how to multiply your time

29 January, 2016

Found on this post on Kelea Quinn’s excellent blog about archery, life and life hacking:

It’s not about throwing arrows down the range, but it’s about organising your life to be better – and the second thing helps lead to the first. Worth your time.

more bad archery

27 January, 2016

If you can’t see the video above click here.

So here we have an US archery-based commercial for Milk Life , fresh for 2016. Oh my. Where do we start? I did make a vague promise to stop featuring ‘bad archery‘ as a category, and let the Back-To-Front Archery Club carry the torch, but sometimes you’ve got to step in.

So, you wanna use archery to illustrate how awesome your product is, right? Don’t blame you. It’s pretty hot right now.

Let’s go with the stance. It’s not too bad; her toes shouldn’t be pointed that far out, weight is a bit off balance. The chunky riser shape they’ve overlaid the milk on the second shot strongly suggests a Samick wooden trainer bow. Cheapskates. She’s gripping it all wrong. She’s gripping it, for a start. You don’t grip. Two finger draw, should be one over two under – or three under for real barebows, but I guess they all watched the Hunger Games again. Maybe that massive ring on her third finger got in the way.

Her draw wrist is cocked sideways and not flat to the forearm. Hope she likes wrist pain. Her bow elbow is wayyy over extended. No bracer, either. That’s gonna hurt tomorrow. Shoulders aren’t in alignment, which means it’ll be all arm muscle to draw – you aren’t using your bones and back, as our Lord intended.

She doesn’t anchor to her face or anywhere else. Cut back to the wide CGI shot, where the arrow isn’t anywhere near where it was in the previous shot. Lazy. And inevitably, there’s a  horrible sideways popped release (if she’s actually releasing a physical string) that would send things wildly to the left.

But no matter, because the arrow doesn’t seem to actually hit the target, looks like it’s just been CGI’d in there. (I’m guessing they gave up after running out of fresh target faces). As for the arrows, the points wider than the shaft and the gigantic plastic nocks indicate that they must be the standard child’s starter fiberglass ones you get with the jelly bow sets. Cheapskates again. Why not go for some awesome crested traditional arrows, beautiful feathers flying? Says ‘authentic outdoors life’ right there.

Look, I know. No-one cares. It looks like a girl firing a bow (made of erm, milk) and that’s all that matters, right?

BUT: this is the thing I’ve said a few times. I believe that people tend to recognise authenticity when it is in front of them. When something sophisticated or technical is presented you can almost always tell when you are seeing an expert doing something rather than just an actor – and with archery-based ads that little gleam of reality is only going to enhance the image of rugged individualism / ‘aiming for the gold’ / ‘hitting the target’ etc. that they are trying to project with their products.  You could get more interesting close ups, too.

Also the archer is very unlikely to be the most expensive element of the production, and I could name half a dozen elite archers, male and female, who are young & hottie enough to sell this particular gig.

So: I think you could have tried harder, Milk Life. And it would have been better. For you. For your sales. For everybody. Duuhhhh.


A clean sweep for Korea?

25 January, 2016


This week Dutch sports information firm Infostrada published predictions for every medal at Rio 2016 on their ‘Virtual Medal Table‘. For the first time (apparently) they have predicted a clean sweep of four gold medals for Korea in the archery – men’s and women’s team gold, and Ki Bo Bae and Kim Woojin predicted to take top honours in August. To save you going through it, their full predictions for ‘our thing’ are right here: 

Women’s Team

  1. Korea
  2. Russia
  3. India

Men’s Team

  1. Korea
  2. USA
  3. Italy

Women’s Individual

  1. Ki Bo Bae
  2. Choi Misun
  3. Lin Shih-Chia

Men’s Individual

  1. Kim Woojin
  2. Rick Van Der Ven
  3. Lee Seungyun

The methodology is based around major competitions, world ranking, and past results heavily weighted toward previous Olympic success, which seems reasonable – for most sports. Unfortunately, our thing is reliant on peak performance and subject to considerable variance. It should be remembered that Infostrada are a commercial outfit who rely on headlines and just a little controversy to sell their products – and they’ve been wrong before. 

