By John Gray, MSc, CSCS, R. Kin.

targetNever would I have realized that all the nights spent informally helping regional and provincial level Archers to improve their posture or relax a tight muscle would lead me being part of the biggest sporting event ever organized in Ontario.

To give you an idea of its scale, the Toronto 2015 Pan Am & Parapan Am Games will be the largest volunteer effort in Canada since the Second World War, and will be larger than the 2010 Vancouver and 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

This July and August, I will be part of the over 25,000 person volunteer force that will power the 2015  Games here in Toronto.  Surrounded by venues where athletes from 50 counties will be competing in over 47 other sports, UofT’s Varsity Stadium will be host venue to some of the best Archers in the world and provide world-class competition packed with suspense and action.

So what’s so impressive about a sport where the goal is simply to shoot the arrow as close as possible to the centre of the target?  For one, the pull on the bow requires over 50 pounds of force to bring the arrow back fully, which must be held very steady to reach the target, and repeated for over a hundred times daily in competition and over five hundred daily in practice!  In real life terms, each day a Pan Am and Parapan Am Archer will pull over two and a half tons of load, with a difference of less than a degree deciding who stands on the podium or cheers from the crowd.

Struggling against competing demands of muscular strength, endurance, and control, Archers lead all other sports in their precision.  “Head to head” scores often go back and forth with each athlete struggling for the advantage, often right to the final arrow.  And to the final arrow I will be on the field, grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something this significant in scale, and cheering on our athletes in all sports to their personal bests and podium goals.  Go Canada!