Chapter One complete…

Classof2013On Thursday, I finished the first chapter of my life by graduating from Kingston Vocational & Collegiate Institute.  My graduating class was about 300 kids, with more 80% graduating with honors (academic 80% average) and Ontario scholars of which I was one. I remember walking across the stage, my brothers and sister cheering, apparently my mother cried, my father could not stop taking photos they was so proud and happy.

Besides being an Ontario scholar, I was also the recipient of couple of awards and scholarships. With the first award, my name with forever by etched on the walls of K.C.V.I. as it in engraved on a plague.

AdrienLangloisThe Adrien Langlois Award (Physical Education)

Awarded to a graduating student who has completed a minimum of three physical education credits including PSE4U (Sport Science). The student is considered the best overall physical education student as determined by the Healthy Active living department

The Sandy Prentice Memorial Scholarship

The scholarship is designed to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of a graduating K.C.V.I. student with an identified communication disability. The student must have demonstrated outstanding and persistent effort in overcoming the challenges of their learning difficulty such as reading, writing, organization or social skills. The student must also demonstrate a high degree of academic competence, the ability to self advocate and self regulate, and some level of contribution to the school community in the area of sports, clubs, or student leadership.

IMG_8776Graduating from high school was an extremely important moment for me, since at five years old, my parents were told I would never learn to read or write so not to bother to try and teach me. I have dyslexia, severe auditory processing communication disorder to be more exact, so much so that when officially tested, I scored in 1st percentile.

There is often a misconception about dyslexia, most people think of people reversing letters or numbers; however dyslexia is about learning differently, and auditory processing disorder is a broad umbrella for people who have difficultly either understanding or expressing ideas or information either verbally or written. For an overview about various types of auditory processing disorder check out the Wikipedia article.

This is the first time I have publicly acknowledged my learning challenge. Mainly because I never ever wanted anyone to treat me differently or for one minute think that I could not do something. Personally, I think it is a learning GIFT, since I just learn differently and the list of famous people with dyslexia is very extensive including Muhammad Ali, Cher, Robin Williams, Albert Einstein and many more.

RedeemerAlthough, I had been accepted at Dalhousie and Acadia, I will be attending Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario this fall studying Kinesiology, with  goals of becoming a physiotherapist and a national level archery coach.  To all who read this, do not let anyone else dictate your path in life. You can achieve anything you want to, it just takes a little hard work.

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.

Archery Judge

archery-group

Have you ever thought about becoming an Archery Judge? For Canadians, there are basically five judging levels towards becoming eligible to judge at the Olympics:

  • Level 1: Local/Club Judge
  • Level 2a: Provincial Judge Candidate
    • Level 2b: Provincial Judge
  • Level 3a: National Judge Candidate
    • Level 3b: National Judge
  • Level 4a: Continental Judge Candidate
    • Level 4b: Continental Judge
  • Level 5a: International Judge Candidate
    • Level 5b: International Judge: (Eligible to judge at the Olympics)

With the exception of the local/club judge, each level requires successful completion of the previous level. A judge with candidate status means they have completed the training but may need additional practical experience to complete the certification. Also for national, continental and international level judging, the governing body (or bodies) must recommend the judge for advancement to the next stage.

Over the past weekend, we hosted a provincial archery judging clinic at our home instructed by International judge, Randall JonesI want to congratulate my father who is now a provincial judge candidate with the successful completion of the course and passing the exam. He will now need to judge three tournaments including one indoor, and one outdoor with one major tournament such as Ontario Target Championship to become a certified provincial judge.

If you are interested in becoming a Ontario provincial judge, the next judging clinic is being hosted by Archers of Caledon in May 11th and 12th. If you are interested in becoming a provincial judge, contact the Ontario Association of Archers for more information.

Archery is not all about Winning

victoryaSport should be about participation and physical fitness, not solely about winning. Archery is a sport you can participate in for your entire life. One of the things my coach always told me was there is a real danger of achieving success too earlier in young archers. Young kids sometimes get use to winning, and they start to expect it. They never expect to have to work at it again to win and archery (and sport in general) loses more participants that way than any other.
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As a national level athlete, everyone expects me to win all the time. I sometimes want to yell out “It just doesn’t work that way”. There is very little difference between top level athletes and it is more than a game of inches. As you develop into one of those athletes that are lucky enough to gain sponsorship, there is even more pressure to win. This is why I believe some athletes turn to performance enhancing drugs or cheating.
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The movie “Cool Runnings” has an excellent scene where Derice Bannock ask Irv why he cheated…
CoolRunningsIrv: It’s a fair question. It’s quite simple, really. I had to win. You see, Derice, I had made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life, you have to keep on winning, no matter what. Understand?
Derice Bannock: No, I don’t understand. You won two gold medals. You had it all.
Irv: Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.
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Personally, it really troubles me to hear about athletes that use performance enhancing drugs or cheat, especially successful ones. They have made winning their whole life and they are not enough without it.
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As part of your New Year’s Resolution, why not make sure you are participating in Archery or any other sport for the right reasons. Whether your are participating for the competition, hunting, social aspect, physical fitness or just for pure fun, make sure you set your goals to participate whether you win or not.

Training to your Level and Desire

As many of you are aware I also have a Tumblr blog, this is to help publicize my WordPress blog and help reach more beginner archers.  When I asked for questions here on my WordPress blog one of my Tumblr followers, tuchesuavae, asked the following…

I was wondering, what exercises do you do? What is your regiment with band work? Weight, tension, supply details, repetition, how long do you hold, how often, etc.