I suspect the actual archery medal table will look a little different.  Rick Van Der Ven’s nod seems to be based on his world ranking and Copenhagen performance. He’s a great champion and a great performer, but I’m not sure I’d pick him for an Olympic medal this year – although I’d be incredibly happy to see him prove me wrong. 

The team picks ignore clear and present dangers from China on both sides, Chinese Taipei on the men’s and Japan on the women’s side  – and perhaps half a dozen other squads who could very easily produce a last four run. The individual titles have seen many extraordinary peak performances and unexpected victories over the years. It seems entirely possible we’ll see something similar again. 

Finally: the great white sharks. It seems very unlikely Korea won’t be taking home at least a clutch of medals, but none of the four named Koreans are guaranteed a place on the squad – they will all have to fight for a place at their internal selection tournament in April: by some distance, the toughest recurve tournament on the planet. 

Also, the national stakes ratchet ever higher. The enormous pressure to win appeared to get to the Korean men’s team at the Asian Games in 2014, and they only ended up with bronze. The conditions and humidity in Rio perhaps don’t really suit squads used to temperate climes – there were issues raised during the test tournament, and the whole lot of them are on extended acclimatisation training in Sao Paulo of this writing. Naturally, no expense or effort will be spared to try and bring the goods home back to Seoul, but could the pressure be too much?

As for Ki Bo Bae’s frequently stated ambition to win back-to-back Olympic titles – something no-one has ever done – it would almost certainly be the greatest target archery achievement of all time. We’ll see. :-)

Stay tuned for a full Olympic picks piece later on this year. 

More on Infostrada and their medal predictions here. 

Oh: “I will accomplish all your goals.”

19 January, 2016


Click here to watch the video if it doesn’t appear above. 

The Korean sports press have started the Rio hype early, and have been pulling in all their best prospects for a quote – however reluctant. Here’s what Oh Jin-Hyek had to say:

“So… erm…the last 4 years flew by quickly since London.”

Q. What’s the goal for Rio 2016?

“All athletes, myself included, are facing the most important tournament this year. We will prepare strongly and hope to accomplish all the goals for Korea.”

Q. What’s your strategy for the Olympics?

“The rules have changed this time round and there is an introduction of sets in the group competitions.

So, we need to focus on finishing matches in the fastest time possible. There is also the possibility of further rule changes after Rio, so it might be the last chance to achieve our goal.”

Q. What’s your personal goal for Rio?

“Well, the end of my professional career is always on the back of my mind, and perhaps I would like to end it sooner rather than later.  Whatever I decide, I would like to save the best possible result till the end.”

Q. Can you give everyone a message for the New Year and your resolution for the Olympics?

“Hello, I’m Oh Jin-Hyuk , a professional archer. It is the year for the Rio Olympics 2016. This summer, the national team including myself will compete to the highest standard and we look forward to your support!”



David Bowie 1947-2016

11 January, 2016



“The Archer”. David Bowie on the Station To Station tour in Toronto, Feb 1976. Photo by John Rowlands.

“Having seen the previous evening’s show on the 1976 Station To Station / Isolar Tour, Rowlands was primed to capture the image of Bowie as ‘The Archer’ while the singer was preparing to ‘fire’ his imaginary bow and arrow… The pose was used as a signal for Bowie’s lighting engineer to kill the lights. The picture was taken moments before the lights were killed. Rowlands took the shot about 30 feet away from the stage and he credits his Hasselblad camera for producing an image that is striking in its sharp tonal range of whites, blacks and greys.”

Apparently this was one of Bowie’s favourite pics of himself. You can buy an eye-wateringly expensive signed print of it here.

David Bowie. 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016. Rest in peace. x.

“After Rio comes Tokyo. I want to make it to the Tokyo Olympics.”

