Hi everyone, happy new year and happy Olympic year! I hope that you all had a nice Xmas and New Year celebration. This is my first blog of 2016 and hopefully one of many for this year.
I have been testing a bow during December and January for the coming season. I decided that I didn’t want to have any regrets going into such an important year of trying to secure a spot for us at the Olympic Games in Rio, so I wanted to review all areas of my shooting. I already had a good bow set up and was shooting good scores but how did I know it was the best one for me? If I didn’t try anything else then I would never know. I am very lucky to be in a position where I could easily get my hands on a Prodigy RX to try it out, and test it in all the different ways I feel are necessary.
This blog is about my interpretation of the Hoyt Prodigy RX and how it feels for me. When I first picked up the bow and started setting it up, I was very impressed by the limb alignment system. It was very easy to do (once I got my head around it) and very effective. I love the fact that you can do it while the bow is strung and once you put a washer into the limb alignment system, it can’t move, it will always stay in that position. There is a very handy indent in the riser (underneath the grip) where you can make sure your aligning to the middle of the bow. A really helpful video by Jake Kaminski on YouTube was really useful to watch when I was setting up my bow because I wasn’t familiar with the system.
Once the limbs where aligned, my button was in the middle (standard) hole on the riser, my sight and clicker were on, tiller and bow weight checked, brace height to manufactures recommendations, arrow rest on, centre shot checked and made sure everything was tightened down on the bow, I made my first shots in my garage- blank boss.
First impressions was-WOW! The feel was awesome. First of all, the grip seemed to fit my hand perfectly so that was a major plus to the bow. After a couple of ends I could tell that the limbs where a lot softer then what I was used to, but not in a bad way, in the best way possible! The limbs had a really good reaction, quick and snappy but not too much that it is damaging to my shoulder and the poundage of the bow felt less then was shown on the scales which I was very pleased about. Once I had shot 200 arrows blank boss I re checked everything to make sure that it hadn’t moved.
Once I got to some distance I made sure my nocking point was right and did some high speed testing on my clearance and node alignment. All was pretty good with my basic set up so I decided to go with that for a couple of days till I could shoot 70m and do some arrow group testing.
I have now shot a few 720 rounds with the bow and I am more than satisfied with the results, the first 720 I scored was in Sutherland Hall and I scored 661 which was brilliant as I hadn’t done any group testing before then. (I still have this to do)
Having shot the bow for a couple of weeks now, I feel I can shoot a lot more arrows in a session and I am not getting any niggling pains in my shoulder when I shoot which is always a good thing and I really love the feel of the bow and the reaction after the shot.
I am really happy to say that this is the bow that I will be shooting for this season and I am really looking forward to it. I want to say a big Thank You to Dean and Doug at Hoyt for believing in me and wanting me to try and shoot Hoyt again- It’s a pleasure and I feel very privileged to be offered Hoyt sponsorship.
To my readers, I hope that you find this blog helpful and I hope you have a fun 2016 and achieve everything that you want to in your archery endeavours.
It is 6pm after a long day of waking up at 5:20am and travelling to Lilleshall, shooting till 12 and been in the gym for two hours. I’m sat here thinking about the next three months and only the next three months because if I think beyond that, my head will explode! We have a lot of competitions coming up- which I am very looking forward to and want to do the best I can. Two weeks ago I was a part of the European Games selection shoot with other archers to name a few, Naomi, Nicky, Bryony, Sally and Vlada. It was a very windy two days on the Astroturf at Lilleshall National Sports Ground. The first day was two 720 rounds and then the start of the head to head round robins. I really like shooting with a bit of a breeze, I think it’s because of the experience I had when I was injured, I had to aim off a lot more than the other archers with me only shooting 35lbs. Now I am shooting 38lbs and I feel I can gauge the wind a lot better- but I don’t always get it right! Although I do enjoy shooting in breeze, this was no breeze! It was a case of shooting in the lulls and shooting them strong and fast. I did get caught on the line with 30 seconds to go and had 3 arrows left to shoot but only once as it scared me a little. Thank god for the 90 second round 720s we had done in training! My score wasn’t amazing, I scored 290, 307, 316, 307 and I was actually pleased with that. It wasn’t a good score by all means but under the circumstances, I think I shot well. The next day I found out I was in first place with Naomi and Nicky in 2nd and 3rd. I was aching with shooting in the wind and was feeling very tired but I was determined to do my best and shoot each arrow with my Mental Programme. My round robin matches went really well. In the 16 matches, I won 14 and lost 2 which I was also really happy about but by the end of the second day I was physically and mentally knackered. After the shooting had finished I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep but I had to drive 2 and a half hours to my home. The team for the European Games will be announced by Team GB at the end of this month.
