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My Archery Journey

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Tomorrow will be exactly one year since I was introduced to the exciting world of archery. It has been an unforgettable year full of new friends, travel, competitions, great scores, terrible scores and a bunch of technical terms I can never remember. If only I’d known back then how much my life would change in the following months thanks to archery.

In my opinion, it isn’t one of those main university sports that people would instantly think of. The reaction I get most of the time when I tell people I do archery is: “Wow, what made you join archery?” And my answer is: “I actually have no idea.” I first wanted to join in second year, but for some reason never got that far and joined something I was already familiar with instead – tennis. In third year I was prioritising someone else before my own well-being and happiness, so I didn’t join then either. When I started my Master’s it felt like I had been given another chance so I finally got my act together and went to the taster sessions.

Category: Novice

The only time I’d ever shot a bow before was on a school trip to a medieval castle where all the children had a go at shooting a flimsy string-on-a-stick. Usually I prepare for new situations like this by doing some research and learning the basics beforehand, but this time I rocked up without even knowing what a proper bow looks like, never mind acknowledging the existence of arm guards or finger tabs. I was expecting it to be really difficult and heavy to pull but I was positively surprised at how natural it felt.

Shooting barebow in the beginning felt like something was missing the whole time. It was so frustrating because I didn’t know what it was. But then, on a wonderful Wednesday evening in October, we were introduced to my new best friend – the sight. I instantly fell in love with recurve and I’ve only shot one session with barebow since; and that was only because I wanted a go at left-handed.

The passion and dedication I have developed since didn’t appear overnight. I believe that our lives are mainly shaped by our decisions, and I made the decision to be serious about archery. In a way, it was a challenge for myself, because I wanted to break from the habit of switching hobbies as soon as I became good at something. There are still so many different activities and sports I would like to try, but at twenty-two years old, after doing gymnastics, tennis and street dance, I realised that it was time to choose one sport and be dedicated to it. At first, I turned up to every session, because due to being an arts research student my schedule was basically empty and I needed to get out of the house. However, as weeks passed, I realised that I was getting rather good at archery, so the need to get out of the house was replaced by curiosity about how far I could push myself and motivation to beat my personal best.

Another part about myself I chose to challenge was my dislike for sports competitions. I had always thought that I had an extremely non-competitive personality, but archery made me realise that it is, in fact, the complete opposite. It is the perfect sport for me, because at competitions we’re not really trying to beat other people. Instead, the most important person to beat is yourself. I never compare myself to people around me, and I also cannot stand other archers comparing their scores to mine, because everything about us is so different. Our bodies are unique, each bow is different, shooting styles can vary so much; therefore, the most important thing is to keep your head in the game, concentrate on your own shooting and remember that consistency is what makes you truly successful.

I can clearly pinpoint this one conversation I had with an experienced archer that changed things for me. He was telling us that there is no point in being disappointed if we don’t place at competitions, because there might be other novices who take private lessons and start shooting above 500 after a few months. Knowing this probably made me a bit more relaxed at the time, but thinking about it now, I might have unconsciously taken that up as a challenge. 500 is the magical milestone every beginner wants to beat, and for me that was in February, five months after picking up a bow for the first time. I started making huge jumps after the Christmas break as I would beat my PB almost every time when scoring a Portsmouth. People often ask me what my secret is. It’s quite simple – turn up to every single training session, be focused and serious about improving your technique. If you feel stuck, go and ask a coach or an experienced archer to look at your shooting, because there will always be something to point out.

In my novice year I got 3 golds, 4 silvers and 3 bronzes in total from individual and team categories. These included NEUAL Novice Champs, NEUAL Indoor and Outdoor Champs, BUCS Qualifiers, BUCS Indoor and Outdoor Champs. It was such a good year. Definitely because of the success at competitions, but mainly for the amazing friends archery has brought into my life.

The Injury

Okay, fine, it wasn’t anything serious this time, the sub-title just seemed more striking.

