2018 OAA Target Championships

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I didn’t place as well at this year’s Ontario Target Championship as compared to last year, but there are so many good/positive things I’m taking home with me! First, and most importantly, I didn’t injury myself! 😛

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The only time it was cloudy all weekend was during Saturday’s official practice.
📷: Elvina Chew

In archery, like many sports, your scores tend to go through peaks and valleys, usually trending upward, as you constantly refine and tweak both your technical and mental skill sets. Currently, I’m on the upward side coming out of the valley I was in for the past month or so. Some recent form changes as well as some changes to my mental focus routine are becoming more integrated into my subconscious shot process and as a result, my shots are beginning to feel really good and I’m finding myself more confident in my ability again.

IMG_20180715_123600In qualification, I shot a 7.62 arrow average over 144 arrows to place 4th, and in the elimination rounds a 7.63 arrow average over 24 arrows to tie for 5th. My quarterfinal match against Shannon (a rematch from last week) was another hard fought, back and forth match, with Shannon taking the last set and the win 6-4.

On the way to Ottawa and the RA Centre for the tournament, we stopped for lunch at a pub in Kingston where I saw some of the most “Canadian” bathroom stall graffiti:

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❤️ Thank you ❤️

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Second Archerversary!

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I can’t believe it’s been TWO YEARS already and as is [what’s becoming] tradition (or just coincidence), Norm and I shot our first outdoor tournament of the season at The Archers of Caledon‘s first tournament of the season 😛

The weather was relatively calm all weekend, and warm. However, Saturday started with light showers, turning to mist and fog. It was a new experience for us, but really cool. It definitely made for an amazing photo opportunity, unfortunately I didn’t take any. Sunday started cloudy and eventually turned into full sun, with a slight crosswind all day.

I have definitely improved over the winter, as three of my four scores were higher than anything I had shot all of last year, and I was able to learn from my one lower score which is now helping me to improve and reinforce some mental habits I found were lacking a little.

Sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around all that we have accomplished in the past year. Between all the training, travelling, and tournaments, the time has really flown by! We are beginner archery coaches, and we’ve been told somewhat of a mentor to some of the younger archers at our club too! For me, that’s what it’s all about; learning and improving my knowledge and skills so that I can be a better mentor and teacher to others, while we all have a great time getting outside and being active.

Spring (finally), 2018, and Being Prepared

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With a couple false starts, Spring may have finally arrived here! And while I have been shooting 70m indoors steadily since March (and occasionally throughout the Winter) at Peel Archery Club, I have also begun venturing outdoors at The Archers of Caledon to try to squeeze as much outdoor practice in as I can early in the season. It hasn’t always been very comfortable, but it has always been pleasant. It’s all about dressing for the weather and being prepared, even at -1°C with light wind and snow:

Sometimes however, that Wintery weather is just too intense to go out. As was the case on the April 14/15 weekend, we had a pretty decent winter ice storm that made driving a little too dangerous. Thankfully, last year Norm bought me a small target butt so I can shoot at home:

It’s a tight fit, and with the renovation still underway, a little messy. Once we complete the renovation, I won’t be able to shoot in the basement anymore, so it will be back to the stairwell for me!

This past weekend though was bright, calm, and warm! I managed to get some shooting in outside before coaching on Saturday morning, and the hard packed ice/snow was still there, making me feel like an Elf while I walked to the target and back:

My 70m form has started to settle in and I managed a few good ends and even my first broken nock at 70m (unless you count Norm’s nocks that I seem to always break):

 

 

 

By Sunday the snow had pretty much all melted, leaving puddles of mud everywhere. It was still really nice out, and I managed to drag some friends out too!

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Myself, Norm, and Danny; repping Canada Archery Online. Photo by Erin.

Monday was absolutely gorgeous out as well, and I guess there can be too much of a good thing. By the end of the day, I discovered that I had gotten myself a pretty good sunburn on my face, neck and arms, complete with arm guard lines. An important reminder to always be prepared, even when the weather is nice .. wear sunscreen!

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It was much worse the morning after!

And speaking of being prepared; Norm and I will be teaching this year’s Outdoor Orientation Course at The Archers of Caledon! We’re pretty excited.

