A Day For Practice And Exploring

JaniceSmilingOnShootingLine

We were very relieved to be able to sleep in this morning (Tuesday). I actually feel like I’ve gotten over my jetlag finally. We went down for breakfast at 8:30. Breakfasts are really good. There is fresh fruit and yogurt, scrambled eggs, and best of all, assorted breads with cheese and cold meet. I don’t know why, but I really enjoy a crispy roll with cheese and cold meet for breakfast (very European). We took the 9:00 bus to the competition venue and watched some of our teammates shoot their qualification rounds. Then we set off to explore the town of Donaueschingen.

 

We walked through a park which went along the Danube River, crossed a bridge and came into town. It took only about 20 minutes. Today was a beautiful day in the 70’s. Such a difference from yesterday when it rained all day. We passed by the Princely Palace and the museum which we will try to check out possibly Thursday. We stopped at a coffee shop and I had a cappuccino. Courtney had something like a latté and Mark and Kerry had similar to a route beer float, only with coffee and ice-cream. The staff was so friendly and tried very hard to help us order. They were impressed that we were interested in trying new things. The one gentleman said so many Americans want to have what they’re used to and not try something outside their culture. We told them we’d be back to try some of their pastries. We browsed some of the shops and then found a great place for lunch. The waitress spoke some English and described the menu to us. I had Flamicucher and Courtney had Maultascher. Mine was like a very thin crust pizza with mozzarella, ham and pineapple. Courtney’s was similar to ravioli with sausage and eggs. Mark had it too. In know, doesn’t seem very German, but this is how they were described to us. Kerry had a sausage sandwich. We enjoyed it very much.

Janice, Courtney, Mark and Kerry having lunch in Donaueschingen

We then walked back to the competition venue. On the way we passed the observation area which is the birth place of the Danube river. There is renovation going on, so lots of scaffolding, but really interesting to see and hear how the water bubbles up from the ground.

 

When we got back to the competition venue, I decided to practice for a little while. We discovered that I had forgotten my sight back at the hotel, so I decided to do blank bale for today. When I shoot blank bale, I don’t use my adaptive sighting equipment. Courtney watches from behind and lets me know that I’m aiming toward the target and I can focus on my form. I don’t have to worry about where the arrows are landing at such a close distance.

 

When we got back to the hotel, I talked to Mom on Skype. We couldn’t believe what a clear connection we had. It didn’t seem any different than when I talk to her at home.

 

This evening we were served fish for dinner. Not Courtney’s choice at all, but I thought it was very good. Dessert was berries and thick cream which was delicious.

 

At 8:00 we had a team meeting. They went over the schedule for tomorrow and I asked about the format that I’ll be shooting in the gold medal round on Sunday. Mark is going to be invaluable to me in the coming days, helping me to prepare for this type of shooting. This is how it will work. It’s called set matches. I will be shooting against the archer who wins the elimination round shot on Friday afternoon. The highest ranked archer will choose whether they want to shoot first in the rotation, or second. The clock will start. If I shoot first, Courtney will say “go” and I will shoot an arrow in 20 seconds. As soon as I shoot the arrow, the 20 seconds will begin again and my opponent will shoot his/her arrow. We will rotate like this until we have each shot a total of three arrows. The arrows on the target will then be scored. The archer with the highest score will receive 2 points. If there is a tie, each archer will receive 1 point. Then we will shoot another round and score it. We will continue until an archer reaches or exceeds 6 points. The archer who reaches 6 points first will be the winner. There is a lot of pressure shooting this type of round. Twenty seconds is plenty of time to shoot an arrow, but with the added pressure of knowing you are being timed, and the fact that everyone is watching you because it’s the only competition being done at that time, it can be tough. That is why I will be so grateful to Mark for helping me practice it this week.

 

That’s all for now. Please ask me anything you’d like in the comment field and I’ll try to answer you in my next post. We’re going to go get some ice-cream and post this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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World Archery Para Championships- First 3 Days

Wow, so much to tell, but where to begin. The Wifi internet connections here at the hotel and at the archery range are very poor and I’ve been struggling to get and maintain a connection. If you’re reading this blog, that means I finally was able to stay connected long enough to post this.

