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Author Archives: thatgirlkestrel

Some Changes At The Archer is a Girl

Some big changes are coming to The Archer is a Girl.  The more I talk with people, the more I realize there is a gaping hole in information for archers, especially recurve archers, when it comes to books, gear, apps, and general training and coaching information.  When we decide to buy our next book or our next car, most of us tend to hit the internet these days and look for reviews and other people’s experiences with that item before we purchase it ourselves.

And yet, for a lot of archery gear, those reviews, especially trusted reviews, don’t exist.  Want to buy a book on archery to learn more about technique and form?  Which one do you buy and is the information in it any good?  What if you’re looking for your next riser, or plunger, or sight?  You can occasionally find reviews of the product on a website where you could purchase it, but you don’t find anything in depth, from someone whose used it and put it through its paces.  What about that cool scoring app you found on Google Play? Does it really work? Is it worth your time?

These are some of the frustrations I’ve run in to as I go to buy gear, or consider paying for an app.  And the more archers I talk with, the more I realize they experience the same frustration.  So I have decided that I will take on this challenge, that instead of bemoaning the lack of information I will provide that information for you guys as well as continuing to blog about my own archery journey.

What can you expect from the new The Archer is a Girl?  The first thing you can expect is a new layout.  Coming soon we’ll have a smoother interface design so that the front page features the most recent articles, but also categorizes them by type.  Looking for app reviews? They’ll all be in one place.

The next thing you can expect is fewer, but more in depth, posts.  Right now I have scheduled one app review, one gear review, and one book review per month.  I feel it’s all my schedule can handle.  On top of that you’ll still find opinion pieces on what’s going on in archery now or what’s going on in my own archery journey as well as tournament updates.

What if there’s a piece of gear you’re considering buying and want to find a review on?  Drop me a line and let me know.  If someone in my circle has that piece of gear, we’ll get a review for you as soon as possible.  If not, then I’ll move it to the top of my priority list to get my hands on it and review it for you.

I’m not a super professional archer.  While that’s my goal, I’m just one of you guys, in the trenches, trying to make decisions about gear as my skill level increases and my ability to perform at larger tournaments catches up with my desire to attend them.  You won’t be hearing any manufacturer approved press, as I’m not sponsored by anyone.  I am part of Team Fulcrum, but they’re a bow shop, not a manufacturer.  So I may tell you that you can buy a piece of gear from Fulcrum Archery! But I’ll never tell you to buy a piece of gear just because the manufacturer sponsors me.

So that’s what’s new and upcoming at The Girl is an Archer.  I hope you’ll find that it fits the need I see within our archery community.  And if it doesn’t, I hope you’ll tell me that, too.

 

 

 

 

Shouldn’t You be Training?

It’s the week after Indoor Nationals. Outdoor season has officially started. And I haven’t shot my bow since Sunday.

I came home from Nationals feeling pretty good. Until I woke up Monday morning with a throat so sore swallowing made me want to cry. I chalked it up to a cold. It would be  gone in a day. It’s Thursday now. My head is still stuffy. My nose running. I am either ravenously hungry but unable to eat much because of a sore throat, or my throat doesn’t hurt but I’ve lost any semblance of hunger. It’s just a cold! But it’s a cold that’s kicking my ass. I should have gone to practice on Tuesday, but didn’t. Shooting while unable to breathe isn’t fun. I should have gone to practice today. But I’m curled up in bed, home from work early, my voice completely gone.

I can hear the voice in my head. It’s a constant low shout now. “You won’t get better if you just lay here. Shouldn’t you be training? Your scores at Nationals were nothing to write home about. Are you going to let a little cold keep you from shooting?”

Were this a tournament I’d be on the line, sniffles and all. But it’s not. Training is a marathon. A long, never ending marathon. But to perform, to focus, to train, your body has to be functioning pretty well. Mine right now is suboptimal. And so all that energy that would go into shooting is going into getting better instead. Which means rest. Hydration. Oranges. Decent food. More rest.

When you have a chronic illness, any other illness gets a little magnified. The cold will make you feel worse than it might others. But it also has the ability to trigger a flare up of the chronic condition. So my goal with all this rest is to make sure the Fibromyalgia doesn’t flare up in addition to the annoying, crappy cold. Because that’s a train wreck I’d like to avoid. I can’t not go to work, so instead I cut the extracurricular stuff. Which means shooting. Until I can shoot without the risk that it will land me in bed for a week.

