Thursday, August 3, 2017

Defining Barebow

*The video from Samo's YouTube channel

The blurred line...

There are many people shooting barebow in Malaysia long before I discovered archery. Most of the pioneers would lay low and hardly took part in competitions.
What is interesting, is the fact that barebow archery has gained keen interest from the traditional archery community here in Malaysia. 
Even so, if you lug a modern takedown recurve target bow to a paid range, people would generally frown at you. You'd probably fall under the category of people who howl at the moon and practise some gong-banging ritual.
Again, there are many interpretations on barebow archery. Most of the folks here would lump a guy with an Asiatic bow and a guy who shoots a minimalist modern target recurve together. 
But they missed out on one point: trad archers either shoot off the shelf or with their hand as a rest.

Trad vs Barebow

Two years into archery and countless of local tournaments including two international gig, I saw the shortcomings of being a trad archer. 
You shoot off the shelf, you better be good to maintain consistency and narrow down the variable.
With an arrow rest and a plunger, you reduce the margin of error. But, that said, it's the credo: "Its the archer, not the bow" that determines your advancement in a tournament. Having seen the numbers, trad archers tend to drop out as the tournament reaches a climax. At a trad/barebow meet, the barebow archer would be triumphant.

Going full barebow...

The odd are building. How to reduce it? Well, inevitably, it will be going down the path of setting up a full barebow rig and shooting three-under. You get the picture...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Easton Axis Traditional Carbon Arrows

Shooting the Easton Axis Traditional Carbon Arrows with my Hoyt Satori

If you shoot modern trad bows...

I first came to learn about the Easton Axis traditional carbon arrows two years ago. It was mainly through websites and the social media channel.
While the product may not be new, some Malaysian archers have already been using this carbon arrows.
I found it as an excellent match for my Hoyt hunting recurve bows. While searching for this particular product, I came across a series of disappointments.
The pro-shops here in the Klang Valley don't sell them. Some of these so-called pro-staff I had encountered have not even heard of such a product.
Worse still, some shops wanted to charge RM1,200 for a dozen. The excuse: not enough quantity for a single order.
So, fast-forward to the 2016 Thailand Princess Cup, a trip to the Thai Archery store in the outskirts of Bangkok solved the problem.
I bought a dozen, have it built to my liking and shot them at my range in Subang Jaya.
The bow: a Hoyt Tiburon, arrow spine, size 500 and bow limbs were rated at 35lbs. 
Straight out of the box, the Axis is an excellent shaft. It was meant primarily for hunting and its hidden insert technology is meant for deeper penetration onto a game.

Shooting off the shelf...

Most of the local archers I know would need some sort of tool to help them reduce the odds on the shooting line. Hence, the arrow rest and plunger.
My rig, on the other hand, is totally minimalist. Just a rug rest and a side plate. And the Axis, which is built with a 4-inch feather vane, does its job.
Shooting off the shelf means more chances of making mistakes in a competition. But, my primary usage of the bow, is to put meat on the dining table. So, my take on this is very different from the competitive archer. 
Although I have taken the Axis to numerous local tournaments, learning to shoot well on a trad bow is a humbling experience.

Landing a clean shot with the Axis on the Hoyt Satori
For what it's worth...

The Axis is not for everyone. If you shoot a target recurve bow, it looks totally out of place. Those who love Western trad bows like the longbow, single-piece and wooden takedown recurve would appreciate this carbon shaft.
It's tough and it could take a real beating before it gets shot to bits. I have broken one and lost another. So far, no complaints. If you are one of those who is willing to spend some money for quality goods, the Axis will be there for you, yielding plenty of fun!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

"Famous for the 'wrong' reasons..."

A video from NHK's "Second Time in Malaysia"

When the past catches up with you...

