT LEADERSHIP AWARDS GALA

JoanMacdonaldCanadian Archery coach Joan McDonald (Richmond Hill, ON) was one of a number of Canada’s top coaches that were honoured at the Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Awards Gala, hosted by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC), this past weekend in Calgary. McDonald was a recipient of the Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award. This prestigious award recognizes coaches whose athletes have excelled at World Championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Special Olympics World Games.

McDonald is the personal coach of Crispin Duenas (Toronto, ON), who won the bronze  medal in the Men’s Recurve Bow category at the 2013 World Archery Championship in Belek Antalya, Turkey (September 29th - October 6th). The bronze medal marked the first time in 42 years that Canada had finished on the podium at a World Championship in the Men’s Recurve individual category.

McDonald has been personal coach to Duenas for the past 13 years. She is also the founder and Head Coach of the Bullseye Buccanneers Archery Club in Richmond Hill, Ontario.  McDonald has been instrumental in the development of Duenas as an archer from the ‘Learn to Shoot’ stage of Archery Canada’s Long-Term Archer Development (LTAD) model through to the ‘Shoot to Excel’ stage. “Joan’s confidence in my abilities and her keen attention to the coaching of the technical and psychological aspects of archery, have led to my steady progress and success at the national and international levels”, said Duenas.  “I have no doubt that without Joan’s coaching and guidance, I wouldn’t have been on the podium at Worlds. I’m also sure that under Joan’s continued coaching, I’m on the path to a long and successful career as a high performance archer.”

“I’m thrilled and honoured to have won this prestigious award. Crispin is a tremendous young man and athlete with lots of potential”, said McDonald. “My sincere thanks and appreciation to Petro-Canada and the CAC.”  Archery Canada

Congratulations Joan!

Bowstring Maintenance & Replacement

P1230461In the last blog, we discussed the purpose and application of bowstring wax as a part of proper string maintenance. Another way to prolong the life of your string includes proper storage. Obviously, you should store your string in a safe dry place, and protect it the best way you can to prevent damage. However, you spend time tuning your bow including adding the “perfect” number of twists to the string, therefore you should store your string to maintain this tuning.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to interlace the teardrop loops together as shown here.

IMG_8639

Although, proper maintenance and storage of a string can help a string last years, every archer will eventually need to change their string. Before any shooting sessions or tournament, it should be a part of your regular routine to check your equipment for damage. Where your string is concerned, if there are signs of damage such as signs of fraying or one or more strand breaks you should consider changing your string.

Although as string materials have evolved, the strength of individual strands have far exceeded where they need to be in terms of breaking under strain.  The number of strands impact the nock fit and when shooting with the extra strands added, it was found that it could help make the bow a bit more stable. Competitive archers rarely will shot with even a minimally damaged sting since it may impact the performance and therefore, any competitive archer should have two strings for tournaments. The two strings should be exactly the same, ideally created at the same time, on the same day, on the same jig, by the same person; this way you can swap them confidently. Personally if a single strand breaks, I immediately switch to my backup string or alternatively during a tournament to my back up bow.

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Strings are so important that some archers schedule string changes so they can maintain the same performance, since strings can stretch over time, and also not worry too much about potential damage.  Depending on your budget this may or may not be an option. Another option includes custom strings and making your own using a string jig however that is the topic of another blog.

String Alignment

Consistency is the key to a successful archer. In an earlier blog, we developed a consistent anchor point to develop a starting point for your hand and grip to help develop consistent vertical groupings. Now we need to address consistent horizontal groupings through the use of string alignment.

IMG_8525So, while at full draw at your anchor point, you should be able see a blurred image of your string; align this “blurry” image of the string with the riser. If it’s slightly off, rotating your head either left or right slightly will correct this. (Remember to maintain your anchor as you quickly check for this alignment). If the string picture is in the wrong place, then your aiming accuracy will be off and the result will be groups which are spread horizontally.

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Quick Tip : Note that sometimes a dark string is difficult to see against a dark riser, therefore try adding a small strip of white tape along the inside of a dark riser to help see the string.