Prevention is a bigger priority when you have a chronic condition. Injury prevention, sure. But also illness prevention. It’s more important to take time to recover from even the smallest illnesses so they don’t blow up into something bigger.

So to the voices in my head, no. I shouldn’t be shooting. I should be getting well so that I can shoot.

The Most Controversial Word in Archery…

Camo.

The word is enough to make people start spitting insults and turning themselves into victims.  Or, rather, the lack of the word and the thing itself at World Archery tournaments across the globe.

From the World Archer rule book, Book 3: Target Archery

11.3.3. Athlete equipment shall not include camouflage colours of any kind.

From the USA Archery Dress Code

2. No camo or blue denim (jeans) may be worn at target events. Accessories such as trim on shirts, caps, quivers, armguards, footwear, etc., are permitted to be camo. At field events, denim may be worn but camo may not be worn.

The 2016 World Archery Indoor Championships are happening now, in Ankara Turkey.  The United States has sent a good field.  But perhaps, not all of our competitors were as well informed as they could have been.  BowJunky posted a video of a US Compound competitor having to spray paint his bow because he had shown up in Turkey with a camouflage colored bow.  BowJunky serves mostly the ASA crowd, and there was an almost immediate riot.  As if, somehow, we were being discriminated against, victimized even, because World Archery wouldn’t let the poor man shoot his camo colored bow.  There were screams of discrimination against hunters, or rules being enforced inconsistently.  But what they didn’t realize was, the rules in Vegas, put on by the NFAA with a small World Archer event on the side, are different than the rules for a World Archery event (if you participated in the Indoor Archery World Cup in Las Vegas, you would have had to follow the same rules, but if you participated only in the Vegas Shootout, you would have been under NFAA rules, which are slightly different). Our American 3D competitors were up in arms and hurling insults about how World Archery is stupid, that the rule is stupid, that there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to wield their camo bows across the globe if they want to…

Except there is a reason.  Crystal Gauvin, who went directly to World Archery officials to ask for the reasoning behind the no camouflage rule, eloquently relayed their reasoning in a Facebook post that I hope everyone will read.  Twice.

I feel the need to address the WA camo rule. Many of you, particularly in the US, are very against the rule and think it is anti US or anti hunting. I can honestly say I was right there with you until the reasoning behind the rule was explained to me.

I want you to stop for a moment and take off your US bias hat and think for a minute what camo can bring to mind in other countries in the world. For many around the globe, camo makes them think of genocide, children soldiers, and war, as it is worn by dictators, military generals and some truly truly evil people who do terrible things.

I know I’ve been lucky in life to never witness any of those things, nor have I ever had to fear me or my family would be subjected to these atrocities. I for one would NEVER want to be the cause of reminding someone of these crimes, causing them fear or panic. For this reason, I fully support the no camo rule, as I hope you do to

I was appalled by the hue and cry of victimization that rose up on the Bow Junky Facebook post.  That somehow these archers felt their gods-given rights were being infringed upon because they couldn’t shoot a camouflage colored bow at a very specific, top level target competition.  That they somehow felt impotently spewing hatred at World Archery on Facebook would accomplish ..well.. anything.

It is the personal responsibility of each archer to understand ALL of the rules of the tournament they plan to complete in well before they show up on tournament grounds.  Especially if that tournament involves using a passport and flying halfway across the globe.

It is the responsibility of each archer competing in a World Archery competition to understand that, literally, their world just got bigger.  They are not limited to the US culture, customs, and symbolism anymore.  And since World Archery must represent a multitude of nations and demonstrate respect towards each culture, they will err on the side of being conservative in matters of dress and equipment.

It is the responsibility of each archer competing in a World Archery competition to understand that this is the governing body that works with the International Olympic Committee to present archery to the world every 4 years in the Olympic Summer Games, and therefor World Archery standards may mirror standards set by the IOC. By necessity, they have to.

