belomancy schmelomancy

July 23, 2014 — 1 Comment

Well, you learn something new everyday. Belomancy is the art of divination (predicting the future) with arrows – from the Greek word belos, meaning arrow or dart. From Wikipedia:

Belomancy was anciently practised at least by BabyloniansGreeksArabs and Scythians…. The arrows were typically marked with occult symbols and had to have feathers for every method. In one method, different possible answers to a given question were written and tied to each arrow. For example, three arrows would be marked with the phrases, God orders it me, God forbids it me, and the third would be blank. The arrow that flew the furthest indicated the answer. Another method involves the same thing, but without shooting the arrows. They would simply be shuffled in the quiver, worn preferably on the back, and the first arrow to be drawn indicated the answer. If a blank arrow was drawn, they would redraw.

Righty ho. I can’t do clout-y distance shooting here in London, but in the spirit of experiment, I gave the second method a go. First, I put my quiver on. I marked three of my arrows with tags: ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘Maybe’, and asked the gods: “Should I go and buy an ice-cream?”.

I turned away, shuffled them out of sight, dramatically drew one from the quiver, and…

..I drew ‘No.’

Now I’m sitting here without any ice-cream. Well, I’m not trying that again.


July 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

bird dmeo


I believe this is a kookaburra. By Kathy Kuestler via dmeo.

Photo of North Korean women's recurve team at the Shanghai World Cup 2014 by Dean Alberga

Photo of North Korean women’s recurve team at the Shanghai World Cup 2014 by Dean Alberga

Amazing news via Yonhap:

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Archers from North Korea are scheduled to train in South Korea this summer in their preparations for the Asian Games to be held south of the border, officials here said on Tuesday.

According to the Korea Archery Association in Seoul, the North Koreans are set to arrive in Incheon, the host of the Asian Games located west of the capital city, in early August and train for about two weeks.

The Asian Games will be held from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.

The association said the North Koreans will be the beneficiaries of a joint program by the Asian Games organizers and the Olympic Council of Asia to support athletes from underdeveloped nations with their training.

“I heard that about 16 or 17 athletes and coaches will first train in China and then arrive here,” an official with the South Korean archery governing body said. “We don’t yet have details of the North Koreans’ plans, but our national team should be prepared for possible joint training programs.”

Despite lingering tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula, archers from the two nations have been on good terms, the official explained.

“Whenever we’ve run into North Korean archers at international events, we’ve often exchanged information on other teams and offered them technical advice,” the official added. “If we end up having joint training sessions, it will be much the same story.”

South Korea is one of the world’s premier archery nations, having grabbed 33 out of a possible 44 Asian Games gold medals and 19 gold medals at the Summer Olympics, more than any other country.

North Korea hasn’t been nearly as dominant, with just one gold and six medals overall at the Asian Games. At the most recent Asian Games four years ago in Guangzhou, China, Kwon Un-sil grabbed the bronze in the women’s individual event.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has shown an interest in archery since taking over the communist state about two years ago. He has visited with national team archers in their training center in Pyongyang and ordered the sport’s officials to develop new techniques and equipment.

In the picture above, the DPRK recurve team are clearly using both American (Easton) and South Korean (Win & Win) equipment, which seems a bit extraordinary given the politics (although the Hermit Kingdom regime is no stranger to importing luxury foreign goods when it suits them). You fear slightly for the archers though, with the Great Successor taking an interest in their progress – what happens if they fail to bring home a medal? Incurring His displeasure can lead to all sorts of consequences. I wonder how many DPRK athletes attending the Asian Games in the South will sneak out and fail to return home.

But I also can’t think of any sport better than archery as a seedling to democracy and unification; something that has been part of the Han Peninsula’s history for millennia. Perhaps Kim Jong-Un sees this as a meaningless symbolic gesture, something he knows the ROK will bite on as a matter of policy. We can all hope that it isn’t. From little seedlings, mighty oaks can grow.


