Archery is not all about Winning

victoryaSport should be about participation and physical fitness, not solely about winning. Archery is a sport you can participate in for your entire life. One of the things my coach always told me was there is a real danger of achieving success too earlier in young archers. Young kids sometimes get use to winning, and they start to expect it. They never expect to have to work at it again to win and archery (and sport in general) loses more participants that way than any other.
As a national level athlete, everyone expects me to win all the time. I sometimes want to yell out “It just doesn’t work that way”. There is very little difference between top level athletes and it is more than a game of inches. As you develop into one of those athletes that are lucky enough to gain sponsorship, there is even more pressure to win. This is why I believe some athletes turn to performance enhancing drugs or cheating.
The movie “Cool Runnings” has an excellent scene where Derice Bannock ask Irv why he cheated…
CoolRunningsIrv: It’s a fair question. It’s quite simple, really. I had to win. You see, Derice, I had made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life, you have to keep on winning, no matter what. Understand?
Derice Bannock: No, I don’t understand. You won two gold medals. You had it all.
Irv: Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.
Personally, it really troubles me to hear about athletes that use performance enhancing drugs or cheat, especially successful ones. They have made winning their whole life and they are not enough without it.
As part of your New Year’s Resolution, why not make sure you are participating in Archery or any other sport for the right reasons. Whether your are participating for the competition, hunting, social aspect, physical fitness or just for pure fun, make sure you set your goals to participate whether you win or not.

Arrows Series – Part 2: Measurements

As we start to dive deeper about arrows, my goal is to simplify the information so young archers can have a good basic understanding; it is not meant to be all in compassing or a physics lesson, remember I am still learning too. Therefore, the next step is to understand how arrows are measured and how to determine draw length.

The Archery Trade Association (ATA) formerly the Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization (AMO) has the following standard for measuring draw length:


For Manufacturers

Draw length is a specified distance, or the distance at the archer’s full draw, from the nocking point on the string to the pivot point of the bow grip (or the theoretical vertical projection of a tangency line to the pivot point parallel to the string) plus 1 3/4”. Draw length from pivot point shall be designed at DLPP (Draw Length Pivot Point) and shall be called TRUE DRAW LENGTH.

EXAMPLE: 26 1/4” DLPP plus 1 3/4” is the equivalent of 28” draw.

For Dealers and General Use

For practical reasons not requiring precise terms, draw length is the distance, at the archer’s full draw, from the nocking point on the string to the back of the bow at the arrow rest.

EXPLANATION: The standard Manufacturers is consistent with the Bow Weight Standard as related to the pivot point. The DLPP plus 1 3/4” is compatible to previous concepts of draw length. Draw length for Dealers and General Use relieves the burden of preciseness not required for general use and facilitates determining arrow length. THIS STANDARD SUPERSEDES THE PREVIOUS STANDARD.

This can be technical and confusing, however with most recurve risers, the distance of the draw length pivot point (DLPP) to the front edge of the riser is 1 ¾”. Therefore, in general terms…

Your approximate draw length is equal to the distance from your string to the front edge of the riser at full draw.

You could use a measuring tape to measure this distance however unless you have a very consistent anchor point and good form you will have varying results, since you should measure several times. Therefore, any archer who is at the point they are fining tuning arrows for high-level of performance they should consult a professional. Otherwise, I would suggest you use the following simple method to determine your draw length.

Arms Length method

Using a ruler (or other straight stick), place one end in the “V” of your neck (where your neck meets your chest ) and relaxed, reach straight out until your palms touch the ruler. At the point for your fingers is your approximate draw length. Your arrows should always be at least 1” to 2” longer than your draw length for safety reasons and young archers often need to set their arrow length little longer ( 2” to 3” ) to allow for growth.

This gives you a basic understanding of draw length and how arrows are measured, however, things get very complicated for young competitive archers who are still developing and growing in size once you add-in arrow stiffness and flex, arrow cost, type of equipment and bow weight.

It is important to understand how things are measured so you can understand why you are using the arrows you have.  I highly recommend you visit your local archery professional for assistance.

Magnification: Zoom in on the Target

If you have ever competed outdoors in a field, 3D or target tournament you can understand the importance of being able to zoom in on the target to see how you are shooting. Although using a telephoto scope on your bow is not allowed in competition, you can use some after-the-shot magnification with binoculars or a spotting scope which can be extremely valuable.