Janice and Courtney selfy under Swiss Air sign in airport

The flight over was as you would suspect. It was an 11 hour, nonstop flight into Zurich. Neither of us were able to sleep at all, so we arrived at 10:45 in the morning and hit the ground running. We were picked up by volunteers from the local organizing committee and whisked off to an ophthalmology clinic about 2 hours away where Mark and I were to receive our international sight classifications which would authorize us to shoot in the World Championships. The process was pretty cut and dry for me since I have no sight. The doctor asked me if I could see how many fingers he held up. I told him I couldn’t see anything. He then shined a light into my eyes and asked if I saw anything. I told him I could see a very little bit of light at the top right and top left. He and his associate then examined the back of my left eye with a microscope very closely. They couldn’t see through or around the cataract in my right eye. Finally, the doctor backed up and said, “okay, I believe you.” He classified me as a B1 archer which means I have no sight and gave it to me for four years. I didn’t get a permanent classification because of the cataract in my right eye. They can’t see past it to know what is behind it. When I have it removed, they’ll be able to classify me permanently.

Then it was Mark’s turn. This was not so cut and dry for him. Because Mark has some sight in the central part of one eye, he had to be put through a series of drills on reading a chart around 10 feet away. The doctor determined that he had too much sight to be classified. When he came out of the room and told us, I thought he was messing with us and just joking around. We soon learned that he was serious. Kerry was in tears and Mark was numb with shock. This was really devastating news and we really didn’t know how to process it. But the fact was that Mark came all this way and would not be allowed to compete. Courtney and Kerry spoke to the doctor for quite a while, trying to understand why Mark couldn’t be classified, but in the end, the decision was final. Since then there has been a lot of discussion regarding the classification process for visually impaired archers. We learned that a visually impaired archer from Australia was also denied classification. So 2 out of the 10 visually impaired archers who had traveled to Germany ready to compete, would not be competing, and 1 archer didn’t show up (reason unknown). The USA coaching staff, with feedback from Mark, Kerry and Courtney and I, have filed a protest as did the Australian archer. There is no rule as to how long the process will take. It makes no difference as to Mark’s competing though. He was allowed to shoot at our qualification rounds this morning, but his scores were not recorded. We encouraged him to shoot to get the experience of shooting with his peers from all over the world and to know for himself how he would have ranked if he had been classified. He would have been in third place if he’d been able to compete. As you can imagine, this has been a very emotional time for Mark especially, but for all of us because we know how hard Mark has worked to get to this level of competition.

 

Yesterday was official practice for all archers. We had assigned times and this was when we met the other visually impaired archers who would be competing with us. He were given a 2 hour time slot (8:30 to 10:30) and were given our target assignments. I was shooting at target 30 with Roger Rees-Evans from Great Britain and his spotter, Ian. I was able to meet most of the archers and everyone was very excited and we were all happy to meet each other. One of the archers from Great Britain, Steve Prouse, was my opponent in the gold medal round at the World Championships in Korea in 2007. The rest are all new acquaintances. I shot pretty well, but felt really sore and stiff. I had hoped to practice again later that day, unofficially on the practice field, but that didn’t work out.

 

This morning the qualifying rounds began. The visually impaired archers were scheduled from 9:00 to 12:00. We got up early again and got to breakfast by 6:45 in order to make the 7:05 bus to the archery range. It rained on and off all morning, but it wasn’t a cold rain.

Janice shooting blank bale on the practice range

After we got my equipment set up, I decided to go to the practice range to shoot what we call “blank bale” which means I shot close up without any of my sighting equipment, just to warm up my body. The first few draw backs of the bow is usually pretty hard and so I wanted to get that over with before the competition started. It was a good idea.

