Thursday, November 28, 2019

KIFAC 2019 - Part 3

Unmarked distances... 

The head judge giving archers a final briefing before the game...
Fear of the unknown puts many folks in suspense.
To begin the day, the head judge gave a thorough briefing about the game and how it's conducted.
We walked to the edge of the course where six target stands were set up with 20cmx3face in a shooting sequence of A, B, C, and D. 
Two archers will shoot first in the group beginning with archers A and B.  The sequence follows with the last two target faces. This is similar to indoor triple face targets where we actually shoot the first and third target faces to give each other more space. Well, some archers did not observe this and shot just about any target face they fancy. If there is a protest, he will lose points.

Michelle and one of the woman archers on the course...
I was placed in a flight with two guys. One from Batam, a Javanese goat herder, another from Pekanbaru in Sumatera. 
The goat herder, Pak Liswantoro is relatively new to archery while Pak Dedi Suryadi was the more seasoned archer. 
This was apparent with Liswantoro wanted to call for the judge when his arrow landed between the line of value between two points. I called out the score and awarded the goat herder the highest score, but he insisted on calling the judge. We only call for a judge when all of us could not agree on the value of the score. In this respect, the Indonesians have quite a way to go...

Runners handing out scoresheets to the archers...
Protocol, protocol, protocol...

At the first pool, we shot six targets. 
I didn't connect well with the top 20cm target face as my arrow landed high. This actually taught me to set my aiming point lower to allow the arrow to land dead-center. After placing 18 arrows at the first station, I only managed to harvest 57 points. Not too shabby to get the day started.
When everyone had completed their rounds, the announcer called for a break to observe the opening ceremony.
Pak Dedi, my shooting partner remarked that it's all speeches, dancing and delay to the entire event.
We spent two hours listening to speeches from all the VIP guests and by the time it was over, back to work.
The next pool was a set of six targets with a 60cm face at a distance of 30 meters. It's time to make up the lost points and I managed to connect my shots with a couple of misses.
On the third pool, we had a set of 40cm target face at roughly 20 meters. Now, this is our bread and butter and we were expected to do well. 
I had failed to factor-in the slightly elevated slope that I was standing on to take my shot. Each arrow landed high in a tight group. No misses, but very little points.
While working on the third pool, the organizers had called for a meeting among the team and club managers. 
A decision was made to proceed with the game until the end.

An Indonesian national archer at the opening ceremony

The first pool of 20cm target faces

Saving the best for the last... 

Everyone dreads the long and elevated target faces. Placed at a distance of 45 meters on a mound, a badly estimated shot can land your arrow in the bushes.
I observed as one guy from a different flight had only one arrow on the target face. It was tough.
The top archer in my group was Pak Dedi. He did very well and came in at fifth place on the unmarked distance ranking.
On the first day, I managed to score 206 points to land a spot on the sixth place. Plenty of misses, especially in the 45m unmarked distance targets. One of my arrows landed on the wooden target stand. Some went low and hit the ground. Precision and form are key to connecting your shots in this case...

Having our packed lunch...
All in the day's work: Beer Bintang to quench our thirst...

Michelle came in first in the Women's Barebow division. She ranked high with 227 points after 72 arrows.
We headed back to Nagoya Hills earlier than the previous day and walked around the area before settling at a hawker centre at the city walk for some beers.
There, we ate simple, sat around to unwind as the marked distances await on the final day of the tournament...

KIFAC 2019 - Part 2

Official practice, registration and equipment inspection...

