March 23, 2023

By Chris Elliott…

A few months ago I went to the  Raif Rauf Denktas Shooting range just off the Girne bypass to watch and write about an archery competition and our readers may wonder how I came to be interested in archery.

Shortly after my partner died, Nick Gough who runs the Lambouse Archers group in Lapta and contributed a number of articles about archery on CyprusScene, sent me a message inviting me to go and watch them shooting on a Saturday morning.

Now I had always wanted to go but had never found the time, but now with a major hole in my life, I went along to meet these merry men and women and had a bow shoved in my hand and then fired a few arrows at a short range target and to my surprise, I hit it with mixed results on each shoot of 6 arrows.

A new door was opening in my life and I went along to the club a few more times and using several of their bows and arrows I had mixed and sometimes frustrating results and then I bought a second-hand recurve bow with the necessary equipment to start taking archery seriously.

Like the proverbial bad workman, I blamed my tools for poor ongoing results and was not taking on board the advice given by Nick and others I was being given about how I should be holding and drawing the bow to get the best result through the correct form and I was still thinking it was the bow or arrows that are the problem.

Now let’s be clear, the bow and arrows must be the right ones for the archer and need either tuning or adjustment to get the best performance and accuracy but that’s just for starters.

Then I was very lucky and through the group, I was invited twice to have a day out traveling with other members to South Cyprus to meet Harry van de Vondervoort at his LyTox Archery club in Lythrodontas where we spent a fantastic few hours shooting and receiving hands-on guidance from a true archery master, Harry van de Vondervoort.

Harry van de Vondervoort started to learn (Recurve) Archery skills at age of 10 near his home in the Netherlands and learned the archery craft and developed skills over many years representing both local teams and the Netherlands and Belgium before sharing his skills through coaching and then retired and moved to South Cyprus where he started the LyTox Archery Club and continues to this day helping and guiding young and old and impaired people to excel in the art of archery.

Now I really had been bitten and wanted to learn more about archery and was soon watching at home so many YouTube videos which of course gave lots of information about the different types of bows etc but for me, more importantly, they showed what an experienced archer would be doing which is far more than just holding the bow and pulling back on the string.

At this point, many of the things Harry had said to me now became very clear and were far more important than just holding the bow and pulling the string to get shooting perfection.

In fact, I have just watched a YouTube video “Samurai Bow Vs Longbow: What Was The Deadliest Weapon Of The Middle Ages” below which was fascinating but the overriding fact is that as is the way of the Japanese, there are both technical and spiritual factors, and seeing an archer riding on a horse and hitting the target or in another section of the video where we see an archery school where the aim is hit the target without thinking about it whilst meditating and gaining stillness of the mind.

So back to my reality and in the past few weeks I have not been able to train due to time needed for my publications but one thing is clear in my mind I need to start over with regular shooting at Lambousa Archers club or at home to build my physical strength for shooting a recurve bow and concentrating on developing my form including:

  1. The Stance of the body.
  2. Nocking the arrow on the string
  3. Hooking & Gripping of the draw hand on the string.
  4. Body setup.
  5. Drawing the string to full draw.
  6. Anchoring the draw hand under the jaw bone.
  7. Aiming ( and holding/expanding ).
  8.  Expansion  – moving the arrow through the ‘clicker’.
  9. Release.
  10. Follow through.
  11. Relaxation and (analytical) Feedback.

When I start to master these factors then perhaps I may have developed an automatic repetitive form and then I must concentrate on relaxing my mind and allowing it to take over and direct the arrow to the target just like the Japanese archer and perhaps this is the secret of the form of current day Olympic South Korean archers who can place arrows tightly together on a 70m target range. I think the answer to that question becomes clear in the final video below.

That then is my archery forward plan and I will be writing more in the weeks to come.  

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