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.

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Canada on the Podium in the Czech Republic

canada-czechCanada’s para-archery team won three medals at the 2013 Czech Target international para-archery tournament in Nove Mesto nad Metuji, Czech Republic. This year’s team consisting of Alec Denys of Warsaw, ON, Kevin Evans of Jaffray, BC, Bob Hudson of Leoville, SK, Norbert Murphy of Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC and Karen Van Nest of Wiarton, ON had a terrific finish capturing two gold and a silver.

canada-czech2First, Norbert Murphy, Canada’s 2012 Para-Olympian bronze medalist, captured gold in the Compound Bow Men’s ARW1 category after defeating Peter Kinik of Slovakia in a one-shot tie-breaker.

Second Karen Van Nest captured the silver in Compound Bow Class Open Women losing to number one ranked Stepanida Artakhinova of Russia.

However, Karen Van Nest teamed up with Kevin Evans to turn the tables and capture the Gold in the Compound Mixed Team by defeating number one ranked Mikhail Ivanov and Stepanida Artakhinova of Russia.

Congratulations to the whole team on a very successful trip to CzechRepublic.

Bowstring Maintenance & Replacement

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

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

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

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

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

Arrows Series – Part 4: Spine, Flex and Stiffness

Before we discuss the topic of arrow spine, for proper safety and best performance, arrows need to match your entire bow setup. If you change draw weight, draw length, limbs, riser size, etc. this will affect you arrows. You may need to adjust the arrow length or require different arrows.

Arrow Myth:  An arrow is always straight.

Arrows SHOULD be perfectly straight when not in motion. However, when an arrow is released the force applied from the string causes the arrow shaft to be compressed against the resistant static weight of the arrow point and therefore bends.

Newton’s First Law of Motion: Every object in a state of uniform motion (rest) tends to remain in that state of motion (rest) unless an external force is applied to it.

Since the force applied is greater than the  resistance (weight of the tip), the arrow is propelled forward, and the shaft continues to flex and oscillate as it straightens itself. Arrow shafts that are either too stiff or too flexible will not fly well and will impact the accuracy of your shots or fail causing damage and/or injury. Therefore, we need to manage the flex properly so the arrow does not make any contact with the bow, or your arrow flight will be affected.

Important Tip: Arrow spine refers to the arrow shaft’s degree of stiffness (how much the arrow resists being bent) and is called spine deflection.

Basic Rule 1:  Shorter arrows act stiffer and longer arrows act more flexible.

Basic Rule 2: Powerful bows require stiffer arrows and less powerful bows require shafts that are more flexible.

Basic Rule 3: The heavier the tip equals greater the resistance, therefore the greater amount of compression.  So, a heavier tip causes the arrow to flex more and a lighter tip increase the stiffness.

According to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) the modern standards (ASTM F2031-05) an arrow’s official spine deflection is measured by hanging a 1.94 lb. weight in the center of a 28″ suspended section of the arrow shaft and is used for aluminum and carbon fiber arrows. (I believe original AMO standard has a basic guide to use for wood arrows spine determination and uses of 2 lb. and 26” section for standard measurement.) The actual distance the 1.94 lb. weight causes the shaft to sag down is the arrow’s actual spine deflection

For example, if a 1.94 lb. weight causes the center of a 28″ arrow to bend down 1/2 inch (.500″) the spine deflection would be .500″.  Stiffer arrows will bend less and more flexible arrows with bend more.

Almost every arrow manufacturer has its own numbering system and there are no universally agreed spine sizes among the various arrow manufacturers. Simply, the lower the deflection measurement equates to a stiffer arrow and higher the deflection measurement the more flexible the arrow. Manufacturers can number, size, and market their arrows anyway they want, as long as they provide the deflection data and test using the industry standard method.

Fortunately for us the engineers have already done the math for us and manufacturers provide spine selection charts. You are able to select an arrow based on your draw length and draw weight.

So when selecting arrows a good rule of thumb is that lighter draw weight, shorter draw length and/or lighter tip weight equals LESS arrow spine OR heavier draw weight, longer draw length and/or heavier tip weight equals MORE arrow spine.

Twisted Limbs

Arguably, the MOST important part of the bow are the limbs, since the movement of the limbs transfers energy to drive the arrows to the target. Investing in well-manufactured limbs can be the best move any archer can make. Since consistency is the number one requirement for any archer, you want to avoid any twists. Wood/Fibreglass limbs perform well however can be prone to warping in areas where temperature changes a lot. Carbon fibre layers help strengthen the limb and reduce the tendency to twist.

After purchasing a new set of limbs, one of the first things an archer should do is align their limbs to their riser. Alignment of the limbs means the string should appear to run right down the center of the limbs thru the center of the riser.

I highly recommend the purchase of a new set of limbs for any archer; however, the purchase of a good used set can be an option for a new archer who is still learning the sport. When purchasing a used set remember any twist will cause inconsistent flight of arrows, check for limb distortion (often called limb twist). Viewing the bow strung with the limbs from either end of the bow, if one or both of the limbs have a slight twist, you may have limb twist.  If the distortion is only slight sometimes it can be cured with one of three methods.

1)       Cold Bump Method

Attempt to straighten the limb using the “cold bump” method. If a limb has developed a slight twist from improper stringing, this method often will correct the problem. Grab the bow by the riser with your dominant hand. Use your other hand to grip the bow limb slightly above the twist. Slowly twist the limb in the direction opposite of the distortion, and then quickly release the limb. Repeat this process several times until the limb properly is aligned.

2)       Warm Wet Submerge Method

Submerge the twisted limb in a tub of hot water for 3 to 4 minutes. The water should be no warmer than a hot bath, around 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This is just hot enough to mildly loosen the glues in a laminate. Remove the limb from the water, then slowly twist the limb in the direction opposite of the distortion. Release the twist slowly and examine the limb for straightness. Repeat the twisting procedure several times until the limb is straight.

3)       Low Heat Method

Twist the limb in the direction opposite the distortion and hold it in place. Have an assistant heat the limb using a hair dryer. Hold the hair dryer 6 to 10 inches from the limb, and slowly move it up and down the length of the limb. Heat the limb slowly for 2 to 3 minutes, then release your hold and examine the limb for straightness. Repeat the heating procedure as necessary until the limb is straight.

In my opinion, it is not worth playing with twisted limbs or possible physical injury and especially where ranking is important, competitive archers should not risk the possible performance dip . New well-manufactured limbs are very forgiving of a poor release, feel smooth and are more affordable than ever. Cartel Doosung and Bow Korea offer a complete line of limbs for everyone including introductory limbs, the new Midas MPS limbs for intermediate archers and MK Archery Vera/1440 limbs for competitive archers.