The Field of play overlooks Singapore's skyline
We woke up as early as 5.30am in preparation for the official practice and equipment inspection at Indah Puri Golf Resort which is located in Sekupang, some 14km away from Nagoya Hills. Since it was a workday in most parts of the island, we had to join the early traffic rush.
Michelle and I had decided to have breakfast at McDonald's which is about a block away from our hotel. There, it's the usual McBreakfast and a cup of black coffee to get the day going.
The day before, we nearly got ripped off by a ride-hailing driver. Michelle had decided that it was best to get a five-star person to drive us to our location across the island.
We hailed a ride, loaded out gear onto the car and joined the hustle and bustle of the daily grind in Batam.
I observed that the roads around here were really bad. Some years back, I rode my bike across the island to get to Bintan.
The driver took us to a series of small villages before we hit the golf resort's entrance.

Indah Puri at last!

An aerial view of the Field of play

An awesome location!
There weren't many archers on the first day of the meet. A technical meeting was about to take place at 9am sharp before we were allowed to practice at a designated pool.
The organizers had made sure that the rules were laid down and all archers would know what to do during the game. I like it that the guys were thorough and they made sure everything is covered...


I shoot split-finger, so, there little concern on my part about "string-walking" or setting the "right crawl" on my bow. I base my technique on instinctive archery and whatever I see, the arrow will follow and land. Not 100% accurate, but it gets the job done. I didn't join the shoot to earn medals, but rather have fun and enjoy the shoot.

Michelle, sighting-in her bow

Equipment inspection...

The technical meeting session

The head judge, laying down the rules...
After all the formalities, we were introduced to a family from Kluang, Johor. Two ladies in the group were shooting in the Women's Barebow division. One of the women's husbands, a young bowyer was among the crowd. We have actually met at the Istana Negara shoot that took place in early November.
The folks were really friendly as we exchanged knowledge on Field Archery. Some of the archers who registered for the shoot arrived later in the day to join in the practice.
Later, Michelle and I had decided to have lunch at the golf course clubhouse. 
We had a decent meal consisting of fried rice and oxtail soup and hung out there. It started raining heavily before the 2pm practice session and we were glad that the rain actually stopped.

Nasi goreng Indah...

Oxtail soup...

Weathering it out at the clubhouse

Making the most out of it...

Time passes slowly when you wait. But it bears its rewards when you connect your shot at unmarked distances.
We shot for the second time at the course and found our arrows landing at the target faces.
I always had issues of dropping my bow arm, causing the arrows to land low and short. This, I tried to fix and minimalize my form mistakes. Michelle, on the other hand, had a better time connecting her shots.

Retrieving arrows from an elevated target...

One of the hardest pools in the course...

Rain gear on the course!

Targets on the marked distance pool...

Practice session...

My wet riser...
We had a full day at the tournament venue. Making full use of the practice session.
I was quite satisfied to land some shots at the 40m targets. The first day would be unmarked distances followed by marked distances on the last day. Elimination rounds were called off due to time management issues.
By the end of the day, it was back to our shithole hotel in Nagoya. We hailed a ride that took forever to arrive and manage to make it back all the way.
At Nagoya, we had to refill our drinking water and prepare for the competition day. After a good meal, that was it for me. I crashed early to earn some sleep time...

KIFAC 2019 - Part 1

Indonesia's first Field Archery Tournament...

I caught wind of the KIFAC 2019 (Kepri International Field Archery Championships from Mike Song, the man behind Excella Archery Pro Shop and took the opportunity to shoot in Batam, one of the islands in the Riau Archipelago.
We registered for the shoot before heading off to Japan for our break. Michelle had never shot field before and was unfamiliar with the rules. I took some time to explain to her about the scoring system and all the necessary information about this archery discipline.
The entrance fee was 300,000 IDR (RM89) and payment has to be done via Telegraphic Transfer to the organizer's bank account. I did this via on-line banking and it was not a hassle at all.

Upon returning from Japan, Michelle was really busy with work. I had a couple of days to get the paperwork done for bringing out our archery equipment and getting the ferry ticket purchased. Our plan was to drive down to Johor Bahru and take a ferry across to Batam.
To the uninitiated, Batam is located across the Singapore Straits and can actually be seen from it's Northernmost tip.
The KIFAC 2019 tournament was held at the Indah Puri Golf Resort. To get things going, I booked our stay at Batam Centre and it takes about 30-minutes to get to the golf resort where the tournament was held.

