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.

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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.

Practice can be Fun

In the seasons between indoor and outdoor, it is time to practice. In an individual sport like archery, practicing can be boring, for target archers we are spending a lot time doing the same thing over and over again.  It can be hard to track your progress since all athletes experience growth and development like the NASDAQ industry average with lots of peaks and valleys.

Practicing is an absolute must if any athlete wants to improve however you can help yourself keep focused and motivated by changing things up, working towards the future and adding a little fun.

Different Distances

It is always a good idea to practice all the distances that you need to compete in for a tournament; however, there are several reasons why an archer should practice at longer distances. First, practicing to shoot longer distances will automatically improve shorter distances.  Second, it helps develop strength and endurance since you need to hold your arm up higher and longer. Lastly, especially for younger archers, it prepares you for the future, since every older age category moves further and further back.

Change Targets

For target archers, the smaller the grouping of arrows the better. You can help develop tighter groups by shooting at smaller target faces. Indoors, try a 3 spot target or 5 spot field face for target practice. Try novelty target faces or make your own target using an old catalogue. To this day, my favourite is to shoot balloons, much like a carnival. You can set up different sizes and shapes. Small balloons are great for accuracy and long thin ones help with groupings since you often need 3 arrows to pin and pop the balloon.

Noise

In most individual sports, like archery, athletes practice by themselves which allows them to focus without distractions, however tournaments are rarely completely quiet. A lot of archers end up shooting lower scores simply because of the noise, so why not have some practice with noise and distractions. Invite friends over to shoot with you, play loud music or have friends TRY to “safely” distract you while shooting. Since you cannot predict or avoid distractions at a tournament; prepare for it.

Scoring

A lot of young archers get stressed out at tournaments when they have to score OR when they are score watching. When you are young and still developing your math skills, it can be very stressful to keep score with everyone looking over you.When you are at home, practice quickly adding scores together to become good at it. Score watching is can be very stressful no matter your age or experience, sometimes you get caught up in the score for each end, how far behind you might be, or even focusing on one bad arrow.  Practice focusing on consistency and grouping ; ignore the score because if the group is good you can always move your sight.

By keeping focused, practicing, keeping it fresh and fun and being prepared for all types of tournaments you can enjoy the sport for the long term and reach your goals with a smile on your face.

Intermediate Level Coaching

This past weekend, I took the next step to my goal of a national level coach by attending the Intermediate Archery Coach Certification course held at the Archers of Caledon.  This two-day course builds on the foundation established in the Beginner Archery Coach Certification course.  The intermediate course digs deeper into the technical requirements for more accomplished and competitive archers, covering finer details of form and detailed tuning techniques for both recurve and compound bows.  Similar to the beginner course, it entails in class education as well as workshops and presentations. It also included group work and video for detailed analysis for form issues and fine-tuning.

A couple of months earlier, I completed course requirements and was Certified as Beginner Archery Coach. After completing this two-day National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) course,  I am now a Trained Intermediate Archery Coach and now have a couple of steps to complete for certification including my intermediate workbook, developing  a training plan for an immediate archer and having my training facility inspected.

If you are interested in becoming a coach, and getting more involved in archery, you can contact your local archery association.  In Ontario, contact the Ontario Association of Archers.

Weather Conditions

For outdoor tournaments, it has been my experience that organizers only cancel archery tournaments for lightning and tornadoes.  Therefore, as an archer, you have to shoot through a wide variety of weather conditions. Although wind is a common troubling weather condition for all archers there are many other types of conditions can also adversely affect your shots at any given tournament.

SUNNY

 “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” Steve Martin

Most people would think that a bright sunshiny day would be the ideal conditions for shooting outdoors and this is “usually” the case. However, it depends on how the target field has been setup. If the sun is behind the target, then you can have the sun shining directly into your eyes, which it not that ideal. If the sun is directly behind you and the target has a reflective surface you have the same effect.

Sun reflects off everything, so if it is bright in your eyes you need to protect your eyes with a brimmed hat or sunglasses.  Although most tournaments try to abide by the rules about direct and reflective sunlight it is not always possible.