So what did my dedication and frequent training give me? Shoulder pain. Upper back pain. Lower back pain. Arm pain. Bum pain… yeah. Thankfully, Liverpool University’s Athletic Union members can sign up for physio appointments on campus, so that’s where I headed after I couldn’t sleep on either side at night anymore. I’d never had a physio appointment before, so the back-cracking and weird exercises were a new experience. Also, has anyone else noticed that physios are always really attractive? It was definitely awkward when the pain moved to my lower back and the appointments consisted of a good-looking Irish guy massaging my bum for ten minutes… The fact that I have mastered the British awkwardness didn’t really help in this situation either. (What would Bridget Jones do?)

In the end I had about six appointments in total over the course of five months, and the hot Irish physio discharged me after I’d become strong enough and the pain was almost gone. He told me that I will likely be needing more physio from time to time, but the exercises will be similar to what I have already been given. Fortunately, the pain was never anything dangerous, mainly muscle strain due to going from never having done archery before to training four times a week so rapidly. The uncomfortable sensation in my shoulders always returns for a few weeks after a longer break in training; therefore, doing the exercises every day and warming up before shooting is crucial in order to avoid permanent injuries.

My First Bow

The. Most. Exciting. Thing. Everrr. Who doesn’t want a new shiny toy? There are so many things about buying a bow you have to think of so I don’t know where to start… I guess the first thing is to make sure that you have reached a certain level of consistency in your technique before spending all that money. Shortly before driving to Merlin Archery in Loughborough, I had shot my current PB of 552, so it is fair to say that at this point I was definitely ready to buy my own bow. Going to an archery shop probably makes most archers jump up and down like excited children, because you always find something that you most definitely n e e d to add to your bow. It’s absolutely ecstatic until you find out that they charge you dozens of pounds for a small metal blob.

It was one very tiring day, because when we finally got to Loughborough, the queue was already quite long and we ended up waiting for a good few hours. Fortunately, I already had a riser so I went straight to trying different limbs. Obviously, the three times more expensive fibre foam limbs felt significantly smoother, but I was willing to pay for them as I knew I wouldn’t be going up in poundage any time soon. Five months later I still haven’t wound my limbs back up, because my body is still getting used to the weight of the whole setup. Picking the colours for everything was easy because my favourite colours are conveniently the colours of both of my countries’ flags – blue, black and white, so I was very happy when the limbs had those exact colours. The hardest part was choosing the short rods, because the ones that matched the long rod were way too heavy, but the blue on the lighter ones didn’t match everything else. In the end I went for the triad short rods because no one else had those and archers can be quite snobby about uniqueness. As for arrows, I went for ACCs, because they can be shot both outdoors and indoors. I will never forget how good the first shot with my bow felt. My mouth fell open and I just gaped at my friends like an idiot because it was like a revelation after using cheap club equipment for seven months.

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Here’s what I’m currently using:

Riser: W&W Inno Max 25”

Limbs: WNS Elite Fibre Foam 68”/28#

Sight: Shibuya Ultima II RC Carbon

Long rod: Mybo Aeris 30”

Short rods: MAC Triad 11”

Pressure button: Shibuya DX

Clicker: Beiter

Arrow rest: Shibuya Ultima

What’s next?

Unfortunately, I won’t be a student anymore this year, so NEUAL and BUCS will have to wait until I grace UK higher education with my presence again and decide to do a PhD.

Currently my next big competition is the National Indoor Championships on 2nd December. I am so excited about it, because I get to shoot with some of the best archers in the UK. My goal for that day is to not come last. If I get incredibly lucky and have a good day, making it to the H2Hs is a possibility, but nevertheless, I will be happy if I get above 500 in a FITA 18.

Speaking about long term goals, my realistic dream is to be on the Estonian (or Finnish) national team and compete internationally. And the ultimate utopian goal would obviously be every archer’s dream – the Olympic Games. That might be more achievable in about a decade, so ask me again when I’m in my thirties and haven’t messed up my shoulders. I’m getting close to the Estonian B-team scores, but to get on the A-team, I would need an average of 576 indoors, and outdoors… I don’t even want to think about that. One day… one day…

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Finally, the truth is, archery saved me. The desire to improve and know what I was capable of got me out of bed at 7am in the mornings when there was nothing else to motivate me. It gave me a purpose in my darkest times while I was living in limbo. There was a moment, after something terrible happened to me, when I wasn’t sure if I’d be capable of continuing with archery, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I’m now more determined than ever to reach every ridiculous goal I set for myself.