End of 2017-18 Indoor Season

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Well, that’s it (almost) for my second indoor season! There are still a few more fun nights coming up, but all the major tournaments are complete and it’s time to fully focus on 70m. I have almost finalized my tournament schedule for the upcoming outdoor season, but there are still a few tournaments that I’m uncertain about; mainly because they involve a lot of travel, and the travel days are right next to some other tournaments. Meaning that I would need to leave one tournament and head straight to the next. For example, in August there’s the potential of heading out to one tournament on the 5th and going to two more consecutively, and returning home on the 27th.

I had only set a few goals for myself last fall for the indoor season, and at the time they felt a little lofty. Let’s have a look at them now:

Firstly, I would really like to be consistently shooting 270/300s and having a peak score of at least 280/300 for a half round and 560/600 for a full round.

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This one I would definitely call achieved! Scores in the 260s are pretty low for me now, and I have shot several 280s and one 281 this season. I wasn’t able to hit the 560 mark, but I did shoot three scores of 556, which is pretty darn close. Because I have been plotting my arrows with Artemis, I was able to convert my IFAA (5-ring) scores to FITA (10-ring) scores to get a better picture of how the IFAA scores compared. At the IFAA Ontario Championship, I shot a 146 and 147 for a 293 total. Not only did that set a new Provincial record (barely), it was also my best performance of the season. The converted scores worked out to be a 281 and a 282 for a total of 563. So I kinda achieved my 560+ goal ..

Second, there is at least one major indoor tournament that Norm and I have talked about travelling to; the Lancaster Classic in January. If we can get the time off work and afford the trip to Pennsylvania, it will earn us some very valuable competition experience, and we’ll have the opportunity to meet and shoot with so many archers we haven’t met before.

This one is a definite ACHIEVED! Prior to heading out to Lancaster, I had been comparing last year’s tournament results with my current performance to get an idea of where I might place this year. So of course I had set a few goals for myself based on that information. Firstly, for such a huge tournament (and my first time at one), I wanted to just shoot an average score for me. Dealing with increased anxiety and pressure from such a large event with lots of pro archers was going to be a good test of my mental game. Second, I felt that I had a decent chance of making the eliminations (top 8) based on last year’s scores. And third (and most lofty of them all), I wanted to make the shootup (top 4), meaning I had to win my first match.

IMG_0199The results were interesting. I only shot four Xs during the entire competition (Xs counted as 11s at this tournament), but I also shot a LOT of 9s which I think was almost entirely caused by extra tension from nerves. This also means that I shot really well overall and I was very happy with how my mental game had improved. I ended up qualifying 8th, achieving my primary goal, but losing my elimination match to Mackenzie Brown. At the time, I believe she was ranked 9th in the world. It was an amazing experience, and this photo represents one my favourite memories. During the practice ends for the elimination rounds, I had noticed all these world class athletes all on the same shooting line as me! It was a really cool moment and it felt good; proper 😀 Check out my 2018 Lancaster Archery Classic post for more details, photos, and a video!

And finally, I would like to keep up, and advance my fitness program and arrow volume so that when Spring comes around, I’m able to go up in draw weight by a couple pounds.

With a few hiccups, I have managed to maintain my weekly arrow count, and have just started slowly increasing my draw weight. My fitness program hasn’t been as aggressive as I had hoped it would be, but taking it slow is really important, especially when you want to build and support proper form and technique. It’s not always easy to take it slow, but trust me, it’s well worth it!

IMG_0235I just received my order of new Easton A/C/G arrows from Canada Archery Online, but I won’t be able to really try them out until I’ve gone up a little more in weight. Hopefully I can get them to tune as well as my previous arrows were. Slightly better quality arrows should help my group sizes stay a little more consistent, especially in the wind. Which leads me into some goal setting for the upcoming outdoor season! Norm and I are now members of the Peel Archery Club which has an indoor 70m range; It’s allowed us to get an earlier start on outdoor training this year.

Based on my indoor 70m performance so far and the big major goal I have for the summer (I’ll talk about that in a moment), there are some score goals I have in mind. I think the main goal this year is to make Blue Squad. This is just a ranking system Archery Canada uses, and to make Blue Squad last year required an average of your top 5 scores to be 588+ (last year my top 5 average was 540ish). Currently, some of my poorer indoor 70m scores have been in the 560s and 570s while my better scores are in the 580s and 590s. With the assumption that I will continue improving through the Spring, and my new arrows helping to mitigate the wind a little, I’m seriously aiming to have several scores in the 630+ range. I know building goals based on scores isn’t always the best approach, but this year is a big tournament that has minimum score requirements. Which leads me to the big major goal; the Pan Am Championships. This tournament acts as the primary qualifier for next year’s Pan Am Games, which itself is a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics. You can see now how this is a big deal, right? 😀 Well, I really want to be named to the team going to the the Pan Am Championships, and do well enough there to earn Canada a spot at the Pan Am Games!