The qualification rounds determine your ranking. Your ranking determines who you will be paired up with in the elimination rounds on Friday. For example, if you wind up in first place, you will be paired up with the last place competitor in the elimination rounds, unless your category has an uneven number. In that case, the person who came in first in qualifications gets what is called a “by” and automatically goes on to the next round. I shot mostly really well with only a short period of really poor and am so happy to report that I came in first in my division. I will get a by and will move automatically to the gold medal round on Sunday! I can’t believe it, but that was what I had hoped would happen, and I pulled it off! The other archers in my division will shoot the elimination round on Friday and this will determine who I shoot against in the gold medal round. This is exactly where I had hoped to be.

 

The rest of the week I’ll get some practice sessions in and we’ll watch the other team members compete in their divisions. We’ll be able to get some sight-seeing in too.

 

Accept for the cloud that hangs over us because of what happened to Mark, all is well here in Donaueschingen. The organizers are very nice and very friendly. The shooting facility is first-class and the food is good. Hoping to experience some German food soon. What they’re feeding us is pretty continental.

Church in the village where we are staying

There is a church just up the street from hour hotel and it’s bell tower goes off on the quarter hour, around the clock. It’s really a beautiful sound and doesn’t wake me up at night, but I sure know how much I’m not sleeping by listening to the time rung out all night long.

 

I’m going to go down to the restaurant to try to hook up to the wifi from there in hopes of getting a stronger connection. I hope it works and you all will be able to catch up to what’s going on over here.

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Preparation For The World Championships

Mark Schrand and I are looking forward to the Para-Archery World Championships this summer in Donaueschingen, Germany. We’ve been working hard in preparation for the trip. You can see in the picture that we’ve been able to get together to practice and have competed against each other in two tournaments this May and June in order to get the feel for the stress of competition. Mark and his wife, Kerry, drove from Arizona to meet up at the Cotton Boll Classic in Tulare, and at the California State Outdoor in Long Beach.

Mark and Janice walking back from pulling arrrows at the Cotton Boll Classic in Tulare. They are assisted by their spouces who will be spotting for them at the World Championships in Germany this August.

My husband/coach, Courtney, decided I should have a personal trainer to help me try to build up the strength I’ll need so I don’t poop out during competition. Tim Fua has been working with me with isometrics and core strength, trying to “tune up my neurological system.” I really think it’s made a big difference. I’m learning how to fire my muscles when I want to and how to make powerful movements. I’ve discovered that, as a person who is blind, I’ve trained myself to have a light touch and to walk softly, that way I don’t crash into things or slam my hands into things when reaching for items. That’s a really good skill, but in sports you really need to learn how to use your muscles powerfully. So that’s what I’ve been learning for the last couple of months.

 

Another big part of preparing for the World Championships has been the fund raising part. As visually impaired archers, Mark and I are required to pay for our assistant as well as ourselves to accompany us to the event. Of course, our spouses will be our assistants. We’ve been fund raising for double the amount it would normally cost to attend. I have been so fortunate to have met so many kind and generous people in the archery world who have helped me out. My local archery shop, Lodi Archery, was kind to allow me to hold a fund raiser during their grand opening this past spring which was very successful. The Clements-Locheford Lions Club provided the tri-tip lunch and gave me the proceeds they made. We played games and had many raffle prizes donated by many well-known archery equipment manufacturers and suppliers. PSE donated a bow. As you can imagine, that was a very popular raffle bucket.

 

Since then, airline tickets had to be purchased and uniforms ordered. Passports were renewed. My primary and backup bows are tuned and new arrows are on their way.

 

JaniceAndMarkLodiArchery

Next on my list of things to do is to figure out the best way to utilize WordPress to post journal entries while at the World Championships in Germany. I’m hoping to post every day and to include some photos. I don’t know how the pictures are appearing in my post, so bear with me while I try to figure it out.

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A Blind Archer Can Shoot Field Archery

Janice shooting compound bow. Aiming high. Courtney sighting her in.

Courtney is sighting. Janice is aiming high to hit the target.

Today I want to tell you about how I am able to participate in field archery. Normally I shoot target archery. There is an international classification for visually impaired archers who want to shoot target archery, but not for field archery. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that people who are blind use what is known as a tactile sight. This tactile sight consists of a foot-locator that is positioned across the shooting line and is staked or taped down. It has an attached tripod which has the sighting aid mounted on it for aiming. This apparatus would be really impractical on a field range, as you’ll see.

