9 Things Cheer Prepared me For in Life

So today I was thinking as a tower of menus almost hit me in the face, that I wasn’t too worried about the damage the leather bound menus would do to my face as cheerleading taught me that it’s okay to catch things with your face. And this got me thinking that cheerleading even though my spell as a cheerleader was brief, it equipped me with some peculiar  life skills….

  1. Lifting with a straight back
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    Yes we all hate the health and safety videos that are shown in certain working environments of the awkward people slowly picking up boxes with straight backs and the awful acting of how not to do, yet we still do it whatever way we chose?
    Well that all changed when you change the box for a person. Some boxes are heavy and well not really worth much so who cares if you look like a mess carrying a box? With people it’s a bit different and well, they rely on you and your proper technique to stay safe up in the air.  As well as not hurting yourself or causing a permanent injury. (Plus it works your thighs and bum out so thats a hidden bonus….)
  2. Teamwork makes the dreamwork
    “You are as strong as your weakest player”
    Well it’s true. If you have someone in your work environment who isn’t working as hard as the others or just isn’t as good at the job as others (it may even be you) You just have to learn to be patient or even share your knowledge and skills to make the team grow.
  3. Being hit in the face isn’t that bad
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    After a while it gets boring. Seriously after the first few times of using your face as a cushion for a falling person it does get a bit old.
  4. Catching falling objects is second nature
    Something thats not exactly a life skill but can get very handy at times.
  5. Positive energy
    Things are more exciting, more energised and just better with a shit eating grin on your face. I don’t know if its just me but being super happy and enthusiastic at the task at hand even if it is literally the worst job known to man, it makes it better.
  6. Wearing spanx no matter what your attire
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    Awkward in skirts or dresses? Just wear spanx. Or running shorts. They give all the confidence.
  7. You can do anything with time and practice
    Looking to get more flexible? Put in in time and effort and you can get a perfect split in 2 weeks. You can go from handstand to walkover with repetition. So in theory you can just keep practising something you want to do and you will get it. Just keep your eye on your goal and don’t underestimate yourself.
  8. F***ing up is okay
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    It’s part of learning. It’s bound to happen and if falling on your face isn’t a great way of learning, then trying not to let that happen again will surely make you stronger. If you don’t fail how do you know what winning truly feels like. That leads nicely to my next point.
  9. Winning isn’t everything
    Getting a nice shiny trophy is great, but personal goals are more attainable and more worth while. Make and break your own achievable goals as there is always someone who is going to be better than you. (I’m still working on this one as I am super competitive.)Thanks for the read, have an awesome day!Links to my sites:

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Prone to Target

*Little Blog Post on life and photography*

Archery is not my first target sport. You could say that when I was younger I was attacked by paper, so now I shoot it in various ways, but to totally honest I don’t know why I do target sports.

It all began back in the day of the skinny weird teenager me. I was introduced to rifle shooting, firstly by air rifle and later to .22. Every Friday was taken up by shooting tiny targets at 25 yards with a rifle that was more like to do damage by using as a club than as its manufactured use. For the first few years of my shooting life, I was, I admit, convinced the only safe and practical way to shoot a rifle was lying down. Yes, it is a very safe way of shooting and arguably the stabilist way to shoot, but it is not the only way. Proof that I was not a smart child…

From Friday prone shooting, I moved to Monday Sports shooting. By the time I was 17, my parents got me the best gift I could ask for at the time; my very own Ruger 10/22. Nothing flashy, just a .22 sporting rifle perfect for the competitions I endeavoured to compete in. (disclaimer: By this point I did have a Firearms Certificate and been part of the club for around 3 years, so my parents weren’t being irresponsible. If anything they were encouraging me in a sport I was starting to flourish in.)

With my rifle club, there was opportunity to shoot larger calibers at longer distances bi-annually at the NRA shooting ground. These competitions were a bit of fun, nothing serious and a way to be introduced into full bore and the fun side of target shooting. Usually I participate when I’m free but the recent years have seen my time for rifle shooting dwindle, being replaced with archery, photography and just adult life.

Target shooting is a sport that relaxes me. It’s a hobby where you can do as much or as little as you like, for example I know many people who load their own rounds, and I know people who prefer to buy them. I know people who shoot for fun, a way to just socialise, let their stress out and people who are all for competitions. The range of people you get is astounding – different backgrounds, jobs, lives and even nationalities, it’s not just a sport for people burdened with money. (Although it does help sometimes).

Thats about it for my shooting love, looking forward to getting the time to get back into shooting!

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The photo bit that y’all came for…

I’ve reverted back to the 6D for shoots where there is no need for a fast shutter as it is a superior camera. (my own opinion.)