(thx to Bogensport)

170 years ago…

July 14, 2014 — Leave a comment


Just been reading the Rules & Regulations of Thirsk Bowmen*, an archery club in Yorkshire, England, published in 1845. Thirsk Bowmen exists today, but the current club apparently has no direct connection with the 19th century club. The committee structure, voting in, and roles and responsibilities are entirely familiar to any member of a sports or social club today. But there were some interesting sections:

1) The official ‘season’ was outdoor only and ran from the first Tuesday in May to the last Tuesday in September. Only gentlemen were allowed, and the cost per year was ten shillings and sixpence – approximate cost relative to wages in 2014: around £400. No word about indoor shooting.

2) Shooting was permitted on Tuesdays and Fridays starting at 5 o’clock. All arrows had to be marked with their owners initials or they did not score – a rule that persists in the UK and worldwide.

3) Every Tuesday archers shot nine dozen arrows – four dozen at 100 yards, three dozen at 80 yards, and two dozen at 60 yards. (A similar imperial round called a St. George, which has three dozen at each distance, is still shot in the UK). Maximum score using five zone scoring would be 972. Archers shot three arrow ends. Given that sunset in May in Yorkshire is around 8pm, they would have to get moving pretty quickly to get the round in before dusk.

4) The highest score each week would be made ‘captain of the target’, and get to hold a silver medal for the week. To encourage all archers, a handicap system existed – if you had won once in a season, you got four points removed from your score for the next and all subsequent weeks – twice in a season, eight points removed; three times, sixteen points and so on.

5) These Tuesday shoots were compulsory – unless you could prove you were at least ten miles outside of Thirsk, you were fined sixpence (relatively, about £20) for every shoot you missed! Swearing incurred a similar penalty. Turning up without all your equipment incurred a stiffer fine of a shilling (about £40).

6) Every year in September there was a ‘Grand Annual Meeting’. The highest score of the day would receive a silver bugle and the title ‘Captain Of The Year’, the best gold (nearest the centre) would receive a silver arrow and the title ‘Lieutenant Of The Year’ – and the last place finisher would receive a ‘Wooden Spoon’ and the title ‘Master Of The Green’. Yes, that’s right – archery puns haven’t improved much in the past 170 years.

7) Gambling on results was clearly a problem – the rules go into some detail about not letting betting corrupt the ‘manly amusement’, and a rule existed that any wagers discovered would have to be forfeited to club funds – although sweepstakes of up to five shillings (about £200) were allowed with prior permission of the Secretary.

*A copy of these rules sold at Bonhams in Harrogate for £192 in 2007.



ki bo bae (again)

July 11, 2014 — 5 Comments


Ki Bo Bae news! Her Gwangju City Hall pro team won the first “Olympic commemorative’ 31st Hoejanggi College archery competition” a couple of weeks ago, with the team racking up 4126 points in qualifying. Ki Bo Bae shot a 1391 FITA in qualifying, beating the tournament record. No one in Europe or America has ever shot that score, if I have checked correctly.

1391 and not in the national team anymore. Only in Korea. Still, good to see that comeback is still on…

Franco Nonnis

Outsider-esque fantasy from Franco Nonnis.

Alejandra Valencia, 19, has been part of the Mexican recurve team since 2011. She won two gold medals (team and individual) at the Pan American Games in 2011, and qualified for the World Cup Final in Paris last year. She is currently in Legnica in Poland shooting at the World University Championships. In English y Español (véase más abajo).

How do you keep calm just before you are going to shoot?

I breathe – and then I concentrate on what I am going to do. I just focus on my technique.

Do you have any particular warmups or rituals before going to the line?

No, I only do the normal sorts of warmups, and then I just get ready!

What would you do to raise archery’s profile for the public?

It would be good to have more broadcasting of the competitions, maybe give more exhibitions in places, things like that.

Is there a version of the sport that could attract new audiences?