I stopped writing about food more than two years ago. Excessive eating and uncontrollable carbo-loading led to a massive weight gain and the only way out: was a cold turkey.
The decision I made came with dire consequences. But once I made up my mind, that was it. I have no regrets walking out of a chore that has no benefits to my health.
After years being out of the scene, I was contacted by Tomoko Kurahashi, an editor with a Japanese magazine based in KL.
We met a couple of years back when "Food Trail" became a book. It was a weekly column in The Star where I worked as an editorial staff with the Metro section. 
Kurahashi's team interviewed me for an article. 
Later, she asked if I can help a Japanese TV crew to introduce some local food. 
A show director from the Japanese Broadcasting Company or NHK came for a scouting trip sometime in February. 
We made contact and I showed him around.
Then, came a television crew and I spent half the day with them on their recording session. It was a great learning experience for me and I was told that the program was slotted for June in Japan.
It was a hour-long series and my interview will be dubbed in Japanese.

So, to cut the long story short, the guys in Japan had sent down a DVD on the program. 
Miho Tanaka, the go-between person told me that the show had quite a high viewer rating in Japan when it was aired. That's just good enough for me. At least my work was recognized internationally.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hoyt Tiburon

*A video review of the Hoyt Tiburon takedown recurve bow on my YouTube channel

A bow for the serious trad shooter...

The Hoyt Tiburon was Hoyt's fourth hunting recurve bow constructed with high-tech components while maintaining a traditional "feel".
It came after the Buffalo, Game Master II and Dorado and was discontinued this year to make way for the new Hoyt Satori.
I was lucky enough to procure it last year from Mr Tan Peng Loon who was then attached to Elite Sports Archery (technically, Lion Archery Sports).
The bow has a 21" riser which can be configured to be shot off a hunting arrow rest or off the shelf.
It was sold as a complete kit. You decide if you want to shoot it at 60" AMO (extra short), 62" (short) or 64" (medium).
In the box, you'll get the bow packed neatly in a rollaway carrying case, a set of hexagon wrench for tiller adjustment, a flemish twist string, a shelf rug and a leather side plate. And as an appreciation token for the serious Hoyt customer, a car sticker and a landyard was also thrown in the package.

The lowdown...

Similarly, like the Game Master and Game Master II, the Tiburon is built with a bridged riser. There isn't much hunting recurve bows with such a configuration with the exception of the economical Martin Panther. Basically, bridged risers are "stiff" and some archers say it feels "dead" on the hand. Well, that's other people's opinion. Having shot a Martin Panther, the next progression would be a similar bow with the same setup. Bridged risers are generally "heavy" and "clunkier" than normal takedown recurve risers. Compared to the Game Master and Game Master II, the Tiburon is the only bridged riser that is allowed at Barebow tournaments. It's the only hunting recurve bow that is able to pass through the 12.2cm calliper during bow inspections.

The Tiburon draws pretty smooth

It's an excellent bow for hunting, field and 3D shoots

There's literally no bow shock after releasing a shot from this riser
Stiffness aside, the Tiburon is a very attractive bow. It has an International Limb Fitting (ILF) system which allows you to switch length and poundage but since Hoyt utilises its own Formula limb system, choices are few from other limb manufacturers. Even the limbs are available in a few finish ranging from camouflage, maple wood and complete blackout. My choice was the nicely finished blacked limbs. When it was first introduced, the Tiburon limbs can be identified by its model decal. Later, this was standardised with the words "Hoyt Traditional" embossed on the limbs.

The original Tiburon with a silver riser and blackout limbs
The bow is pretty easy to set up and thanks to the ILF system, it's very flexible. You can rig the bow for a hunt with the lowest poundage at #35 right up to #60 with a 5-pound increment. 
I chose #35 as it is pretty forgiving and accurate at distances up to 20 feet. With a draw length of 29", I set up the bow's brace height at 7.5", which is ideal. But looks itself can be deceiving. Seems that most people would think that my brace height is screwed-up. Now, what also sets the bow apart from the rest, is the adjustable tillers. You can rig it up with a slightly higher poundage on the top or lower tiller to suit your desired shooting style. My setting is "neutral" based on my split-finger shooting preference.
Hoyt's Formula limbs are proven in the field and I really don't have much to complain about it. For fun, I would swap the Tiburon's #35lb limbs with my heavier Buffalo (#50lbs) for some fun shoot at the range.
With an arrow nocked on a full draw, the Tiburon is smooth. There's hardly any hand shock after release.
My shooting preference, is, of course, the traditional style. With a rug on the rest, the Tiburon shoots rather accurately.
But such a shooting style would require some experience, so, if you are new to instinctive shooting, I wouldn't recommend it.
With over a year of use, I have nothing but good things to say about this bow. It actually gave me some good results at local barebow tournaments as well as training gigs at the range.
Sadly, the Tiburon has been discontinued by Hoyt. It has been replaced by the Hoyt Satori which is the present hunting recurve bow in Hoyt's 2017 line-up...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

2017 Thailand Princess Cup - Part 4

The quarter-finals at 2017 Thailand Princess Cup
The push....