First let me begin by explaining how target archery is done, and then you’ll see why field archery is different. In target archery, the archers stand on a fixed shooting line and aim at targets placed parallel to the shooting line at various distances. You could have a couple hundred archers shooting at one time along this shooting line. The archers shoot for a designated number of minutes and number of arrows. Then they put down their bows, walk to their target and score their arrows according to which ring they land in.

In field archery, archers hike along trails to get to each target. The trails can be hilly or somewhat flat. The targets are placed at different distances, anywhere from a few feet away to around 100 yards. You can probably see now why I can’t use my tactile sighting apparatus on this type of archery range. I would have to carry it from target to target and sight in each time. That would be way too labor intensive and take way too long at each target. So, Courtney came up with a way I can participate and join in on the fun. I use a walking stick to walk the trails, so Courtney places this stick on the ground to line my feet up to the target. Then he stands behind me and sights me in using a sight with a peep that he mounts on the right side of my bow. He lines up the peep with the sight aperture by telling me “left, right, up and down.” Then when he has me sighted in, he says the word “hold” and I know to hold my position and shoot. It’s not quite as rewarding as the tactile method. The reason I say that is because when I shoot with the tactile technique, I’m in charge of my whole shot. I have to aim the bow by touching the same spot on the back of my bow hand to the tactile sight and use the proper form to execute my shot. I decide whether or not to adjust my sight while concentrating on performing that shot properly each time. When Courtney is sighting for me, I still have to perform that shot properly or the shot will be way off, but it’s more rewarding to be in charge of all facets of the shot. That being said, being able to hike the trails and shoot with a group of fellow archers is a lot of fun and an enjoyable way to spend a day. It also gives my guide dog, Liza, a chance to be outdoors and to guide me through some beautiful countryside. It’s a change from laying around all day under our Easy-Up at a target archery tournament.

This summer, Courtney and I are going to participate in two field archery competitions just as a change of pace. I’m going to try now to post a video so you can see how we do it.

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Meet Andrew: He Lets No One Stand In His Way

AndrewFrontViewI caught up with Andrew and his family this past February at the South Point Hotel and Casino; my husband, Courtney,  and I were attending the World Archery Festival in Las Vegas. Andrew is a high school student who is blind and has been participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) at his local high school. Using the foot-locator/tripod that Courtney built for him, Andrew has been competing alongside his sighted classmates at the NASP State Tournament for the past several years. I got a chance to sit down and talk with him after he shot on that Thursday morning. I hope Andrew’s love for life and learning new things will give you a broader perspective on how those of us who are blind “see no limits.”

Q: How old are you?
A: I’m 18. Of course, it’s not my fault if you assume I mean years instead of decades or centuries.

Q: What grade are you in?
A: I am a senior in highschool. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting all alone at a lunch table as a freshman. Now, in my senior year, surrounded by friends who are all pretty cool, got an awsome girlfriend and just… Living life as I go.

Q: Are you totally blind?
A: I can see light, but, light doesn’t help me play video games, gawk at “hot,” girls (I honestly don’t care about looks, but it’s always fun to tell people I like gawking at hot girls just for the laughs and watching them try and figure it out in their head.) In fact, lots of people told my girlfriend the only reason I was dating her is because I’m blind. Let this be a public service announcement, by Joe Smoe, looks aren’t everything, personality and sense of humor go a long way.

Q: How did you loose your sight?
A: I like to tell people that I looked at the sun, just to see them be all, “Really?” Then I tell them that I have a highly contagious disease. I lost my sight because of Retonapathy of Prematurity, a disease I’ve had since I was born. If you want to know more, you can Google it, all the info is right there, somewhere on the internet.

Q: Besides archery, what’s your favorite thing to do at school?
A: I don’t think sleeping counts. Hmm, I love english and history the most among all my classes. I enjoy hanging out with my friends and my girlfriend at lunch, talking about what-ever comes to mind.