Getting ready to board the ferry from Puteri Harbour near Iskandar Puteri

Downtown Singapore as seen from our boat's window
 Murphy's Law...

Not everything had turned out as planned. Before we boarded our ferry, I received a call from informing us that our room was canceled due to overbooking. This was done at the very last-minute and sounded really suspicious. The company's customer service said they will replace the room with a hotel that has the "equal quality".

The replacement hotel in Nagoya Business Centre, Batam

Our "executive suite"
"Buyers beware..."

As a rule of thumb, double-check offers that are "too good to be true". I checked out the hotel in Batam Centre called "Capital O" on that came highly-rated.
For four nights, the rates were 1.23mil IDR which came up around RM360.00 for the whole stay. I thought it was a great offer which turned out to be a real nightmare. 
We were redirected to Nagoya Hills, located some 5km away from Batam Centre. Even when we had arrived at the ferry terminal, there was a turf war between taxi drivers and ride-hailing services. To get where we wanted, we had to drag our suitcase for nearly half a kilometer before boarding a Toyota Avanza. The ride costs about 39,000 IDR and the driver wanted everything. He was reluctant to give the loose change. I insisted and was given a stare. Well, fuck him!
The room, as it has turned out, was rather run-down. The only thing that kept us going was the air conditioning and hot shower that worked. I had Michelle to thank for not being fussy about being stuck in a real adventure situation.
In most parts of Indonesia, smoking is permitted in hotel rooms. We had a real raw deal and had to contend with cigarette-stained furniture and a musty smelling room.

Kuala Lumpur and Singapore prices...

If you plan to eat out and have a couple of beers, be prepared to pay the rates as we did at home. 
We ended up at a place called "Dju Dju Baru", a Chinese restaurant. We ordered three dishes: Fish soup, Fried Bittergourd with egg and Botok, the local otak-otak. We also had two large bottles of Bintang Beer and the bill came up to 203,000 IDR (RM60.80). The beers chalked up nearly half the price of our dinner. Later, we found out about a food court near the Nagoya City Walk that serves Beer Bintang at 33,000 IDR (RM9.78).

Our first night in Batam was done after a meal. Nagoya, for starters, is an entertainment district on the island. There are many sleazy bars surrounding our hotel. I was in such a bad shape, it didn't take long for me to crash...

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

2019 Singapore National Games - Part 2

"TBAC Territory"

Team Rogue Archers: Samo, Isaac, and Jeremy
Since Barebow was contested as a team event, the Teluk Belangah Archery Club or "TBAC" in short, has been dominant. They eliminate all their competitors and came up top 3 in the event. For them, it's a clean sweep through and through.
To throw them off the track, Jeremy had waited till the last minute to register our team. I pitched the name "Rogue Archers" which the guys had well received.
The TBAC guys never saw this coming and after day one, we came up tops in our group. While the dominant TBAC archers who formed a great team was numero uno in their own terms. 

Getting ready for the K-O rounds on day 2...
On the elimination rounds, we met the more laidback guys from TBAC consisting of Uncle Tan Tock Seng, Toon Wee, and another old-timer. I met Uncle Tan and Toon at the Sungai Lembing 3D shoot. So, this was a small reunion.
The first game was "easy" as we eliminated the "fun" guys from TBAC.
This was followed by a break before we met the "next generation" archers from TBAC called "Bersatu".

Taking my shot at the finals...
Teamwork at its best... 
"Bersatu" was made up of TBAC's finest young talent. Two guys and a lady made up the team. One of them, Dennis, I met him at the Thailand Princess Cup in Bangkok back in June. Turned out to be quite a decent guy.
During the K-O rounds, our lead archer Isaac had a bad release, resulting in a miss. Jeremy and I made up with some good shots.
Even with a miss, we came up with 11 points higher than our opponents. More apparent was one of the ends with all arrows in the yellow. We were relaxed, didn't lower our guard and had a great match with TBAC's younger and inexperienced team.

