18m, 70m, Archery, Archery Canada, Friends, Goals, Indoor, Lancaster Classic, Outdoor, Pan-Am Games, Peel Archery Club, Personal Best, Sick, Team, The Archers of Caledon, The Wedge, Tournament, Training, Winter, YouTube
Well, I seem to have done it again. Several more months have flown by without a post from me. I did partially start this blog as a journal for myself, but now that I’m using an actual journal, I sometimes find that it feels a little redundant to write it all out again. But it’s not, it’s helpful to write detailed notes immediately after a training session or tournament, just as it’s also useful to reflect and summarize them later on as well. So now that Spring is almost here, let’s walk through the Fall and Winter together and I’ll show you what I’ve been up to.
First, a quick recap of the Fall. I spent much of the Fall and early winter working on some technique changes, partly tiny optimizations, but also little tweaks to help avoid injury. This is an ongoing process, and it’s very helpful for you and your coach to work with a Physiotherapist to help identify issues that may appear with overuse, or to develop alternate movement patterns that may work better for you, and most importantly, to avoid injury.
Through the rest of the Winter, I worked hard on not only increasing my weekly arrow volume, but also on developing mental techniques and strategies to help deal with distractions, stress, and anxiety, both on and off the shooting line. Additionally, I began working on realistic goal setting procedures. The first real test for my mental game was at the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic.
I felt a lot more confident this year than I did last year, but I think I had also put some extra expectations on myself that caused some unintentional stress. While my mental strategies worked well and helped me to recover from a poor shot, I found I had difficulty using them on every shot like I had practiced. But that’s a good thing, my results may not have been what I expected, but I learned a lot from the experience that I’ll be able to take forward into my practice and into future competitions. Here’s a good example of a mental game test, in case you were wondering what it looks like when you have an equipment failure and have to shoot a make up end .. alone .. with everyone watching:
Learning from day one, the second day went much better. While I lost my match, I succeeded in meeting (and exceeding) my performance goals!
Much of these new skills has been developed by working with the National Development and Identification Squad, lead by former national head coach Joan McDonald. It’s a wonderful group of athletes, constantly pushing and encouraging each other to do better; to be better. Sometimes, we need a break from the pressure and intensity of training, and what better way to relax and have fun than a gingerbread house building and decorating party!?
Most of the time we talk about results, performance, and what was learned at a competition, but I think it’s important to talk about the less glamorous parts of the sport too. It takes a team to make an athlete, and archery is no exception. Most athletes (if not ALL athletes) would not be where they are today without the help and support of friends, family, teammates, and club members. It’s all of these people that help with travel, planning, training, scheduling, equipment maintenance, and SO much more. As an example, at the Peel Archery Club and The Archers of Caledon, we close the range to repair all of the butts at least 2 or 3 times a year. Without the help of club members, this process would take much longer, and at times be more than a couple people could handle; those mobile butts are so heavy we need a crane!
I am very thankful and grateful that my hard work, passion, and performance improvements have been noticed with an invitation to attend one of the national team’s week long training camps in Florida. It was great opportunity and a lot of hard work, it was a very enjoyable and rewarding week of training with Team Canada. Not only was it great to get some outdoor shooting in before the season starts next month, but I learned so much and gained some valuable new mental tools to add to my collection. I’m thankful for the opportunity to shoot with, learn from, and to build friendships with the team. Look out, world!
Immediately after returning home from the training camp, I had the opportunity to put the new, and existing, techniques and strategies to good use at the Ontario Provincial Championships, followed a week later by the Canadian National Championships, and a selection camp for the team travelling to Chile at the end of March for a Pan-Am Games qualification tournament. It was a pretty intense month of training and competition, but a good opportunity to test and implement my mental strategies, especially toward the end where the intensity ramped up just as I was getting sick.
At Provincials, I had a big oops toward the end, but I was shooting really well and had found a good flow and mental state, allowing me to stick to my strategies and hold out to win gold by a few points.
A week later, at Nationals, I had a slow start and started getting into my head a little. At the break, I was able to talk with my coach and friends, which allowed me to mentally reset and refocus on my process. I managed to shoot a personal best second half of 290/300 (my first ever 290), and win the silver medal. This was the day where I started feeling sick, but I knew the next two days were extremely important since they were the selection camp. I got as much rest as I could while also staying well fed and hydrated, and I took lots of notes about all the things I had learned in the past couple weeks.
The morning of Day 1 of the camp started really well with a new 36 arrow 70m personal best of 318/360, but toward the end of the second set of 36 arrows, the sickness began to hit me. The effort of drawing the bow was quite a lot, and I had to take a while between arrows to catch my breath and recover from the effort exerted. Thankfully, I was shooting next to a wall I could use for balance between arrows. I still managed a 301 second half for a new 70m personal best of 619/720! The rest of the camp went very similar to that, I’d get some rest overnight and at lunch, but after a few hours, I was spent. Those were two long, rewarding days spent with some of the strongest, kindest, and most passionate women I know. Their friendship and support make the hardest days so much easier! Since it’s now official, I can announce that I am one of 9 athletes selected to the Final Pan American Games Qualifier in Santiago Chile!
After taking a week to recover from being ill, I’m finding it really difficult to get back into the groove that I had found myself in earlier in the month; my strength and conditioning have both declined a little. With just less than two weeks before we leave for Chile, I’ll be working extra hard to not only regain what I lost, but to improve it while also avoiding injury and getting sick again. Representing Canada at the international level has long been a dream for me, and I don’t plan on letting my country down. This opportunity to test myself and my strategies at a higher level fits right into my plan to continue learning and improving on my journey to win Olympic Gold.
Taking into account my expected competition, travel, and equipment expenses for this year, I have decided to start a Go Fund Me Campaign to help offset some of the costs. Please have a look at the campaign, share it, and if you can, please donate; every little bit helps! Additionally, please share and donate to my teammate Mariessa as well!
Our current women’s team is getting stronger, and now that our national development program is taking shape, I can tell you to watch out for Team Canada to have a very strong international showing over the next several years!