Being the Storm

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I have been thinking a lot about my mental game recently; how to get into a good mental state, and how to stay there, regardless of what else is happening around me. Coincidentally, I also recently saw a quote that evoked just the right images and emotions to help get me there:

Fate whispers to the warrior ‘You cannot withstand the storm’,
And the warrior whispers back ‘I am the storm’.

Inspirational quotes, like other art forms, are rather interesting creatures. They can mean something very different to each person who experiences them and they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and variations. For me, this one reminds me to be strong, proud, and confident, which just happen to be words that I already use to help my mental state on the shooting line. Be it bad weather, tough competition, a poor performance, or just feeling too lazy to train, when I need a little mental reminder, I can just whisper to myself to “be the storm” to get back on track.

Figuring out simple words or phrases to help get your mental game back where it needs to be can be really important, especially in sport. The quote above reminded me about a couple good quotes from Frank Herbert’s Dune that I’d like to share:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Which is often shortened to “Fear is the mind-killer.” For me, this reminds me that it’s ok to be afraid, but to not let it control you. Additionally, I could write a whole new post on positive thinking, but for now: “The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative; on or off.” is a really good reminder to keep thinking positive.

In other news, during a recent visit to my physiotherapist with my coach, we discovered a potential cause of some shoulder pain I have been experiencing. The fix is to ensure that I keep the lower trapezius of my front side engaged throughout my shot process, especially through the execution, ensuring that the upper trap doesn’t get overworked. I think I’ve got it figured out.

The Final Countdown

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It’s finally here! Norm and I leave for the Lancaster Archery Classic tomorrow morning. After league tonight, we’ll be finishing up packing then it’s off to bed early to prepare for the 8 hour drive to Lancaster, PA early tomorrow morning! If you would like to follow our adventure, stay tuned to Facebook and Instagram, or check out the live scoring and video streams – I’ll be shooting on the 1/26 12:00 pm Qualification Line)! We will try to take lots of photos and videos to share our experience, but I have a feeling we may get too swept up in the experience (or too busy shooting) to record everything we intend to. If you’re attending too, send us a message and maybe we can meet up!

.. and now, some new accessories! Brian at Grey Wolf Archery did an amazing job making and painting some new stabilizer weights to match our bows. We’re really pleased with the results and can’t wait to show them off! If you would like some custom coloured weights, definitely get in touch!
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.. and now, new used gear! From Lauren, a hard bow-case for when we start travelling with our bows in the air. And from April, some Carbon Express Nano-XR arrow shafts. I’m just waiting for some new points and some free time before I can try them out though.

.. and finally, I made up some new pink and purple arrows for the upcoming Canadian Archer’s for a Cause’s Boob Shoot charity tournament on February 3rd at Shooter’s Choice in support of the Grand River Hospital Breast Centre in Waterloo. If you would like to donate to the cause, you can do so at: http://www.grhf.org/event/cafac/

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New Form, New Year, New PB

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In the last week of 2017, my coach had some really helpful tips and made some subtle changes to my form. It will take some time to work the changes into my process, but I have already noticed some drastic improvements to the overall look and feel of my shot.

2018-01-01.pngThis morning, to start the new year off, I decided to score a round at 70m, and it turned out to be a new PB! Having access to an indoor 70m range has been fantastic for keeping my outdoor form in check, especially with all the changes we’ve been making to it.

The new form is still taking a lot of mental focus to ensure I’m not reverting back to older habits, but it is quickly settling in as the new normal. It helps that I have been shooting more than usual during the past couple weeks. I’m planning to keep a higher weekly arrow volume this year, which I think will really help to integrate any form changes more quickly.

Looking back at my goals for this indoor season, I have already had a peak score over 280, and have also many scores in the 270s (enough to call that goal achieved as well), now I just need the 560! Form changes are usually accompanied by a drop in scores until the changes get worked in, but I think these changes are coming along nicely. League this week will be the first real test to be certain. But even if my scores do drop a bit, I know my form is much better than it was, and the scores will come back.

