Sydney Watson

Sydney Watson

Watson tops at national trials

Canada Day was a great day for Sydney Watson who proved she is still the best female cadet compound bow archer in Canada.

Canada Day was a great day for Sydney Watson who proved she is still the best female cadet compound bow archer in Canada.

Watson, 17, was in Trois-Rivières, QC,  taking part in the Canadian Archery Junior Team trials hosted by the Club de tir-à-l’arc Le Sagittaire.

With two round totals of 656 and 651, Watson was just six and 11 points, respectively, off the Canadian record she established in May this year.  

“I didn’t shoot my best, but I was close,” Watson said of the competition.

“I was happy with my shooting overall.”

Dale Chapplow, Watson’s coach, agreed.

“She shot very well, considering the temperature and humidity and the fact it was a national trial,” he said.

Although just off the Canadian record, Watson’s scores were more than enough to finish ahead of the other girls in her category, besting Marie-Helene Dufresne by 171 points and Gabrielle Bolduc by 460 points.

Each round, archers shot 12 sets of three arrows at a target 50 m away, for a possible total score of 360 per round.  Watson shot single rounds of 332, 324 and 330, 321.

Although she had already qualified for the Canadian team, Watson went to the trials in Quebec as a warm up for the junior world championships set for Aug. 22 – 28, in Legnica, Poland.

“I’m just excited to go,” she said.

Watson, who holds five Canadian outdoor records and one Canadian indoor record, has been practicing shooting targets at 50 m for months in preparation for the junior world archery championship.

At the championship all archers shoot two rounds of 36 arrows at targets 50 m away.  At this distance, the 4-cm wide bullseye is not discernable with the naked eye.

The top 32 archers move on to bracketed match play, the top archer with the top score faces the archer with the lowest score and so on. 

Match play continues until one archer remains, the junior world champion.

Key to target shooting is both accuracy and precision.

Both of which come from many hours of practice not only shooting at targets, but also in routine and body position which contribute to both accuracy and precision.

For Watson, there are several check points in her approach to shooting each arrow.

The first is to provide herself with the proper foundation, to have her feet properly positioned with respect to the target.

Another important item on Watson’s checklist is the positioning of her arms such that the bow is properly balanced in her hand, which in turn affects the flight path of the arrow.

With those items checked off, Watson then pushes the bow and pulls on the bowstring with her release and brings her right hand to the same position every time, the anchor point, where her knuckles touch the base of her cheekbone.

These steps not only contribute to accuracy and precision, but also ensure that when she is ready to shoot Watson is confident.

“I have to be calm, otherwise my release will go off on me,” Watson said of the device archers use to pull the bowstring back.

Dealing with nervousness during competition will be an important focus for Watson between now and the world championship, she said.

Watson often practices with either her grandfather Sandy Watson and/or her father Scott Watson, both accomplished archers in their own right and both have offered tips and advice on how to deal with nerves and distractions at elite competitions.

They’ve been there.

To help manage the nerves, Sandy and Scott gave Sydney the perfect advice.

“Just imagine I am shooting at home,” she said with a laugh.

Watson also has plenty of elite competition in her quiver, experiences she can draw on, including national and provincial championships and Canada Winter Games experience.

All of these competitions have taught her an important lesson.

“I can’t control anybody but myself,” she said.