Saturday, August 30, 2008

So Close, Yet So Far

Went to the open range in Golden Gate Park for the first time today. Set up my bow for the first time in a few months to try to get a few arrows in to test out my shoulder. Got everything put together, picked three arrows at random (of my old arrows, no need to risk the vanes on the new ones for this kind of round), and started shooting.

I only put 12 arrows into the target, 3 at a time, and I got some pretty good groups. Shoulder was less than stellar, though. As I write this, I've got an ice pack on, and will keep up my strengthening exercises. Back to GGPark next weekend for more of the same. If I can slowly improve, I might be back to scoring tournament doubles by the end of the quarter, but not much before.

Archery for Second Graders

So last November, I did a little archery presentation for a second grade class in San Mateo. I took my (old) bow in, set it up, talked a little bit about this history of archery ("We think of these as toys and recreation now, but for centuries they conquered the world"), and showed them everything except actually shooting an arrow (not a good idea in a classroom).

I got an email from their teacher yesterday. Apparently, my presentation was a good one. One of the kids in the class has taken up archery. I got myself a little convert. Feels pretty good. Maybe I'll run into him at Pacifica or the park.

My friend the teacher took some pictures during the presentation. Unfortunately, a lot of them were taken with me in mid-word. Got a couple of fun ones, though, of me and a second grader holding a bow that is WAY too big for her.

Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 5

Olympic archery wrap up.

Women's individual competition was an all-Samick affair. Korea took silver and bronze, but a Chinese archer took gold in an upset.

On the men's side, American Vic Wunderle made it through the round of 16, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Men's individual bronze medal match featured Mexico/Hoyt vs. Russia/Inno. Russian closed with a 30 to take the bronze.

Men's final match: Park Kyung-Mo of Korea with a Samick and Shibuya vs. Viktor Ruban of Ukraine with an Inno and a different sight.

Park defeated Luis Gustavo Trainini (Brazil) 116-99, Kuo Cheng Wei (Chinese Taipei) 111-110, Rafal Dobrowolski (Poland) 113-105, Juan Carlos Stevens (Cuba) 108-108 (shoot off), and Juan Rene Serrano (Mexico) 115-112.

Ruban defeated Maged Youssef (Egypt) 111-96, Michael Naray (Australia) 115-105, Jacek Proc (Poland) 114-108, Ryuichi Moriya (Japan) 115-106, and Bair Badenov (Russia) 112-112 (shoot off). Badenov defeated Serrano to take the bronze medal.

1st end: Both open with a 9. Park follows with second one, but Ruban scores a 10. Park adds a 10 on the third arrow, but is matched by Ruban. 29-28 Ruban after 3 arrows.

2nd end: Park starts with a 10, and Ruban scores a 9. Park hits a second 10 to keep the pressure on, and Ruban hits another 9. Park wraps up a perfect 30 end with a third 10. Ruban hits his third 9 in a row. 58-56 Park after 6 arrows. 3 point swing in the second end.

3rd end: 10 for Ruban to open, Park follows suit (his fifth 10 in a row). Ruban scores another 10, while Park hits a 9. 9 for Ruban, 9 for Park. 86-85 Park after 9 of 12 arrows.

4th end: Ruban, down a point, opens with a 9. Park matches it. Ruban hits a second 9. Park hits a 8/9 line shot. Ruban finishes strong with a 10. Park finishes with a 9. The line shot is ruled an 8. 113-112.

Viktor Ruban of the Ukraine, shooting a blue Win&Win Inno, is the Olympic champion.

Ruban: 29-27-29-28 = 113.
Park: 28-30-28-26 = 112.

Korea swept the team archery competitions, and added a pair of silvers and a bronze in the individual ones. China and Ukraine scored the individual golds, with Russia taking the men's individual bronze. Silver and bronze in the team competitions went to Italy and China in the men's competition, and China and France in the women's.

Final thoughts.

The Koreans looked incredible. It seemed that if you spotted them a single point they would beat you into the ground. But both individual archers faltered slightly and came up short in the gold medal matches.