It's Sunday, our last night in Bangkok. I woke up at 4 am in the morning. Couldn't sleep and it felt like the weight of the world was on my chest.
Michelle, coach Lau and I made it to the 1/32 elimination round. Our match was scheduled at 9 am. Still, with hours to burn, all I had in mind was pushing the limits. We trained like hell and came this far. There's really no letting down. Even with the qualifier points on hand, I was not disappointed. 

Enjoying a local breakfast before heading off to the tournament venue...
We met up at the hotel lobby, jumped into a cab and made our way to the Fashion Island Mall. it's the second day and we are still in business. The norm was to hang around and wait for the barebow finals, where we watched from the audience stand. This year round, it's different. We collected our second-day pass and went to set up at the archer's ready room. Michelle, coach Lau and I had a chance to warm-up by letting a few arrows fly. The atmosphere was rather relaxed as there are fewer archers around.

1/32 elimination...

I was paired with a barebow archer who was ranked 17th in the tournament. We shot at lane number 5. The guy was very decent. "Hello, I'm Montri," he introduced himself. The Thais are extremely polite people with excellent sportsmanship, well, at least most of them are... Hahah! Montri said he felt hot and was actually sweating. The air-conditioning in the Fashion Island Mall didn't really kick-in. It can get really cold in full-blast. My opponent was using a vintage takedown recurve bow. I think he did really well the year before and it was really an honour to shoot along with such a classy archer. "It's not easy shooting a hunting bow like yours," he said. That's a little mind game going on, but I didn't let it bother me. All I had in mind, was beating myself.
"Did you know, you will be meeting the guy next to you if you win this match," he added. Montri was referring to Khun Yuttana, who won the Pre-Princess Cup barebow match a week earlier. Yuttana was ranked 17th during the qualifiers.
In the best of five during the Olympic Round, Montri took the first end. The second-end belonged to me and subsequently, after leading 4-2, my friendly opponent began to falter. He made a couple of mistakes. It was costly. 

Getting ready for action!
At end number five, I knew that I am going to take the match. Put a couple of arrows in the red and yellow, it was over. A year of hard work, commitment saw me through the 1/32 rounds. Michelle got pounded by rank number 2 Colonel Supin Smitskerin during her elimination match. Coach Lau also conceded to an archer from the AF Archery Club. He got thrashed six to nothing.

With Jeffery Pang from Penang and last year's champion Ang See Chuan

The confident Yuttana (left) is a strong contender
Doing my part at the 1/16 rounds
A good fight: at the end of the 1/16 match with Khun Yuttana
1/16 - The last man standing...

After slugging it out with Montri, it was time to meet Yuttana, he was the champion barebow archer at the Pre-Princess Cup tournament.
We had at least 30-minutes of rest and I took the time off to reflect. This is as far as I have pushed my Hoyt Satori takedown recurve bow. Most of the trad shooters at this point has been eliminated by the barebow archers.
I had a little bit of time to put a few arrows on the practice target bud before heading onto the shooting line to meet Yuttana. On qualification day, I was actually introduced to him by my lane mate. 
Yuttana shot with a Gillo G-1 barebow riser. Every archer's bow tells a story, and this one is really illuminating. 
In the first end, Yuttana took the match, earning two points. I was down to zero. 
When the buzzer rang, that two minutes felt like an eternity.
I had the jitters, I waited for Yuttana to make his first shot. In the second end, I landed an arrow on the innermost ring. Two others landed next to it. I couldn't believe it! Two "9s" and a "10".
When we picked up the arrow to score our points, I could see Yuttana's disbelief. We were even.
He took the third end with one extra point. It was close. Being a better archer, Yuttana won the 1/16 round by 6-2. Clearly, he was dominant. In the 1/8 round, Yuttana lost to last year's champion Ang See Chuan 6-0.