30 December, 2015


SEOUL: Newsis.  Ki Bo Bae: “I’m shooting 450 arrows day preparing for the Rio Olympics. But right now, the national selection tournament is more nerve-jangling than Rio.”

During an interview that took place this 22nd December at Korea National Training Center Archery Field, ‘Empress of Archery’ Ki Bo Bae (27 years old, Gwangju City Hall), a double gold medalist of archery at the 2012 London Olympics and Gwangju Summer Universiade, had this to say:

“The Brazil Olympics is due for next year, but the national selection tournament is first in line. I’m trying my best to cope with the anxiety I get from thinking about all of the talented archers that I will be competing against in that tournament.”

“To take part in this competition is extremely tough. It lasts for 6 to 7 days, so the score of the day is entirely dependent on my condition. I can never lose my focus and tension, and I’m nervous at every moment.”

“When I’m in the national team, I have the tendency to put all of my concentration on the score, leading me to overlook many other aspects of being an athlete: but I fixed all those aspects when I was eliminated from the national team (in 2014)”, stated Ki.

“After leaving the national team, I felt rather refreshed. You’re like a hamster running on its wheel: the Olympic village life kept repeating on an ongoing cycle, from early morning to night. It was very exhausting, so life outside of training was free as free could be. These things actually were good to release all of my energy, and I had a great time.”

Ki mentioned, “For this year, there were many, many shoot-offs in the national tournament. In preparation for this, I also had to work on my shoot-offs.”

The set rule is changing for the team match, with Rio marking its first Olympic start. Due to many matches ending in a draw, a shoot-off in which results an overtime match will be very important. When each player shoots an arrow and a tie is given as the score, the archer who shoots closer to the centre takes the win.  Through training simulation, the national team is practicing concentration – and in the complicated selection process procedure around 8% of the total final score will be based on shoot-off performance.

“The Olympics that come every four years may not last long, but it’s not like that for the players. It’s where I’m playing as a national representative, therefore making it a place I want to achieve everything I couldn’t (elsewhere).”

Continuing, Ki said, “In time for winter, I’m spending a lot of time on weight training and fitness-orientated training. With the help of psychological counselling, I’ve also been trying to deal with the pressure increasing as the match approaches.”

When we asked about the struggles of having to train in the bitterly cold weather, Ki replied, “We train indoors where a hole is punctured through a window covered in plastic, which means it’s not cold enough for your hands to freeze up. The environment is organized so that the archers train well, so practicing is pain-free.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: it’s not pain-free for everyone)

Considering that this is Ki’s second Olympic experience, we questioned whether she’s willing to make more appearances in any future competitions. With strong determination, Ki stated firmly: “After Rio comes Tokyo. I want to make it to the Tokyo Olympics.”

At least reading the press, there seems to be a particularly brutal, tough-it-out approach to winter training among Korean Olympic athletes, with temperatures in Seoul only a few degrees above zero. Plus if I have parsed this right, the whole squad are being sent up a freezing mountain again for New Year’s Day – just like last year.

Via this news piece from Newsis. Thanks to Jessica Cho. 

Best K-Pop Of 2015

18 December, 2015

Since I started writing about archery in 2012 I have developed a deep fascination with Korea. In 2015, me and Ms. Infinite Curve were lucky enough to finally go to Seoul and see for ourselves. Since that trip, we’ve never quite stopped looking up the latest in K-POP, the homegrown pop music of the Han peninsula. There are seemingly a million channels on Korean TV solely devoted to this vast industry, with so many bands that you sometimes wonder if K-POP is some kind of national service that all late-teens have to go through

K-POP is almost like Greek theatre; it follows a tiny set of rules, around which wild invention can spring. It is an eternally youthful world, a utopia of the young, fulfilling narrow roles and just occasionally, breaking out of them. It reflects a hierachical society, where artistic decisions are taken well apart from those chosen to execute them. It is, however, full of incredible creativity, flawlessly executed. Oh yeah, and the key words of the chorus are always sung in English. It’s just how it goes.