Lot of Innos around the competition, but more Shibuya sights.

Saw a lot of interesting styles and motions. Everyone does something different, but each individual always does it the same way.

The Korean fans are incredible. They drowned out the support for the Americans, and even the host Chinese (whose fans were no slouches either).

Saw some really cool camera work. High speed cameras show the arrow flex as it flies down the range. Because of the 70 meter distance, you can really see the arrow trace an arc, as opposed to the almost straight line it follows down an indoor range. Also saw a view form a pinhole camera in the center of the target. Really makes me want to not piss off an archer. I should make sure everyone I know sees that one.

And one final thought from watching the Olympic archery competition:

I can't wait to get back to the range.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 4

Numerical observations from half of the men's bracket, 1/32 and 1/16 elimination rounds.

Total archers seen: 16.

Equipment counts:

Win&Win Inno
Archers: 7 (1/32 wins - 5, 1/16 wins - 3).
Winners: Ukraine (1/16), Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Russia (1/16), Turkey, Korea (1/16).
Other archers: Egypt, Bulgaria.
Win&Win Inno goes head to head twice in 1/32, twice in 1/16.
Lee (Korea) sets Olympic record with 117 points (out of a possible 120). That is the equivalent of a 292.5 on the 300-max system I am used to.

Archers: 2 (1/32 wins - 1).
Winners: Australia.
Other archers: Portugal.

Archers: 6 (1/32 wins - 1, 1/16 wins - 1).
Winners: Lefty Canada (1/16).
Other archers: France, Malaysia, China, Canada, China.
Hoyt goes head to head once in 1/32.

Archers: 1 (1/32 wins - 1).
Winners: Brady Ellison (USA).
Other archers: None.

Shibuya Ultima RC Carbon sights: 11.

Left handed archers: 1.

Archery on the Front of the Boston Globe Sports Section

An unsung Olympic sport, archery really hits the spot

By Bob Ryan, Globe Columnist | August 12, 2008

BEIJING - Archery is my kind of sport: no judges.

Pick up the bow. Pull back the arrow. Fire. You either hit the target or you don't. You add up the points, and the archer, or team, with the most points wins. No muss, no fuss.

It's one of those Olympic sports that doesn't exactly threaten to muscle football, baseball, basketball, or hockey off the American front pages. But it's one of those sports that produces an interesting mix of competitors. Take, for example, the three-man American men's team, which consists of 52-year-old five-time Olympian Richard "Butch" Johnson, 32-year-old three-time Olympian Victor Wunderle, and 19-year-old Olympic debutant (as the Brits would say) Brady Ellison.

They entered the team competition with the sincere hope of medaling, but it apparently wasn't meant to be, as they were ousted yesterday morning by a team from Chinese Taipei.

"We never expected to go out this early," said Johnson, a Worcester, Mass., native who now lives in Woodstock, Conn., and, when he isn't practicing, works in Hall's Arrow, an archery store in Manchester, Conn. "We were pretty sure we'd make it to the medal round. It just didn't happen today. It wasn't from lack of effort; everyone did his best. We just weren't on our game today."

The team was put in a precarious position in the second "end," or round, when Wunderle, an individual silver medalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, could manage only a 6. Chinese Taipei made the Americans pay for that in the third end when Chen Szu Yuan, Kuo Cheng Wei, and Wang Cheng Pang each had bull's-eye 10s. Team USA never was able to catch up.

Wunderle had no explanation for his boo-boo, or the team's disappointing performance.

"We had been shooting very well, been practicing very well, he said. "In this game it comes down to if you're shooting good that day. I was a little off this morning, and the whole team wasn't shooting up to its capabilities."

They had a slim hope of advancement when they came out of the seventh, or next-to-last, end trailing by a 192-189 score. They got 29 out of the maximum 30 when Wunderle and Ellison each came up with a 10, but the Chinese Taipei trio responded to the challenge with a trio of 10s. Final score: Chinese Taipei 222, USA 218.

But it's not the end of the Olympics for Mssrs. Johnson, Wunderle, and Ellison. They will have to see what they can accomplish in the individual competition that begins later this week.