So, one selection shoot is done and another is lurking round the corner. It is actually in 12 days time to be precise. This selection shoot will be to represent The GB Team at the World Championships in Denmark at the end of July. At the World Champs, there will be the opportunity to win quota places for the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. To qualify as a team (ladies and men’s) we will have to win our first team match in the head to heads. Can you believe that some people in the archery world, who actually are British, do not believe in us? They don’t believe that we will get quota places to be able to shoot for our country at the Olympic Games. Surely, if you love the sport but are not at the highest level and cannot do the job themselves, they should support their team? Honestly, there are some negative people out there that live on ‘Planet Earth’ but I suppose it is there opinion and they are entitled to it. With all the negativity to the side, I would like to say a thank you to the people that DO actually believe in me/the team. The support I get from my family, club, friends, coaches and Face Book and Twitter followers is amazing and really does make the negatives become very small and insignificant.
It is now 6:45pm and I am late for my dinner here at Lilleshall National Sports Centre. I hope that whoever is reading this (and to my usual readers) have noticed a different style of writing? I had a good chat with a friend called JI at the Easter Shoot and he is an English, Science and I think he said Maths teacher. He taught me how to extend my sentences and make my blogs sound more interesting. I understand now why my writing is a little ‘staccato’ It’s because in my spare time I read horror books and to conjure up some tension to the reader they use short sentences. I hadn’t noticed that I did this so he encouraged me to read some books that had a lot of descriptive language in it. Another thing we talked about was that he had thought of a motto for me. It is ‘Appetent Aurum’ which mean in Latin ‘Shooting for Gold’. I was very pleased with it and I asked him to write it down for me so I don’t forget it. He said he doesn’t think there is an Olympian with their own motto that he knows of so in his eyes, I am the first J
Greece- European GP Blog
I have decided to write a blog on my thoughts and results at the first outdoor International. I will be writing little snippets from each day and then send the blog to my website once I get back home. This is a first for me so I am going to see how it goes and if people are interested then I will try and do it for each trip I attend. I feel like I have prepared really well for the competition, warm and waterproof clothes, food, pillow (I take my pillow everywhere I go, it’s just something that is mine and makes you feel more comfortable when your millions of miles away from home. It also helps to not get a stiff neck while I am away) I have my Stone of Life in place so I can stay grounded and keep perspective (If you’re wondering what that is then you need to read ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Professor Steve Peters). My bow is set up and ready to go, arrows are tuned. All I need to do now is do what I do, everyday- stay in the process of the shot and try my best- after all, that’s all I can do!
Flight with BA from Heathrow to Athens was around 3 hours and 30minutes- just about the same amount of time it took me to drive from my house to Heathrow airport. It was an early morning! I was sat in an aisle seat (my preference) with a middle seat empty so I was able to spread out a little. Passport control and getting our luggage was quick and simple. We followed a lady to a federation bus and journeyed our way to the hotel. It took around 45 minutes. Our room was small but had everything we needed. Once everyone had thrown their stuff into their rooms we went to have dinner. It was a classic buffet style place. The food was pretty good, better than I expected. Once we had eaten, it was a quick team meeting and then bed time.