So the shoot was on a relatively overcast day, nothing too white-out grey horror show all photographers fear, but close. Due to the way I was taking pictures however, the sky wasn’t a main feature or focus. Mainly because shooting is a lying down sport.

Another thing about shooting is that it lacks a lot of motion so there isn’t going to be epic running shots or jumps. It’s just lying there, squeezing a trigger and reloading. I also found that people prefer the upper body shots (camera not gun) to whole body shots mainly because it can be awkward. My golden rule of 45 degrees works in this instance too!

Have a great day, thanks for the read and take a look at my things!

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Aber-geddon: Rugby 7s

My fourth and final Rugby 7s as a University student. Time flies and it’s quite hard to believe that I’ve come this far in terms of photography and getting back into sports!
From 2013 Rugby 7s in Aberystwyth, equipped with a 450d, a tamron 70-300mm lens and no proper grasp on sports photography to 2017, with a canon 6d and canon 7dii equipped with a 70-200m f/2.8 lens and a 25-105mm f/4.0 lens. My technique, understanding and equipment have brought me into a whole new level of photography and looking back at Rugby 7s makes me nostalgic, thankful and slightly embarrassed of my photographic and sporty origins.

From working with the Archery “Hawkeyes” to Tarannau’s “Squirtle Squad” and “7UP”, it’s been a laugh.

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Progress is beautiful and I recommend everyone to reflect on how far they have come. If you are having a bad day, know that you are better than last year’s you, even better than 2 year ago you, and a completely new level from 3 and 4 year ago you. Yet there is still more work to be done as every opportunity is another learning experience to capture. Push boundaries, and if you feel its not working go back to basics. A wise friend of mine who has coached me with photography and my life reminds me how far I’ve come and not to worry. We all need that friend.

Anyway onto the actual weekend of Aber 7s 2017….

Promising to be not as windy or rainy as the previous years have been, this Aber 7s brought together students, locals and ex-students from across the country and in some cases, the world.
After Squirtle Squad’s triumph last year of actually winning something, this year was full of determination to maintain silverware. Alas, it was not to be. After being unstoppable on the Saturday, the team’s momentum diminished by Sunday.
Usually, I masquerade as a photographer, but my final year I decided to have a go at playing. I had been training on and off and a good understanding of the game due to past experience watching and documenting 7s and 15s rugby. Coupled with my stupidly fearlessness and simple disregard for me being breakable, who could deny me for trying.
Unfortunately, I got tackled quite hard in a game meaning I had to continue as a spectator – for the best really, but hey I played rugby 7s! (and loved it)

Anyway Thanks for the read – I’ll update my sporting ventures soon after I’ve properly moved!

Have a great day!

 

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Weight off my Chest

Not going to lie, I do like to write a strongly worded letter and email every so often. More than often I am ignored or replied to along the lines off “I don’t appreciate the aggressive nature of your writing” or “No need for such aggressive vocabulary.” Although I find that highly offensive to begin with as the language I use is generally just a little more eloquent than usual. Using the odd latin based synonym, just throws in a bit of eccentric spice. Like having a Nando’s peri peri sauce on your meal deal “just ham” sandwich.

All the above is relevant to a recent and not so recent email that I sent to the BUCS head office on some of their rules and regulations, in particular Equestrian events.

 

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This is me, photographer, Briony-Molly on a horse. This is the first time in around a year, wearing a collection of people’s horsey gear as at last second I was told I would be competing in place of one of the A Team at Anglesey. Just to clarify, I didn’t mind getting on a horse to ride a dressage test, (and I agreed to it as I had the correct memberships and what not.)

The reason I stepped in as there is a new weight limit at the riding centre, the team was not previously made aware about. The previous year the same team member rode the horses of the riding centre in a BUCS competition without issue without being confronted that they were too heavy to ride. Hence the confusion. How is it that a trained experienced rider isn’t allowed to ride if they are slightly over the weight limit in comparison to a rider who has questionable balance and no training for years be a viable alternative?

I’ve done my research. I’ve poured through the forums and websites and twitter arguments about the correct weight for riding a horse, and of course it does depend on the breed and size and work the horse does. There are the consistent appearance of figures that horses can carry (maximum) between 15-20% of their body weight, the horses that do more jumping and running work alike to racehorses obviously having a lower weight limit than say a 17hh cob that does a bit of flat work and a bit of jumping. However, if a rider is well balanced and has plenty of experience then the weight limit may be exasperated as the horse has less uneven pressure and erratic potato sack movements of an inexperienced rider in the saddle.

