Sun & Rain & Sun & Rain & Sun & …

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We have had some rather consistently inconsistent weather this week, with lots of sun and frequent “popup” thunderstorms. But I still was able to shoot 485 arrows outside this week.

Now that Summer has officially arrived, it’s almost a guarantee that it will at least be reasonably warm out. But this week, most of those calm and warm sunny mornings have turned into quick torrential downpours, followed by more sun. On a couple days, it even switched back and both several times throughout the day!

IMG_20170622_193239Early in the week, I shot my first Canadian 900 round at The Archers of Caledon. Every year on the Summer Solstice, they host a fun 900 round that starts at about 7pm and runs until about dusk. The timing works out really well, being the longest day of the year, we can usually finish the full round just before it’s too dark. Afterward, we celebrate with pizza and mingling (or more shooting inside)! I had a really good time, and can’t wait to do it again next year! The weather was absolutely perfect, too. Calm, warm and for some reason, the bugs left us alone!

On Sunday, Norm and I headed out to Peterborough to shoot a tournament at the Peterborough Fish and Game Club hosted by Peterborough Archers. We had a really good time, and the volunteers did a wonderful job organizing the event and making lunch. I started off the round a little rough, but finished really strong to manage a non-training personal best score. After lunch, as we were about to start the second round, a series of intense storm cells moved though and the round had to be cancelled. It was pretty fun waiting for one of the cells to pass before we could pack up without everything getting soaked or blowing away.

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Here’s a short video that Norm took as it started to hail:

On the way home, we drove through another one of these storms, with even more hail. The entire road was covered in a thick layer of hail and water that only lasted no more than a few minutes before it was sunny again.

Before arriving at home, we took a detour to have ice cream on the patio at Dairy Queen. Even though half of the tournament was cancelled, it was still a pretty great day.

Avoiding Injury and Making Friends – June 18, 2017

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Due to this week mostly being about “cleansing” after last weekend’s double double 720, trying to reinforce my recent form changes, and just getting a little rest, I only shot 351 arrows.

I’m still having some issues with my string fingers, which I think is mostly due to not having a good distribution of pressure, as well as not keeping a deep enough hook throughout the shot cycle. I sometimes find that I have let the string slide out slightly onto my finger tips at full draw, rather than keeping the string in the creases of my fingers. To help with this, I have incorporated some key words/phrases into the mental side of my shot cycle to help maintain good and consistent form.

I know last week I said I was going to work on the back arching thing, but this finger thing is much more important to fix ASAP, since it can very easily lead to nerve damage. And besides, the way to fix the arching is to get stronger, so I feel like I can work on both at the same time without much issue.

On Sunday, OCCS hosted their annual Spring indoor tournament, their last tournament until October. I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped, since most of my recent focus has been on outdoor and form changes. It was still a good experience though, being able to put all my recent training to good use and to see what areas of my mental game still need some work. But the best part was all the old friends I got to see and shoot with again, as well as all the new friends I met!

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Double Double Sunburn – June 12, 2017

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This week was mostly about reinforcing my form changes, building volume, and forcing myself to get some rest prior to the two double 720s I shot. In total, I shot 692 arrows, half of which were during the four 720s I shot Saturday and Sunday at The Archers of Caledon.

IMG_20170608_082138Norm and I have been continuing our early morning (6:00a – 7:00a start times) training sessions, and with this recent heat wave, the mornings have been fantastic! I have found training in different lighting conditions to be very challenging, yet also very rewarding. On the Archers of Caledon practice range, the early morning sun is fully in my left eye, while my right eye, the one that I aim with, is in full shade looking at a target that is also in full shade. It’s a very odd sensation and a difficult situation to adapt to. Additionally, the tournament range is at about a 90° offset, meaning sun is fully in my right eye, a little in my left eye, and the target is backlit. These lighting issues really only exist early in the morning though, after about 9:00a the sun is high enough that it doesn’t make too much of a difference any more. Still, it’s great to have the opportunity to train in a variety of conditions.

