Archery takes you places

ArcheryOnce you decide to become a competitive archer you will need to start planning to travel. Traveling is a big part of competitive archery, and the higher the level of competition, the further you need to travel.

Indoor archery can take you all over the planet at the upper levels however most competitions can be “mailed-in” because the conditions are controllable. For indoor archery, I have had the pleasure of visiting Louisville, Kentucky a couple of times for the NFAA Indoor Championships and Las Vegas, Nevada for the World Indoor Championships.

bb45s5817Since, hosting any outdoor archery tournament requires a fair amount of space, in Canada, you will need to travel a lot. Canada is the world’s second largest country by total area and stretches about 5000 KM (3000 Miles) from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.  Since 2009 to participate in the Canadian National Outdoor Championships I have visited Laval, Quebec; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Delisle, Saskatchewan; Victoria, British Columbia and this year our family will travel to Woodstock, New Brunswick.

Even competing at the provincial level requires a lot of travel since the province of Ontario is larger than Egypt, Spain or France and therefore even for Provincial competitions you will have to travel a lot. I have visited London, Sudbury, Ottawa, New Market, Petawawa, Caledon, Athens, Peterborough, Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie. All this and I do not participate in every tournament.

Budget is a large factor in participation; our family uses our family vacation budget to participate in tournaments. Unfortunately, only the highest level of Canadian archer receive funding to help pay for travel, lodgings, tournament fees and equipment. For the rest of us, it often falls on us or our parents to help fund those Olympic dreams.

So if you are planning to venture in the realms of competitive archery, I offer the same advice that was afforded to me when I started. “Start saving now” however be assured that it is a worthwhile investment.

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Archery Bow Cases

In the archery world it is pretty hard to go shoot without some kind of travel involved. Canada is a very large country and you can travel several hours even to a local tournament.  For example going to the Canadian National Championships, which can be anywhere in Canada, often will require flying, and/or driving. So, while traveling you need some form of protection for your bow, enter the bow case.

There are basically two kinds of bow cases, soft or hard shell and they are available in many shapes, sizes, and materials for every type of bow including traditional, take-down recurve, compound or crossbow.

Soft-shell Case

softcase

Typically manufactured from nylon, often they are just one big pocket to wrap up your equipment with additional smaller pockets for some smaller items. Soft-shell cases are typically lighter therefore great for carrying distances as they are typically lighter than hard-shell cases however because they are made from flexible material, you can not stack anything on them otherwise you will damage the bow or equipment inside. Although not as durable as hard shells they are typically less costly and therefore great on the budget.

softcase-compound

Hard-shell Case

Hardcase-recurve

Typically manufactured from hard-plastics and/or light metals, hard-shell cases provide more protection for your bow and allow you to stack them without worry of damage to the contents. Most hard-shell cases offer many compartments, Velcro latches, and even formed foam to securely hold your bow in place during transportation. Most offer a place to store your arrows, lockable latches, and some cases even provide handles and wheels for trekking through the airport.  Typically, hard-shell cases are more expensive than soft-shell cases however usually they are far more durable and offer far more protection, especially for those who are traveling abroad where others are handling your cases.

Hardcase-compound

Since, there are no take-down compound bows, either soft-shell or hard shell for compound bow cases are typically designed the same way because the shape is fairly consistent and the same can be said about crossbows. With recurve bows there can be greater variances such as traditional bows and take-down bows and the need to transport additional equipment such as larger stabilizer systems. There are three basic types of cases for recurve bows, a bow sock, a single bow case and a double bow case.

Bow Sock

bow-sockTypically used for by non-take-down recurve bows, they are usually made from cloth or nylon. Designed to slip-over and cover the entire bow while unstrung and a great option for traditional bows.

Single bow Case

TopSingle bow cases can be either soft-shelled or hard-shelled and typically designed to host a single Olympic bow. Most hard-shelled versions and some soft-shelled cases provide various pockets and areas for all the associated equipment including stabilizer system, sight, stand and even arrows.

Double Bow Case

double-caseSimilar to a single bow case however typically only available in hard-shell, are usually much larger and provide space for two complete Olympic bows and accessories. This is a must for any competitive archers participating in international events since it is recommended that you have two identical bows for competitions.

Which case is right for you? This will depend on your equipment, your shooting style, the tournaments you plan to attend and your budget. If you are planning to travel to tournaments where someone else may be touching your bow case such as porter or flight attendant, you may want to invest in a hard-shell case. Personally, I have two hard-shell cases, one for short trips to local tournaments and one for long trips that can handle two bows.