Completing the circle...

Our match at the finals was with TBAC's team OK.
We took them on the day before and they consist of three of TBAC's finest archers. They were Ang See Chuan, who won the 2016 Thailand Princess Cup Barebow Open, Dennis Ng and Gary Ang, one of the club's top archers.

Ending TBAC's dominance at the Singapore National Games

Thanking our fellow archers...
Jeremy put his plans into action. He picked Isaac as his running mate and added the final touch with me as the "mystery archer" in the team.
It was psychology warfare with Jeremy keeping the opponents guessing, much to the dislike of some folks. I can see the resentment on the faces of the guys that we have eliminated. But hey, it's just a game. 
We met the last team standing. All our arrows connect and when the last arrow hits the target face on the final end, I can see Jeremy raising his arms, signaling an end to years of TBAC dominance. We congratulated the second-place winners and thanked them for a good game.

receiving our medals from TBAC's coach

Mission accomplished! 
We later received our medals and small prize money. Jeremy took the celebrations with beers and hot-pot at a local restaurant. He was very happy to add another trophy and to him, it was a trifecta. Previously, he won the recurve and compound team matches. Barebow completes the Holy Trinity.
For me, it was living up to the expectations of getting the job done. I am the foreigner whom nobody gives a shit about at the game. So, that said, the Singapore National Games lent valuable experience in teamwork and cohesion in high-pressure situations. I also struck off another of my "Bucket list" which is to shoot in Singapore... 

2019 Singapore National Games - Part 1

Into the Lion's den...

Rogue Archers: Jeb, Samo, Jeremy, and Isaac
 Sometime late last year, my archery buddy from Singapore Jeremy Han had mentioned his intent to compete at a team game at the Singapore National Games.
This actually happened as I traveled to Singapore to compete with his team. 
I have never shared the shooting line with Jeremy and was introduced to Isaac Goh, a fellow teammate earlier this year when I made a trip down to Singapore.
The plan was to crash at Jeremy's home and head down to the Toa Payoh stadium for the shoot.


My plan was simple. Take a bus down to Singapore. This is also the first time I am bringing in archery equipment to the island republic. So, I went in prepared.
There are daily bus services to Singapore from Bandar Sunway which was perfect for me. 
For this game, I packed light and brought my trusty CD Archery WF25X bow with me.
To get past Customs, I first have to declare the equipment at the Sultan Abu Bakar CIC complex near Tanjung Kupang. This was, of course, a pain in the ass.
Next, comes the most trying part: The Singapore Customs...

In the bus, ready to roll...

My ride to the far South...

Arriving in Singapore...

I hauled my gear to the X-ray machine and handed the paperwork to the security staff.
She called a senior Customs officer and two cops. Lots of questions to answer and I was brought to a room where more screening was done. After determining that the intent to bring archery equipment into the island republic was justified, I was allowed to enter.
Thankfully, the bus was still waiting. It made its way to the HarbourFront and my buddies Jeremy and Jeb were already there.

"Annihilate with extreme prejudice..."

Fighting sleep deprivation, we had a full day ahead of us. It started with a light practice at a private range near Teluk Belangah.
Jeremy had set up a new bow which is identical to the one Isaac was using.
Prior to this, I had never shot with the guys.

I sighted in with my bow and was confident of pulling it together at the qualifying rounds on the first day of the team event.

Jeremy sighting-in his bow

Zeroing-in with my WF25X
We met the first team from the Singapore "Boy's Brigade". They came in third last year and was said to be very experienced in the game.
We have two arrows each to land on two 40cmx10ring target faces. One anchor archer with shoot an arrow each on the two faces. 
Since we have never shot as a team, Isaac decided to be the anchor while Jeremy and I took one face each.
We took the first end, the Boys Brigade equalized and the rest of the game belonged to us with an 8-2 win (with one bonus round).