Today was unofficial practice. I woke up at 6:45 for 7:15 breakfast and 8 o’clock bus. The venue for today was a field next to the competition field. It was slightly up hill and in their attempt to flatten the field. They had put the targets into trenches. The weather was cold and then warmed up a little as the morning progressed. As a team we did our warm up together and then started shooting blank boss. I always find that shooting blank boss helps with getting warmed up and helps me to purely focus on my technique. In the morning session I shot 136 arrows in total. Me, Naomi, Larry and Patrick all shot on a target together at 70m. I had a lot of broken nocks and damaged fletchings at the end of practice with us all grouping in the middle. Once we had finished for the morning, we got back on a bus to take us to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, some of the team went back and shot again. I stayed in the hotel and repaired my fletchings. I also did a little shoulder pre-hab and a core circuit to keep me ticking over. There aren’t any gym facilities here so I had to do all this in the room. 18:30 and time for dinner. We had another team meeting about who is going to be on the men’s team to get the quota places for the European Games (They had to choose and submit the team before the qualification). After the meeting we all went to bed.
Today was official practice. Naomi and I were allowed to have a lay in because we weren’t shooting till the afternoon so we chilled out in the room for the morning. We had lunch and then went for the bus to take us to the competition field. The field was Astroturf and a lot better than the practice field from yesterday. The weather was a lot warmer then yesterday too but windier. When I’m shooting the official practice, I always look for ‘things’ I can use when it is windy e.g. Trees, wind sock, a flag that is higher up in the sky that might not actually be on the field of play. I also, (if there is grass to do it) through some in the air at the target end and the shooting end to see which way it falls. Today there were no real indications for the wind apart from the little flags that are on top of the target! It was quite windy and I was aiming off in the black for some shots, which was enough for the arrows to go into the middle. Once practice was finished we travelled back to the hotel on the bus provided and got ready for the opening ceremony. We all had to meet at 6:25 to walk to the little show room; it was like a little stadium with comfortable seats and a stage. The opening ceremony consisted of a lot of speeches opening the competition and wishing everyone good luck. This followed with all the flag bearers to come out one by one (Just like the Olympics) and stand on the stage. Our flag bearer was Alex Smith, he was chosen because he is the newest to the team and on his first trip. I remember having to do it but felt very proud holding the flag- it was my first field trip in Sweden. Once all the countries had come out and dispersed back to their seats. We had a rendition from school children on ‘we are the world’ and also the Greece National Anthem. We all stood up for the National Anthem and the World Archery Europe Anthem. The Opening Ceremony had finally finished and we were able to go and have food. You can imagine the queue to get to the food. I decided to go for salad and a lot of it as there was no queue for that and actually it was really nice. I didn’t have any of the hot food because I couldn’t be bothered to wait in the queue. I made sure though that before bed I had a pint of milk to get my protein intake.
Today was qualification. The men had shot in the morning and Naomi and I chilled out for the morning while watching the men’s scores on the computer. After we had some lunch we got to the field and set up our bows. I felt ready for the day, my practice had been going really well, I had done my mental warm up and looked over my Stone of Life. At the beginning of the 720 I felt quite nervous- maybe because the chimp in me where expecting a lot because of the way I had been practicing. After the first couple of ends, that died down and I was able to do my process properly and get into a rhythm. I shot a 101, 107,110 for the first half. The second half, I wasn’t nervous at all and just focussing on my shots, one by one. The shots felt ok- not as good as in practice but ended up with a 105,104,104. I was disappointed with the second round score because I know I can do better. I know what I need to work on for the future so in the end I decided to look at the positives of that.