Originally published at https://paulakatriina.com/my-archery-journey/ on 25/09/2018.

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FAQ

Hi guys,

I just thought I would put together a quick ‘FAQ’ for new members just to help answer your questions! 🙂

Do I need to have done archery before to join the club? 

Absolutely not! When I joined, I had never even picked up a bow! Some people of course have done archery before when the join, but you don’t need to have! We will provide training and coaching to help you learn and improve 🙂

Do I need my own equipment? 

No! We will provide equipment to new members including bows, arrows, and protective equipment! When people have been with us for a while, they sometimes do buy their own bows and we can help with that as well!

Do I need to be a student at the University of Liverpool to join? 

Not necessarily! We are primarily a student club, so we prioritise student membership first. Once we have seen how many have joined, we then open the club to non-students 🙂

Can I bring a friend with me? 

Sure, you can bring whoever to the taster sessions (which start very soon!) However, to shoot with the club after these sessions are over, you both need to be a full member of the club! Part of the club membership fee covers your insurance with Archery GB!

Do I need to compete? 

Not if you don’t want to. Yes we do compete in University competitions such as NEUAL and BUCS, and some non-university competitions, but we encourage members to compete as much or as little as they like! If you just want to show up and shoot then that’s fine, but if you want to be coached and compete – that’s also fine too!

How social is the club? 

We have socials every training session technically! After every Wednesday and Saturday shoot we usually go to the pub for a bit. When we have Friday morning shoots, we meet for breakfast! We have a lot of other general socials too like bowling, meet-ups, trips to the zoo, etc. We also have our Christmas Meal and End of Year Meal everyday to look forward to 🙂 We also try to do a trip to Wrexham to do field archery which is really fun!

When do you train? 

Wednesdays 8-10pm and Saturdays 12-3pm. We get extra sessions sometimes too for those who want to shoot more 🙂

Do you always shoot indoors? 

No, we shoot indoors until January, and then we start doing some outdoor training when the weather is better!

 

Please let us know if you have any other questions! Email us at livarchery@gmail.com

 

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Welcome to the Archery Club 2018-19

Hello!

I am just writing a short post to remind everyone that the new term is beginning and we will be opening the club to new members very soon!!

This year we we hope to have the biggest Welcome Week yet!!

So just some dates for the diary:

University of Liverpool term begins again on the 17th September with Freshers week.

On the 20th and 21st of September we will have a stall at the UoL Welcome Fair – here is where you can sign up to our taster sessions and get more info about joining the club!

The following week, for two weeks, we shall have our taster sessions. These will be on Wednesday 26th September, Saturday 29th September, Wednesday 3rd October and Saturday 6th October. Once these sessions are done, the club will be open for new members!

Stay updated for more information!

Any questions email us at livarchery@gmail.com 🙂

 

Emily x
Vice-Captain

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Why do Archery with us?

Whether you thrive on physical activity, or prefer a more relaxed and social sport, Archery can offer you this and more.

It’s a fantastic way to develop personal skills, participate in competitions and develop a real sense of individual accomplishment. In the previous academic years, the club has undergone major expansion and can now boast at being one of the biggest sports clubs in the university.

‌There are typically two training sessions a week, one on a Wednesday evening and the other on a Saturday afternoon. Both are held within the University Sports Centre on campus during the winter months, and at the Wyncote site during the summer. The club provides equipment for members, as well as free tuition and guidance from experienced Archery GB qualified coaches. Entry to the Sports Centre is free, provided that you have a sports centre membership, or at a small fee if you do not.

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As well as organising training sessions, the club aims to be social and arranges an interesting and diverse array of activities. After training, we often progress to the local pub for food and drinks; presenting the perfect opportunity to mingle, relax and have fun. Often we like to do the same in other cities after competitions, allowing us to experience different places and make friends from other universities after a hard day of competing.

We aim to provide something for everyone; whether it’s showing off your culinary expertise at our infamous ‘bring a dish night,’ or organising cinema visits, bowling, theme park excursions, BBQ’s, pub crawls and even having the occasional snowball fight – weather permitting!