True heavy built horses look being and strong and are often regarded as the “weight carriers” but they still only have one back. If a heavy horse standing of 17hh or taller does happen to have an overweight rider of 20+ stone who is not experienced, sits badly and ends up being a dead weight on one point of the horse this would damage the horse’s back in the long term. That is an extreme case. But usually there is leeway when factoring height, weight and experience so not to say to an experienced rider slightly over the limit that they travelled 3 hours to competition not to be able to ride due to their weight.

In this instance I hadn’t sat on a horse for over a year, or competed in dressage since first year, (and thats a while back) getting back into the saddle to do a dressage test with an hours preparation isn’t the safest or smartest thing to do…

My complaint to BUCS if they ever actually read this or open my emails, is that it should be a policy for riding schools to proliferate their weight restrictions to the teams that would be coming so if there is an issue its before the competition. Secondly, riding centres should be addressed of the potential riders of the team before hand – it will stop with the faff of paperwork and also make it easier for them to source appropriate horses for the riders. Thirdly, on another note, BUCS, sort out your Equestrian scoring! It makes little sense and is highly complex for this sort of competition. Maybe take note from BHS, BSJ and BD. They seem to be a little more in tune with the horsing world.

Let this be so I can continue being a photographer and not a surprise reserve!

Shout out to Aberystwyth University Equestrian teams for letting me join them round Wales in competitions taking pics and holding things!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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Varsity 2017

As with most other universities across the U.K. Aberystwyth engages with their rivals Bangor in annual sports-day-esque event known as Varsity. Each Uni bi-annually hosts the competition, seeing the likes of sports and societies alike to put forward their best and brightest to win the beloved silverware. This year Aberystwyth hosted the competition inviting around 50 sports clubs to the Aberystwyth area to compete over a week.
As an avid sports photographer of course I wouldn’t miss this opportunity to run about, or in my case walk briskly, with my camera to get all the sports on my cards.

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Saturday I managed to get solid pictures of American Football, Lacrosse, Rugby and Football. A good mix and an enjoyable selection. This is my personal experience.

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What irritates me most however about Varsity is the the sideline “Banter.” There is a line between a joke and a couple of jeers on the other side and then full out discrimination. Last year Aber was faced with Bangor students throwing carrots and bananas at a rugby player and reports of many racial and homophobic slurs also agitated the Aber sides. This year after being told relentlessly to keep it civil, the banter from Aber has been a lot more tame than last year with British insults like “Bangor uses tea bags twice” replacing the more aggressive attacks.
However the retaliation from Bangor on the sidelines especially from their ladies lacrosse was vile towards the players and spectators, especially shouted through a megaphone.

Personally I heard someone from the other uni telling Aber students to “go kill yourselves” as we are at a sh*t university. A little harsh and non-understanding when the sole cause of our and their varsity kits is to a foundation Stephan Socks after a student who unfortunately did not have the support in mental health issues and tragically took his own life last year. This type of behaviour is more than despicable and personally I expected better than that from Students who are supposedly adults aged 18+. This kind of behaviour I expect from teenagers in high school or online. Disgusted. Not only this but fights broke out both on and off the rugby pitch, to be expected in the sport, but the blood was definitely boiling between the Universities.

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This is why I didn’t compete myself in Archery, as in previous years I’ve felt intimidated in the wrong way. Intimidation in sports is a usual concept, the side is larger than you, better than you; its all the norm in competitions, it’s a normal feeling. Being intimidated by aggression is not. I’d much rather blackout away from the world with my camera to get action shots than be apart of an aggressive crowd or be engaging in an uneasy match.

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All this being said I did enjoy my time at Varsity, as amongst the idiots in the crowd there are still humans that are there for their team, there to watch a good game,console with the losing side and celebrate with the victors. This was apparent in both Aber and Bangor sides alike, and I must say that I’m not saying all the spectators from Bangor were out to hurl insults and discriminate. Bangors overall victory in sports is disheartening for Aber, but our victories in Rugby makes us a proud Welsh University.

Shout out to Aber mens LAX and Tarannau for being superstar teams this last season. It’s been a pleasure taking pics for you!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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Worcester, Double Worcester

Being back with relatively frequent practises and competitions in archery, brings me to doing all sorts of rounds, not just the standard portsmouth we all grow to have a love/hate relationship with. This weekend gave me the opportunity to shoot one of my favourite barebow rounds, but this time with my trusty compound. The Worcester round.