Today was elimination day. It was a very early start. My alarm was set for 5:45 (that’s 3:45 at home!) and practice started at 7. Wow, it was hard trying to wake up. Lloyd had brought me some breakfast from the restaurant so I could eat it when I was actually hungry. I felt really positive about today. I was thinking to myself, ‘today is another day’ Just stick to the Mental Programme and try my best, that’s all I can do. In my first match I was shooting against seed 85. I scored 27,26,27,26 winning 6-2. I was really pleased with the way I shot and the process. The weather was quite nice so I was aiming in the middle. The second match was against seed 37. I scored 28,19,26,25,26. I lost 6-4 but really happy the way that I shot. The 19 I had a 10 and a 9 and my last arrow of the set, I forgot to check my fingers on the string so it ended coming off the rest- but getting a positive from it, it was a well executed miss J I really fought all the way in the second match, I was positive and didn’t let doubt enter my head. Even after the miss, I made sure I checked my fingers but didn’t let it affect my shooting for the next sets. So now I am out of the competition but I learnt a lot from it.
Today was the team quota day. The team of Larry, Ashe and Patrick were fighting to get places for the European Games. Their first match was against Denmark. Our team won on a shoot off, it was a very close match. Their second match whom they needed to win was against Poland. It was all neck and neck and was again decided on a shoot off. The Poland team shot a 10, 9, 9 and GB scored 9,9,7 This meant that the Men’s team hadn’t won their places. Next week the men will only be shooting for one spot to go to the European Games (which was won at the European Champs last year by Ashe). In the afternoon it was mixed team day but everyone had time to do a little practice on the very windy practice field. The rain was also on and off. Our team was Larry and Naomi, they were ranked in 6th and their first match was Azerbaijan. They shot very well. They then went onto defeat Georgia which took them to the Gold medal match. In the Final they shot against Ukraine. Naomi and Larry both shot amazing but Ukraine just piped them. They ended up with a silver medal- which I think they were very pleased with. In the evening we had dinner and chilled out in the hotel. Some of the archers played card games and table tennis.
Today we were very lucky to practice in the morning. We shot on the competition field. The weather was brilliant really, there was no wind at all but there was a massive downpour of rain. We sat it out for a while till it stopped bouncing it down. Practice was brilliant, I worked on my Mental Programme 100% and I was really pleased with the grouping (even in the drizzle). I spoke to Songi while walking up and down to the target about what I had learnt in the competition. I think for it to be a successful trip, you need to have learnt something. I learnt that what I m doing mentally is going uphill slightly with every day/comp/training session. I know what I need to work on that is going to help me in the future. In the afternoon we were invited to go to a winery. The guy who owns the winery is actually from Scotland and was able to show us around. He has been living in Greece for 20 years or more and it was amazing how he had forgotten some English words so it was hard for him to describe some of the processors in how to make wine. He really did try his best and I learnt so much about how to make the best quality wine and how to store wines in a cellar ( I do not have a wine cellar but if I did, my wines won’t end up being corked!) Apparently the best way is to store your wines at a 27 degrees angle with the cork facing upwards. This is so the wine is touching the cork half and half. The last thing you want to do is store your wine laying down or standing up. Lying your wine down will stop the cork from giving the wine the oxygen it needs. The cork will get really wet and over time the cork will disintegrate and that’s how you get corked wine. Storing the wine standing up dries out the cork and ends up being all crumbly. The cork is to help the wine oxygenate. Now you know the best way to store your wine. Very interesting isn’t it? J When we got back to the hotel after a couple of hours in the winery it was time to get ready for dinner. It was also banquet night which meant a lot of loud music and some alcohol. We had dinner and went to the banquet but as a team we sat and played cards- yes we are very boring. After getting annoyed with the music, I went to my room to pack and chill out but the music was so loud, it was like sitting in the room with the music on. I think I finally got to sleep about 12:30am but the music didn’t actually stop till 3am.
It was time for home! In the morning we woke up at 8:00am and went for breakfast. Me Naomi and Songi had a look on the beach. It was cold and very dull but we managed a selfie together. I did a pre hab and my bow training before doing my last bits of packing. At 11:00 it was time to get on the bus for the airport. Quick drive and we checked into British Airways for our flight back to London Heathrow. We were delayed a little bit while we were actually sat on the plane. The pilot said it was because of strong winds at Heathrow. Better to be safe than sorry. When we actually got to London air space, I thing we must have circled above the airport for about half an hour. We were obviously in a queue to land but it was very windy and the plane was bouncing up and down. I felt a little sick but tried to take my mind off it by playing a game on my iPad. We finally landed an hour delayed and was able to get through passport control and get our bags. It was a 3 hour journey driving home for me and walked through the door at home at around 9:30pm. I was so happy to be home (I am definitely a home bird, I love my home comforts) James was prepared with a meal for us and we talked about the trip.
