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Canadian Archers at the Olympics

One of the Canadians at the Olympics this year is Canadian Crispin Duenas. He is a regular at the Toronto Public Archery Range and considered to be 17th in the world.

But being in the top 20 in the world still gives him a decent shot at a medal. Some people just lose their cool during big competitions and archery is largely a mental sport.

Crispin Duenas began doing archery and competing when he was relatively young.

“I wanted something different to do and I had a fascination with Robin Hood as a young kid,” says Duenas, who was introduced to the sport by his Grade 8 math teacher at John A. Leslie Public School in Scarborough, Ontario.

He has already won two silver medals at the Pan Am Games and made an appearance at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Four years later the 26-year-old Duenas is ready to try again and says that his initial attraction and excitement of the bow and arrow remains: “If it’s not there, you’re not going to enjoy doing this. It’s what keeps you going in the sport.”

What also keeps Duenas going through practice sessions — including at his favourite outdoor range, the Toronto Public Archery Range, next to the Ontario Science Centre — is what he sees as archery’s biggest challenge: Exposing archery to the general public.

He see's himself as an ambassador trying to showcase his sport to other Canadians. And while its true that Hollywood has done a better job of that lately (The Hunger Games, Brave, The Avengers, Game of Thrones, and the upcoming TV show: "Arrow"), the films alone won't get people out there trying out the sport.

“I’m thinking things like The Hunger Games, (has) sparked interest into archery a little bit more and considering I’m one of the guys people like talking to, I always get the interview... ...I want to make archery known in Canada, I want to make it so that when you say “archery” and “Canada” people think of me and I think I’m well on my way to that now.” Its not ego either, he just wants to promote the sport and make it more prominent to Canadians.

“For example, Canada’s already a hockey-dominant country, right? Why can’t we be archery-dominant?” he wonders.

“Archery is something where you can go to like Bass Pro Shops or something and buy a bow, but on my level, there’s got to be only about 10 guys and the same for the women.”

It is the same reason I started offering archery lessons to students. I wanted to promote the sport and initially I was just teaching my friends for free, but later I realized I was running low on friends willing to learn archery and if I was going to truly promote it as a sport I was going to need to teach it to anyone who was willing to learn. (And to cover the cost of transportation, lost arrows and new equipment I created a fee since new archers often lose arrows.)

I think this urge to teach and encourage other archers is pretty common to the sport of archery. We know its not a common sport and even considered archaic (like discus throwing or javelin throwing). Because of the equipment costs its not a sport that is easy to get into either. Its a bit like hockey in Canada, a sport which only people who can afford all the equipment can get into.

Being a dedicated archer isn't easy either. You're there 2 or 3 times per week battling the elements, heat, rain and wind (the weather doesn't effect your shot so much as it effects your mental condition), plus the exertion of pulling back the taut bow 200 times daily (which is essentially weightlifting).

The mental challenge ends up being the biggest thing for archers. People can, through exercise and cross-training, prepare their bodies for the events, but the mental challenge is what separates the true archers from the amateurs.

“It’s trying to get to know yourself after losing a match,” says Duenas, a graduate of Birchmount Park Collegiate and the University of Toronto, where in 2011 he finished his honours bachelor of science degree in physics. “When you win a match, everything is nice and good,” he says. “But after you lose, you have to analyze why you lost, what you did, what you can do better, what you can do next time to change the result. And sometimes you don’t like what you find. That’s the most difficult thing.”

“It’s a sport where you have to know yourself to take on everyone else,” says Duenas, who in Beijing 2008 was 16th in the qualification round before losing his first outing in match play and finishing 39th overall. “You always have to be on your game, do everything for yourself.”

Duenas is back at the 2012 Summer Games in London having secured the one Canadian spot available through the national trials in Montreal held in May.

While some people might struggle with such isolation in a sport, Duenas says he is prepared for it. “I’m fine with being on my own and not relying on anybody else,” says the only son of Filipino parents who immigrated to Canada in 1977. “Some people can find it more difficult because they’re maybe a little more team-oriented, but I like it because it’s all me. Only I can do what needs to be done.”

Duenas, who plans to become a high school physics teacher and is now volunteering in the classroom of his former Grade 9 science teacher at Birchmount, also thinks his academic background helps his archery, especially when it comes to angles, biomechanics and kinetics.