It is the responsibility of each archer to understand that there is a fundamental divide between 3-D (ASA) archery, and FITA / Olympic / WA archery.  Compound archers desperately want to be able to represent their countries in the Olympic games.  But the only way that’s going to happen is if compound archers follow all the rules of the World Archery governing body until such time as World Archery and the IOC can hash out what it looks like to host a compound competition at the Olympic Games. Target archery is different.  You can disparage it if you like. One of the members of my team, who shoots exclusively ASA, calls it “country club archery”.  You can say that 3-D is harder, or more realistic, or whatever.  And maybe, one day, 3-D archery will be an Olympic sport too.  But  until that time it is important to understand that the IOC and World Archery feel there is a tradition to uphold.  Especially with sports fighting over spots, and some very deserving sports losing their place in the Olympic Games, it is supremely important that World Archery present a professional face to the world, and its archers do the same.

There is an uproar that World Archery may be trying to draw a line of separation between hunting and target archery by not allowing camo bows on the line at WA events.  I think that logic is pretty faulty, to be honest with you.  Because World Archery doesn’t care one whit if its target archers go bow hunting on the weekend (where legal).  I think the people drawing the line are the ones who immediately scream they’re being victimized by World Archery because they aren’t allowed to bring their camouflage bow onto the line of a World Archery event.  And they do it every time they scream and gnash their teeth and demand that they get their own way (I’m speaking mostly of US citizens here) without respect to the fact that World Archery is a global association with global concerns.

It makes me sad, really, that we can get into such a screaming match over… the color of our equipment.

It makes me sad that people think it isn’t important to read and pay attention to the rules of the international governing body of my sport, especially when they compete at an international level.  I’d give a lot to be able to compete at that level.  If it took saving my pennies and begging and scraping to get a non-camo bow together to do it, I’d do it in a heart beat.  Because I consider representing my country on an international stage to be a privilege.  To be *that good*.  That’s my dream.  It’s why I drag my tired ass to the range every day I can.  It’s why I give up time with my family, and have given up anything that resembles a social life.  I think we forget that representing our country on an international stage is an honor. And that in doing so we should act honorably.  Which perhaps means gaining a complete understanding of the rules of the game before we show up, and not making a fuss if we made a mistake, but owning our  mistake gracefully and moving on.

 

 

 

 

APPtitune Takes the Mystery Out of Tuning

APPtitune Takes the Mystery Out of Tuning

Serious tuning, beyond just checking center shot, has been a pretty big mystery to me for the last year. Everybody seemed to know how to do it, except me. And while my state’s archery association provided some great information, it was still incomplete information. Especially when it came to stabilizers. I wanted a way to configure the best possible stabiliser configuration and I just couldn’t figure it out.

Months ago Stacy had recommended an app called APPtitune to me. But it cost $15.00, and I just wasn’t willing to shell out that much for an app at the time. But when I ran into stabiliser questions this week I revisited the app. I went to its website, realized it might have everything I was looking for and took the plunge. I am so glad I did!

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Bow Tuning App on Apple and Android

Not only does it have in depth stabiliser weighting information all in one place, it walks you through step by step tuning almost every aspect of your bow. The only thing it didn’t really have was a really in-depth discussion on plunger tuning. But it does have a great way to start tuning your plunger without spending an entire day doing just that one  thing. And it’s simple enough that even I can follow the steps.

There are Pro Tips in each section written by Jake Kaminski, silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympics. And these tips are not just fluff. They are, I feel, really useful pieces of advice written for the beginner wanting to get more serious and the intermediate archer who may be on their own when trying to find their bow.

All the mystical “stuff” was de-mystified and made, if not easy, then at least easy enough to follow that I can work on tuning my bow myself. And I’m not getting information piecemeal. I can read about how each system will affect the bow’s performance and the arrow characteristics (stiff or weak), see how they are interconnected and know how to go back and forth between them while getting an ever finer tune.

If you have a great grasp of bow dynamics, you probably don’t need this app. But if you don’t, and your tired of trying to sift through the internet to find esoteric information like how to figure out the optimal weighting of your stabilizer system, then pay the money for this app. It’s worth it!

2nd Annual Texas Cup

Another weekend, another tournament. I don’t usually do tournaments back to back, but they just worked out that way this month. The Texas Cup was held in Plano, so I didn’t have to travel for if, which made doing both the Texas Cup and the Winter Games so close together much more possible. No time off work needed for either!

This was a full Star FITA, 120 arrows over two days, and a lot larger participation. The men’s senior recurve line was actually pretty large. And though the women’s senior recurve line was smaller, and we were all outnumbered by the compounds, it was great to see so many Olympic recurves and barebows all in one place!

