September Update

With the official start of autumn, I thought I would take some time to write to all my followers to let them know what is going on with me.

???????????????????????????????A quick recap, August 7th – 10th was the Ontario Summer Games , which was  held in Windsor Ontario.  Since I am no longer eligible to compete at the Ontario Summer Games, because I have competed at the Canada Games, I decided to coach the Eastern Zone team.  This year was supposed to be Niagara Falls but there was a change in plans and the city of Windsor was kind enough to take over. They did a very good job with such sort short notice.

???????????????????????????????Being the coach at an event like this was a very different experience for me. At times I forgot that I was not shooting and other times various people forgot I was the coach.  One great experience was coaching my little brother Joshua, at 14 years old, in a very competitive field in his very first summer games.  The other athletes seemed to tower over him and yet he was able to capture the Men’s cadet recurve silver medal.  This year delivered the best results for the eastern zone archers since I have started participating, with almost half our athletes going home with medals.   I would like to believe in some small way my coaching assisted our athletes, probably not since they are all amazing athletes without my help, but it is nice to think about.

Recently, I had a couple of questions posted to my website and thought I would take time to answer them now….

My 3X10 arrows for 18M/40cm score is ~ 175 for a long time (both indoor and outdoor). I feel hard to improve the score/consistency. How can I make a breakthrough? I am a 12 years girl. Maybe I should buy more expensive arrows?

Having had been 12 at one point of my archery life, I can understand the frustration you are feeling. Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about your set up, or form, or even how much you practice. However, that being said this would be my advice to you. (Assuming form is fine) I would try to see if there is a better arrow spine that would work better for you and maybe try to see if you can increase your draw weight a little (do NOT jump too much if you can’t handle it). The draw weight should help you get some more speed off the arrow making it more forgiving. The arrow spine/type sounds like it could be the main issue, you may not have enough or you may have too much flexibility in your arrows for your draw weight so it is causing it to fly crazy. Keep in mind given your age you may have to change a lot because you are at a point in your life where your body is making a lot of changes too, like your height. Remember when you are making changes it is just like a science experiment, where you change only ONE factor at a time otherwise you don’t know if you are making it better or worse, and you won’t know what is causing it.  Also make sure you remember where everything was before you make changes so that you can go back to it if worse comes to worse.

How to avoid bow arm (and shoulder) drop right after release? My understanding is that the bow arm should be strong and straight, and only drop the bow hand (dog sit) with the help of sling. My bow is very heavy; I have a tendency not to hold the bow strong after release. Maybe my bow is too heavy. I also shoot very fast because of not to holding bow long enough. How can I overcome these bad habits?

If you are finding it hard to hold the weight you have, then yes you should take off enough weight so that you can hold and control the bow.  Periodically I take off the weight, so I can make sure I have the basics of archery correct. Don’t worry, practicing and training will allow you to reintroduce the weight back in no time whatsoever, but listen to your body first and foremost.

It is important to stay strong and straight throughout the shot however remember not to be tense. When you see other archers “dropping” their wrist, this is result of the stabilizer when it moves with ease, out of your hand and swings itself down. So it looks like your wrist is bending but it really isn’t, your wrist is just tagging along for the ride.

Concerning shooting too fast, if you are finding you don’t have enough energy between shots as you practice or compete, you should practice waiting a little bit of time between shots. This is the 10th step in the 10 steps of archery.  It is important to take your time as well as be fluid with your form, so that you are building up the power to shoot the shot.

I hope this helps, 🙂

redeemerunivThis summer was very nice, it was a much-needed break from the university grind and an opportunity to shoot, work and enjoy life. I’m kind of sad to see the summer ending and having to leave all my friends and family behind once more, but on the bright side I get to see all my new school friends again. This school year should be a lot of fun looking forward to it, and I’m really looking forward to diving deeper into my chosen field of study (Kinesiology) after completing most of my mandatory subjects.  This year will be special as my younger sister has also chosen Redeemer University to study and I will always have someone around who gets me and is ready to give me a hug if I need it.  She has chosen to study International Development in hopes that she can work for a NGO and change the world for the better.

I know I should be blogging more however my first priority is university, and if there is time for anything else I will do it.

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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!!

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 Ballistics

Recently, I invited you, my readers, to ask me any questions you have about archery and you responded. Over the next couple of blogs, I will try answer all of these questions to the best of my ability. I decided to answer the one I know the least about first. Although I am not into hunting, I am not against the practice if you are going to use the entire animal. Also, in my opinion, an animal deserves a quick humane kill and not left just wounded walking around in pain. David Roberts asked…

I’d be interested in seeing your take on ballistic; specifically focusing on achieving maximum momentum (e.g. A lightning fast arrow with the weight of a feather vs. a slow moving heavy clunker). Are there any equations for calculating the “perfect” arrow for inflicting the most damage on its target? It would have to involve the power of the bow, the weight of the arrow and the relation between the two. Is a 400 grain arrow traveling at 300 fps more damaging than a 700 grain arrow at 235 fps? Less?

