Exams

StudyingNext week exams start and I am working on managing my time. My education is extremely important and so is training. For me with university next year I need to make sure my grades are top notch so I can increase my odds and be accepted to the University of my choice. Once exams are complete I will continue my series on Bow Tuning and adding new blogs.

Time management is the key to any student athlete and I am working with my coach to create my new schedule.  This includes making sure I have enough time for homework, weight training, practice, and tournaments. When making a schedule you need to consider time commitments from those people that support you including your coach, parents, friends and even siblings. They all have things to achieve and they have schedules to consider.

If you are planning to be a competitive archer while you are a student, start working on managing your time and your personal schedule. Take a look at my Time Management page for the key factors to a successful time management schedule.

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.

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.

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games

On 24 September 2012, two flaming arrows were shot in unison and in synchrony with the music of the opening firework ceremony of Barcelona’s prestigious Mercè Piromusical 2012. This commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Barcelona 92 Olympic Games.

Read all about here…

Awesome video of the ceremony, check it out.

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.

Next Saturday…

The key to achieving your goals is to first set your priorities and manage your time accordingly. Sometimes you need to make sacrifices, and sometimes you are not able to do everything you want.

This week is a busy week for me, it is the final week of school and I have back to back exams on Thursday and Friday. I know I have blogs that I want to publish, training and practice however I need to make sure that my education is still a priority.  Sometimes, even I get overwhelmed and need to take a couple of minutes to clear my head and focus. The good news is next Saturday, I will be done.

In the meantime, check out my Time Management page for key factors to helping you manage your priorities and schedule.

Training Vacation

Athletic training is a full-time job, I train a lot, 6 days a week, 2-3 hours per day and as a full-time student, a coach, and with a part-time job my schedule is full.

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

Besides regular competitions locally, provincially, nationally and internationally, along with the unique opportunities of Canada Winter Games and World Indoor Championships, I have been without any break for over two straight years. Personally, I never realized just how tired and exhausted I was, however my coach did. Therefore, I am on a two-week vacation from shooting and training.

There are many benefits for taking a vacation including…

  • Recharge & Avoid Burnout – Taking regular time to relax helps avoid burn-out and get us back to feeling our best.
  • Overall Well-being – Lower stress, better sleep and better mood will improve your overall energy levels.
  • Friends and Family – Reconnect and strengthen relationships with loved ones and reaffirm the support you have behind you.
  • Performance – Better focus and re-energizing will influence your performance in a positive manner in the end.

The key is taking a good amount of time off from the stresses of training and competing will recharge your batteries and help you reach those long-term goals. Personally, I recommend at least one to two week break between indoor and outdoor seasons and easing back into to your full-time training programs.

A good vacation is over when you begin to yearn for your work.  – Morris Fishbein

Remember to stay active to during a vacation like swimming, taking a walk, going for a bike ride, going to the batting cages, or playing laser tag. Remaining active will make it easier to re-start your training program after the vacation is over.

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vincent Lombardi

Instinctive Archery World Champion: Peter Garrett Interview

In September 2011, a friend of mine Peter Garrett, shocked the World and became Canada’s First World Champion in Instinctive Archery capturing Gold at the World 3D championships in Austria. Recently, Peter agreed to participate in an interview describing his experience and what it was like to reach the top of the podium for Canada.

Jordan: Congratulations again Peter, first can you give our readers a little information about your shooting background. What got you interested in archery and at what age?

Peter: When I was 49, I moved to Kitchener and joined the Elmira Rod and Gun in 2004 so I could continue my pistol shooting that I had been doing for 25 years. My 11 year son saw the rubber 3D animal targets there and wanted to shoot at them so I bought us each a bow and started archery. After 3 years my son lost interest but I loved it and shot my first provincial championship in 2005.

Jordan: As you are aware North America is dominated by compound bow shooters, what made you want to shoot bare bow and instinctive?

Peter: I started out with an unsighted compound bow but there was hardly any competition, so I switched to a recurve bow as there was lots of competition and I could always put sights on it and make it an Olympic style bow.

Jordan: What inspired you to “take it to the next level” and compete on the national and international level?

Peter: I won my first provincial championship, something I had never accomplished in 25 years of pistol shooting and it really inspired me. The next year the 3D Nationals were held in Ontario so I attended it and won as well. As there was nowhere to go in unsighted compound, I switched to an instinctive bow and have been enjoying it ever since.

Jordan: What is your typical practice routine & how often do you practice?

