New rules, new strategies in target competition (and an idea)

17 January, 2018

The decision of the World Archery executive board to make some changes to World Cup competition is great news. You can read the full post here, but here’s the juicy bits:

…the winner of each stage of the circuit automatically qualifies for the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final.

As they note, this wouldn’t have made a lot of difference to the Final line-ups in recent years, but will increase the importance of the gold medal match, especially to broadcasters and highlights packages. It also makes the final stages a little more exciting.

An adjustment to medal match procedures on the circuit sees the higher-seeded athlete choosing to shoot first or second, and the lower-seeded athlete on the left or right target.

This adds just a little bit of strategy to the play. There are always a few athletes who claim – rightly or wrongly – that the wind affects one target more than another. I suspect based on my limited experience that most of the time this simply is not true, but if athletes believe it to be true, then it may as well be. 🙂

Only the top two seeds at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final will be pre-seeded at the top and bottom of the bracket, with the other six competitors drawn out of a hat two days prior to the event.

This mixes things up just a little and may well result in the ‘home’ athletes getting a slightly more favourable draw and more than one match, which is good news for audiences.

Generally speaking, I am in favour of increased strategic elements to matchplay, on the grounds that it will increase the audience for archery and drive TV figures, which I think ultimately will be good for the sport.

I think they could even go a bit further. 🙂 I’m going to share with you an idea I had about shoot-offs, to add a deep strategic element and allow for maximum drama under pressure. See what you think!  Leave me a comment here or on Facebook. Suggestions and brickbats equally welcome:

A shoot-off is declared.

The archers choose who goes first by coin toss, or it is decided randomly in the scoring software.

The first archer due to shoot shoots ONE arrow.

He then gets the choice as to whether to shoot a second arrow or let it stand. (YES/NO)

He indicates this choice to the judge.

If NO, he lets the arrow stand as scored and his opponent gets to shoot ONE arrow, and the closest wins as usual (just like a normal shoot-off).

If YES, his first arrow is removed from the target, and he shoots another.

This becomes his scoring shoot-off arrow.

His opponent then gets to shoot TWO arrows. The closest one to the centre counts as his shoot-off arrow.

Whichever archer is closest to the centre wins as usual.

Anyway… looking forward to this outdoor season a little more now. 🙂


Vegas here we come

I’m going to Vegas. I’m not just going there to write and report. I’m going there to shoot. Regular readers may remember this isn’t my strongest point. Although I’ve improved a lot over the last year. Have I?

This picture, taken tonight at Thanet Archers who are currently welcoming me as a guest in east Kent, sums it up pretty well. (They always shoot a Portsmouth round on Tuesdays. I didn’t wanna demand they put up a three-spot or something).


I’ve been working hard. Shooting. SPTs. The gym. Of course, there’s the hitting of another odd plateau; the one where you know you have at least half-a-decent shot in the armoury, but can you put three of them down the range one after the other? Can you f**k. One of them will have to fall by the wayside, like some kind of mandatory offering to the archery gods.

I know there is no excuse, no cure other than disciplined practice, focus, and listening to your coach. There is no sentience in that arrow. It does not listen. It does not represent me. But nevertheless it sits there, wrong, away from the others, laughing at me. Like a little gremlin. Even if you know you’ve improved and moved further towards something rather strong, there’s an inkling that you’re still an imposter at this party. It’s not fun. But I’m going to do what I can. I will stake whatever I can bring. I’ll try and drag you along with me.

It’ll be my first time at the Vegas Shoot, the longest running, largest indoor shoot in the world, and one that is most famous for its professional compound open division – the recurve class is very much a sideshow, and the recurve division I’ll be shooting in is rather more about making up the exceptionally large numbers.

I’ve been to Las Vegas before, but only to play poker and gawp at the world’s largest playground for adults. Will I manage to produce enough decent archery to do myself justice in one of the world’s most notoriously distracting cities? Who knows.

“At that point I ought to have gone away, but a strange sensation rose up in me, a sort of defiance of fate, a desire to challenge it, to put out my tongue at it. I laid down the largest stake allowed -and lost it. Then, getting hot, I pulled out all I had left, staked it on the same number, and lost again, after which I walked away from the table as though I were stunned. I could not even grasp what had happened to me.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler

Archery stock photo delights

17 November, 2017

Embed from Getty Images

Many of you recently saw on my Facebook page this horror-show stock photo of an archer doing at least six things wrong, wrong, wrong. He even lends his friend the same bow. Urgh.

It’s clear from the sheer number of stock images of archers that it’s a popular enough trope amongst stock photo archives, of which Getty Images is probably the biggest worldwide.

I’ve written about nightmaare stock photos before, e.g. here.   Basically, I believe people tend to recognise authenticity when it is put in front of them. When something technical is presented you can always tell when you are seeing an expert doing something rather than just a model, and with archery-based ads that little gleam of reality is only going to enhance the image of rugged individualism / ‘aiming high’ / ‘hitting the target’ etc. that they are trying to project with the product. I mean, some of these things have real archers in them, and they look a lot better. Right? Anyway…

Businessman-in-a-field is pretty popular. I mean…

Embed from Getty Images

This guy, handed a bow at least strung the right way round, just looks awkward, like he’s never picked up a bow before. A long way from the chisel-jawed thrusting target-smasher they’re presumably wanting the image to sell to you. See also this.