For target shooting faster shots means less drop & better accuracy, but for us archery hunting folks a “perfect” arrow is one that is has the exact weight that will provide the most possible momentum of that arrow. You go into a sporting goods store and you see all the arrows advertising super light weight and giving performance metrics in the amount of energy that they transfer when they strike. That metric is the wrong one to use when looking for a damaging arrow. A damaging arrow doesn’t want to put x amount of kinetic energy into a target over the course of 2 inches, it wants to put x amount of kinetic energy into a target over 3 feet. Momentum calculations would pr

ovide that. I understand that you’re not really into the hunting with archery (I think?) and that this topic isn’t really beneficial to competition shooting at all, but for real world applications of archery it’s one of the most important topics around.

My understanding is hunting is about the kill and understanding arrow flight will help you make the most of the opportunities that are presented while in the bush.  There are two planes of accuracy that you need to be aware of; Horizontal (left – right) axis and Vertical (up – down) axis.

The horizontal arrow flight is managed through good proper form and the understanding about the effects of nature elements such as weather conditions. Check out my earlier blogs about the various effects.

The vertical arrow flight is tougher since all arrows fly on a parabolic course. Frequently misses are high and low since it is hard to judge the arc of your arrow flight for unmarked distances.

Parabola in mathematics, a parabola is a conic section, created from the intersection of a right circular conical surface and a plane parallel to a generating straight line of that surface. Another way to generate a parabola is to examine a point (the focus) and a line (the directrix). The locus of points in that plane that are equidistant from both the line and point is a parabola. – Wikipedia

Example. If you kick a soccer ball (or shoot an arrow, fire a missile or throw a stone) it will arc up into the air and come down again …… following the path of a parabola! (Except for how the air affects it.) – Math is Fun

Some bow hunters choose to use a 3-pin sight so they can guess better. By pre-sighting distances of 20, 40 and 60 yards as examples, it allows them to better judge the best impact for the kill zone between these sight marks.

Ballistics is the science of mechanics that deals with the flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles – Wikipedia.

Since the question is specifically about ballistics, understanding all components of a hunting arrow will help you select your “perfect” arrow configuration. There are a lot of variables to consider, here is a list of things to consider, I found on the following website

  • Shaft size (diameter and wall thickness)
  • Shaft length (+/- 3⁄4 to one-inch can significantly change shaft stiffness)
  • Weight of the broadhead to be shot (+/- 25 grains can significantly change shaft stiffness)
  • Draw weight of the bow (+/- 2.5 to five pounds can significantly change shaft stiffness)
  • Archer’s draw length (certain shafts become significantly weaker when cut past 28 inches)
  • String material (Dacron strings are slower and require a slightly softer arrow, for example)
  • Type of bow (recurve or compound with a wheel, soft-cam or speed-cam)
  • Finger or mechanical release (finger shooters require a slightly stiffer arrow)
  • Bow length (bows less than 40 inches in length require a slightly stiffer shaft)
  • Overdraw length, if used (three-inch-plus overdraws require a slightly stiffer arrow)

You can review my Arrows – The Series for details about most of these.

Faster shots means less drop & better accuracy” is true for all archers. Since, for example, at 150 fps, there is an 8” drop in trajectory at just 10 yards versus only 5 inch drop at 200 fps, there are benefits to maintaining a higher velocity. This allows you to shoot from farther away and better judge the curve; giving you more opportunities.

To continue, assuming all things are perfect, longer draw length or heavier draw weight should produce higher kinetic energy, momentum, and velocity that will result in deeper penetration. It also offers more choices in selecting your broadhead. My understanding is for small game, where penetration is not the issue you can use field tips. However for larger game and for a quick kill you need the proper broadhead choice as well as the proper arrow selection. Since, the weight of broadhead is the ballast of the arrow, and when we are talking about hunting you may need to start here.

A broadhead weight can range from 85 grain and can be more than 140 grains and the number of blades is important since more blades increase the wind resistance causing greater dive. I am not an expert about broadheads however I know you can select from various types including fixed blades and mechanical blades. You can also check out this video I found about types of broadheads and this website for the pros and cons of each. I also ran across these two websites about penetration of various different broadheads. (Wibowhunters and Bowonlyoutdoors). Once you have selected your style of broadhead, you can properly select the arrow to match your bow to maximize your velocity and penetration.

