2014 Ontario Indoor 10-ring Target Championship

IMG_7714All this week, from February 15th to February 23th, clubs across Ontario are hosting the mail-in scoring tournament. The 10-ring target championship is an indoor FITA tournament and is the standard format for the Canadian National Indoor Championships and all World Indoor Championships. The tournament follows standard FITA rules using a 10-ring 40cm target ( 60 cm for Cub and Pre-cub Recurve) with two rings each of Gold, Red, Blue, Black and White and everyone shooting from 18M. Consistent archers may choose to use a vertical 3 spot to avoid breaking arrows and nocks.

Yesterday, I shot in my 9th Provincial Indoor 10-ring Target Championship. Although I have not always won a medal, I have always enjoyed it and this year was no exception. Being away at university and focusing on my education and career development, I was unable to participate in the Provincial Indoor Field Championship. That aside, I have been able to train. Redeemer has been extremely generous to afford me the gym a couple of days a week to train and practice. I have been fortunate enough to be able to co-ordinate some virtual training time with my awesome coach Kathy Millar via SKYPE. That aside, archery is a social sport and although it has been great to keep shooting, what I really missed was shooting with sister, my little brothers (both who are not little anymore) and my archery family. I had a lot of fun shooting, joking around and spending time with my family and friends.

If you live in Ontario and have never competed in an indoor target championship, check out the Ontario Association of Archer’s website for host site and dates near you. Hurry as pre-registration is usually required.

2014 Canadian National Championships

NB 2013 1 325To all my followers, I’m sorry I have not blogged in a while, however my family and I just got back from Woodstock, New Brunswick for the Canadian Nationals Archery Championships.  This year’s trip to Woodstock was a 10 hour drive from Kingston, Ontario which was long however not as long as the drive to Saskatchewan a couple of years ago.

This year was the first time that all of my siblings competed in the outdoor Nationals (my sister Sydney’s and younger brother Cole’s very first nationals). We all did really well and we had a lot of fun. For me, it was great seeing all of my friends from across Canada again and spending time together as a family since it was also our family vacation.

This year’s national’s format was a little different, mainly because of the number of competitors, and setup of the venue. To accommodate everyone, the FITA 1440 and Field were split, with the Compound archers shooting the field on Wednesday, while the Recurve archers shot the FITA 1440 and on Thursday they switched.  On Friday, everyone shot the 720 round with Recurve archers in the morning and the Compounders in the afternoon.  The venue also sported two shooting fields (Range A and B ) so they had the senior males on one field, and the youth and women on the other field. It was cool, a little different from other tournaments where we all shoot together.

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The main event this year was the weather, there was sunshine, rain (light and down-pour), lightning and fog. There was sunshine on Wednesday, light rain on Thursday, and torrential down-pour with lightning on Friday and back to sunshine of Saturday. The FITA 1440 on Wednesday was my only day with nice weather. The field course on Thursday was very cool and I thought it was very similar to Saskatchewan’s field course.  I loved shooting in the rain and the course was a lot of fun with all the mud and big puddles. Friday morning’s 720 was very challenging, the fog was so thick that you couldn’t tell whose arrows were who’s even through a scope. Luckily the 30-minute break because of the rain and lightning helped clear that up and we were back to rain, mud and puddles.

NB 2013 1 417The only thing that I would have like to have seen handled a little differently was the Canadian Open held on Saturday.  Since, this year we had a large number of Americans participate at the Nationals it reduced the number of spots for Canadian archers in the Open. Although, I believe the Americans have every right to participate, I would have liked to have seen more Canadians in the Open. See, I believe it is very important for the development of archery in Canada to make sure archers are exposed to the elimination rounds. The elimination round is very different, are not that easy, and the primary format for international tournaments. All archers wanting to compete at the international level should become familiar with the elimination round as much as possible.

Also, in Canada to increase your ranking, you need to compete in eliminations rounds, however there are very few elimination rounds hosted in Canada. One is the Quebec Provincial Championships in September, two others are held about the same time, the Canada Cup (West Coast) and Spring Classic (Toronto) and the third is the Canadian Open during the National Championships. I hope in the future, the National archery committee allows everyone to participate in the Open if they want to.

The next Canadian National Outdoor Championships are being held in Lac La Biche, Alberta in August 2014. The schedule includes 3D from the 1st through 4th, the Field on 5th and 6th, and Target on the 7th through the 10th.

The Evolution of the Riser

2012-MidasIn this series I am going to discuss the evolution of the riser or the structural strength of the bow which houses the handle, to which the limbs are attached and other various accessories.  Originally the riser and the limbs were actually one piece, as you would see in a bare bow or instinctive bow, however in most modern bows the riser is completely independent component.

