The Road to Recovery

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The road to recovery is long, winding, and often littered with bumps or other obstacles. But as long as you keep heading in the general direction you want to go, you’ll eventually arrive at your destination with a good story and a lesson or two learned along the way. This week I was able to shoot 145 arrows as I slowly build back up to my normal amount.

I’m lucky to have such a wonderful support circle of friends, family, professionals, and fellow archers to constantly keep me motivated, provide feedback, and to help me through difficult times. I can’t thank you enough! I know I’ll need you again, and I want you to know that I’ll always be there for you as well ūüíĖ Hopefully, this particular road to recovery¬†now has a few more breadcrumbs on it for others to help them find their way.

Since I can’t shoot as much as I want to yet, and Norm and I usually go to the range together, I’ve been finding various things to keep me busy while he’s shooting. This week, I made a chainmail(le) “bracelet” for our scope. This particular weave is commonly known as helm chain, and is a fairly simple pattern. It’s really good for making things like bracelets and necklaces since it naturally likes to lay flat. If anyone is interested, I usually order my rings from The Ring Lord and when I want to try a new weave or need a reminder,¬†M.A.I.L. (Maille Artisans International League) is a wonderful resource.

Now I want to add more chainmail to other parts of my gear but I’m not sure what, or where .. any suggestions?

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The Magic of Physiotherapy

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This past week was very difficult, but it needed to be done; I didn’t shoot at all and spent most of the time trying to rest my back. Doing nothing for an entire week is really hard, but Norm took such good care of me that it wasn’t too bad¬†‚̧¬†I even spent some good quality time with my equipment, just hanging out on the couch watching movies.

On Wednesday, I was able to get in to see my physiotherapist and he was able to determine the issue and do some initial poking and prodding that greatly helped decrease the pain and increase my mobility. I’ll be back in to see him a couple more times this week as I slowly add exercise and shooting back into my daily training routine. Hopefully everything goes well and I’ll be back to normal next week! Thank you so much to the team at Kings Cross Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic for looking after me!

IMG_20170723_122410I did manage to head out to the range a couple of times with Norm, mostly in an effort to move around and stretch my legs a little bit. While there, I was able to play with our new Barska spotting scope and help Norm out with some video analysis of his form.

2017 OAA Target Championships

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I’m still dealing with back issues and haven’t been able to do any training since last week. ¬†Hopefully, my physio appointment this week helps me start the healing process. The only shooting I did do was at the Ontario Provincial Championships this weekend in Sault Ste. Marie where I shot 262 arrows in practice and competition.

Norm, Shannon, and I all piled into the car early Friday morning for a long drive out to the Sault. On the way, we stopped by Sudbury to check out the Big Nickel at Science North. We didn’t record much of the archery, but we did get some video and photos of the trip. There was even a Rib Fest in town while we were there!

On Saturday, we shot two 720 qualification rounds for the Ontario Target Championship and I finished 4th in my division with a 7.22 average arrow score. Since some of the divisions were a little smaller, they were combined to make for a single larger elimination bracket, putting me into 5th¬†overall. I was pretty satisfied with my performance, which was a little better than last weekend’s. I learned a lot, and even figured out something in my release that will make for more consistent shots in the future.

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The Ontario Open was on Sunday. It’s a head-to-head style elimination tournament using Saturday’s qualification scores for seeding. I was very pleased with my performance overall, shooting a 7.4 average arrow and winning each of my three matches 6 – 2 to take the gold!

A huge thank you to the hosts, the organizers, and all the volunteers who put on a fabulous event! And

Making Mistakes, Making Progress

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This week was pretty tough. I still managed to shoot near to my average arrow volume, but that’s only due to having another double double 720 this weekend. In total, I shot 432 arrows this week, but it should have been a much higher count. Earlier in the week I strained my back while doing some gardening and it’s still sore. The hardest part was resting; basically doing nothing for three days. All I wanted to do was to keep shooting, training, and working on the things my coach and I had last discussed. I probably shouldn’t have shot the tournament, especially with Provincials coming up next weekend. Thankfully, it seems to have worked out ok.

The week started off with something a little different; Field Archery. Norm convinced Brennan to come check out the club and as part of the tour we gave him, we shot the field course. I like to think of Field Archery as golf for archers, so I may occasionally refer to a target as a hole, since there are several different targets on a field course, like there are several holes on a golf  course. One of these holes had an option of shooting through some rather tightly grouped trees, so of course we took the opportunity!

Midweek, I met with my coach to discuss the concerns I had last week. We concluded that the changes were being caused by my recent form changes, and as long as it’s comfortable and consistent, it’s not an issue. He had some other suggestions for me to work on, but because of the gardening related back pain, I wasn’t able to do any further training this week. Instead, I used the tournament to really focus on incorporating his advice into my shot process. It’s definitely not something you should do during a tournament, but with my sore back, a lack of training this week, gusty wind conditions, and Provincials fast approaching, I decided I wouldn’t be too concerned about my scores and instead focus on working the new elements into my shot process to prepare for next weekend.

Norm got a few good clips of some of my less than ideal shots from the tournament. You can really see that my spine alignment is much straighter and my whole body is much more stable. You can also see how much my head is moving and how unstable my bow arm is. Granted, it was pretty windy, and I was slightly injured. Still, it’s something to work on.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my performance this weekend, especially with the issues and weather that I had to deal with. I’ve regained confidence in my form, and I’m getting better at being able to read changing wind conditions.

Something’s Different

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After last weekend’s tournament I was feeling really confident with my form, but something changed early this week that’s causing my bow to swing in front of me instead of tapping my leg after release. This week, I shot 518 arrows.

I spent a while on Wednesday shooting in my garage trying to figure out what had changed.

I have a couple theories, but I’m a little confused since I didn’t consciously change anything during the week. The only form changes I made, were a week or two ago and the bow swinging only started this week. I’ll be meeting with my coach early this week, hopefully we can figure out what happened and work through fixing it (or just accepting it) before the tournament this weekend.

I think I’ve mostly worked through my finger tension/nerve damage issue. I still have to wrap my finger, but it seems to be healing. However, I still have a lot to work on with my release. In this video, you can see my fingers relax and the string leave my hand, but almost immediately after that, my fingers flex out instead of staying relaxed. Since the arrow has already left, it’s probably not a big problem, but it is something I would like to fix. The best part about this video though, is its audio; so satisfying.

Oh! I almost forgot. My new Doinker 15″ Estremo side rods finally arrived (I had been waiting for them since February). They’re a little longer and a little heavier than my old side rods which really helps to give the bow a better balance during and after the shot. This photo is pretty great since it shows off the stabilizer set up so well, but if you look closely, way off to the left, you can see the arrow I had just shot!arrow

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¬į 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¬įC 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! ūüėÄ

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: