The old adage, practice makes perfect, somewhat true. In fact, for a precision sport like archery, it is more accurate to say “Perfect Practice makes perfect.” Archers practice alot. Just like an athlete in any sport, hours and hours are spent at ranges, working on the tiniest detail, in order to perfect the execution of the shot. The more times an archer can repeat the execution in the same way, the more likely they will hit the centre of the target- the”X”- and score 10 points for each arrow in that ring. The ring is as small as a quarter for compound archers, and no bigger than a ‘toonie’ for recurve shooters. The archer is standing 18 metres(20 yds) from the target. The Canada Games Archery event is an Indoor event. Outdoors, archers shoot longer distances at a larger target.
To the outsider, an Archery Tournament is an altogether different event. Yesterday, the archers were at the venue, practicing their sport. Today, they are back, still practicing, but under more controlled conditions. The judges are present, the timers are working and to all appearances, the shooting is serious. The intensity of the archers on the line has jumped considerrably from yesterday. Today is more formal. All of the archers and their coaches and team staff are in full uniform, where yesterday, jeans and t-shirts may have been the norm.
Official practice is underway.
This is the final run-through before the arrows begin to count for score tommorrow. This is the final chance to tweak equipment. Speaking of the equipment, every archer will be required to have all of their equpment inspected by the Team of judges. This ensures that all bows, arrows, releases and release tabs comply with the rules and that no one is getting an unfair advantage.
Coaches can stand near or behind their archers during OFFIcial Practice. When the actual competitive round starts, only the archers are allowed on the shooting line. Coaches and managers must stay behind another line, 3 metres back from where the arrows are shot.
The Team from Yukon arrived at the Archery venue, enthusiastic, but maybe a little overwhelmed. For most, if not all of the archers from the only one of Canada’s three Territories represented at the Archery Event, it is their first major competition.
If one looks down the line of shooters, there is a notable difference in the equipment used by the majority of the archers, and those from Yukon. While most of the field shoots modern, high tech bows with the most advanced arrows available, made of a variety of alloys and carbon graphite, Travis rivest is shooting a longbow and arrows made from aluminum. The longbow is the bow of Robin Hood, essentially a “stick and string”- it sends arrows down range at speeds much slower that modern equipment. The longbow was used as a tool of war and was the most effective weapon of the military up until the advent of the repeating rifle. Nevertheless, Team Yukon Archery plans to make the most of their experience at these Games. In the end, it is the result, not the equipment that counts.
Today, the shots don’t count. Not for score. But the quality of the shots taken today can set an archer up for the rest of the week. Have a good day in practice and confidence grows. A bad day can bring doubt and take some swagger out of the stride.
You can see it in the eyes of the favourites-that look of determination, of resolute faith in their ability, to send the arrows, one by one into the very center of the target.
It is said that an archer must learn to do two things:
STEP 1- Learn to hit the centre of the target
STEP 2- Repeat STEP 1; over and over again.
The Archers who are at these Games are able to complete STEP 1. Those who can progress to STEP 2 with the most consistency, will find themselves standing on the podium, after the last shot is taken.