Q: Besides archery, what’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at school?
A: I love listening to music. As of late, I’ve been digging into the rich Tradition of the Irish, at least, as far as music goes. Haven’t found any Irish pubs around that’ll let a young lad like me drink. I actually have picked up the tinwhistle and mandolin. Sure, the mandolin isn’t really a traditionally Irish instrument, but it’s tuned the same as a fiddle so it can be used just as well. It’s murder on the fingers, though. I play a little guitar. I only know a few chords, but, playing guitar before the mandolin has definetly helped in not having bloody fingers. I love it. I listen to everything from Traditional Irish music, to heavy metal. I have some wide musical preferences.

I love reading and talking with friends. I read lots of fantasy, science-fiction. Lord of the Rings were probably some of the first books I picked up and read on my own. The Hobbit really snared me into reading. I love learning things, but, things that interest me, as opposed to, say, Algebra.

Q: When was the first time you got to shoot a bow?
A: The first time I shot a bow was at summer-camp. At first, my Mom was worried I’d shoot somebody, or something, but after trying it, I loved it. I even came home and told Mom and Dad that I wanted to buy a bow. They turned me down, afraid that I would shoot the neighbor’s dog. I know they’d of enjoyed that, though, that dog always was loud…

Q: What did it feel like to shoot a bow?
A: It was very enjoyable. I had a bit of sight at the time, but not much. It was an entirely new experience for me, but I loved it.

Q: How often do you get to shoot archery?
A: It really depends on my schedual if I have lots of homework, not at all. Sometimes my Dad and I go down to the range for practice and I can shoot until I get tired.

Q: Do you wish you could shoot more?
A: I wish I could do lots of things more, shooting is definetly among them, along with read, sleep, hang out with my friends and the list goes on.

Q: What part of archery is the hardest?
A: The hardest part of archery is seeing the target.

Q: What part is the most fun?
A: The most fun part of archery, for me, is realising that I hit the target without missing, shooting somebody, so on and so forth.

Q: What special equipment do you use to help you aim the bow?
A: I use a stand that Courtney made for me.

Q: Do you ever get to shoot in archery competitions or tournaments?
A: I shoot in compititions when they come around. I have only shot in the compitition that my school goes to, though.

Q: What have you enjoyed the most about competition?
A: I just enjoy shooting, doing well really doesn’t matter to me as much as it does some people. I try to do well, sure, but, it isn’t everything to me.

Q: Have you ever shot with other kids who have trouble seeing?
A: Yes. A year or so ago, the summer-camp I go to decided to do archery. When they heard I do archery, they gave me a Genesis bow to shoot with, rather than the “kid” bow they were having everybody else shoot with. One girl was a bit discouraged and she believed she couldn’t do it. I tried helping her out as much as I could.

Q: Why should other kids who are blind/visually impaired consider trying the sport of archery?
A: I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody, no, never. What is the point of shooting what you can’t see? You might poke your eye out or something. To be honest, I’d recommend it if only for the experience. Some like it and do it again, but others not so much. It’s always nice to do something sighted people think you can’t do. Not really a slap in the face, but more of a “hey, we’re not as different from you as you think,” type of thing.

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Welcome to my blog!

FITA-JaniceShootingArchery is probably not the first sport that comes to mind when you think about activities for people who are blind. I can assure you that it should be. I’m
blind and have been participating in target archery since 2004.

 

In this blog I’d like to share with you how you can try archery if you are blind. I’ll talk about where you can shoot and what special equipment you’ll
need.

 

I also want to share some of my experiences shooting competitively. I’ve been so lucky to have participated in three world championships, competing
in the visually impaired category where I won silver, bronze, and now gold this past summer. My journals from the first competitions are on my web site seenolimits.org. You will find my latest World Championship journal right here as part of this blog. I also currently
hold the world record for visually impaired archery in my category.

 

Because people don’t realize that this is a sport for all abilities, there are very few competitors, but I want to change that. Archery is a very fulfilling
sport that gives you a real feeling of accomplishment. It’s a great social sport that you can do with family and friends of all ages.

 

I hope I can inspire
more people who are blind/visually impaired to give it a try.

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