Ideally, you should try to use the same spot for all distances, however this can be different for all people. It can help some archers by aligning the string on the inside of riser for close distances, middle of the riser for middle distances, and outside of the riser for long distances. The best alignment it is different for everyone because everyone has different head and nose structures. Therefore, you will need to experiment with the string alignment until you have the perfect string alignment for you.

Quick Tip: If you are having difficulty seeing your string, try closing you non-dominant eye.

Remember once you have your string alignment, changing things such bow length, draw length, arrows or anything else can effect your “perfect spot”. Consistent form is vital for consistent groupings, if you get a consistent string alignment, the bow will be at a consistent horizontal angle, and your horizontal grouping should improve.

KCVI Archery Club

IMG_8393Since I believe athletics are important in developing a healthy lifestyle and personal self esteem, the KCVI archery club is special to me. While I am fairly athletic, when I joined KCVI’s Athletic Association, I noticed a lack of sports open to all even for non-typical athletes; something where you can participate at your own level and feel confident and accepted. As a NCCP certified archery coach, range safety officer and national level archer, I knew I could start a program that would inspire anyone to come out, get active, and engage in sport. So in 2011, I proposed the idea of starting an after-school Archery Club to our Principal for the next year.

In the fall of 2011, with the assistance of my younger sister Sydney, we started with four students meeting every second week for 1.5 hours. I coached the group of members, focusing on safety, technique and encouraging them to have fun and enjoy it. They enjoyed it so much they started to recruit others. By the end of the first semester, we had tripled our membership.

This year, with the absence of sport due to the teacher work to rule strike, I was able to convince my mother to act as the supervising adult and our principal as the supervising teacher. There was so much buzz, kids with talking about archery club in the halls, our membership increased to over 50 students. We have decided to meet every Friday after-school for 2 hours to accommodate the influx of participation.

IMG_8404Last Friday, we hosted the year-end celebration for 2013 KCVI Archery Club. We had a potluck, cake, shot balloons and this year we also decided to hand out a couple of awards. Although, I am very proud of all the members, they have become the athletes they were really meant to be since they were all dedicated, enthusiastic and all improved so much, these individuals rose to the top…

Most Dedicated – Joesph D
Awarded to the archer who shows the most dedication to the club, sport, and it’s members. Not only did they always attend on-time, they were also supportive and respectful to the members, the club, the equipment, the sport, and stepped up to help when it was needed most.

Most Improved – Haiyi Z
Awarded to the archer that not only improved in skills in the sport of archery but also in self growth. To improve means to be better than you were before even if it is hard or not what you would normally do, to challenge yourself to be a better person.

Most Enthusiastic – Anajalika R
Awarded to the archer that is the most enthusiastic, who also perseveres and continues to look on the bright side. This athlete should always look for something to be happy about and keep trying and help others when they are going through a hard time.

Most Sportsmanlike – Athena K
Awarded to the athlete who showed the most sportsman like traits. This athlete does not get upset when they lose, or gloat when they win, or are not mean to other athletes. Instead they show true character by being humble in winning and gracious in losing.

IMG_8476Last Friday also concluded the last year I will lead the club as I am graduating and off to Redeemer University in September. It has been a very gratifying experience starting and running the archery club over the last couple of years. I have learned a lot about coaching, organizing and leading an archery club. My hope is my younger sister Sydney will continue to lead the club during for her grade 12 year and others will step-up so the club will continue for years to come.

Thanks to everyone who helped organize, run, step-up, tear-down, watch-over and participate over the last two years. Happy Shooting!!

Archery takes you places

ArcheryOnce you decide to become a competitive archer you will need to start planning to travel. Traveling is a big part of competitive archery, and the higher the level of competition, the further you need to travel.

Indoor archery can take you all over the planet at the upper levels however most competitions can be “mailed-in” because the conditions are controllable. For indoor archery, I have had the pleasure of visiting Louisville, Kentucky a couple of times for the NFAA Indoor Championships and Las Vegas, Nevada for the World Indoor Championships.

bb45s5817Since, hosting any outdoor archery tournament requires a fair amount of space, in Canada, you will need to travel a lot. Canada is the world’s second largest country by total area and stretches about 5000 KM (3000 Miles) from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.  Since 2009 to participate in the Canadian National Outdoor Championships I have visited Laval, Quebec; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Delisle, Saskatchewan; Victoria, British Columbia and this year our family will travel to Woodstock, New Brunswick.