2012 Ontario Target Championships

This past weekend, Algoma Rod and Gun Club in the Sault Ste Marie hosted the Ontario Provincial Target Championships. Sault Ste Marie is situated in Northern Ontario on the eastern point of Lake Superior and 12 hours away from Kingston. Wow, what a long drive for my family, and to give some perspective, in Europe you could travel from Rome, Italy to Frankfurt Germany in the same amount of time. Although it was a long drive 85 of the top archers from around the province travelled to compete in the two-day tournament with a FITA 1440 on day one and a FITA 720 on the second day.

Upon return from the National Championships in British Columbia, I finally received my amazing new bow from Cartel Doosung.  With only two weeks of practice, typically you wouldn’t change anything however this bow is perfectly suited for me; possibly the best bow I have ever shot. Since this is really the last competitive tournament of the outdoor season, I decided to use it.  In my opinion, it was a very good decision. The winds were extremely tricky; flags on targets beside each were other pointing in opposite directions. Every one was having troubles with them. For only two-weeks practice I feel I shot extremely well, perhaps the best I have shot all season, and was able to capture the Bronze medal.  I know this will translate into success in the upcoming indoor season and next year’s outdoor season.

This tournament was also a complete family event as all my siblings participated. My sister Sydney competed in the female cadet recurve division finishing fourth. Joshua competed in the Male Cub Recurve division finishing second, even though he could not complete the tournament because of a shoulder injury. Last and not least, my youngest brother Cole competed in the Male Pre-cub Recurve Division also capturing silver.

It was a great successful tournament and a great family trip since we camped at the KOA campgrounds. I am already looking forward to next year’s family tournament trip.

Travelling with Archery

As soon as I decided to take archery outside, an archery friend offered only one piece of advice. “Start saving now”. I travel by car for just under 2 hours each way to train with my coach Kathy Millar of South Nation Archery in Winchester Ontario. Between regular training sessions, private sessions and competitions, I visit an average of twice week all year long in every type of weather including snow and sleet.

Travelling is a big part of competitive archery, and the higher the level of competition, the further you need to travel. Canadian’s have to travel for archery, since Canada is the world’s second largest country by total area and stretches about 5000 KM (3000 Miles) from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.  Even the province of Ontario is larger than Egypt, Spain and France and therefore even for Provincial competitions I have to travel a lot.

Travelling can take a toll on your body, especially at the national, international and the world level, since most of the time you are either driving for days or flying from one location to another. You are in a different time zone, with strange food, and completely different schedules.

I recently drove to Saskatchewan from Ontario, about 3000 KM (1900 Miles) and it took three 12-hour days. It was difficult to spend that much time in the car, I found it very difficult to eat properly, when driving you have to make quick stops and keep going so it is difficult to eat as well as you would at home. My muscles were starting to tense up from lack of  stretching and practice. It also took it’s toll with my sleep schedule since we travelled through different time zones.

It is now my understanding, that to compete at the next level, there a several things that you should do to increase your chances for success when travelling.

  1. Employ some discipline to eat healthy and according to your regular schedule
  2. Setup a good sleeping schedule to make sure you are well rested for competition days
  3. Arrive early, two days if possible, to become accustomed and acquainted with your new surroundings
  4. Practice, whether shooting of just stretching, to get your body ready to compete after your trip.

Canada Games or Bust

Saturday the second group of Team Ontario athletes will be leaving Toronto and taking two chartered flights to Halifax to prepare for week two of competition at the Canada Winter Games. I am leaving for Toronto shortly to stay with my cousin Barbara overnight, so I can make it to the airport with plenty of time and sleep, for my early morning flight. Once the team arrives, we need to settle into our temporary homes in our various accommodations throughout the capital and familiarize ourselves with our surroundings and athletes village.

Saturday night Great Big Sea, the awesome folk-rock from Newfoundland and Labrador, are playing Celebration Square and my hope is the Ontario Archery team will be attending. Next, I have two days to adjust to the time change get my body ready with two practice days (Sunday and Monday). I am humbled to have the opportunity to compete with all the best under-22 archers throughout Canada and I know these female recurve archers are exceptional and it is a privilege to compete against them.

My goal is very simple for these games, shoot my best, meet new friends, represent Ontario well and enjoy the entire experience. The archery competition starts during week two on Tuesday, Feb 22nd and you can follow along and watch each day of competition through Bell Aliant live web streaming here.

Good luck to all the athletes! GO Ontario GO!