Embed from Getty Images

This futuristic lady, who is apparently a ‘Pacific Islander’ is so far into the future, she’s managed to string the bow backwards. Whooo.

Embed from Getty Images

Absolutely no idea what this guy is up to. Maybe he’s trying to work his biceps or something.

If you can understand what’s going on here, please send me a postcard.

Plenty more of this stuff out there with a bit of searching. There’s even video of this kind of thing too. If you can bear it.

You want more? I suggest you follow the Back To Front Archery Club on Facebook. 

Tak you very much

12 November, 2017


Made a brief stopover this weekend at the World Archery Excellence Centre in Lausanne. Turned out to be a good day to go.  The IOC athletes commission was in town for a conference, and all of them got to do have-a-go led by master of ceremonies Juan-Carlos Holgado.

I got to say hello to Olympians Janet Evans and Willie Banks, which was pretty damn cool. Willie Banks, legendary USA triple-jumper, was keen to point out that he had an archery merit badge from when he was 13 years old and in the Eagle Scouts.

At the same time, at the other end of the hall, the legendary Kim Hyung Tak was giving one of his rare masterclasses outside Korea to a small group from across Europe. It was a long weekend of serious shooting and video-assisted training. Good stuff.

Bhutan: the home of archery

3 November, 2017

In September, I visited Bhutan on behalf of World Archery, and found it one of the most bewitching places on the planet. I wrote a very long piece about archery culture there, which has been split into three parts.

The first part is about the country and Bhutanese traditional archery:

The second part is about the national Olympic team:

and the third is about how archery is infused into the culture of the region:

Enjoy, when you have a moment. There’s plenty of pics in the piece, here are some of the other photos I managed to take, when I wasn’t wielding World Archery’s video camera (look out for the results of that a little later :)).

Traditional bowman on the Changlimithang range, Thimphu. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Bhutanese bow weights range from 30 pounds to about 50. Your bow is usually as tall as you. © The Infinite Curve 2017

There’s a lot of this. As there should be. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Heavyweight Hoyt compounds are usually the order of the day. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Damn. I forgot my national dress. (What is British national dress anyway?). © The Infinite Curve 2017

This was a team from the Bhutan Broadcasting Corporation. One of them came over and wanted to talk about 4K cameras for a bit. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Prizes! © The Infinite Curve 2017

I mean, it kind of all looks like this. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Bhutan recurve represent (1) © The Infinite Curve 2017

Bhutan recurve represent (2) © The Infinite Curve 2017

Compound target at the Bhutan Archery Federation’s range. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Shooting rate ‘card’ at the Paro range. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Sitar Tshering, traditional bowyer and arrowsmith. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Image of the Bhutanese royal family. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Hoyt is a crazy big brand here. Like Superdry or something. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Scoreboard, Paro range. © The Infinite Curve 2017

just wow. © The Infinite Curve 2017

Watch the documentary ‘The Archers Of Bhutan’ here

You can read more about Bhutanese archery at the Yangphel Archery website

World Cup Berlin redux

16 October, 2017

Starting to look back at the year already, with some pics from the very first Berlin World Cup by Anna Westner, who was kind enough to share. Thanks Anna!

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

© 2017 Anna Westner

Book review: Archery Anatomy

15 October, 2017

This unique book, first published in 1995 and recently reprinted for the eighth time by Souvenir Press, remains the classic work on archery anatomy and the related topics of biomechanics, alignment and efficiency.

Ray Axford explores the relationship between human anatomy and the anatomy of the bow to help archers, and their coaches, as an outline to how best to co-ordinate the natural movements of the archer and the bow, and efficiently use joints, muscles, bone and tendons. It’s focussed on recurve, but probably a good 80% is directly relatable to compound as well.

It contains literally hundreds of excellent, detailed drawings and diagrams, and is a standard part of many coaching libraries. It’s fairly technical (although it doesn’t require any medical knowledge) and may be better for intermediate archers and up. It would be an excellent aid to video coaching, too.

A lot of archery books discuss (correctly) the mental side of the sport, but this work is entirely about understanding the physical side. If you are serious about archery and/or coaching, owning a copy is probably essential.

Order it through your nearest bookshop, not Amazon. Help keep bookshops alive. Cheers.


Taerung closes as Korean archery moves south

10 October, 2017

Pic: Oh Jin Hyek. The last one you’ll see of Korean archers here.

As their archers head for Mexico, a chapter of Korean archery has closed, The centre that trained two generations of Olympians is eventually closing its doors and the KAA is shifting elite operations to the enormous Jincheon (pronounced ‘chinchun’) facility nearer the centre of South Korea.

The old residential training centre was on the eastern outskirts of Seoul, whereas the new facility, home to a fantastic 39 Olympic sports, is in, well, the middle of nowhere. With Korea hosting the Winter Olympics next year, there has been a major reorganisation and a large injection of cash into elite sport. The archers will still be residential at least during the week, but some may be further from (or nearer to) homes and families.