Even competing at the provincial level requires a lot of travel since the province of Ontario is larger than Egypt, Spain or France and therefore even for Provincial competitions you will have to travel a lot. I have visited London, Sudbury, Ottawa, New Market, Petawawa, Caledon, Athens, Peterborough, Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie. All this and I do not participate in every tournament.

Budget is a large factor in participation; our family uses our family vacation budget to participate in tournaments. Unfortunately, only the highest level of Canadian archer receive funding to help pay for travel, lodgings, tournament fees and equipment. For the rest of us, it often falls on us or our parents to help fund those Olympic dreams.

So if you are planning to venture in the realms of competitive archery, I offer the same advice that was afforded to me when I started. “Start saving now” however be assured that it is a worthwhile investment.

Moving Clicker Question?

Back-musclesConsistently using a clicker is one of the most difficult things for an archer to master, however once mastered you will love your clicker. Check out my earlier blogs about clickers and learning to shoot with a clicker.

Recently, one of my readers asked:

This is a bit late of a response, but I’ve started my clicker training and one of the things I’m having trouble with is nocking the arrow behind the clicker. I move the clicker with my fingers while nocking my arrow, but every time I do so, I move its position. 

First, there are three types of clickers…

riser-mount-clickerRiser-mounted clickers
The clicker is mounted directly on the risers and is still relatively vertical about 1-2 inches beyond the pluger/ pressure button.

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extended-riser-mountExtended Riser-mounted clickers
The clicker is still mounted to the riser however the click arm is adjusted horizontally beyond the face of the risers (1-3 inches beyond the front edge of the riser).

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sight-mount-clicker

Sight-mounted Clickers
The clicker is mounted to the arm of the sight and is used for archers whose arrows are well beyond the face of the riser (2-10 inches beyond the front edge of the riser at full draw).

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Ideally, the clicker should be positioned as vertical as possible and should extended a couple of mm beyond the bottom of the arrow. If the clicker sits on the top half of the arrow it may apply downward pressure and cause inconsistent arrow flight. So select a clicker that can be mounted as vertical as possible.

Next, I suggest you mark your riser/sight arm so you can ensure the clicker position before every use. Part of your pre-game bow assembly is to verify the clicker is in the correct position and the screws are tight secured. If you are still noticing that your clicker is still constantly moving the screws may not be providing a tight fit. Try replacing the attaching screw or add a locking or plastic washer.

I hope I have been able to answer your question and I would love to hear more from you.

Do you have any questions?
Are there any topics you would like me to cover?

Although, I will continue to write articles about my experiences, I want to hear from you. Everyone has questions, I would love to hear yours and I love answering them. I also encourage you to leave comments or share additional information on any article on my site.

Bow Tuning – Basic Setup continued

IMG_7304Now that your bow is together we need to make sure the arrow rest is installed correctly, install a nocking point and adjust the center-shot. It is my recommendation to always install the arrow rest before installing your nocking point. So, let’s start with the arrow rest.

Installing the Arrow Rest

There are a lot of types or arrows rests available on the market. Check out my earlier blog about the various types of arrow rests. For this blog, I will be focusing on the most commonly used one for Olympics style bows, the pressure/plunger rest.

The main purpose of the arrow rest is to hold the arrow in place until the arrow is shot. A  plunger style arrow rest is designed with a support arm just long enough to hold the arrow, with a slight inward angle to the bow, and it moves out of the way with the shot.  They should also be adjusted so that the support arm does not protrude beyond the outside of the arrow. This is to minimize contact with the arrow and minimize impact on the arrow flight. Lastly the arrow rest must be positioned so the plunger/pressure button is square to the center of the arrow.

arrow-rest-backhole

Olympic recurve bows come with a threaded hole for the plunger/pressure button and the arrow rest typically is installed and centered over the hole as the arrow rest and plunger work in conjunction with each other. Note, some risers have two holes and you should use the back one as a starting point which should be directly over the riser’s pivot point.