“That’s all helped me understand my equipment a lot more than a normal archer would,” Duenas says. “It’s just really easy for me to understand what’s going to happen when I do this or I do that... ...I’m able to know what five things will change because I change one thing.”

On Friday Crispin finished eighth of 64 archers in the men’s ranking round at the London Olympics. A strong early showing that will boost his chances of being in the top 3.

PERSONAL NOTE: Crispin was there at the Toronto Public Archery Range during an incident where an elderly man had heat stroke and we had to call an ambulance. His Life Guard training was very helpful.

8 Super Fun Exercises Anyone Can Do!

1. Instead of Running (679 calories at a pace of 11 minutes per mile)... Try Ultimate Frisbee (572 calories)

In the USA check out and find local groups you can join.

2. Instead of Step Aerobics (360–714 calories)... Try Hula Hooping (420–600 calories)

3. Instead of the Elliptical Trainer (465 calories)... Try Salsa Dancing (393 calories)

4. Instead of Swimming (429–786 calories)... Try Rowing (250–600 calories)

5. Instead of Weight Training (214 calories)... Try Hiking with a Backpack (500 calories)

6. Instead of Walking (236–360 calories)... Try Ice Skating (500 calories)

7. Instead of Riding the Stationary Bike (393–786 calories)... Try Cross-Country Skiing (500–643 calories)

8. Instead of Push Ups (236–360 calories)... Try Archery (260-400 calories)

The Twelve Steps of Becoming Healthier

Do you have a problem with eating too much and exercising too little? Many of us in North America have this problem, often the result of sitting behind a desk at work all day, eating out or eating poorly at home, and too much TV and internet and almost no exercise.

Learning how to self motivate yourself to exercise is tricky. Its easier to do it with a personal trainer (like me) or you can try the DIY method.

If you do try and go with the DIY method here is a 12 step approach to eating healthier and exercising more:

The Twelve Steps of Becoming Healthier

1. First you have to admit that you have a problem. Your over-consumption of food and your general unwillingness to exercise. Denying it by saying "I am not fat, I am just big boned!" or blaming your genetics is not going to help you.

2. Recognize that you can make small changes in progressive steps and turn your life around. There is hope.

3. Made a decision to stop eating everything just because its there and you're feeling depressed. Make a list of every reason you eat unhealthy food, a sort of moral inventory of eating when you depressed, angry, etc.

4. You need to have self-confidence and courage that you can do this.

5. Admit to your friends and family the exact nature of your weight problems.

6. Recognize your character defects that leads you to overeat and not exercise.

7. Seek answers for your shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all the exercises you enjoy doing. Especially exercises that require moving around a lot (cardio).

9. Seek out other people who have also had weight problems and learn from their successes.

10. Continued to keep track of your eating vices and work to control them.

11. Make a conscious effort to make your exercise workouts part of your daily routine and something fun that you look forward to every day.

12. Awaken yourself to the reality that exercising is more fun than watching TV and its something you can keep doing all the days of your life.



The Adrenaline High Weight Loss Program

First you need to understand what Adrenaline is.

Adrenaline and noradrenaline, the main catecholamines, act to break down fat stores and burn them in a hurry to provide energy to your blood (and your muscles) very quickly so you can put the most into whatever you doing.

eg. You and your lover get caught by a police officer doing something illegal in public and the two of you make a run for it, jump 5 fences, run around some corners and lose him.

Note: In my effort to find a photo for this I thought of the film The Adjustment Bureau. Oh well. At least its family friendly.

The adrenaline high of getting caught gives you the edge the police officer doesn't have. The police officer might be good physical shape for his age, but if you have youth and adrenaline on your side its pretty much a guarantee you can outpace him.

Unless the cop has a bicycle or a car, in which case you're screwed. (Pun intended. Go find a less public place to have sex next time.)

Now here is the benefit:

That adrenaline high can last a long time. Once its released it can be in your blood for hours. Everything you do for the next couple of hours will have a heightened amount of energy being put into it. (Pun NOT intended that time, happy coincidence.) That means you are burning fat at a faster rate that you would normally, plus getting the added benefit of adrenaline being a natural pain killer.

Now here is the catch:

How do you get an adrenaline high while exercising? After all you can't just run around doing illegal things all the time and then running away. You would, eventually, get caught. That means you have to think of alternative ways to get an adrenaline high. Finding different (and legal) ways to get an adrenaline high requires a bit of research:

#1. Sky Diving.

#2. Bungee Jumping.