Chang Hyejin summed it up pretty well in an interview with

Chang Hye-jin,who first lived in the Taerung Village in 2010, said, “It is too bad to leave the village I am familiar with,” but “the facility in Jincheon Village is really huge. All the athletes gather together in one place and think about training, and that is also good. On the other hand, there is really nothing [else] around it, so I’m worried about how I will live while training.”

Jincheon Village (photo via

Some of the other Korean athletes have been waxing nostalgic on social media about their former home, with London 2012 champion Oh Jin Hyek being particularly effusive:

Thank you, Taerung! During your time,  all the laughter, anger, sorrow and happiness of Korean western archery was here… the birthplace of gold medals. The place where the athletes of all sports have been sweating for Korean glory … Thank you very much! I will not forget!

Can the KAA keep up the success in their new home? We’ll see.

You can read more about the Jincheon centre right here


Ladies First: a documentary about Deepika Kumari

3 October, 2017

pic from

This month a documentary made about and starring Deepika Kumari called Ladies First has appeared. Shot in the buildup to the Rio 2016 Olympics, where Deepika finished 9th, it has high ambitions:

Ladies First tells the story of Deepika Kumari who, born on the roadside to abject poverty in rural India, went in search of food, stumbled upon archery, and within 4 years became the number one archer in the world!

We document Deepika’s tumultuous path to the Rio 2016 Olympics. Having to overcome the obstacles of a socially repressive system, she strives to achieve her dream of becoming the first Indian woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

Our aim is to create new role models, with the belief that human connection and the power of storytelling is the necessary catalyst for social change, our goal is to connect audiences to an inspirational role model – a girl who is an unstoppable force, a survivor and a fighter. We hope Deepika’s story and her tenacity help dismantle the barriers holding girls back and give them the courage to fight and follow their dreams.

They’ve clearly managed to get Deepika to trust them and open up a little; unusual for an athlete so wary of the media – and she wasn’t, by the sounds of it, very keen on participating if this piece in Vogue India is correct.

You can watch an older trailer here:

Unfortunately there’s no word yet on exactly when, where and how anyone will be able to see this film. (I’ve emailed the filmmakers twice, but had no reply yet).

More on the making of it here:

It’s clear they want a wider audience, but I think a lot of people on the archery side would be very keen to see it, so let’s hope they make it easily available in some shape or form soon.

Read more at:

pic from

September roundup

1 October, 2017

September opened with the World Cup Final in Rome; perhaps the most spectacular ever held, although they might fight that one out with Paris 2013.

I wrote a full write up here.  Plenty more coverage at World Archery. Beautiful setting and a carnival atmosphere.

It’s interesting how the crowd treat the Korean recurve stars; almost like gods dropped in from Valhalla. The rock star status is increasing.  Competition-wise: It was mostly one for the favourites, although Braden Gellenthien emerged from the strong field of compound men to take a deserved prize. The experts got it wrong. I mean, one so-called archery expert went zero for four on predictions, there…

Rome was swiftly followed by the World Archery Para Championships in Beijing, at the world’s largest centre for disabled sport. The WA media team is used to being crammed into tiny, too-busy spaces to work; here we had a three storey gym that fitted three basketball courts with room to spare. Quite a place; and a supportive and proud atmosphere like no other. You can read what I briefly wrote about it here.

I had a truly amazing and very lucky trip to Bhutan; the only country in the world where archery is the national sport. Am still writing that one up. More than that; I got over my altitude sickness just enough to make a short film along the way which hopefully should illustrate some of the archery culture  – traditonal and Olympic – in that beautiful country. It’s going to be edited over the next month or so and hopefully up and ready in November. Watch this space.

There was this fun thing with Kim Woojin and Chang Hyejin. The machine translated the title, ‘We are always working for those who believe’. I wasn’t sure, so I ran it past a Korean native who I sometimes get to translate things for me, and he said it was good. ‘We are always working for those who believe’. I love it. It’s something that hints at the work ethic of athletes, and the Korean national team in particular.

Easily my most popular post of the month was this egregious piece of very bad archery from a Disney Cruise Lines event. (I did say I was going to retire ‘bad archery’ from this blog, but you know, sometimes you’ve got to.  My favourite comment was from Carla Ferrari, who said “The longer you look at it, the worse it gets.” Heh. (Also on the frivolous front, L**s A******n put up a new video – and then took it down again).

What else? Patrick Huston won the GB National Series for the third year running. Woojin thumped in a new 90m record.  There were issues with booze. There was also the small matter of the World 3D Championships in France, and the start of the Youth World Championships in Rosario, ongoing – and with worrying storms – at the time of writing. There was this cool thing over on Dutch Target about archery and photography – two of my favourite things.

In just two weeks, the big dance starts in Mexico City – now a Ki Bo Bae free zone. Unfortunately, I can’t attend that one. Will be following along as best I can. Hopefully it will be a glorious celebration of the sport, just a few weeks after a terrible natural disaster. Let’s make it special.