Pivot Point: The deepest part of the riser handle.

Alternatively, if your bow did not come with a threaded hole or you are using a traditional bow the arrow rest should be installed at the contact point of the arrow onto the rest directly above the “pivot point” of the bow. You may also want to investigate other types of arrow rests to match your style of bow.

Nock Pointing

Although some recurve archers use a tie-on nocking point, I recommend starting with a simple clamp-on type nock. Clamp-on style nocks are fairly easy to install and simply require your bow square and nocking pliers.

Nocking point: The location you attach your nock, it is usually measured 5mm (1/4”) above square from the center of the plunger and arrow rest.

measure-nockingAttach your bow square to the string so it is centered on the plunger ( or plunger hole) then measure up 5mm, attach a clamp-on nock, and secure it with nocking pliers. If your arrows are loose on your string, you can consider adding a nock serving for a better fit however once the nock is installed you can begin shooting.

Center-shot and the Plunger

For an Olympic archer the plunger (pressure button) is probably the best thing to attach to your bow for fine-tuning. The plunger can be adjusted to help match an archer’s release and counteract a lot of archer’s paradox. For a better understanding of arrow selection, center-shot and Archers Paradox check out my earlier blog.

To set your center-shot, set you plunger to the middle and install it in the threaded hole. Attach an arrow to the string, below the nock, and from behind the bow check to see if the tip is pointing slightly to the left (or right for left-handers).

center-shot

Although adjusting the plunger WILL require a trial and error approach, it is important to set the plunger to the middle position using the screw on the end. The amount of pressure setting for your plunger will depend on the archer, the limb poundage and your form. The best approach is to start with medium pressure and adjust accordingly after shooting a couple of arrows (Typically clockwise for more pressure and counter-clockwise for less).

Your bow should be basically setup and ready for you to focus on  developing consistent form. In upcoming blogs I will dive deeper into fine-tuning your bow.

Vision – Glasses, Contacts and Archery

Being an archer, competitive or recreational, does not require perfect 20/20 vision. E Perez asked…

I’m not sure if you’ve worn glasses before but if so, do you have any suggestions on archers who used glasses and are now switching to contacts? I’ve recently switched from glasses to contacts and my aiming is way off!

I can relate to this question, when I started shooting I had 20/20 vision, and around high school I needed glasses. I have not tried contacts yet, however it was an adjustment. Remember, the purpose of a corrective lens helps refract the light or images into in focus so you can see. Check out this website that explains how your vision works and how corrective lenses affect vision.

Wearing glasses or contacts can sometimes be a challenge for archers, since we actually stand to the side of the bow, not directly behind it. Therefore we are always viewing things on an angle, add the complexity of a corrective lens and it may be difficult to clearly focus on the target. It depends on the strength and thickness of the corrective lenses. I have a friend who can not shoot with her contacts on. The angle of the bow, combined with the angle of her contacts and she can not see her string alignment at all, which can affect your group.

Picking glasses out also presents a challenge because of the angle of the lenses and the thickness of the frames. My sister can not shoot with her prescription glasses because the frames are too large for the angle of the bow and she can not see her string alignment. If you need corrective lenses, it may take some trial and error experimenting to find out what works best for you.

I’ve recently switched from glasses to contacts and my aiming is way off!

If you are able to see the target and string alignment in focus, consider your arrow groupings.

Groups open up: Your brain could be simply catching up with your new perception, give it some time and practice. If the groups do not get better, then try shooting with your glasses on again and comparing the results.

Groups still tight; just off center: Move the sight. Even the smallest change can affect everything else, your vision is a large change.

Moved your sight; no change: Check your form, since many things can affect your your arrows including plucking the string.

Vision is important however not as important as good form. In fact, you may have read my earlier blog about legally blind South Korean archer, Im Dong-hyun, who broke the world record at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Im Dong-hyun has only about 20% vision in his right eye and only 10% in his left eye.

Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them – Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars

Your vision is important, however you may want to focus on making sure the shot “feels” the same every time, this is the key to success. For me, my coach still insists everyone warm-up with the following exercise to help us focus on feel not vision.

Close-Open-Close Warm-up 

  1. Close your eyes and draw your bow to full draw; focusing on your form. Try to make sure all your muscles and bones are in the same position with the same amount of pressure
  2. Quickly open your eyes to move the sight to the target
  3. Close your eyes and then shoot.

I hope I have provided some guidance and answered your question. If any other readers have experienced changes from moving to contacts from glasses, we would love to hear from you.

Arrows Series – Part 8: Fine Tuning and Numbering

Now that your center-shot is right, you’ll need to continue to fine-tune your bow periodically to change as you grow and develop as an archer. Start by labelling and numbering your arrows. Labelling your arrows with your name or initials is required for tournaments and sometimes is the only way you can distinguish your arrows from someone else’s; especially if they have the same nocks, shafts and fletchings.

Numbering is a good idea so you can track your arrows, if you have a single stray arrow. If the stray is consistent on every end and the number is the same, it may be that something is not right with that arrow.

Once you know your arrows and can track them, you can further tune your bow by adjusting various components such as the tiller, plunger, nock height etc… . You can perform some or all of these various tuning test to help tune your bow for maximum performance.

Paper Tuning Test: Tuning test involving setting up a piece of paper on a frame, stretching the paper taught, and shooting field-tipped arrows (not broadheads, which will affect the arrow flight) through it starting about 6 ft away.

Bare Shaft Planing Test : Tuning process were one shoots a bare arrow (shaft with no fletchings) for comparison with fletched arrows.

Walk-back Test: Tuning process where groups of arrows are shot at increasing distances to give a useful combined test of both centre-shot and button tension.

Check out these two very useful resources: Easton Tuning Guide and Tenzone’s Bow Tuning test documents: for instructions with these tests and many more.

As you develop as an archer you will need to make changes and tune your bow. Remember that making multiple adjustments at the same time can be hard to track and can be very confusing. It is important to only make one change at a time and test again.

This concludes the Arrow Series; Thanks and good shooting.

Arrows Series – Part 7: Center Shot and Archer’s Paradox

Now that you have determined the arrows you should use you need to fine-tune your bow to maximize your arrows consistency. Most people think that once you set up a plunger and a nocking point it is all good to go, however that is not the case. The center shot of your arrow is one of the most over looked things when setting up a bow.

The center shot is where the arrow rests on the bow when looking behind it.  When setting up your center shot the arrow needs to be completely behind the string. Most traditional bows do not have a cut-away in the riser and the arrow has to deflect around the handle with something called archer’s paradox.

Archer’s Paradox: The term was coined by Robert P. Elmer in the 1930s. The paradox refers to the phenomenon that in order to strike the center of the target, the arrow must be pointed slightly to the side of the target. Modern use of the term has caused the interpretation of it to be corrupted and the bending of the arrow is often considered incorrectly to be archer’s paradox.

In order to be accurate, an arrow must have the correct stiffness, or “spine”, to flex out of the way of the bow and return back to the correct path as it leaves the bow. Incorrect spine results in unpredictable contact between the arrow and the bow, therefore unpredictable forces on the arrow as it leaves the bow, and therefore reduced accuracy.[1] Additionally, if an archer shoots several arrows with different spine, even if they clear the bow they will be deflected on launch by different amounts and so will strike in different places. Competition archers therefore strive not only for arrows that have a spine within a suitable range for their bow, but also for highly consistent spine within sets of arrows. (Wikipedia)

For an Olympic archer, ideally your set up should be 100% behind the string. Some people actually require the arrow lean a little to the opposite side of your riser so that the arrow can get past the bow without hitting it. You can reduce the effects of “Archers Paradox” by adding spin to the arrow by fletching your vanes or feathers with an offset or helical. It is critical that the arrow must have the correct spine so it can bend around the bow, so the fletchings do not touch anything for consistent arrow flight.

Therefore, once again I stress, for proper safety and best performance, arrows need to match your entire bow setup.