Johnson's great achievement, of course, is simply being here. He's not the oldest Olympian - that honor goes to 58-year-old John Dane III, a member of the sailing team. He got a relatively late Olympic start after switching disciplines, his first Olympics being Barcelona, where his team finished sixth. His peak was teaming with Justin Huish and Rodney White to win the team gold in Atlanta, where they had to survive a technical glitch when the scoreboard showed the US and Korea with identical scores of 250 (under a different scoring system) when it actually should have read USA 251 Korea 249. Fortunately, the error was corrected without the countries taking up arms, and the appropriate medals were distributed.

The soft-spoken Johnson is regarded as the patron saint of contemporary American archers, at least in the eyes of his 19-year-old teammate.

"If he ever retires, he'll be put right up there with Darrell Pace," says Ellison, referring to the two-time gold medalist (Montreal, Los Angeles). "Everyone knows who he is. Think about it. This is his fifth team, but it could easily have been his ninth. It's been an honor to know him and be on the same team with him."

Johnson returns the compliment.

"His potential is unlimited," Johnson says of Ellison. "He's a great talent. He's got a good attitude and great practice habits. And he's only been shooting this style for a couple of years."

Ellison certainly had nothing to be ashamed of, firing an 8, five 9s, and 10s in his final two shots. This was, after all, his first Olympic experience and it was in front of a very pro-Chinese Taipei crowd.

But he offered a quasi-apology, regardless.

"I honestly wish I had gone in there and shot a lot better than I did," he said. "The first six arrows were high left. I kept moving my sight, not enough. Finally, I got the last two arrows in there."

He feels he has learned lessons that can be applied to his individual competition.

"It's one shot at a time, whether it's in team or individual, so I'm going to go in there and shoot my shots," he said. "Hopefully, they hit. I know how I feel in the stadium now, so I was able to learn from that today."

Given his time of service, Johnson is as qualified as anyone to evaluate what he's seen the Beijing Olympics.

"It's very good," he says. "The people are very, very nice and the venue is outstanding. I'd say it's the best combination of everything I've seen."

And, yes, he would like a chance to enter the London Games in 2012 into the evaluation process.

"Probably," he said. "Whether I make the team or not is another matter. I can't see myself stopping. I love this sport and I love competing too much. So I will try out."

That sounds good to Brady Ellison.

"He's an amazing guy," Ellison declared. "To be able to do what he does, to be staying at the top of his game, that's really inspiring. I hope I can do the same."

There's a lot percolating out here in the "other" Olympic sports. It's too bad we only check in with these people once every four years.

Bob Ryan is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is

Monday, August 11, 2008

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 3

Watching the women's 1/32 and 1/16 elimination rounds. Finally figured out the live stream for the archery competitions. Lots of Hoyt bows, a few Samicks, a couple of Innos. Shibuya sights appear to be the majority. A few Sure-Locs, and a couple of other random choices. And the Koreans just look unstoppable, unflappable, and unbeatable.

On a non-live stream I saw the American men's team lose their opening round match. Have to admit, after hearing and reading about these guys for so long, it was cool to finally see them shoot.

You have to love the Korean cheering section. What a great thing to see people coming out to watch the archery competition. The only people I've had come out to see me were...related to me. I've had friends come shoot with me, but I don't think I've ever actually seen a cheering section, and that includes the two tournaments I've been to.

An 8 closed out this round for Joo Hyun-Jung. And after that, the fans are chanting her name. I can't get over it.

Everyone walks out with two identical bows. Have to have the backup at this level. Of course, they're all sponsored, and no one's paying for their own equipment.

Everyone is right handed.

Four years ago I watched the archery competition in Athens. I just happened to find archery on TV by a random coincidence from my motel room in Arizona. Didn't really understand it, at least not beyond the basics. Now I'm picking out all the different points. Not just the equipment, but the style. "Perfect release." Scored a 10. "You can't hold it that long." Scored a 7 (low for this competition).

They have people pull their arrows for them, who then run them back down the range and hand the arrows to the archers to put back in the quiver. Depths of decadent luxury.