The transition to the indoor season has nearly completed, and this upcoming weekend will mark the beginning of the indoor competition season for me. It’s looking to be pretty busy, with only 3 weekends without a tournament between now and the end of March! I’m pretty excited!

Holiday Archery Fun Times

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There’s a fun tournament this weekend at OCCS, and I was joking around with them that I would decorate my bow with tinsel and lights. They seemed excited and encouraging .. so I did it! Here’s a short video of the first two test firings:

I had to take the tinsel string dampeners / silencers off, partly because they were making a mess of the floor, but also because they slowed my string down so much that my arrows no longer flew consistently.

I will update this post with photos of my Christmas Elf outfit that I plan on wearing to the tournament tomorrow, and to league on Wednesday. As always, check out my various social media for more immediate updates!

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Not pictured, bells on my shoes and the necklace of bells that I had to take off.

Prior to the fun bow decorating, I had a really good session with my coach at The Archers of Caledon. We managed to identify three issues and developed a plan to hopefully eliminate them.

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The first issue my coach found was that my sight pin doesn’t always track vertically down on to the target. Quite often I’ll have to adjust horizontally, which can increase the time at full draw and cause a rotation in the arm/core, both of which will lead to becoming fatigued more quickly.

The second issue I’ve been struggling with for a while now; an inconsistent vertical pressure on the grip. When I’m shooting well, the pressure on my grip is fairly centered, but sometimes that pressure will drift a little higher or lower, causing lower or higher shots respectively. After some discussion with my coach, he made a suggestion that I think is going to work very well. The suggestion was to place either a texture change or a small bump on the grip where so I can consistently focus my hand pressure on that spot. Once it becomes more natural, we can remove the aid from the grip.

And finally, during video analysis of my release, we saw that on shots that didn’t feel as good as others, I was engaging a muscle that shouldn’t be engaged. The result is very minor, but with the high speed camera, we could see that my elbow was dropping a little just before executing the shot, rather than coming straight back. The solution, for now, is to simply be a little more mentally confident and strong to ensure that the elbow stays straight all through the shot process.

November Update, 2017

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Another few weeks have passed and I’ve been working away at my new fitness program and trying to make some minor form changes a natural part of my shot process. Having to think about the new changes and make sure that I’m doing them is a bit of a distraction, but the more I train, the more automatic they become.

It took a while, but now that I’ve adjusted to shooting 18m again, I’m starting to see some substantial performance improvements from last year’s indoor season. Last year, my personal best (and only score over 530) was a 532 and while I have only shot the one 530+ at a tournament this year, my league and training scores are frequently higher; into the mid 540s. Just last night at league, I bested my old PB of 544 by 1 point for a new PB of 545. Here are a few recent scores from this month; the first is from practice at Peel Archery Club. The 2nd and 4th are from league at The Archers of Caledon, and the 3rd is from a tournament at Saugeen Shafts by Peterborough Archers.

Nov6, Nov15        Nov19, Nov22

I’m really enjoying plotting my arrows and using that data to reflect on and pair with my mental image of how the shots felt. ArtemisLite is a free download on Google Play if you’re interested in trying it out.

IMG_20171123_102943And finally, the pins I earned from the outdoor season have arrived! During the summer, most of my scores were over 500 and a a few were over 550. That’s what earned me the white and black pins, respectively. I’m getting really close to the WA 18m indoor threshold of 550 for the blue pin too! But since the score must be shot at a World Archery registered event, I only have a few opportunities this season to qualify. Even if I don’t qualify for a pin, I’ll still be very happy with my progress and performance 😀

UPDATE: I shot a 556 at the 2018 Canadian Regional Indoor Championships to earn a blue pin!

Just for reference, here are the score requirements for each pin colour.

Event

White

Black

Blue

Red

Gold

Purple

WA 720

500

550

600

650

675

700

WA 900

750

800

830

860

875

890

WA 25m

500

525

550

575

585

595

WA 18m

500

525

550

575

585

595

More information about World Archery Awards from Archery Canada can be found here: http://www.archerycanada.ca/en/wa-stars/world-archery-awards-page. If you’re outside of Canada, you should contact your local national archery body for information.