I initially responded …

I have a 6 day-a-week training schedule including weight training, shooting, walking, aerobic and Pilates. My training schedule varies depending on the time of year. 

Sometimes I use a rowing machine or weights however I no longer add weight. Do not want to add mass; just lean strong muscles. I use bands for warm-up EVERY time I shoot. I shoot about 150-200 arrows a day. 

However I thought I would answer the question in more detail and discuss the importance of training at your level. A training plan for any athlete is developed in conjunction with the athlete, their short and long-term goals and their current physical abilities and limitations. Before developing a training plan, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want out of archery?”, since the answer will dictate how you proceed.

Personally, until 2010 I practiced with a training plan fit for an intermediate level archer. In 2010, prior to the 2011 Canada Games, I met with my coach and expressed my desire to go to the games and compete. She developed a plan that increased the number of arrows progressively, weight training without mass gain and developed a higher level of core muscles. Although at the time, it seemed like a lot, my coach explained that if that was my goal that is what it would take to get there, and she was right.

Every level of competitive sports has a new level of commitment. Sometimes you need to make sacrifices to achieve your goals. If you are planning on practicing only in classes and expecting to be a world champion, you are sorely mistaken.  For two straight years, I had a limited social life outside of the sport and the friends I had there.

My basic schedule included, taking into account time for studying, tournament schedules and travel.

  • Core muscle development one-day a week including weight training and Pilates.
  • 1-2 days of rowing machine
  • 1-2 days of cardiovascular including walking, jogging or biking. 20-30 minutes with a continuous high-heart rate.
  • Shooting 150-200 arrows 3-5 days a week.
  • One day a week I rested.

My six-day a week plan was tailored specifically for me and became more involved and more difficult as the shooting season progressed. It was made this way because I wanted it to be and therefore I stuck to the plan and attained my goals.  Remember my plan will probably not work for you, mainly because my strengths, limitations, and goals differ.

If you are ready to take it to the next level in archery or any sport, seek out a trained and qualified coach. Work together with your coach to understand where you want to go and together develop a plan on how to get you there.

I’m Back…

Just got back from this year’s Canadian National Field and Target Championships held on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia. This year I travelled with my coach Kathy Millar from South Nation Archery Supply and without either of my parents.

The Field Championships were hosted by Cowichan Bowmen Archery Club which is considered the best field course in all of Canada. The course is both beautiful and challenging with large rocky hills, angled trees, and other mind illusions. According to my coach it is pretty close to world level field tournaments. I also had the honour to shoot with my World Indoor Championships teammates Virginie Chenier and Caitlin Northey and I was fortunate enough to placed third.

The Target Championships were hosted at the West Shore facility consisting of both a FITA 1440 on day one and a FITA 720 on day two. Day one was not the best shooting day for me; the wind was tricky, I was not feeling the best, and I had an equipment failure where my arrow rest came off. On day two, the FITA 720, I was still a little shaken up from the FITA 1440, but I had a much better shooting day. Although I did not medal, I did come back with a lot more mental experience and a lot of fun memories.

The National Championship trip also provided me with a HUGE surprise.

In 2011, the Gunter family established an annual bursary for Canadian junior archers to be awarded at the National Championships. The WW Gunter Memorial Bursary is awarded annually to a Canadian Archer between the ages of 15 and 20, who has competed or will be competing for Canada at a World Championship or international archery competition such as the Youth Olympic Games, and who is planning to continue their education at the post-secondary level. The archer must conduct themselves in a manner that is a credit to their sport, their country and always maintain a sense of dignity and sportsmanship in victory and defeat.

To say I was surprised when they announced that I would be this years recipient would be a massive understatement. I was in such disbelief, my coach, Kathy actually had to nudge me to go and receive the award. I am humbled that the Gunter family would endow me with such an honour and I thank them enormously.

Mission Accomplished

No one can experience things for you. They can describe them in detail, draw pictures, give you a slide show, but you need to be there to truly understand what it’s like. That describes my trip to World Indoor Archery Championships in Las Vegas, NV.

I have been back for a week now, and thought I should blog about my experience. My goals before leaving were very simple; learn and enjoy the complete experience. If all I bring back is the knowledge of what it takes to compete that the World level, I will succeed.

Well mission accomplished, I gained the experience I was looking for and I now know what it takes to compete at the international level.

Although, I really enjoyed the learning experience and met several new friends from various other countries, it was extremely nerve racking. Prior to the competition beginning, I was shooting extremely well right up to the minute the announcer came on and declared “Welcome to the World Championships” and this set the wheels in motion. I was finally here competing for my country, and the whole world is watching.

My coach, Kathy Millar, tries to prepare us for this type of thing. Every couple of weeks in class we practice with distractions however nothing can prepare you for that level of distraction with loud fans, multi-lingual teams, and the constant commentators. It started with the introductions, world champion here, junior world champion there and me. Then the distraction of the commentator constantly announcing scores and who is shooting and what they did or needed to do. He even declared the winner in our of the bronze medal match even before we shot our final arrow.

Although individually I finished tied for 17th in the recurve junior women division; my junior women’s team set a new national record, even though we lost in the bronze medal match on the final end to the host Americans. Also congratulations to all my Canadian team members, although none of us medaled in this competition, we all preformed well and showed the world that the Canadians can compete at any level.