#3. Marathon Running (because you think you're going to have an heart attack).

#4. Flying (think aerial acrobatics).

#5. A Bicycle Race (similar to running a marathon, but the added danger that you might crash).

#6. Roller Blading (but try not to get yourself killed).

#7. Play Video Games (high octane action games can trigger an adrenaline rush).

#8. Sex in Public (sadly illegal, but still on the list).

#9. Flirting with Strangers (yes, some people get really excited just doing that).

#10. Public Speaking (if you are terrified of speaking in front of large numbers).

#11. Confronting your Fears (and then running away).

#12. Nightmares (the next time you have a nightmare that scares you get up and exercise afterwards).

#13. Exciting Music (and then dance naked to it).

#14. Be Sneaky / Trespassing (again, this is something that is potentially illegal).

#15. High Intensity Cardio (see the video below as an example).

Archery Tips for Amateurs


It helps to be in good physical shape when doing archery. Archery requires a lot of back, shoulder and arm strength and it is frequently a surprise to non-archers how difficult it is to pull a bow and hold it steady.

See the post Archery as an Alternative to Weightlifting for more details.


Unless you've been doing archery for years you should probably not be doing archery when you're in a distraught emotional state. Having a bad day at work, an argument with a loved one, etc will dramatically throw off your patience and your ability to relax, focus on the target and shoot successfully.

More experienced archers will be able to relax themselves and can even use archery to help calm themselves down because its comforting for them.


Drinking alcohol doesn't help whatsoever when shooting. It might be fun to drink and pal around with friends, but I recommend throwing a football around instead. Archery requires patience and concentration and trying to do those things while inebriated is a recipe for losing your arrows.


Do you know which of your eyes is the dominant one? The way to check is to point at something with your finger, hold your hand there and then alternately close one eye and then the other to see which eye is the most accurate. Whichever eye was closest to the target you were pointing at is your dominant eye.

Most people are right-eyed and right-handed, in which case it doesn't cause a problem. Even left-handed people are frequently left-eyed, but sometimes there are people who are dominant in one eye and the hand is the opposite. If such is the case it requires a little experimentation to determine which hand they should be shooting with in an effort to get the most accuracy out of their eyes.


The biggest factor for archery is understanding proper archery form. You want to be standing with your feet at least a foot apart on a slight V angle outwards. Your shoulders should be lined up towards the target and when pulling back on the bowstring your elbow should be raised.

When executing a shot its best to follow an order:

1. Take your stance.
2. Nock an arrow properly.
3. Set your hands.
4. Study the target.
5. Draw the bow and anchor it near your cheekbone.
6. Aim (some people prefer to do this quickly or slowly).
7. Release.
8. Follow through.


The follow through is an often overlooked aspect of archery. It is what happens during the moment you release the bowstring. If you don't hold the bow steady during this critical moment it will cause your shot to go wonky and this is why it is important to have good steady arms.

The bow will want to move forward as the result of the recoil from the string being released. Depending on the bow it may even want to roll forward, which is common for people using Olympic Recurve bows because of the extra weight from sights, stabilizer and V-bar (gadgets which are completely unnecessary and basically act like crutches for people who love gadgets).

The end result is that due to the recoil the bow tends to move during the critical moment of the shot and you want to hold the bow steady even though you've released the shot. Once the arrow is clean away then you can relax your bow arm.


Archery is a bit like golf in some respects because there is always lots of companies trying to sell some new gadget that is claiming to supposedly improve your golf swing, golf stance, etc. For archery its usually gadgets which claim to make it easier to aim, hold the bow steady, etc. They are completely unnecessary when experience and practice will garner better results. All the extra sights do is provide a frame of reference when shooting. An "Arco Nudo" archer doesn't need the extra sights because they can use imaginary sights in their head to create a reference point based on their past experience and practice.

The only extra thing I would recommend to archers is bow string silencers.

Bow string silencers do two things: #1. Yes, they do make the sound of your bow string rebounding a lot quieter; #2. They also dampen string reverberations. Basically what happens is when the string rebounds it causes vibrations to go up the string and into the bow arms. These vibrations, with time, can damage your bow and weaken it.

So its not something that will improve your aim or anything like that, but they will lengthen the lifespan of your bow by preventing damage to your bow.

#8. READ

I recommend the following books:

Precision Archery by Steve Ruis and Claudia Stevenson

Zen Bow, Zen Arrow by John Stevens

Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing and lets talk fitness!


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