Peter: My typical practice was to shoot 60 arrows about 3 times a week

Jordan: How do you prepare both physically and mentally for an international match such as the World 3D championships?

Peter: I won two 3D National Championships and had a chance to represent Canada at the World 3 D Championships in Italy in 2009. When I got there I realized how poorly prepared I was. They had different rules, most of the other countries had full sponsorship and they trained 2 to 3 times a day. I was so nervous I missed 3 of my first 4 targets, I hit the next 36 but it was too late and I finished 2nd last. I decided if I went again I would be properly prepared. The 3D worlds are held every two years, so I learned all the rules and started training twice a day in September 2010. I was shocked in December 2010 when World Archery announced a rule change that banned my 3 finger under the arrow grip and made a split finger grip mandatory. I had to change my bow and relearn the way I shot in order to meet the new rules. I got a loaner riser from Lancaster Archery and started practicing 2 to 3 times a day in early January and kept that up until the end of August when I went to the worlds in Austria.

Jordan: I hear that bare bow and instinctive are far more popular in Europe, what was it like competing in the World 3D championships?

Peter: In Canada in 3D, there are about 15 compound archers for every non compound archers. In Europe there are 5 non compound archers for every compound archer, a huge switch. On our Canadian team 6 of 8 archers shot compound bows but their practice area was ¼ the size and number of targets as mine for non compound archers. There is a lot of prestige associated with the non compound archers and the best of the best were in attendance. Both French and Austrian archers told me about 100 archers tried out for their countries 3 Instinctive positions at the Worlds. Canada only had myself in Instinctive and Brock Patton in Longbow.

Jordan: Here in North America, the landscape for archers is different from that of Austria how did you prepare for shooting on hills, valleys, etc…

Peter: I practiced hills by occasionally going to a ravine near by and shooting at any club I knew had a lot of hills. The Flying Feathers Club in Madawaska had the overall best variety of shooting conditions so I tried to go there whenever they had a competition or I was allowed to practice there.

Jordan: Who are your coaches and how did they help prepare you for this journey?

Peter: I did not have a coach for 3D Instinctive archery for a variety of reasons. I did receive help in the spring with general bowman ship and dealing with distractions from Kathy Millar. Larry Smith set up my new bow, figured out the best arrow to use and gave me some great training tips on judging distances.

Jordan: Do you have any sponsors that have supported you through this adventure?

Peter: Lancaster Archery had lent me a 17” Trad Tech Titan riser to try until their 19” was in full production. As the new riser was not released in time I used the 17” at the world championships. Since then Goldtip arrows and Trad Tech have helped me with my equipment as I used their product to win the World Championships.

Jordan: What was the most memorable part of the whole experience?

Peter: The most memorable moment was hearing my team mates and wife sing O’Canada from the stands as they raised the Canadian flag and played the National Anthem. I had great support from my wife and team mates throughout this event that made it extra special.

Jordan: Now that you have succeeded in becoming World Champion, what are your new archery goals for the future?

Peter: This is a great question, I stopped shooting completely for 3 months as I needed a break. I thought I might quit but I love to shoot archery and I have started again. In January World Archery changed the rules again so now I need to use a wooden bow and other significant changes that at this point I am not planning to relearn so I can shoot at the world in 2013. I am just having fun shooting right now and with retirement from work ahead in the near future I am not sure what I will do.

Jordan: Would you be interested in doing a periodic blog now and then for our readers?

Peter: I would be happy to and answer any questions someone may have.

Scoring

Eventually, all target archers need to learn and understand how to score an end, a round and a tournament.  Target archery has a number of types of target depending on the governing body (FITA, IFAA, NFAA etc…) and the types of tournament you are participating in.  There is the standard multi-coloured 10-ring target that is synonymous with Olympic archery however there is also 5-ring field targets, 2D and 3D animal targets, clout targets or flags and even novelty target such as dartboards.

Aside from novelty targets and flags, archery targets are basically comprised with a series a rings. Although 2D and 3D animals targets are fashioned typically in rings based on the animals “kill zones”, all archery targets are comprised of a series of concentric circles were the higher scores are achieved closer to the center.

When scoring, typically for official tournaments you are required to have at least two scorers and one caller. The caller will read out the scores for each archer in descending order such as 10-9-9-6-3-1. The value of each ring will depend on the type of competition and the rules governing the tournament. For simplicity, I will cover just the basic scoring for FITA Target and IFAA Field targets.

