By Shirley Tay
NTU Archery Club’s three-year streak as champions ended last month, after the team came in as first runners-up at the 10th Institutional Archery Competition.
While both institutions each clinched eight gold medals, NUS took home the championship title with five silver medals, while NTU had only four in their tally.
Toh Yi Jie, 25, the captain of the NTU Archery Club, was disappointed with the results after the effort the team put into training for the past eight months.
While training sessions were held thrice a week a month before the competition, many archers went down to the range almost every day to practice.
“It is even more aggravating to know that the championship cup was lost by such a small margin,” said the third-year student from the School of Social Sciences.
A windy mess
After the qualification and team rounds, NTU was leading the competition with eight gold medals, while NUS was ranked second with three gold medals.
However, the tables turned in the final Individual Knock-Out (IKO) segment.
Vice-captain Keller Chai and Shawn Tay, the star archers of the NTU female and male team respectively, had both clinched the gold medal in their respective open events. But they lost out in the IKO segment, albeit by a narrow margin.
In a tense shoot-off following a 5-5 draw in the IKO segment, Chai, 20, lost the gold medal to NUS opponent Kaylynn Sew.
She had fumbled slightly and wrongly estimated her aim. Her arrow ended up at the seven point boundary, while Sew scored an eight.
Chai, a national archer, attributed the misaim to the wind, which was “stronger than anything she had ever experienced in her archery career”.
While Tay clinched the gold medal for the Individual Compound Open event, he placed second in the IKO segment. In the Compound event, archers shoot with a compound bow, a newer type of bow with a pulley system.
In the final match, Tay fell short by just one point, scoring a total of 141. Ang Han Quan from Ngee Ann Polytechnic scored 142.
At full draw, archers have to be patient and cool-headed while aiming, said Tay; he admits that he gets impatient sometimes.
His bad habit of releasing the arrow the moment it is aimed at the centre causes his shots to be unstable, said Tay, 25.
“Also, I strive for perfection all the time, which gives me unnecessary pressure. This results in an impatient and disturbed mind, which can lead to costly mistakes,” added Tay, a third-year student from the School of Biological Sciences.
Tay was a little upset initially as the mistakes he made in the final three arrows cost him the match.
Even after their surprise loss, the team remains optimistic with plans to improve.
In all competitive sports, setbacks are inevitable, said Jonas Lim, 23, who clinched one gold medal and two silver medals in the competition.
“What is important is how we plan to move on from here,” said the third-year student from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The club has analysed their loss and identified learning points to be incorporated into their training plan in preparation for the NUS Indoor Archery Championships in June, said Toh.
“Some of our archers need more mental training to handle the pressure of knockout rounds. As such, we will incorporate training methods that put more pressure on the archer during shooting, and simulate the competition environment as closely as possible,” added Toh.
Chai plans to encourage archers to help their teammates spot their mistakes.
“This is especially important for our club since we don’t have a coach. It can lighten the load of the captains,” said Chai, a first-year student from the School of Humanities.
Due to a lack of funds, the NTU Archery Club is unable to hire a coach to come down on a regular basis, added Chai.
Even so, the team has managed to maintain the championship title for the past three years, and snag the first-runner up ranking this year.
Chai believes that a coach is necessary to push the team to greater heights.
Without a coach, the team’s shooting style is not standardised, she said. Each archer is taught different shooting forms, which makes it difficult for them to spot each other’s mistakes and improve.
“As an experienced archers and not coaches, there is only so much the captains can do. There is only so much we know, and there is only so much we can impart,” she said.