Historically, the original construction material was wood and sometimes combinations of different types of wood. Other historical materials included horn and sinew (A piece of tough fibrous tissue uniting muscle to bone or bone to bone; a tendon or ligament) to create composite bows.  Beautiful laminated wooden bows and risers are still manufactured for lightweight, beauty, tradition, and style.

1212210010_L1Although some bows are still manufactured from various laminated hardwoods and are quite durable, the development of other modern components with materials such as carbon arrows and various strings, wooden risers were strained.  Therefore bow makers were forced to invest in the development of other more durable materials for competitive archers to maintain that competitive edge.  Competition target archers need enough arrow speed with great sight marks, with minimal string creep, since they practice a lot of shooting (anywhere from 150 – 1000 arrows a day).  Wooden bows will eventually break under the additional loads of pressure applied from the stress and strain.

Today there are two primary types of risers used by Olympic target archers, CNC machined aluminium and Carbon fibre or a combination of the two.  In the past, other materials and manufacturing methods were used such as forging and casting.

Forging

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This method hammers a metal bar under high temperature and high pressure that results in an extremely strong riser. Typically forging is an expense development process which requires machining, straightening and painting with very few variations.

Casting

ben-castingUsually a mix of aluminium and magnesium were developed with either die-casting or sand-casting methods.  Still available in the market today with low-to-mid range bow are a relatively cheap to make once you have the mould.

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CNC Machined Aluminium

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A computer controlled method to machine a riser from stress-relieved aircraft grade aluminium alloy until they weigh less than 3 pounds. Sometimes, in order to reduce the costs, risers can be extruded through a die to minimise the amount of machining required. CNC risers are usually anodised to provide a hard wearing finish.

Carbon Fibre

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A method of layering synthetic fibres usually over a dense foam core mould, which is cured with resin epoxy to develop an extremely strong and lightweight riser. Although this method can be expensive to develop and test with, the process has almost infinite number of possibilities in terms of strength and flexibility of design.

Currently, the market is primarily CNC Machined Aluminium with overlayed Carbon Fibre to gain the best of both worlds. Who knows what the future holds for risers as target archers look to find the competitive edge and manufacturers investigate in cost savings.

A field guide to archery

Reblogged from Bow International:

Field archery is the ultimate challenge, whatever your bow style, and many of the world’s elite concur that their field exploits represent their finest achievements in archery. The accuracy that a quality target archer brings to this new experience is an obvious asset, but a greater set of skills need to be honed if one is to master this testing, yet satisfying, aspect of shooting.

My return to the sport as a Masters competitor, with time as an ally in retirement, yielded National Championships and then world gold in both FITA and IFAA disciplines. But I must stress that this was not done without considerable focus, practice, and knowledge of my recurve equipment. The transition to ‘the dark side’ has required a reassessment of those field skills, and a re- education of what exactly my compound is capable of under field course conditions. It has been a fun challenge so far.

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So what exactly does a target archer venturing out into the woods need to learn, in order to reach a reasonable level of competence around a field course?

Read More…

Excellent article about field archery!

Ontario Provincial Indoor 10-Ring Championship

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom February 16th to February 24th Ontario will be holding the second of the two annual indoor provincial championships, the indoor 10-ring Target Championships. Similar to the indoor Field Championships, this annual tournament is hosted by many sites across the province with mail-in scoring. It was at  this tournament that I won my very first medal at 12 years old, although I didn’t find out until two-months later at my archery club’s Annual Awards Ceremony because my parents wanted it to be a surprise.

The target championship is an indoor FITA tournament and is the standard format for the Canadain National Indoor Championships and all World Indoor Championships. The tournament follows standard FITA rules using a 10-ring 40cm target ( 60 cm for Cub and Pre-cub Recurve) with two rings each of Gold, Red, Blue, Black and White and everyone shooting from 18M. Consistent archers may choose to use a vertical 3 spot to avoid breaking arrows and nocks. A vertical 3-spot is also mandatory for all Indoor World Championships.

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With mail-in tournaments there are no elimination rounds where archers have head-to-head competitions. With the updated FITA target faces in 2012 there is no X ring anymore therefore ties can happen.

This tournament is typically the start of the premier shooting period in Ontario with the national indoor championships at the beginning of March and then COPARCO Multi-national Indoor Championships of Americas (North and South America) mail-in championship to follow. If you live in Ontario and have never competed in an indoor target championships, check out the Ontario Association of Archer’s website for host site and dates near you.