With Tuan Suhairi representing Malaysia Cup

Rewarding ourselves with an awesome lunch

Barbeque!

I went back to the archer's ready room to pack up. Michelle gave me a pat on my shoulder. "You did well!" she said. I guess the Thais were surprised that some Malaysian dude had given them a run for their money. This year round, I must say the standards have gone up. There were more archers shooting beyond 200 points during qualification rounds. And the Thais are really good. After a good day shooting, we stepped out to the Promenade mall which is located nearby for a good lunch. We had a lot to celebrate. Moving up three or four notches was not entirely impossible. Our training regime had worked.

Michelle with Col Supin flanked by Jeff

Ang, the reigning barebow champ sharing a light moment with Malaysian archers
Ang (second from left) met Supin (centre) during the finals

The regular singing dude

With Khun Tatrawee (second from left) at the end of the event
Barebow finals: Singapore vs Thailand...

I overheard some gossip at the ready room that goes: "If Singapore finishes 1-2 during the barebow finals, there will be a big party..."
It was amazing. The Singaporeans came prepared. They have been at it since 2014 and really have no reasons to falter. The best archer among the lot is Ang See Chuan. He had literally bulldozed his way through the tournament. Singapore's other hope was Chan Tat Kin (ranked 11th). He was knocked out during the quarter-finals. It was up to Ang to lift the spirits of his comrades.
Col Supin, who was ranked 2nd at the tournament, met with Ang (ranked 1st) at the finals. It was a close and tight match. Ang was confident and calm throughout the match. Supin, on the other hand, did show that he was shaken.
As the match drew to a draw at the end of five ends, the judge called for a one arrow shoot-off.
Compared to the previous year finals, this year's match was really exciting. Both men were equally matched. Ang shot first and landed his arrow on a "9". Right before he placed his arrow on the bow, Supin asked a guy in the crowd (entertainer Apisit "Joeyboy" Opasaimlimkit) to pick an arrow. As soon as it was nocked and drawn, Supit shot a perfect "10", the arrow was dead-centre. And the day belonged to Thailand. Ang, a true gentleman, shoot Supin's hand. For us, it was all over. Time to head back to our range, train harder for next year.
The event ended with a prize presentation and a "thank you" party by the organiser. We headed back to our hotel later and treated ourselves to an awesome dinner. To me, it was money well-spent. We shot our way to the 1/16 elimination rounds. This gave us motivation to do even better next year.
As soon as the dust settled, it was time to head back to Kuala Lumpur and deal with reality. Its back to the crunch and lesser range time. The next big thing is in October at the UPM open tournament. Barebow is being introduced for the first time. On the sidelines, there are smaller "kampung" tournaments for us to take part. Michelle and I are mulling the IBC tournament in December where barebow matches are a regular fixture. Till then, its time to improve on our form and cosistency...




Saturday, July 15, 2017

2017 Thailand Princess Cup - Part 3

Our team at Fashion Island Mall on day 1 of the tournament
Manager's briefing and qualifiers...

We had an extra day before the qualifiers. So, Friday, we took it rather easy. No more archery, just chilling out and wait for the manager's briefing at Synisiri Resort, which is located new Fashion Island Mall where the Thailand Princess Cup archery tournament is held. 

Scoping out the event hall before tournament day

Setting up the participant's tag

Michelle with her shooter's tag and lane number
We decided to have lunch at Fashion Island Mall. Ended up at a steamboat restaurant. Spent half the day chilling out there before we took a walk to Syinsiri which is nearby. That was also the hotel where most of the archers are staying.
There, we met a group of archers from Malaysia. Notable was En Suhairi who won the Kelantan open tournament earlier in March. Together with him were three other winners of the Malaysia Cup tournament. We sat in for the briefing and was surprised to learn that there will be two rounds for the first day of the barebow shoot. First, the qualifiers and then, the elimination round.
Later in the day, we caught up with coach Lau, our fourth team member and had a rather late dinner before calling it a day...