Well, what is happening right now with the movies that are being released, recently there was that streak where almost all the movies had someone using a bow and arrow, that helped a lot for people to get to know archery – that is going to be the thing that helps people know the sport and get interested in it.

What is your favourite sport apart from archery and why?

I like all sports, really. I can’t choose anyone in particular. Sorry! :S



Alejandra Valencia at the World Cup finals, Paris, 2013.

What is your greatest strength?

My greatest strength, maybe, would be that I am very calm when I am doing things, so I don’t panic easily.

What does an ordinary day in your life look like when you are preparing for a tournament?

I go to university in the mornings and train in the afternoons, although sometimes I train in the mornings before going to school. That’s it.

What is the best advice you have given to someone else?

Hmmm… I would say “train as if you were competing and compete as if you were training.”

Do you believe in luck?


What is your favourite country you have visited through archery?

Hmmm…. I think that Holland is nice. I like Amsterdam very much, I’ve only really been there for four hours, but it’s very calm, very clean and very beautiful. 

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?

A perfect Sunday would be to sleep late, peacefully, no homework, no worries, and being with my family in the afternoon.

Why do you keep doing it?

Why do I continue doing archery? I don’t know –  perhaps because I get a lot of fun out of it, and I never get bored!


and lastly,

What are you drawing next? (Alejandra was drawing a new picture on her Facebook page every day)

LOL… well, that was a challenge to draw something new every 30 days, but I lost it!  But I’m always drawing something, every day. I love to draw.



¿Como mantienes la calma cuando vas a tirar?

Respiro y me concentro en lo que voy a hacer, me enfoco en mi técnica.

¿Haces algún calentamiento? Kabala? Ritual?

No, solo hago el calentamiento normal y despues me alisto para tirar.

¿Qué harías para dar a conocer a dar a conocer a más personas el perfil de un arquero?

Tal vez teniendo mas difusión en cada competencia, dar exhibiciones en lugares o cosas así.

¿Hay alguna versión o algo diferente del tiro con arco que tú crees que pueda atraer a un nuevo público?

Lo que orita esta funcionando  son las peliculas que estan saliendo, hace poco hubo una racha donde casi todas las peliculas tenian a alguien que usaba un arco y una flecha, eso ayudo mucho a que la gente conociera este deporte y se interesara por el.

¿Cuál es tu deporte favorito aparte del tiro con arco y por qué?

Todos los deportes me gustan, no podria elegir uno en especial :S

¿Cuál es tu mayor fortaleza?

Mi mayor fortaleza sea, tal vez, que soy muy tranquila en cuestion de hacer las cosas, no entro en pánico fácilmente

¿Cómo es un día común en tu vida cuando te estás preparando para un torneo?

Voy a la escuela en las mañanas y entreno en las tardes, a veces entreno en la mañana antes de ir a la escuela

¿Cuál es el mejor consejo que has dado?

Hmm…. yo creo que seria el de ”entrena como si compitieras y compite como si entrenaras”.

¿Crees en la suerte?

Tal vez, si.

Cuéntanos como es un Domingo perfecto para tí.

Un domingo perfecto seria dormir tranquilamente hasta tarde, sin tareas, ni preocupaciones y poder estar con mi familia en la tarde

Cuál es tu país favorito,  en el que hayas estado, para tiro con arco, y por qué?

hmm… yo creo que holanda, me gusto mucho amsterdam y aunque solo estuvimos 4 horas  la ciudad estaba muy bonita y tranquila, ademas de limpia

¿Qué te mantiene practicando  el tiro con arco?

que me mantiene tirando? no se, tal vez sea porque me divierte hacerlo y no me aburre

¿Cuál será su dibujo mañana?

Jajaja… pues eso era un reto de dibujos de 30 días pero lo he perdido, pero yo siempre estoy dibujando algo nuevo cada día. Me gusta dibujar.


More on Alejandra:

Good piece by ESPN here (in English), with some background. 

Video piece by ESPN here (en Español).

Special thanks to Teresa Colunga De La Vega.