WINDY

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”  Jimmy Dean

The wind conditions are something every archer needs to watch. They are completely unpredictable and can quickly change speed, direction and location.  Windy conditions can be a nightmare for young archers who have a lightweight bow or low draw-weight for different reasons.  Lightweight bows sometimes can become a sail, catching the wind, creating a constant fight to keep it steady and aligned. Low draw-weight bows usually force the arrows into a greater arch to reach the same distance; therefore, they are in the air longer and more affected by strong winds.

Quick Tip: Check the trees, grass, and flags to understand the wind through your shooting plane.

Most archers need to be patient when shooting in high winds and wait for as long as possible for low winds. Remember, the more you practice in different kinds of winds the more you learn about how they affect you.

RAINY

“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain”Unknown

Unlike wind, which can blow your arrows off the target, rain only adds weight to the arrow and causes the arrow to fly a little lower.  Try to remember to keep strong through the entire shot and aim a little high. If your shots were weaker than normal, the rain will make that mistake 10 times more noticeable than it would be in clear weather conditions and produce lower scores.

HOT AND HUMID

“I like to play long matches and in hot weather. Those are my conditions. I like it hot because it’s bad for other players. A lot of them don’t like it hot.”Yuliana Fedak

Most new archers do not think about humidity affecting their arrows however, if the air is heavy it can cause varying effects. If it is very humid, it can cause your arrows not to spin as quickly leaving your shots grouping lower since they do not gain as much distance.

The heat affects the archer too with hot and sweaty hands. Sweaty hands affect your grip on the bow possibly changing your point of power and the heat causing your hands to swell which in turn affects your feel for the string in your fingers. Another possible affect is quicker dehydration resulting in loss of energy that is extremely bad for any endurance athlete. Therefore, in the heat it is important to know how you react in the heat and humidity and know how to keep cool.

FOGGY

“It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.” Joseph Conrad

Shooting in the fog can be one of the most difficult and dangerous weather conditions. Whenever you are unable to see the target or able to review the shot and compensate it can be extremely trying on your patience and self-esteem. Some archers absolutely refuse to shoot in the fog with associated dangers and for fear of loss of arrows and the associated costs.  If you choose to continue to shoot in the fog focus on hitting the target and understand that tight grouping of your arrows can be a real problem.

Quick Tip: Numbering your arrows and tracking your arrows can help so you can adjust your shots.

COLD

“It doesn’t matter if the water is cold or warm if you’re going to have to wade through it anyway” Teilhard de Chardin

Although outdoor tournaments are rarely held during frigid weather with conditions of snow or hail, it can be very cold in the morning at the start of a tournament in the spring or fall.  Muscles tend to tighten up and you can injury yourself if you do not properly warm-up or wear appropriate clothing. Make sure you are appropriately dressed in layers that can be shed as the day warms up.

“I don’t see pitches down the middle anymore – not even in batting practice.” Hank Aaron

It takes time to figure out what happens to your shots in the different types of weather conditions; therefore, it is important to practice a lot, in all types of weather, to prepare for not so ideal weather conditions.

 “Practice is the best of all instructors.” Publilius Syrus

Thanks to Luke Pacholski for the use of his web images

Beginner Coaching

Last weekend I attended the Beginner Archery Coach Certification course in Toronto, held at the Ontario Centre for Classical Sport.  This two-day course provides the foundation for persons who want to develop the necessary skills for training beginner level archers. It covers how to create and manage a sports program while working with entry-level archers. The course entails both in class education as well as workshops and presentations that cover instructing basic archery skills including giving constructive feedback, properly selecting and maintaining archery equipment while instilling safety and range etiquette.

The course also covered setting up a class and developing practice plans however it also dives deeper into training and motivating your athletes, how to analyse their form, both basic skills and long-term athlete development, including athletes with disabilities and dealing with delicate and emergency response situations.

After completing the two-day National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) course you are a Trained Beginner Archery Coach and you have a couple of steps to complete to become certified. You need to teach an archery class and have three students, two coaches complete a survey on your performance and create an emergency action plan which includes a practice plan.

Once complete you are a Certified Beginner Archery Coach, receive your official certificate and are able to begin training entry-level archers.  If you are interested in becoming a coach and getting more involved in archery you can contact your local archery association.  In Ontario, contact the  Ontario Association of Archers.