For field and 3D, most archers use binoculars, since they are portable and much easier and quicker to align with the target and can be positioned quickly, which is important since you are changing targets often. The use of a spotting scope would be cumbersome to carry and setup from target to target.  Although binoculars are allowed in field and 3D tournament, range finders are usually prohibited.

For target, most archers use a spotting scope (also known as a sport telescope, fieldscope or minocular) because once setup the spotting scope does not need to be changed very often. Although you can use binoculars, the value of a spotting scope over binoculars is the magnification and the angled eye-piece which reduces the need to reposition your shooting stance to check the location of each arrow. The rules allow you to set-up a spotting scope within your shooting line space of 80cm. The challenge is making sure it is set up so it does not interfere with your or your opponent.

If you are new to outdoor competitions, consider investing in some type of magnification, since no matter how good your eyes are, the distances become farther and farther as you get older. Understanding how you are doing during each end, instead of after it can be the difference between standing on the podium or admiring it from a distance.

Rules of Archery

After I started to get some success in archery, my extended family started to take an interest in the sports even though they did not understand the rules; so they often ask me “what are the rules of archery?”  The answer depends on governing body of the tournament and the specific rules will depend on many factors including bow type, type of tournament, archer age and archer sex.

There are many governing bodies such as FITA, NFAA, OAA, etc… however the primary one is World Archery Federation which was formerly known as FITA (Fédération Internationale de Tir à l’Arc) which was formed in 1931 in Poland.

Its seven founding member states were France, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Poland, United States, Hungary, and Italy. The aim of the organization was to create regular archery championships, and to return archery to the Olympic Games (the sport had not been featured since 1920). FITA was finally successful in returning archery to the Olympic program in the 1972 Summer Olympics.

FITA began holding Target World Championships in 1931. They were held every year until 1959, when the Championships became biennial events. 1959 was also the first year that FITA held the World Field Championship. Wikipedia

Personally, I started shooting indoor target tournaments using FITA rules. I remember the first time I decided to try a field tournament, I asked my coach Larry Smith for advice and what to expect. He simply said “Jordan, shoot the X, no matter the target tournament just shoot the “X”.

If you are deciding to participate in various competitions it is important to remember, it is the responsibility of the archer to know the rules for that tournament. Most archers will not “intentionally” give you incorrect information, however if you make a mistake, like shoot the wrong target, you are the one who suffers not them, therefore you need to advocate for yourself. Even at international competitions, it is the responsibility of the archer, not the coach to know and understand the rules. Officials will often help if you politely ask a question, and are far more understanding to juniors since they are considered new to international rules.

If you are planning to participate in archery tournaments familiarize yourself with the rules of that type of tournament. Rules for various governing bodies are available on their website. Check out my Links page for shortcuts to World Archery Federation, National Field Archery Association, International Field Archery Association, Federation of Canadian Archers and Ontario Association of Archers

Mission Accomplished

No one can experience things for you. They can describe them in detail, draw pictures, give you a slide show, but you need to be there to truly understand what it’s like. That describes my trip to World Indoor Archery Championships in Las Vegas, NV.

I have been back for a week now, and thought I should blog about my experience. My goals before leaving were very simple; learn and enjoy the complete experience. If all I bring back is the knowledge of what it takes to compete that the World level, I will succeed.

Well mission accomplished, I gained the experience I was looking for and I now know what it takes to compete at the international level.

Although, I really enjoyed the learning experience and met several new friends from various other countries, it was extremely nerve racking. Prior to the competition beginning, I was shooting extremely well right up to the minute the announcer came on and declared “Welcome to the World Championships” and this set the wheels in motion. I was finally here competing for my country, and the whole world is watching.

My coach, Kathy Millar, tries to prepare us for this type of thing. Every couple of weeks in class we practice with distractions however nothing can prepare you for that level of distraction with loud fans, multi-lingual teams, and the constant commentators. It started with the introductions, world champion here, junior world champion there and me. Then the distraction of the commentator constantly announcing scores and who is shooting and what they did or needed to do. He even declared the winner in our of the bronze medal match even before we shot our final arrow.

Although individually I finished tied for 17th in the recurve junior women division; my junior women’s team set a new national record, even though we lost in the bronze medal match on the final end to the host Americans. Also congratulations to all my Canadian team members, although none of us medaled in this competition, we all preformed well and showed the world that the Canadians can compete at any level.