Differing from a usual indoor round of 3 arrows per end for 10-20 ends, the Worcester round uses 5 arrows per end for 12 ends with the total being out of 300. The scoring is different too, with the highest central value being 5 and working it’s way out to 1 (above left). What makes it more exciting for compound is instead of a central target face, the compound is given a 5-spot, offering the score of X, 5 and 4 (above right).

To be completely honest all my practises have been at pins recently trying to focus on correcting my form and getting into the back tension, string, nose, release game, so the thought of a 5 spot I have never shot at before became a little daunting. Even with this aspect however I really enjoyed the shoot. I enjoyed it so much I did the morning and afternoon session making the single Worcester into a double Worcester. (Double means two consecutive shoots of the same round, it goes for other rounds as well such as Portsmouth.)

In this competition, the Worcester is split into 2 ends of 6, the first 6 ends being shot at the top target (Details A and C) and the latter 6 ends shot at the bottom target. (Visa Versa for details B and D). This aspect is a little more challenging but certainly heats up the competition as the sighters only allow you to shoot at the first target with no secondary sighters to shoot at the lower (or higher) target.

The Morning shoot (Top) I gained the score of 267, placing me second overall, only 5 points behind the leader! (If I hadn’t missed!).
The Afternoon shoot (Bottom) I was starting to tire and got the overall score of 259, not fantastic but giving me the overall double score of 526. This score is good enough to give me the Dyfed County record as well as my Club Record for both Double and Single Worcester!

Morning Results
Very questionable maths by me
Afternoon session
Again, questionable maths

All in all I am super happy with my result as I know I can shoot better, giving me the target of getting over 275 next time I compete at Worcester.

Next weekend brings the BUCS finals in Bristol with a FITA 18 and a head to head. I am a little nervous!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

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website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

 

 

String, Nose…

Again with the Archery! To be fair, it is a sport that I am improving in readily, and learning more and more as I go along. When I first picked up a bow I didn’t see myself being intrigued in archery forums and articles in sports magazines, but now I am a true archery nut.

I am a compound archer now, so the more technical the equipment I have, the more I have been reading into technique and different types of form, anchor, the importance of a draw length and draw weight. One thing that really sticks to me as a compound archer is back tension.

Back tension release is supposedly a method that minimises the anticipation of the arrow release. For myself I tense and hope that I don’t clip my ear with the trigger. I realise this is mainly due to the hand trigger I have and my draw length. In many forums and articles I’ve noticed the correlation of shortening the draw length to get a more successful back tension release. This is not always the case. For my bow, draw length can be adjusted inch by inch. Currently I’m happily sat at 26″ with my anchor point being on the side of my face, thumb under my chin.

 

My anchor point as you can see already squishes my nose and does allow me to roll back into a back tension release. However, with back tension release you keep pulling your back muscles and hope the release will trigger at the same point each time like its supposed to. I unfortunately feel this is chancery and I am always shocked when the arrow finally flies at the target. This usually ends up with me clipping my hair or ear making me jump even more than usual.

 

At 20 yards my back tension release is sort of showing some improvement but at the same time it’s not the grouping I’ve been getting with using the release as a usual trigger with a small amount of back pressure.It is something to work on over time, and hopefully with several hours of practise a week I’ll improve and get less scared of my back muscles.

On another note: I made it to BUCS finals!!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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The Day My Camera Died

I love being a university sports photographer. True, the work is mainly for little or no money but it does give me the opportunity to travel around as well as learn more about sports I previously had no or wrong misconceptions of. Thats university for you in general though, giving you the life experience and maturity you need to be a real adult. (cry)
This week was planning to be a busy week for me with Cheerleading all day Sunday followed by another equestrian BUCS competition on the wednesday. So what better time to have your beloved camera die on you.

Sunday had a horridus morning start pre 6am, which is a jailable offence in my opinion. The travel to Birmingham was fraught with excitement as cheerleading competitions happen to be one of my favourite things to take pics of. The glitter, the smile, the stunts… what more can a girl want. (apart from a pony). Everything was going well after the first performance from Tarannau until….The dreadful words that come up on screen. “No card in camera.” Sure an easy fix, get another card. The card doesn’t go in. Panic. I don’t know how many forums and websites I visited in desperation on free wifi on my cracked phone screen in frantic desperation hoping my camera was not facing the technical card reader fault I would need a camera adult to fix. Alas it came to no avail. He was dead to me.

All was not lost! As I seem to have the best family in existence who came to the rescue in the form of a canon 550d. Now its not a 6d in many, many ways but it is a DSLR.

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Shot on my 6d the blacks are black, the lines are crisp the light is beautiful. I could use a 70-200mm lens with no problem.