The crowd in the Tao Payoh Stadium

Pep talk with Jeremy after finishing a round...

Counting scores and marking the target faces...
After a good lunch break, we took on four other teams and came up top in our group, unbeaten.
My arrows connected throughout the rounds and I was just glad to be able to do get the job done.

Inculcating good sportsmanship: Jeremy thanking our opponents for a good game...

We cleaned up the rest good including two teams from the Teluk Blangah Archery club. These are premier and seasoned Barebow archers in the island republic who have vast experience competing overseas.
My last brush with them was at Sungai Lembing at a 3D shoot...

Next: Changing mindset...


The phone call... 

Just days before heading to Japan, my cellphone rang. The caller identity belonged to someone I knew from an old workplace.
"Hey, how are you?" he asked. 
"Fine," I said.
"I just called to tell you that my car club is organizing a ride in the East Coast for your late friend.
"We are leaving tonight," he continued.
"Wah, very thoughtful of you to inform me. At the last-minute," I replied.
"Ah, I just thought of you, our mutual friend is the reason why I called," he said. 
"Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts," I added.
"Yeah, you are lucky I actually remembered you...," he concluded.

My late buddy Shaharul on the far left...
The drive...

The person honored in this car jamboree was a close friend of mine, Shaharul Zain who passed away in April this year.
I knew him since Secondary school and kept in touch until he started working. 
I attended his wedding and since he had a divorce, the guy kept his distance. 
I respect people's need for space to heal.
Moving forward, I was having beers with my buddy Jeb and Coach Tan. A WhatsApp message came to inform the passing of Shaharul. 
We finished up our beers, went to a mosque in Bangsar where his last rites were performed and made it just in time before the crowd dispersed for his burial at the Kiara Muslim cemetery.
There at the burial ground, it started pouring. It was poorly-lit and I can see the last scoop of earth being poured onto the grave of my old friend.
Tears rolled down my face as that was the last time I saw my buddy being committed to the ground.
I went up to his father, Col (RTD) K.N. Zain to offer him my sympathies and deepest condolences.

He was calm and composed. Later in the night, a thanksgiving prayer was held at the late Shaharul parent's home near Lucky Gardens, Bangsar. 
Jeb and I went there to pay our respects to Shaharul's Mom and Dad.
"Hello Uncle," I introduced myself.
"Yes, I remember you. How have you been?," asked the Colonel.
"Fine, Sir," I replied.
The Colonel shared with me about Shaharul's final days.
It seems that he was doing very well and was at the peak of his career with the Malaysian Investment Bond.
I wished both parents well and went on. That was many months ago.

The caller...

The guy who rang me up tried to sell some land to the Colonel. He was a "close family friend".
Truth to be told, some guy who calls you after 13 years and informed you about a drive that is taking place on that very same day - is someone that is the least sincere.
The guy asked if I am employed. I said: "No".
"Hey, I have a website, it's a non-profit thing, you can write to "stay relevant"," he pitched.
"Nah, thank you very much. I will rather be irrelevant these days," I told the guy.

The business...

I spent nearly half my life in the media scene. Started as a photographer, changed my career as a reporter and eventually rose up the ranks to a Deputy Editor and ended my gig as a Producer.
Someone I knew said I will never make it far. Why? I don't "kiss ass".
I am a non-conformist and had never been in the "mainstream". For most of my career as a reporter, I was very fortunate to have some really good mentors.
Back in the newsroom, there were good Editors and a few great Editors.
The rest? Well, the majority of them are just dead weight. Great Editors, they take the trouble to teach you. Good ones, well, they just want to get things done and over with. And some, are just plain assholes.
The connection made with the phone call was the days in the newsroom. The guy who went for the drive was somebody who is still trying to "stay relevant". Well, good luck!