2013 Ontario IFAA Indoor Field Championships

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From January 19th-27th Ontario held it is first of two annual indoor provincial championships, the indoor Field Championships. This annual tournament is hosted by many sites across the province with mail-in scoring. Since indoor tournaments do not have varying weather conditions, you can facilitate a larger target population and multiple host clubs as long as you employ provincial level judges.

This tournament consists of two rounds of 6 ends, with five arrows per end. The target is a 5 ring IFAA target with a white center and four blue rings. The center white is worth 5 points and contains an inner X ring used for tiebreakers. Scoring is 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.  You can choose to shoot a single spot, or a 5 spot with only the 4, 5 rings. This a good option for consistent archers who want to avoid breaking arrows, similar to selecting a 3-spot in a FITA tournament.

nfaa-blue-face-numberedThese indoor championships follow IFAA rules which are slightly different from FITA rules. The most significant in my opinion is the scoring.  I will not explain all of them however two of the differences are the shorter distances for younger archers and age divisions. To start peewee and pre-cub archers, like my little brother Cole, are able to compete at 10 yards (8M) instead of 20 yards (18M) which is better suited for their poundage. Next the age division you compete under is determined by your age on the tournament date rather than how old you will be at the end of the year.

Personally I enjoy the field championships and I find it a great way to start a season and benchmark your shooting status at the beginning of the season.  Next year, if you have an opportunity, I would strongly recommend you sign-up for an indoor field championship; you will not be disappointed, it’s a lot of fun.

Archery: One of the Safest Recreational Sport… No Really!

safety-firstThere is often a misconception that archery is very dangerous. Although a bow and arrow can be a lethal weapon, archery is actually one of the safest sports because there is a culture of safety. Statistically, archery is one of the safest recreational sports there is with only 0.65 injuries per 1000 participants as outlined in the USA National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and represents the hospitals which actually record the information. Check out the Archery Safety report from Arizona State and Fish Department from 2004.

This is largely because of the culture of safety that encompasses the sport. All coaches start by instructing their students with the fundamentals of archery safety. I remember my first lesson was about safety first. Nowadays, I regularly shoot through my house for practice and we never worry about danger because of the culture of safety within my house. Everyone follows the basic archery safety rules. For archers there are two basic areas of safety that you should maintain, personal safety including equipment and field or range safety.

Personal Safety

  • Always shoot with well maintained equipment and arrows
    • Always inspect your equipment and arrows before shooting
    • Before shooting each arrow inspect the arrow and nock for damage
    • Cracked or bent arrow must never be shot.
  • One should always use a bow-stringer for longbows and recurve bows. This will reduce the possibility of damage to the bow and injury to the person.
  • Shoot with good archery form ensuring you wear proper attire and a properly positioned arm-guard.
  • Never, ever shoot while intoxicated or with anyone who is.

Good Rule of Thumb: If in doubt, stop and get it checked it out.

Field and Range Safety

  • When shooting…
    • Do not shoot with ANYONE in front of the shooting line
    • Do not nock an arrow while anyone is in front of the shooting line
    • Only nock an arrow whwn you are on the shooting line and after the signal to start shooting
    • A loaded bow is only pointed at the assigned target
    • NEVER EVER point an arrow at anyone, whether on a bow or not.
    • Arrow must never be shot straight up into the air
  • When not shooting
    • Pay attention and be respectful of other archers
    • Once finished shooting you must be behind the shooting line and paying attention
  • When retrieving arrows from the target
    • Leave your bow behind the shooting line (hang-up your bow), you will need two free hands to collect your arrows from the target
    • Always walk forward to collect the arrows, never run.
    • Always pick-up arrows on the way first. Whether they yours or not.
    • Always walk up to the side of the target butt, so as to not to accidentally walk into the rear of the arrows lodged in the target.
    • One person at a time should withdraw their arrows from the target.
    • When withdrawing arrows from the target, ensure no-one is standing behind you. Pulling arrows may require a lot of force and they can come out of the target suddenly and could hurt someone standing behind them.
    • When carrying arrows, always hold them to your side with the points down.
    • Make sure that EVERYONE has returned behind the shooting line before starting the next shooting end.

Individual ranges may have additional rules specific to their courses, all ranges will adhere to the basic archery range safety rules. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced professional archer, if we all continue to practice the culture of archery safety we can enjoy the sport for many years to come.

Dominant Eye Training

To reach your potential in any “shooting” sport your eye dominance must take precedence over your dominant handedness. Do not assume your eye dominance is your hand dominance. If you do not know your eye dominance, read my earlier blog about how to check. Samantha asked….

