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Kenya archery champion Shehzana Anwar hones her skills

By Ben Ochieng NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- At Kenya’s Strathmore University shooting range, Shehzana Anwar hones her archery skills. The 26-year old Olympic archer sets up her equipment to shoot at her target, which is 70 meters away.

Anwar, who represented Kenya at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, does roadwork in the morning because her sport involves standing for long periods of time, and she needs stamina to be in tiptop shape.

If fatigue creeps in, her shooting will suffer.

In between jogging, she does physical exercises, after which she heads straight to the shooting range.

She breaks at midday and then practices her shooting until dusk.

During competitions she covers about 2km walking back-and-forth from the shooting line to the target.

During training, she shoots up to four times more than she would in competition, which means she could walk 8km in one day.

Anwar has a degree in psychology; something she says is very useful for her ambitions in archery.

"They are related.

"One is [the] study of the mind and the other [the] study of behavior.

"Plenty of mental training goes into archery. Lots of concentration is needed," Anwar said.

Anwar worked part-time until last year, but left her job after her five-week archery training in Turkey, where a professional archery coach thoroughly checked her equipment and gave her archery tips.

The coach checked Anwar’s form, tuned her equipment and taught her new training methods to improve her shooting.

"My score went up, which means that whatever he taught me [has] worked.

"In fact, he is the one who drew up the schedule [that] I’m following.

"[When it comes to] physical training and shooting, I send him updates," she said.

After setting up her recurve bow, the only type allowed in the Olympics, Anwar points out that the costs involved in archery can make it prohibitively expensive for a lot of Kenyans.

"It depends on the level of shooting you’re doing and [on] your budget.

"One can buy an affordable full competition set.

"I saved for two years to buy Hoyt, which is the best in archery.

"A set like this, which is the latest model, will set you back around 3,000 U.S. dollars, but you can get a full kit [for a] cheaper model for even 600 U.S dollars," she said.

Anwar measures her bow’s brace height: the distance between the string and plunger button.

It has to be the same every single time, and if it changes, it can affect the final shot.

Archers work in millimeters and a difference at the brace can lead to the loss of one point at the target, and that can be the difference between winning and losing.

She releases the arrow at approximately 14.2s/km and it hits the target with a soft thud.

Again, Anwar draws and shoots.

After six shots, she walks to the target and points to an arrow that has landed on a seven.

"This is a 10X, this is a 10.

The former is better than the latter, but they’re the same number of points.

This is only for elimination purposes in the event [that] two archers’ points are tied because they have tens.

The archer with the most 10Xs wins."

If an archer has a very strong bow and heavy arrows, the wind will have less of an effect on their shot.

If they have a lighter bow and lighter arrows, the wind could have a dramatic effect on the trajectory of the arrow.

Last year, in an archery tournament in Namibia, Anwar’s wind-mastery contributed to her win immensely.

It’s important to remember that archery is not an injury-free sport. Muscle strains are the most common occupational hazard.

Anwar wears a finger tab, which protects her from blisters.

The skins on her fingertips are dead; a direct consequence of back-to-back shooting sprees.

Her armguard protects her forearm from being hit and bruised by the string.

Anwar once pulled a tendon in her hand, and couldn’t shoot for almost a month.

She says that those were the four worst weeks of her life.



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