It’s manufactured, oh yes –  in the same way that network TV in the US is manufactured, vast teams of competing creatives in search of the gag that gets the biggest laugh. You don’t watch, say, Friends and think ‘wow, this isn’t reflecting the realities of flat-sharing in New York’. You enjoy the zingers, the interplay, the running jokes, the setups. You appreciate on one level or another, the work that has gone in – the precision manufacturing. You might try thinking of K-POP the same way. 

Unlike the decades of Western music and radio play that preceded it, K-POP is a purely audiovisual medium. Your appreciation of the following may depend upon your tolerance for squawking RnB hybrid bangers, bright colours, narrative videos, ridiculous costumery and youth. Always youth. And it’s spreading further round the world every year: you only have to look at the crowds that turned up in London to see girl group {fx} in 2015.

Anyway, here are our favourite tunes of 2015:

  1. Boys Republic – Hello

An epic mid-tempo ballad that wouldn’t have gone amiss on a mid-period Take That album, this nags at the heartstrings. Love the glycerine tears. Love them.

2.  Anda – Touch Official

It’s a bit easy to say this the ‘Korean Rihanna’, but if she is, damn is she good at it. Damn. 

3.  BIGBANG – Zutter

An offshoot of a larger boy band, this is K-HOP with a sense of humour. Bad boys out of their depth. Something like that anyway.

4.  TWICE – Ooh Ahh

Too many of them to count. Stands out with the belting 90s chorus. Stronger than the rest (and there’s plenty of ‘the rest’).

5. Red Velvet – Dumb Dumb

Big RnB belter with a title hook so nagging you’ll be singing it walking down the street. And again tomorrow. And the day after that. Incredible video, too.

6. Park Hyo Shin – Shine Your Light

I have to describe this one as ‘the Korean Sam Smith’. Really just an incredible song. Seriously, if Sam Smith banged some English lyrics on this soul burner, he’d have an(other) international hit. Hello? Sam? Are you listening?

7.  BTS – I Need U

One of the biggest hits of the year in Korea, this bunch of not-very-bad bad-boys have a superweapon chorus that will never leave you. I’m serious. You are stuck with it.

8.  KYUHYUN – The Day We Felt The Distance

Big ballad suitable for reality TV, but we really just love the one-shot video for this. Boy meets girl, boy forgets girl, girl remembers, snow, erm, something.

9.  Girls Generation – Catch Me If You Can

One of the biggest, and best.

10.  Neon Bunny – It’s You

A curio, this one – a K-Pop artist operating outside the management company / studio system. This fills a gap somewhere between fizzy indiepop and FKA Twigs. Recommended.

For more on K-POP and how it ‘works’, you might want to read this 2012 article by Spin magazine.


Longbows of the Mary Rose

10 December, 2015

A brief clip here from the BBC4 programme The Mary Rose – A Timewatch Guide, the segment featuring the longbows and arrows pulled off the ship, and the testing of one of them to destruction. The actor Robert Hardy, later to play Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films, was part of this project as one of the country’s foremost longbow experts.

If you don’t know, the Mary Rose was a Tudor warship in the navy of King Henry VIII which sank off the coast of Britain in 1545. The well-preserved remains were raised off the seabed in 1982 in the greatest maritime archaeology project in history, and have been yielding up secrets ever since. As for the bows, here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

“A total of 250 longbows were carried on board, and 172 of these have so far been found, as well as almost 4000 arrows, bracers (arm guards) and other archery-related equipment... Longbow archery in Tudor England was mandatory for all able adult men, and despite the introduction of field artillery and handguns, they were used alongside new missile weapons in great quantities…There were several types of bows of various size and range. Lighter bows would have been used as “sniper” bows, while the heavier design could possibly have been used to shoot fire arrows.”

The warbows found on board were extremely heavy – up to 185lb in draw weight. Famously, the scientists managed to identify several likely archers among the hundred plus skeletons found on the wreck, based on their shoulder blades. Anyway, enjoy.