If you really want to understand the technical details of an arrow ballistics, arrow parabolic course and the calculations; check out this website. However I am not a math major and If you are like me that is far too technical. So for specific arrows and bow configurations including total momentum, there are several options available including online ballistics calculators such as Outdoorsden OR Peteward. You can also purchase highly rated archery applications such as The Archery Program Pro by Tony Virnoche and OnTarget!2 Software for Archers by Pinwheel Software that provide more than just ballistics information. Lastly if you are mobile user there is a phone/android application called Archery Ballistics that you can carry around with you to the sporting goods store to help you make your selections.

Remember every setup is different and changing even one thing can effect everything else. You will need to spend time with the calculators and trying various combinations until you find the right one for you and your bow.

Although, I am not into hunting I hope that I have been able to answer your question and provide some high-level direction.

Girl Guides

Before I was in archery, before I competed internationally in robotics, I was a Girl Guide. Girl Guides is a parallel movement to Boy Scout for girls in 1909, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting decided that girls should not be part of Scouts.  Therefore, in 1910 Robert’s wife Agnes started the Girls Guides, named after a famous frontier regiment in the British Indian Army, the Corps of Guides. Guiding makes a positive difference in the life of every girl and woman who experiences Guiding so she can contribute responsibly to her communities.

The Girl Guides of Canada’s goal is to develop confident, courageous and resourceful girls who will make a difference in the world.  Girl Guide values are

  • I Promise to do my best,
  • To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada
  • I will take action for a better world
  • And respect the Guiding Law

The Guiding Law challenges me to:

  • be honest and trustworthy
  • use my resources wisely
  • respect myself and others
  • recognize and use my talents and abilities
  • protect our common environment
  • live with courage and strength
  • share in the sisterhood of Guiding.

My introduction to Girl Guides at a young age has helped develop me into the person I am today. I started as a Spark, continued through Brownies, until I graduated from Guides at which point I had collected two full badge scarves and the coveted Lady Baden Powell award.

This past weekend, I was invited to a Girl Guide camp to introduce archery to a group of Girl Guides. It was a real trip down memory lane and it was a lot of fun to see young girls enjoying the same experience that I did when I was young. I remember the Saturday afternoon events at camp were always my highlight of the weekend.  This time, it was my turn to make it the best part of the whole day and teach this new group of guides how to shoot a bow and arrow. Everyone loved it, so much so I actually had a little 9 year old girl come up to me and hug me telling me how much she loved it.

To witness someone enjoy the sport and love it as much as you is the best part of being a coach. Being a part of the start of a new dream in another person’s life is so rewarding, and gives you the unwavering desire to do it over and over again.

Without people willing to help develop new dreams in kids, there may not be as many adults with successful dreams.

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

Follow the Arrow: Adjust your sights

Unless you are a traditionalist, one of the first things you will need to do as an archer is adjust your sight. Unless you are a compound shooter with the same setup for ever, you will need to make adjusts again and again. For recurve archers there are many reasons why you will need to make adjustments including…

Environmental Differences : Every location is different, wind, rain; check out my earlier blog about Weather Conditions here.

New Distances : As you develop and change categories, distances change. Junior women need to shoot 70M and junior men 90M, if you are not there yet, do not worry, you will be.

Growth : As you get older, your body changes, you get taller and stronger and your draw length changes, using a clicker can help with consistency, so check out my Clicker blog.

Equipment Changes : As you get stronger and you are required to reach longer distances you need to change equipment, such as higher poundage limbs. Eventually equipment wears outs and we all want the latest and greatest technology.

Archery Form Changes : As you develop as an archer, you will perform better as an archer and your archery form will get better.

For young recurve archers adjusting a sight is a frequent event and is actually quite easy, the hard part is resisting the temptation to adjust it after every shot. Remember that consistency is your ultimate goal, so track your arrows before making any adjustments. You can do this on paper or there is an awesome free application for your IPod Touch called Archery Score Free by Yakoob Ali.  Once you are warmed up begin to track your arrows and determine the centre of your arrows grouping and then move the sight accordingly. Remember, if your groups were good yesterday and are not today, evaluate your form first. Also, if you have one arrow consistently out of group, check the arrow for defects.

When you are ready to adjust your sight, apply this simple rule, “Follow the arrow” or in this case the centre of the group of arrows. If the centre of your arrow grouping is to the left, then move your sight towards the left or opposite if your group is to the right.  The same principle applies for the group’s height; move your sign up or down if the group is not centered.  By moving the sight towards the arrow, the trajectory of the bow is altered to better centre the arrows on the target.

Remember, consistent form is essential to archery, and before you start micro-adjusting be sure you are grouping consistently first. Otherwise, if you are always making changes to your sight you will never truly know if you will consistently hit the bulls-eye.