Practice makes perfect.
“I usually go out and shoot a couple of hundred arrows every day, and I’m always working on how I can improve, says Ryan Jones.
The year 11 James Hargest College archer is fully committed to his sport and next month he will be representing New Zealand for the first time at next month’s Oceania Championships in New Caledonia.
Ryan will be joining other archers, including Sid Spence (Fiordland College) and Jack Light (boarding at John McGlashan College in Dunedin).
Ryan earned selection for the New Zealand junior team after finishing second at a two-day tournament in Ellsemere near Christchurch in March.
This tournament consisted of a ranking round and then a match play round, which is one archer versus the other.
“We shoot a day of different distances, so for me it would be 70, 60m, 50m and 30m, and at the end we get a score and we are ranked on a points system that determines the match play seedings for the next day, explains Ryan.”
The match play is a knockout round, down to the final pairing who meet in the final.
Each archer shoots six arrows per round in competition and there is a time period of four minutes to shoot all six.
At this point in the story, it is important to note the distinction between compound archery (what Ryan shoots) and recurve archery (the type of archery in the Olympic Games).
Compound archery is different in that it relies on a system of pulleys or cams that the string passes through, allowing greater mechanical force (draw weight) and thus allowing the arrows to fly farther and more accurately than from a traditional recurve bow.
There is little crossover between the two, owing to the decidedly different way the bows shoot and the time needed to perfect the form at the elite level.
It’s not in the Olympics, but compound archery has been a Commonwealth Games sport twice (in 1982 and 2010). “The world archery championships is ultimately where I hope to go in the future, says Ryan.”
The Oceania Championships are every two years, so Ryan will be eligible for the New Zealand again whilst he’s still at school.
How much of archery is mental and how much physical?
“There is kind of a point in archery where it switches from between 90 percent physical to 90 percent mental. If your mental state is not there it all falls apart.”
That’s not to say Ryan isn’t physically fit, his other sport being crossfit. “I absolutely love crossfit, and I have done a bit competitively but for now I am just focusing on my archery but it has been great to build up my body and my endurance and strength.”
The conditions are also a big factor.
“The wind’s a killer! Sometimes you don’t know if it is the wind or if it is you. We ‘call it chasing your sight’ thinking it is the wind but really it is something that you are doing that can really mess you up.
“But the good thing about the wind is that it affects everybody. At the end of the day, the person that has the best mindset and keeps calmest in the conditions really is going to win. It is not someone who has the best physical attributes it is someone who is on point with their thought process.”
Ryan has his own bow and arrows, which require careful maintenance. “Everything needs looking after, and strings wear out as well so you have get that replaced.”
He does his bow tuning and arrow maintenance with his coach Tony Waddick but anything more gets sent away.
How did Ryan start archery?
“I really started taking it seriously about three years ago. I got a toy bow as a present and then I went to my local archery club [Southland Archery Club] and then started on a proper bow and through the help with coaches I have had stuck with it and improved.”
Following the Oceania Championships, the Nationals are in Auckland in the first half of January. This is also attended by some of the Pacific Island nations, so Ryan could end up shooting against some of the archers he will meet in New Caledonia).
Ryan may also have to travel to North Island Tournaments to hone his skills against his peers for more competition.
The Oceania Archery Championships in New Caledonia run from 9-13 July.
The New Zealand Junior team is:
Intermediate Compound Men:
Intermediate Men’s Recurve:
Intermediate Women’s Recurve:
Cadet Men’s Recurve:
Cadet Women’s Recurve:
Cadet Compound Men:
Junior Men’s Recurve:
Junior Women’s Recurve:
Junior Compound Men:
Junior Compound Women:
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