On Saturday, we shot our first “double 720”. Basically, that’s just two 720s in one day. We then followed it up with another double on Sunday! That’s four rounds of 72 arrows, plus warm up/practice before each one (for me, it was almost half of my weekly arrow count). I was worried that I wouldn’t have the stamina to keep shooting strong shots all the way through, but with my training, eating well, and staying hydrated, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the last couple ends of the fourth round I was able to keep my shots strong, keep my shot cycle consistent, and wasn’t feeling much fatigue. I even went for a jog after helping to put all the target butts away.

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The weather was amazing this weekend, mostly calm, clear, and hot. It was about 30°C each day, mainly sunny, and only a little wind on the Sunday. Even though I lathered up with sunscreen each morning before shooting, and again each day at lunch, I still managed to get a small sunburn on my wrist. I think it’s because my watch had rubbed some of the sunscreen away though. Norm wasn’t as lucky, I think he missed some spots on his neck and arms and has turned into a lobster. We both definitely need to find some better clothing to help mitigate potential weather and sun issues. For example, my bucket hat isn’t very breathable. So while it does great at keeping the sun off my head, it also holds a lot of heat. It’s also not waterproof, and will hold a lot of water (or sweat). I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have for sun and rain protection!

Oh yea, Norm finally started his own blog! Mostly to document his #60DaysOfDev progress, but also to talk about life, archery, and gaming. You can check it out at Bows, Bosses, and Binary.

Video/photo feedback is such a great tool! While my recent form changes are settling in, I’ve noticed something else to work on next. One of the great things about sport, is that there’s always something new to work on. It’s either just a posture thing or a core strength thing, but basically, my back will arch a little, especially when fatigued. This means that my hips and shoulders come out of alignment and my back is working harder to stabilize me during the shot, rather than sharing that job with my abs in front.

Inspiration & Motivation – June 4, 2017

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Not a lot happened this week, but it was a pretty great week nonetheless. This week I shot 452 arrows.

Someone once told me – “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” which has stuck with me, especially in sport. I hope through my various endeavours, I’m able to inspire and motivate others to follow their dreams, and they go on to inspire others…

I had originally shared this story with a Facebook group, but I would like to share it here as well:

A couple weeks ago, I received a message from the father of two young girls. He explained how his girls were really interested in archery and how he found my archery blog that mentioned I often shoot in the same city as them. I managed to put him in contact with one of the coaches at the range I shoot at and I believe they’ll be starting beginner lessons very soon! 😀

I really hope the girls love the sport and the archery community as much as I do! It feels wonderful to help others connect with people that can help them to explore their interests and passions.

If you are interested in learning more about archery, or would like to try it out, send me a message, or check out any of the clubs listed at the bottom of the page! If you’re not in the Greater Toronto Area, send me a message anyway, I may still be able to put you in contact with someone in your area.

On Saturday, OCCS held its second annual Alien Invasion event in support of the Mississauga Food Bank. It was a good time, only one city (team) was overrun by aliens (New York, of course), and lots of non-perishable food items were donated to the food bank.

Oh yea, as an experiment, I made a few graphs of my weekly arrow volume, and tournament scores. I’m hoping that as I add more data, the graphs will automatically update. If not, it shouldn’t be too difficult to re-publish them. (UPDATE: I just did some testing, and it seems like they auto update!).

Somehow, I completely forgot to mention this earlier, but I’m now Archery Bum Field Staff! Archery Bum makes some pretty sweet custom archery jerseys and casual tops. They have a passion for the sport and a company philosophy that I’m proud to support and be a part of.

And finally, here are a couple clips of me working on those form changes I had mentioned in last week’s post. It’s subtle, but there’s definitely an improvement. My head is more stable, and my fingers stay much straighter:

The weather was really nice, but the mosquitoes started enjoying it (and me) a bit more than I prefer. Although, I got this one back pretty good:
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Mosquitoes definitely make good (but uncomfortable) distraction training!

Training, Training, Training – May 28, 2017

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As the weather continues to improve, Norm and I have been able to get a lot more outdoor training in. This week, I shot 492 total arrows.

IMG_20170523_083139Earlier this week, I had my first end of all gold! In this case, all 6 arrows were 9s. It wasn’t my highest scoring end (which was a 56 from a couple weeks ago), but it’s a great group, and a sign of the progress I’ve been able to make so far this year.

A few days later, we were shooting “blank” bale at 50m, partly for fun, and partly because most of the range was swampy from an overnight downpour. With growing confidence in my form and equipment, I was really able to feel some strong mental focus and a solid shot cycle with smooth, consistent timing.