FITA Target

The FITA Target is the most commonly known archery target and is used in the Olympics. Also called a 10-ring, the target face is comprised of five colours including Gold, Red, Blue, Black and White.  The highest value are the inner gold rings worth 10 and 9 points respectively followed by red ( 8-7 points ), blue ( 6-5 points ), black ( 4-3 points ) and white ( 2-1 points ).  If an archer misses the target or is outside the 1 ring it is scored a miss or “M” and worth zero points. However any arrow “inside” of another arrow, called a “robin hood” is scored with the same value.

The number of arrows shot are dependent the type of tournament and whether they held indoor or outdoor. Typically indoor tournaments are 60 arrows and outdoors are 72, 144, or 288 arrows. During tournaments, archers shoot within a time limit, two minutes for 3 arrows ends or 4 minutes for 6 arrows ends. If an arrow is shot before or after the time limit, the highest value arrow is scored as a miss.

When scoring, the caller determines if an arrow is between two lines to call the score. However if an arrow is “touching” a higher value line, the higher value is awarded. In the center 10-ring, is an additional ring called the X ring. For recurve archers, an X and 10 are worth 10 points and the number of X’s are tallied and used for a tie-breaker.  For most compound archers the X ring is worth 10 points and the 10 ring is worth 9 points along with the 9 ring.

IFAA Field (5-ring) Target

A Field Target is traditionally comprised of two colours, blue rings and a white center and governed by IFAA international or NFAA in the United States. The inner white ring is worth 5 points and the remaining 4 blue rings are worth 4, 3, 2 and 1 point respectively as you move further away from the center. Similar to the FITA Target, with the inner white is an additional X-ring that is worth 5 points for both recurve and compound archers and is used for tie-breakers.  Conversely, arrows must touch the next ring to be scored as the higher value, simply touching the line is not sufficient.

The number of arrows shot are also dependent on the type of tournament and whether they are held indoor or outdoor. Typically indoor tournaments are a single day 60 arrow event and outdoor tournaments are 120 arrows shot over two days.

One of the side benefits to archery is it gives younger archers a chance to practice their math skills. Often experienced archers do not want to score because they do not want to know how they are doing throughout the match. So, if you plan to participate in any type of tournament you should practice scoring while practising at home and avoid the stress of learning to score during a tournament.  For experienced archers,  they NEED to remember scoring can be difficult for young archers still developing their math skills. While they are totaling the scores, you may be very anxious to know the end results, however you may be putting undo pressure on young archers causing mistakes if you are hovering over them.

Simple Archery Exercises

One misconception about archery training is you need to do a lot of heavy weight training to reach the next level, and this is simply not true. In fact, heavy weight training can actually hinder you archery career. If you develop very large biceps it can hamper your form since you may have problem creating straight lines from the arrow through your anchor point and the back of your elbow.  Since long, lean, strong muscles are preferred over large muscle mass, it is important to do exercises with less weight and more repetitions rather than heavier  weights.

For younger archers, that are still growing, you do not want to hurt yourself or get ahead of your natural body development. Any type of weight training before your body is ready to accept it can do more damage than good long term.

Below are a couple of simple exercises to help increase you upper body strength for archery.

Open Door Push-outs

Anyone can develop some muscle and endurance without heavy weights, by using your body weight. Open Door Push-outs are a safe and easy way to train your back shoulder muscles for archery.

  • Using an open doorway, standing with your feet flat on the floor and slightly less than arm-length away, place your hands on either side of the door frame
  • In a very controlled manner, lean towards the door, similar to a push-up
  • Once your arms are at least 90 degrees, push yourself back out again.
  • Repeat several times.

Once you have mastered the above without any problems, you can vary it by standing further back or doing deeper push-ups.

Ball Exercise

Since it is almost impossible to be completely still for any amount of time, it is important to develop a fine controlled approach with shooting. One simple training exercise that will help develop a strong and controlled bow arm is the simple ball exercise.

  • Standing perpendicular to a wall and using a volley or soccer ball
  • Hold ball at shoulder height at arm length against the wall with a flat hand.
  • Using only your arm move the ball in a figure eight motion
  • Set a timer for 30 seconds.
  • Turn around and repeat with the other arm

Once you have mastered the above without any difficulties, you can increase the time by 30 second intervals to help build control.

Although, these exercises should be safe for just about everyone, it is important, especially for young archers, to consult a qualified archery coach before you add any type of training to their regular program.