I do admit that I am a very lucky person being able to travel the world and do what I love. The training is really hard and it is frustrating when you’re working so hard and not getting brilliant results at World and European Level. I know though that if I work my hardest in training physically and mentally then I cannot ask for anything else in competition. I reckon it is a matter of time to get stronger and the best I can be. I did learn a lot on this trip and also it reinforced some of the things I learnt before in other trips. I feel as a whole team we are on the right track.
Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think of the blog. Write on my guest book on my website or send me a message on my Facebook athlete page or Twitter. Also, if you want me to do a blog about anything relating to archery, just let me know the subject and I will try and write my views on it.
I was having a look at my website and thinking I should really write a blog as the last one I did was about the Eli vanes vs Spin wings. Really, I couldn't believe how many people have read the blog and used what I said to choose which fletchings they use. I'm glad that I have made a difference to people’s views on something that I believe is important, but like I said in the blog, it is my opinion and I think people should try things out for themselves as everyone is different.
I didn’t really know what to write about in my blog, I tried to think 'What is going on with me at the moment?' 'What am I working on?' Well the answer to that is I am currently working on my Mental Health. Recently we have had a new Psychologist working with us. He is working with the Chimp Model which I have been using ever since he started working with us at Archery GB. I have fully thrown myself into it and I must say that it has helped me, not just in archery but in everyday life. I am a lot happier, grounded and can see a lot more perspective in life. I understand myself and others a lot more. One of my truths of life is 'Life isn’t fair'. There are things that happen in your own little world for example, your late for a meeting because someone broke down on the motorway but you set off in good time to get there, you want to go out with friends for a meal but you don’t have the money for a fillet steak and red wine like everyone else so you have the cheaper steak and drink tap water, your shooting in a changeable wind and your aiming off and the arrow goes where you aimed it- at that particular time it feels like a big thing and you get hung up on it and think about it all day. In the whole scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter- once you have perspective in your life and remember that 'life isn’t fair', you can be a happier person.
Another truth I have is 'Everyone has their own opinion' Say your in a group of people talking about archery for instance, people have a lot of opinions on arrow tuning and how and what techniques are the best (nock tuning, putting arrows in the bath to check spine, getting them Beiter checked and so on. - You can imagine the arguments on who thinks the best process is. As long as you remember, 'Everyone has their own opinion' you won’t get into the argument because you believe in the truth. Recently I heard someone in the archery world had said something nasty about me and the GB Archery Team. That we are not good enough, that we never win medals, why should we be getting all this funding for no medals? At first I really felt annoyed and hurt by these comments but then I remembered that 'Everyone has their own opinion' and it made me realise that it doesn’t matter what other people think, it is their opinion and they are not in your life and have no idea how hard I work, how many arrows I shoot, all the gym and mental sessions that go into it. Once I regained perspective, I could carry on with my life without that horrible feeling of hurt and annoyance.
I have read the Chimp Paradox book by Steve Peters. It teaches you how to get perspective in everyday life and gives you tips and tools to use when things aren’t going right in your life. This is an ongoing process and you have to work on it every day. I am no psychologist but I thought that this subject is be a good blog to do as it is something that I am working on, plus you don’t get a lot of people talking about the mental side of life.
I hope that you found this blog interesting and made you think about trying to be happier in life. After all were not on earth for very long.