IMG_20170527_135635I know I’m a little hard on myself at times, which is part of the mental game that I need to work on (and this is a perfect example). I know that this is a great group for me, but I also know that I can do better. I know there are still some minor form issues and strength/stamina things that I can work on to help tighten my groups up, but mostly it’s all in my head at this point. I have shared many of my better groups and scores with you, we all know I can do it. It’s just a matter of training that mental focus to always be there, especially when something doesn’t quite feel right physically.

The day after, I decided to do a little scoring and managed a new personal best of 531/720 at 70m. The weather was amazing; calm and warm! With the weather effectively being very consistent and a non-issue, it was a great opportunity to identify some minor form issues for me to work on. In this video, while I think my overall form is pretty good, there are a few things I see that I’m not happy with:

  • Head motion at full draw – I have a slight backward movement, my guess is that my clicker is too far back.
  • Bow shoulder creeping in at full draw – with my previous form change of “setting my shoulder” I’ve noticed it gets fatigued a little quicker, and when that happens, my shoulder starts to turn inward. This may also be a clicker position issue.
  • Fingers aren’t relaxed enough on release – this something that I have struggled with since I began archery. It’s definitely a lot better than it used to be, but there’s definitely more room for improvement here.
  • Elbow, wrist, fingers, and knuckles position and rotation – they should be more “in line” with each other, creating a straight, flat line with the arrow. This video of Ki Bo Bae really shows what I’m talking about. You can see all her bones and joints line up nicely:

First Archerversary! – May 21, 2017

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On May 19, 2016, Norm and I began our first archery lessons. On our first “archerversary” we helped with setup for the first outdoor tournament of the season at The Archers of Caledon, and our first outdoor tournament ever. This week, I shot 510 arrows.

The first day of the tournament was pretty windy, and the second day was raining. We had a great time and learned a lot from the experience. I, unfortunately, had problems with my sight on both days, entirely because of my lack of experience . On the first day I had accidentally adjusted my sight in the wrong direction. So, while I was still shooting good groups, the groups kept getting further away from the center. On the second day, I just didn’t adjust the sight enough, so by the time I finally figured it out, the round was nearly complete. I did manage to keep shooting good strong shots for the most part, and finished the tournament with a solid two ends averaging 50 points each. I didn’t score as well as I had expected to, but I learned so much and had a great time! Thank you so much to April and her amazing team of volunteers and judges who make these things happen!

This was the best clip I could find, it’s from toward the end of the windy first day (after I “lost” my hat) and you can see I don’t “stay in the shot” after releasing the arrow. I believe this was one of the ends that I had to rush a couple of the arrows as I was running out of time. Having to let down so many times, and wait for the gusty wind to calm a little can really eat up a lot of time.

Earlier this week, the weather was really warm early enough in the morning that we could get out and do some training before work. We even convinced Shannon to join us on our early morning training excursions. We’re hoping that we can get out two or three times a week before work and then again after work, in addition to our usual evening training sessions and trips to the gym.

Later that day, after some Canada Post stress, I managed to retrieve the package containing my shiny new Pilla glasses. These things are amazing! They arrived just in time for this weekend’s tournament. I really noticed, especially in the sun and wind, that my face is much more relaxed and I don’t get as much wind in my eyes. I’m so glad I was able to get these in time!
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Bright Sun & Eyewear – May 14, 2017

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The weather finally decided to get out of its cold and wet mood and into something much warmer and occasionally very windy. This week I shot 391 arrows.

The number is a little lower because Norm and I spent the weekend preparing for our first outdoor tournament next weekend by having a mock tournament. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to shoot a full tournament on Saturday, but the half I did shoot was a personal best for me. Sunday however, was incredibly windy, and our first experience with a gusty cross wind. It really hurt our scores, but was a fantastic learning experience.

Earlier in the week, we met with Bryan from Pilla Sport Canada, to demo some shooting glasses. Bryan was very knowledgable and extremely helpful. He spent several hours with us talking about and letting us try the different glasses. As for the glasses themselves, they are incredible! The quality is immediately apparent in both the feel, and the optics. My facial tension dropped as soon as I put them on, and the colours and contrasts were just so much more clear. In addition to that, they also offer protection from UV and projectiles. How can you say no to eye health? “Be a champion for eye health” and “Seeing is believing” are things people tend to say when talking about Pilla glasses. And it’s completely true. I am definitely going to get some!