I took archery lessons a few years ago. I own three bows, a compound, re-curve, and a crossbow. But one thing I never thought about until after I stopped taking lessons was eye dominance. I soon found out that I was left eye dominant, but I am right handed. So I have been having trouble hitting the target since my dominant eye is not the one being used to aim. This has been making it difficult and a little frustrating. I have tried left handed bows so my dominant eye was focused down the arrow shaft but it made it even harder to steady and was uncomfortable. Do you have any suggestions on things that could help my aiming? I do not wear eye glasses or contacts. I have had my eyes checked very recently and was told that I had great vision.

If your hand and eye dominance match, you are very lucky. It is important to note that level of dominance can vary from person to person. For some archers it is very difficult to tell the difference and in some cases your eye dominance can change, although that usually happens at a young age. My little brother’s eye dominance changed when he was 8 after a year of archery lessons with a right-handed bow.

For those archers that end up cross-dominant (left–eye dominant and right-handed or vice versa), it can be extremely frustrating, especially for those who take it up later in life since you have already developed your dominant handedness.

Some archers try to force the eye to match their handedness and end-up very frustrated. Trust me you will be far more frustrated trying to force your eye dominance than training your body to do the tasks with your other hand. It may start out unsteady and uncomfortable but it will get better with practice.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

To help train your body to shoot with your dominant eye, you need to add extra practice using resistance bands to develop the muscles. Also If your eye-dominance is closer to the middle or you have switched recently; shoot with an eye-patch on the less dominant eye to help train yourself to aim using the dominant eye.

The key to achieving success is purely perseverance. Although it can be costly to purchase another bow, you need to match your shooting to your eye dominance.  My coach was already a successful archer before she discovered her eye dominance was incorrect. She changed and became even more accomplished and never regrets the work she had to do.

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.

Archery – The Mental Game

There are two components in every competitive sport, the physical and the mental game. Often in sports we develop our physical ability long before we develop our mental game. Remember, my ascension to the world competition level was extremely fast, one year I was completely unknown in Canada, a dark horse. Then just 18 months later I had already won a Canada Games medal and was on my way to represent Canada at the World Indoor Championships; Real fast! Charles Lopez asked…

Perhaps you’ve covered this already and I’ve missed it but I wondered if you could expand on what you do on the mental side of things while you compete?

This is the toughest question I have been asked, since I still struggle with it and one of my training goals for this year is to work on my mental game. Archery is a lot like golf, you are not competing with anyone but yourself. So a good mental game is vital since it is slow paced and you have a lot of time to assess your shot, your environment and perhaps over analyse things. This means to perform your best, you need to have your thoughts under control.

Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Boy: Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
- Spoon boy from The Matrix

Basically, whether or not there is a spoon is irrelevant, what matters is the belief. Any negative thoughts you tell yourself, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. How well you play the mental game is going to have a significant effect on how well you score on a given day.

I remember the world indoor championships like it was yesterday. At the start, I was enjoying everything and shooting well. Then came the introductions, they were announcing former world champions, Olympians, and current champions. Then out of the blue, they introduced Jordan Sequillion as one of the representatives from Canada. At just 17, I was one of the youngest athletes there but the pride of my entire country filled me giving me the chills, goose-bumps and made me extremely nervous.

I remember trying to focus on shooting, I wanted to make every shot perfect, and I needed to shoot the best I ever had. My country was counting on me! I was so nervous that I was  shaking; not the best for archery.At the end of the competition, after being eliminated, I just broke down and started crying. I felt as if I let the entire country down. Coaches from other countries came over to comfort me, they had witnessed my shooting in the warm-ups. They simply said, you belong here you just need to work on keeping your emotions in check.  That helped comfort me a lot, it really helped me for the team rounds too.

Afterwards, my parents ask me the question, “Why do you shoot?” Seems like an easy question to answer. I shoot because I love it. So then they asked the question. “So what changes between shooting in warm-ups and in competition?” Hmmmm….makes you wonder. They insisted that only my perspective changed, not the target.

If archer shoots just for fun he has all his skill.
If he shoots for score his hands tremble and his breath is uneasy.
If he shoots for a golden price he becomes mad and blind.
His skill was not lessened, but the vision of the target changed him.
-          Old Chinese Proverb

So to answer… “What you do on the mental side of things while you compete?”

I am working on it, shooting because I want to shoot, not because I need a higher score than before. Not focusing on any past mistakes and not worrying about where I am; just remembering that I love the sport.  I shoot one arrow at a time and if I am the best that day I will win and if I do not win there will be many more opportunities in the years to come, because I love to shoot.

I do not know if this answered your question or not, however I did the best I could.