Club competitions usually occur on a Saturday, but those not wishing to participate can still attend the usual training session. Competitions are open to all members and provide an excellent opportunity to travel around the country to meet, compete and socialise with new people from other Universities.

For most of the year, we compete with other teams in the North England University Archery League. This can mean a few long day-trips out, but transport is provided and we always get back at a reasonable time. These trips have always been something to look forward to, as they offer a healthy and enjoyable split between competing and socialising.

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Competitions are split into both Novice and Experienced categories, meaning you will only ever be expected to perform against people of the same skill level as yourself. Archery is both challenging and rewarding. For those of you wishing to push yourselves even harder, upgrading from a lower poundage club bow to your own higher poundage bow is always an easy and satisfying option.

During the summer months the emphasis shifts from indoor training and competitions, to outdoor target archery. So not only will you get to participate in something you really enjoy, you can do so in the great outdoors!

So whatever your experience, level of fitness and social inclination, give Archery a try; we are positive that you will really enjoy being a member of one of the more unique clubs that the university has to offer.

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Meet the Committee!

Good Afternoon! The new year for the University of Liverpool Archery Committee is ahead of us! So it’s time to meet the committee! 🙂 We’re really looking forward to meeting all the new members of the club! Our taster sessions begin this week, and as always, if you have any questions, please contact us at livarchery@gmail.com

 

Adam – Captain

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“Hi guys, my name is Adam and I’m a second year Accounting & Finance student! I’m super excited to be the clubs Captain this year! I’ve been shooting for nearly 7 years now and have made loads of amazing new friends through archery – I can’t wait to make some new ones this year!” – Adam

 

Anthony – Vice-Captain

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“Hello all, I’m Tony, I’m a second year Physics student! I’m exceedingly excited to be Vice-Captain this year. I’ve been shooting for 1 year, and I’ve fallen in love with archery! I’ve made some awesome friends, and found an unexpected passion. I can’t wait to meet the new batch of archers this September. We are going to have a fantastic time shooting together this year. Be excellent to each other :)” – Tony

 

Emily – Treasurer

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“Hi, I’m Emily and I’m a second year History PhD student! I’ve been shooting in the archery club for about a year now, and honestly joining has been one of the best things I have ever done! I’d encourage everyone thinking of joining to sign up! I’m looking forward to meeting all the new members!” – Emily

 

Bethany – Social and Welfare Secretary

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“Hi I’m Beth, a second year Astrophysics student. I joined archery a year ago and I’ve loved every moment I’ve been in the club. If you have any ideas for social events you would like to see, please do let us know! Can’t wait to meet you all in a few weeks! :)” – Beth

 

David – Equipment Secretary

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“Hi everyone, I’m David, a third year Law student. I joined the archery club last year. Being a member of the club has been amazing and I cannot wait to welcome the new members this year!” – David

 

Rory – Equipment Secretary

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“Hello, I’m Rory, a second year Chemistry student. Since I started archery a year ago, I’ve loved every bit of it! I’m excited to be one of our equipment secretaries for this year, so come to me with any questions, and when I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does! I can’t wait to meet everyone and introduce this super fun sport to a bunch of new people!” – Rory

Archery

My Summer of 2017 – Adam Trott

I have just spent the best time of my life working at a children’s summer camp in America. Oh, it was the hardest job I’ll ever have, with working hours from 7am to 9pm and constantly having to be upbeat for the kids, but it was also the most rewarding.

I spent my summer at Camp Caribou, an all-boys camp on a private 200-acre peninsular, being the only camp on the lake, with a mile and a half of private lakefront, in Winslow, Maine. The camp is run by the Lermans, a four-generation family who all live and breathe for camp and the boys who go there. Joining the Lermans and other returning counsellors at the camp was an amazing feeling, they really made you feel like part of their family. If you’ve got some spare time, take a look at the camp’s video here.

“The days are long, but the weeks fly by.”

My day consisted of waking the kids up in my bunk, getting them ready for flagpole, where the American and camp’s flags were raised before breakfast. After a hearty breakfast, we would venture back to our cabins for clean-up. During the first session of the summer, myself and my two counsellors had thirteen 11-year-olds, who were pretty good at clean-up. During second session, however, we had nine 9-year-olds, who weren’t as keen to do it…

After [the attempt at] cleaning up the bunk, there were instructionals. For five mornings a week, there were 3 instructional periods, this is where the children have one compulsory session at each sport/activity area a week, following a timetable. Instructionals were the time where we, as instructors of our specific area, would coach the children, improving technique, accuracy and consistency in my case with archery.