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The senior men's Olympic Recurve medalists and me!

I was a little concerned about how I would hold up, since I’ve only recently gone up in draw weight, but I think the proof that I can turn my limbs up is that I had no fatigue even at the end of the 2nd day. So they’ll get turned up on Tuesday.

Saturday morning I grouped really well. I was happy with how I was shooting, but would have liked to not be quite so left. I feel like I just got the “left” problem fixed, and now its back. So while I had nice fight groups the scores would have been better if I could have nudged them a little more center. I did shoot the most 10’s I’ve ever shot in a tournament, though!

Today I don’t feel I shot as well.  The line felt more cramped. I didn’t feel like I could set up the way I wanted to. But I had a better score over all. I’m firmly in the averaging 20 points per end, which is such a huge jump for me!!

831/1200 was my final score. I walked away from my previous double FITA a full 200 points lower. And after a year of work I’m finally breaking past the 50% mark. I consistently shoot more than 50% of a perfect score.

All that aside. I learned a really important lesson. And that is…scores matter less than walking into your arrows. Yup. I walked straight into the nocks of my own arrows because I was talking to (and looking at) someone down the line as we walked down to score. I was that girl, the one who caused the entire line to be held because she needed a bandaid. I was going to continue on, but didn’t realize how bad it was bleeding. Ashley, who took first and was scoring with me, was over to the judges before I could even set my clip board down.

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The buckle helped soothe my hurt pride a bit

Team Fulcrum had four people shooting the Texas Cup, and two of us placed. Dacota took first in senior men’s compound and I took 2nd in senior women’s recurve.

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Team Fulcrum brings home some hardware

It was a great weekend! But I’m really looking forward to the next three weeks of practice and tuning.

From FanGirl to Team Girl

During the Texas Winter Games last weekend I had a really nice chat with Troy Albert from Fulcrum Archery. I knew he had started an archery team, but had assumed that his was focused only on compound shooters. It made me a little sad, his team seemed to have great cohesion and vision, but I understood that in pragmatic terms there is a wider audience for compound shooters and a deeper market. So it made sense that his team would be compound focused.

Boy was I wrong! I did ask him point blank if the Fulcrum Archery team was just for compound shooters. And he set me straight quickly. They wanted recurvists! Apparently we are just hard to find. True, you don’t see many of us at NFAA, IBO, or ASA tournaments. Be it barebow, traditional, or Olympic, but especially Olympic, recurvists are hard to find in large numbers unless you are at a National level FITA shoot. Even state level FITA shoots have a small number of recurvists compared to compound. Or maybe I just live in the wrong state. Anyway. Troy wanted us on his team, but we were never in the same place to talk. Until the Texas Winter Games, that is, when I blatantly walked up to him and basically asked him outright if his team was just for compounds.

We talked about his team and his goals for it. We talked about his business. And in the end our vision seemed to line up pretty well. I had long wanted, and had even tried to get off the  ground via Urban Shooters, a competitive adult recurve team. But that small numbers thing made it hard. He already had a competitive team and a great vision for it, and wanted recurves to join. It gave him something, another venue where he could promote his business, and it gave me a prepaved path to promote a competitive team.

This week we exchanged a few emails, and on Thursday I became the first Oly on the Fulcrum Archery team. Thursday night was the first team practice. I was nervous. No really. I was nervous. I know heart only counts for so much. All those nerves translated directly into my shooting. So I didn’t shoot 50 meters with them. Impossible,  really, because I have no sight settings for long distance because of going up in draw weight recently. I barely have sight settings for 18 meters. But I did enjoy the easy way everyone came in and just did their thing. They were either just working on shooting, or getting some specific stuff done for a tournament this weekend, or hanging out together. Everyone said hi, shook my hand, welcomed me on. They were really nice! I am a textbook introvert, so Troy had to literally drag me off the range to meet people. But it was a good night!

I think the Fulcrum team is split across several different tournaments this weekend. A few of us, including me, will be shooting the Texas Cup double FITA in Plano. Several more are headed to an ASA tournament in College Station. Who knows, maybe these guys will eventually get me out into the field archery world.

No, I don’t have to be on a team to shoot. But it makes a difference when other people are encouraging you to shoot and get better.

Girl Got Group

Girl Got Group
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Consistent

Training tonight at the range, working on the anchor point drill that I did with Tony on Sunday. I think it works.