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I struggled more with the lighting with the 550d as well as not being able to use the zoom offered y the 70-200mm having to take a step back to my usual lens of 24-105mm. This compromised the aperture by a few stops but I was still able to take pictures!
Alot more editing was needed in post production, but looking back its given me an important lesson to not be complacent with my camera settings as well as appreciating the quality the 6d can achieve. And shutter speed!

FPS is a thing that I wasn’t too aware about until this and you need those extra fast clicks to really get the action you want. This was tested with the show jumping photography I did on the Wednesday, relying more on counting and relying on my own timings than that of the slow shutter of the 550d.

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Again with this day, the lighting was a challenge so in post production I got more artsy with my edits to try and wash out the fact the images were painfully uncrisp and lacking in definition.

Good News though! Due to the untimely injury of the 6d it has reminded me of the importance of a spare camera, so I am investing in a 7dii. Even better news, the 6d was repairable and again my family is amazing and got it all sorted for me! Mainly because I was a mess as I love my camera more than life itself.

Keep posted for more updates, trials and tribulations!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

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website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

Vegas Baby! (Yet Another Archery Post)

Yes I have finally decided to go straight back at it, right into the deep end of Archery. So not just starting off with a WAA18 a couple weeks ago but also with the events of last weekend. We travelled up to Sheffield to compete in the Northern Qualifier for BUCS and the following day shoot at Castle Archers again, this time with a Vegas round.

BUCS as always consists of a Portsmouth round. This is a typical round of 60 arrows shot at 20m at a 60cm face, or a trispot if you shoot compound. I have shot a fair number of Portsmouth in my time as an archery across a range of bow styles, settling with compound as a firm favourite. Over the last 3 years I have competed 3 times in BUCS, with this year and the year previous being under the ladies compound category and each time getting no where near my Personal Best.

This event usually brings the best university archers from across the country so the usual competition of a mix of novices and experienced is replaced with a high competitive air. However, as archery is such an individual sport, there is no ill will or space for obnoxiousness. There is always at least one person who does have the unagreeable pretentious attitude, but that it submerged by the amount of good sportsman and kindness shown by the rest of the competitors.  Unfortunately for me this year I suffered an equipment failure which saw my arrow rest lose its spring and breaking causing me to miss a couple of ends in my efforts to fix it. Luckily I was rushed with people to help me out which sped up processes as well as calming me down.

I can’t express my gratitude enough to the rest of the people on my target who put up with my stress of equipment failure as well as my stress of shooting my missing arrows on the line and being helpful and friendly.

After the 3 hours of the shoot the scores were in and unfortunately I shot overall inconsistently with the pitiful score of 503/600. However this gives me another thing to work on and a score to beat next time I shoot a portsmouth.

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Photo courtesy of Malcom Rees

The following day after a long adventure back to Aberystwyth, We ventured south to Newcastle Emlyn for a Vegas round.

Being more of a novelty round a Vegas usually consists of a triangular 40cm trispot labelled 1, 2, 3. The aim is to shoot the corresponding arrow into the target so arrow 1 in target 1 etc. With a sighted bow so compound or recurve it is relatively easy as you have the ease of a sight or scope. Barebow it is a lot harder and takes a higher skill.

Last Vegas round I shot barebow I came away of an incredible score of 54/600. I was so pleased whenever my arrows got on the paper at this point so even more amazed when that score gave me 3rd place in that particular competition!

This Vegas round however I was shooting compound with the aim of beating a score of 450 but ideally breaking the 500 mark. Unlike the day before my shooting was relatively consistent with more than 2 10s being scored. The shoot ended badly however with my last 6 arrows being below 8 meaning that my aim to break 500 fell only 2 points short!

I enjoyed the shoot and intend to get my eye back into trispot shooting, especially after coming away with another gold medal.

 

Back at it with the Bow

After what it seems like years of not doing archery, I am back. To kick it off with a WAA18 competition with no practise, little recollection of what I was supposed to be doing and the familiar ache of unused back muscles.

Much to my surprise my muscles hadn’t forgotten completely what I was supposed to be doing and it wasn’t long until I was drawing back into my old habits. This including my inability to breathe and actually think about what I’m supposed to be doing and then just punching the arrow out. And even more so to my surprise I managed to beat the competition and end up not only in the placing ranks but getting gold! Something I am most unfamiliar with, settling at my best with silver in competitions.

It’s hard to remember sometimes that archery is a sport as it’s quite static. But that doesn’t mean you should not avoid warm up or regular practise as the muscles soon go as they aren’t used in day to day life, unless pulling a bow is the motion you use in pouring the kettle.

I look forward to the rest of the season now with BUCS, a number of different rounds and of course just general practise!