American (Khatuna Lorig) vs. France. Lorig uses a Hoyt bow, with a Shibuya sight. Lorig wins her opening round match 107-105 to advance. American (Khatuna Lorig) vs. Great Britain. Lorig wins her second round match 112-108 to advance to the round of 16.

The Canadian archer is a lefty! Going up against an Indian with an Inno, they both throw down 10-10-9 in the first end. 109-109 (out of a possible 120) after the 12 arrows. Shoot-off time. Lefty Canadian defeats Indian with an Inno 10-8 in the shoot-off. Lefty Canadian in the second round vs. Korean with a Samick. Match up four 9s and a 10 through two ends, but the Korean has a 10 where Lefty Canadian has a 7. Match up 29s in the 3rd end. 10-10-5 to close, against a 10-9-10. Korean defeats Lefty Canadian 114-107. You just can't spot the Koreans a single point. They won't give it back and they will make you pay.

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 2

On the men's side, one of the Ukranians uses a Win and Win Inno, in a slightly lighter shade of blue than mine. At least half of the men are also using the Shibuya sights.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 1

I am watching the China vs. Korea team archery competition at the Olympics, and trying to see what equipment they use. It looks like both teams are using Samick limbs, and presumably Samick risers as well. My old bow was a Samick. I am a little surprised the Koreas are not using Win&Win bows, but I should admit I am at least a little biased.

I'm seeing Beiter clickers (like mine), and Shibuya Ultima RC Carbon sights (like mine). Broader view confirms the Shibuya sight. Close up also confirms the Beiter clicker, or at least the same style as my Beiter clicker.

I can't tell what the arrows are. They are definitely carbon with spin wings, but no real way for me to identify the type with what they are showing on TV.

What an amazing thing to see excited crowds at an archery competition.

All six shooters are right eye dominant, or at least shooting right handed.

And shock of shocks (unless you know anything about the sport), the women from South Korea win the gold medal.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On an Olympic Side Note

Apparently, in addition to his broken hand, reigning Olympic gymnastics champion Paul Hamm has the same injury I do: A strained left rotator cuff. Maybe I should not tell people that...

93% Chance that Light is the End of the Tunnel, and Not a Train

Finally. Some good news from a sports medicine doctor. On my follow up appointment, the good doctor said that I can start shooting for real (i.e. with my equipment) in a couple of weeks. Start with 12-15 or so arrows, and work my way up to a full tournament-double. At the same time, I should continue with physical therapy, but he is confident that rest and PT will solve this problem.

Doctor is 98% confident in his diagnosis of a severe rotator cuff strain. And he tells me that 95% of these strains go away on their own (i.e. without surgery). Therefore, I have a 93% chance of this going away on its own as long as I just keep doing what I've been doing. And when I get home, I can keep doing what I enjoy doing: shooting.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Things are Looking Up

My shoulder has felt better the last few days. The abbreviated shooting adventure this weekend did not seem to have any ill effects. My backpack today did, but that goes without saying. My range of motion is improving. I can extend my arm without the pain I was feeling just a week ago. And today, at PT, I was told that I'm just weeks from being able to shoot my own equipment. Of course, I will not be diving into tournament doubles right away, but if I am only weeks away, the day is drawing near when I can start shooting for back-to-back 250s and beyond.

It cannot come soon enough, but at least it is on its way.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Heading Home from the Range

Went back to the range today, for the first time in a number of weeks. Donated my old archery set to the American Archery Union (translation: dumped it off on Anthony to give away so I don't have to ship it westward). Picked up my new set so that I can take it with me when I head back to California.

With PT's permission, I took a bow with a super-light draw weight and fired about 10 arrows. Shoulder actually felt pretty good. I noticed my shoulder felt better at my last PT appointment on Wednesday, too. Only slightly, but any improvement is good. Still taking things gingerly at best, but perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel?

Two more PT appointments this week, plus sports medicine doctor on Thursday. No more trips to Dedham until December, when I will hopefully be 100% and able to get back to tournament-double scoring rounds.