Arriving at the scene on the first day of the tournament...
The archer's prep room, already packed to the brim

Archers at the qualifiers for the recurve event
 Enduring the heebeejeebies and a long day... 

The next morning, we headed out to the junction of Khu Bon Road to have our local breakfast. After a good fill, the guys went back to take a dump. Its ritual.
Later, we boarded the taxis that took us to Fashion Island Mall which is nearby. After getting our gear out, we headed to the event hall and made our way to the archer's prep room. Since we are shooting in the afternoon, coach Lau suggested an early lunch. Everyone had their fill and was happy!

Equipment inspection

Local media at the scene

The trophies!
After a good fill, it was back to the event hall, there, we had a chance to warm-up. As usual, I did my push-ups, stretching and by the time our group was called, it's a quick march to the shooting line.

Warm-up session

Thai archers tallying the scores
Jeff, Lau and I shot on the same shooting line. We were in group A, while Michelle worked her way to the far end of the hall to shoot with the ladies.
My shooting mate was a tall Thai archer using a spigarelli barebow riser. He took target bud A while I shot the B side. Prior to this, we were assigned our target face and knew that the best way to beat anxiety is to train hard on our designated face.
It really helped a lot! After 10 ends and 30 arrows, I had two misses. The arrows landed outside the target face. For my effort, I scored 198/300. I beat my previous year score of 113/300. The highest scoring archer was from the Thailand Outdoor Archery Club. He ranked at 4th place with an impressive score of 237/300. Second highest was my lane mate who shot 216/300 while the guy on target face C shot at 205/300. 
My group was very evenly matched as most of them were excellent archers. Coach Lau came in at 186 ranked 58th while Michelle scored 174 and ranked 66th. Jeff, the weakest of the lot came in at 78 points ranked 105. Despite that, we made it to the elimination round that same day.

With our ranking tags for round 2

Michelle, squaring off with a Singaporean archer
The culling begins...

I was quite pleased with the results. Despite two misses, I managed to pull myself together and connected with my target face. We went off for some snacks, chilled out before the elimination round commenced that evening.
I was in group A and was paired with a young archer ranked at 81. In this round, it was a best of 5 that decides who wins. If you shoot and score 6 points without any opposition, you own the match.
I have shot Olympic Round (as this is called) in Kelantan earlier this year. We also trained for the OR format before heading to Thailand.
The young man who shot next to me was rather nervous. His first end was a disaster and when he couldn't connect on the subsequent ends, I went in for the kill. The resuts: 6-0. I made it through the 1/64 elimination match and progressed to the 1/32 OR match on the next day...

Celebrating with a chilled one over dinner!
Michelle was in group B and I had the chance to be her spotter. 
She shot with a Singaporean archer from the Teluk Blangah Archery Club. These guys are good and has been regulars at the Princess Cup Tournament since 2014 in the barebow category. 
Her opponent is an experienced archer. The guy took the first round by scoring 2-0. On the second end, Michelle equalized and with our encouragement and moral support, she took the third end by leading at 4-2. The befuddled Singaporean guy had his fate sealed when he shot poorly. Michelle took the match by 6-2 after five ends. Coach Lau also did very well and managed to move on to round 3. Jeff, on the other hand, gave his opponent a good fight. We left the scene late at night and celebrated by having beers and a late dinner....

Part 4: The push...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 Thailand Princess Cup - Part 2

Destination: Bangkok...

Saying goodbye to our kids...

We have an early flight to catch to Bangkok. The plan was to leave our home at 06:30 am in the morning. The night before, we had our equipment packed onto our trusty Plano parallel limb bow cases. We also filed in the relevant documents for Customs prior to departure. Our bows and shooting gear was listed in a cover letter which is submitted to the Customs Department at the KLIA airport. For this, be sure to give yourself enough lead time prior to departure. With the paperwork in place, we are assured of a smooth return trip.