Hello Spring! It’s nice of you to drop by. I hear Summer is coming for a short visit next week? That’ll be lovely. I’m definitely ready!photo_1494436269735

Tuning, Training, and Pens. Oh my! – May 7, 2017

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Here are the details for this week (Monday May 1 to Sunday May 7): this week was another light week. I shot 450 total arrows, almost entirely on my new bow.

This week was mostly about continuing the tuning of my new bow and just trying to get my arrow volume back up. I’m still having trouble finding an ideal brace height for the new bow, partly because the string jig that we have been using may not be able to actually make a string long enough. But other than that, I think the tuning is definitely getting better. My arrow points have pieces you can break off to make them lighter, which helps with tuning. As you can see, the bare shaft is pretty close to the rest of the group. Now I can go ahead and finish assembling the rest of my arrows!

Speaking of arrows, remember those broken arrow shafts I had? Well, I’ve made them into pens! The common BIC pen insert fit almost perfectly into the arrow shaft. If you would like one, send me a message, maybe we can work something out!

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Finally, we bought a hand strengthening grip thingie to help increase grip strength 😛 and some stretchy exercise bands (that I forgot to take a photo of) to help with stretching, both from Sport Chek. The hand grip has adjustable spring tension so both Norm and I can use it at our own settings. And I have found that the stretchy bands have been doing a far better job at helping me warm up before shooting than just the static and dynamic stretches I had been doing before.

Two more weeks until our first outdoor tournament AND our first archiversary (anniversary of when we started shooting)!

New Bow! – April 30, 2017

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Here are the details for this week (Monday April 24 to Sunday April 30): this week was another light week. I shot 259 total arrows.

IMG_20170428_123316I did spend much of the early week looking after Norm (who had injured himself) as well as getting the vegetable garden ready for transplanting the seedlings, and much of the weekend tuning my new bow. I think I’ve managed to work through most of last week’s fatigue, and my arrow volume should return to mostly normal levels soon. Additionally, now that my new bow is mostly tuned, I will probably be switching to it full time, which means a small weight increase of about a pound. The bow shipped a lot earlier than I had expected, and due to some miscommunication, I wasn’t able to change to the purple riser. It’s ok though, I really like blue and it matches all my existing blue gear. This next week will be a lot of finicky fine tuning of the bow and hopefully just lots of shooting to get more comfortable with it. The grip and weight distribution are a little different, good different, but still something to get used to.

IMG_20170501_204845Oh ya, new arrows! I managed to get my hands on a dozen arrows and arrow parts this week and spent a few hours putting a few together. Also, the arrow wraps and XS Wings finally arrived and I’ve started putting them on the new arrows. When I ordered the wraps and wings, I had been expecting a purple riser. But, I think this new colour scheme will work out just fine with the blue one. At first I didn’t really like the pink wings on purple wraps (the colours looked different online), but they are definitely growing on me. I really like the brightness of them, and hope they’ll be really visible at 70m this summer.

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Form Change Fatigue – Apr 23, 2017

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Here are the details for this week (Monday April 17 to Sunday April 23): this week, I shot 389 total arrows, most of them outside at 70m.

I had another minor form change early this week, that I’m still trying to incorporate into my shot cycle. Unfortunately, it’s requiring me to use my muscles a little differently. That means there’s a lot more fatigue! We also started actively working on building stamina, primarily by running. Lots and lots and lots of running. It’s not too bad though, I just need to work up to being able to run a quick 5km.

In anticipation of receiving my new bow, I decided to change up my arrow colour scheme! Which means it’s a perfect time to try out some arrow wraps and spin wings! I ordered some purple arrow wraps which hopefully match the new riser, and some chrome-pink spin vanes by XS Wings that should work well as an accent colour; both from Arrow Socks. I also decided to switch to green knocks instead of blue in the hopes that I’ll be better able to see them on the 70m target. I’m expecting to receive some new arrows, as well as the wraps and wings sometime next week. If I do, I’ll post lots of photos! I’m really looking forward to trying out these XS Wings!