The winter season is always and a good time to test new things, so I decided to test Eli Vanes against Spin Wings. I started shooting them indoors in Sutherland Hall at Lilleshall as it was blooming cold outside and the Spin Wings where shooting better scores then the Eli Vanes. I tested them both in 720 rounds and also group tested them. Group testing was probably the best test as the sight could be in the wrong place and you can always change your sight, right? The way I checked the group size is by measuring the group with a flexible tape measure. The best way to do this is to have a lot of arrows in an end 6-9 arrows will be good enough. It’s always helpful to have a scope with you too so if you make a ‘not so good’ shot then you can count that arrow out.
Group testing is also good to check your tune. If the groups seem to be vertical then that means that your knocking point is in the wrong place (you could also move your tiller for this). If the groups seem to be more horizontal then the best thing is to change the tension on your button. Put half a turn on or off and shoot it like that for a day while group testing. If it gets worse, then turn it the other way. Group testing could take a while 2-3 weeks in fact (that’s if you shoot everyday). We learnt this method off Adreas at the Beiter Centre in Germany a few years ago. I believe it is one of the best tools to check tune.
So anyway, back to the Spin Wing vs. Eli Vanes. The Spin Wings where shooting at least 5-10 points more in Sutherland Hall than the Eli Vanes and the group sizes seemed to be tighter. I thought then that my mind was made up.... till I shot them outside. It’s very unlikely that when shooting outside that you’re going to get absolutely perfect weather like in Sutherland Hall. In the wind, the Eli Vanes where so much better group size wise and also in score. With the Eli Vanes, I don’t seem to have to aim off as much as I do with the Spin Wings, because of this I was shooting 10-15 points more outdoors in the breeze/wind. With a lot of testing I decided that there was no question but to switch to the Eli Vanes.
In this blog I wanted to be honest about my findings between the Spin Wings and Eli Vanes as I found a significant difference in the scores and groupings. I did mention in my tweets that I was testing both of these fletchings and some of my followers wanted my findings, so I decided to write a blog about it.
I also tried the XS Wings as they were recommended by a friend but they were a lot heavier then both the other fletchings. I shot some good scores with the XS Wings but in the wind, I had to aim off a lot further and because they are so course, the rain affected them more too.
I have to be honest; when I first tried the Eli Vanes I was a little sceptical as I know a few other archers that have testing the Eli Vanes compared to the Spin Wings and found that the Eli Vanes didn’t work as well for them and I have always shot the Spin Wings. I’m really glad that I tested the Eli Vanes thoroughly because I really believe in them now. What I learnt from this is, don’t be scared to try new things as you never know!
I hope you found this blog helpful. J
This time last year was hard for me to look upon. I hadn’t had shot an arrow since my last match in the Olympic games and my shoulder was nowhere near strong enough to shoot. Thanks to a lot of good rehab with my physiotherapist, he helped me get strong enough to shoot again. My goals last year where hard to set- as I didn’t know how good my progression would be, or even if the operation would have fixed what was wrong with my shoulder in the first place. My goals where to be pain free, compete in the World Championships and get up to 35lbs- what I was up to at the Olympics. I made really good progress and I achieved my goal of getting to the national series and being ahead of my poundage goal weight. My rehab went soothingly well (because I worked really hard on this) and I managed to prove to Lloyd and Sara that I was shooting well enough to go to the World Champs. I was really pleased with my performance at the Worlds and as a team we managed to achieve our KPI’s. I was also really happy with my win at the National Series Final- this gave me some confidence in myself. Not only was it hard to get strength back in my shoulder, it was hard mentally. Thinking back to before my operation at the end of 2012, I was ready to stop archery all together, I was in so much pain. When I went in for the operation, I was looking forward to having it done as I knew that this was going to make me pain free! After the op and all the rehab I had to treat my shoulder as a normal shoulder and not an injured one. This was hard to do as I wasn’t using it anymore, even to get things out of the cupboard or when I was driving! Now, I bet your thinking ‘how did you shoot with so much pain?’ The answer is, with great difficulty and plenty of planning and smart training!
Now I am in such a better place- I can shoot 300-400 arrows a day, do all my strength work and not worry about my shoulder at all. This helps mentally and I can enjoy my archery- I hope it stays that way.