Declaring the equipment at the airport's Customs office 
 After submitting the paperwork and clearing the gear with Customs, we checked-in and headed towards the KLIA executive lounge. It was at the breakfast table that I noticed a final call for boarding. This was our flight and we had minutes to spare. We dropped everything and rushed to the departure gate to board the flight. The rest was a smooth trip to the land of smiles...

Rolling out in Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok

After hours of travel, it's time to chill with some local beers!
We booked a stay in the outskirts of Bangkok. A hotel which is roughly about 6 kilometres away from Fashion Island Mall where the event is held. The accommodation is located at Khu Bon Road, a small suburb, 30-minutes from downtown Bangkok. Even the taxi ride from Suvarnabhumi was a small scam. Our taxi driver took the scenic route by heading into the city and back. So much for the short distance from the airport!
By mid-day, we arrived at the hotel, but our room was not ready. So, with plenty of time on hand, we scoped out the neighbourhood. 
There are food stalls everywhere, so, eating out is not a big issue. There's a big hypermart in the neighbourhood, that's where we stocked up on drinking water. We had lunch opposite our hotel, and by the time we are done, the room was ready.

The shooting experience in Bangkok...

Archery Thai's pro shop on the outskirts of Bangkok...
Arriving at the range

continuing with our training in Bangkok
Michelle's arrows hits its mark

Michelle during practice at the Thai range
We have booked the rest of the evening for a shooting session at the Archery Thai range. Seems that the location of the range is pretty near to our hotel, some 11km away in the outskirts of Bangkok. But the traffic jam, I must say: is something out of this world! From the hotel, it took nearly an hour to get to the range where I booked an hour of shooting time at one the lane available. 
It costs 60 baht (RM7.59) and another 10 bath (RM1.29) for a target paper. Since I am sharing the lane with Michelle, there was no issue at all cramming two persons onto a lane. We shot there for an hour and while we were at it, some of the regular Thai barebow archers were scoping us out. 
I realised this when one of the guys there started chatting in Thai and the word "Barebow" was mentioned a couple of times. 
On the way we arrived, the range was rather quiet. So, we shot our money's worth and headed back to the hotel. While waiting for a cab, Michelle bought a tourist SIM card for internet connection. It was then when we realised that the card could not be activated. What a bummer! We had until the next day to do so at a DTAC centre located in downtown Bangkok. I made prior arrangements with my friend Preeda to meet up for lunch. The rest of our first day there was over. We needed some rest since it has been a long day.

Honouring a good friend... 

With my buddy Preeda who works in downtown Bangkok...
I needed some new carbon shafts for my bow and sought the help of Preeda, a buddy of mine who is based in Bangkok. He helped to source for the arrows and sent it over to Malaysia. 
I owed him postage money and made arrangements to meet up with him in the downtown area for lunch.
Michelle and I met up with Preeda and had lunch at the Central Embassy food centre. The fare is pretty decent and we caught up for lost times there. After a good fill, it was time to head back to hotel. There, we met up with our teammate Jeff who flew in from Kuala Lumpur on the morning flight.

Shooting with Jeff at the Archery Thai range

 That evening, we made our way back to the Archery Thai range to sight-in our bows. Two days of acclimatisation actually helped me a lot!
This time, we spent about two hours at the range and met an archer from India. He introduced himself as Amit and competed in the compound category at the tournament. The small-sized guy said he was very keen in taking up barebow archery and kinda scoped us out at the range. Later, he gave a couple of hunting bows a try. I think he will be making a trip back to Bangkok later in the year.

Jeff having a go with his Gillo G1 barebow riser at the range
After spending some time at the range, we headed out to the Thailand Outdoor Shop located nearby. Jeff went shopping while Michelle and I waited. We later boarded a cab and headed back to the hotel.
Khu Bon Road is a real quiet neighbourhood. There are some really good eating places nearby. We settled for dinner at Jasmine Restaurant opposite Big C marketplace. The fare was pretty decent.

Leo beer anyone?

Fried chicken wings

Chicken feet soup

By the time dinner was done, time caught up with us. We headed down the road to the Tesco Lotus store to stock up on drinking water.
Almost everyone is in Bangkok with the exception of coach Lau who is taking an afternoon flight the next day...

Part 3: Manager's meeting and qualifiers...