Following on from instructionals, we all went to The Tree, which is where an instructor from each activity area would tell all the children what was happening in their area that afternoon during electives. Electives were effectively fun sessions that the children chose to sign up to attend. At archery, our popular electives included Flu-Flus (flying targets), BYOT (Bring Your Own Targets) and Beat the Pro. After meeting at The Tree, the whole camp had lunch together, followed by rest period, a time when the kids had some time to chill out and relax before the hectic time of electives. (I still think rest period was more for the counsellors than the kids!)

After electives were over and done with, we all went back to the flagpole for the lowering of the flags. Then… DINNER! Once we were all stuffed from an amazing meal, evening activities commenced. These varied every day, and ranged from visits to the local cinema, games and activities that weren’t normally on offer at camp, play dates and socials with the neighbouring girls’ camps, and lip sync battles and theatre productions.

On the two days of the week where there weren’t any instructionals – the days where half of the camp’s staff had a day off – several trips and other activities were run. These included trips to the beach, adventures to water parks and a carnival on camp to name but a few.

“The best thing about memories is making them.”

One of the camp’s major events is Colour War. This is a two-day event where each camper and staff member are divided up and each assigned to either the grey or blue team, a family which they would be a part of forever – I was made a member of the grey team. Across the 2 days, there were numerous competitions, including all the sports and activity areas, and non-sporting competitions for those who sport wasn’t their forté, with chess, cup-stacking and checkers being a few very popular of the events. During Colour War, I spent most my time in the wood shop, helping to make the grey team’s plaque – staying there and working into the early hours of the morning on both days. Colour War was an amazing experience, and one that the campers wait year-round for and truly embrace.

Once these amazing activities, events and trips are complete, it’s time for bed. This was probably the easiest part of the day, as all the kids [and counsellors] were shattered from the non-stop fun that was had all day long.

“It’s cool to be kind at Camp Caribou.”

 Camp Caribou is truly a place where dreams are made a reality. Camp Caribou instils many qualities into its campers that make them better people; kindness, spirit, friendship, sportsmanship, fun, tradition and leadership. Each and every person who drives down that mile-long road into camp becomes a member of the Caribou family, a family I am proud to say I am a member of.

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.”

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Archery

Hitting the Bulls-eye: Joining Archery

Welcome to the University of Liverpool Archery Club Blog.

As this is the first post, I guess it should be a personal one.

I joined the University of Liverpool’s Archery Club in September 2016. At the time I was a first year PhD student, having never joined a university society/club in the four years I had already been there! I thought, well I have another three years of studying to go, might as well finally join a club….

Other than watching a few fantasy films (looking at you Lord of the Rings) and a ‘taster course’ at Centre Parcs when I was 13, I had literally zero experience with bows or shooting. And I can honestly say, taking it up and joining the Liverpool Archery club is one of the best things I have ever done. 

In the space of a year, I went from a timid newbie, nervously holding the bow and being immensely proud if I even managed to hit the target, to a committee member of the club who regularly competes. If you had told me last year I’d be representing the club and consistently beating PBs – I probably would have laughed at you.

Over the year, learnt to shoot, compete, have fun and improve in archery, thanks to the patient and honest coaching the club provided.

But perhaps more than anything, I met so many wonderful people through the club. Doing a PhD is notoriously lonely, and quite honestly, had it not been for weekly archery training, I would have quite possibly gone mad. The Liverpool Archery club let me meet other like-minded people, learn to play dungeons and dragons, was a fun sport to do with my boyfriend, and compete with my fellow club members!

So, if you are ever thinking of joining a society/club but are a nervous mess like me, I say put aside those nerves and join anyway! (especially archery) I’ve met so many lovely people, a lot of whom I consider my closest friends, and I will be forever grateful for the Liverpool Archery Club for that.

Also I’m pretty good at archery now…

Emily (Treasurer 2017-18)

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