It is Cold, Again

Like last winter and the winter before this winter is cold.  Unlike the prior winters I am not headed to an indoor range to practice.  The ranges where I’ve practiced in the past are mask free at the peak of a pandemic.  It is easier to warm up after practice than it is to recover from lung disease.

With that in mind I head outside and stand next to an outdoor propane heater trying to stay warm while not setting my self on fire.  The colder it becomes the layers of clothes I wear.  The more clothes I wear the lower my scores become.

It is a balance to wear the right number of layer and still be able to clear my bowstring on the release.

3 O’Clock 10 followed by a 3 O’Clock 10

This is Georgia so I know warmer weather isn’t that far away.

Cold!

While running the trails this morning it was cold, 24°F.  By the time I was outside shooting it had warmed up to 27°F.  When I finished shooting it had warmed to freezing.

I’d worn all the clothing possible and still be able to draw my bow.  The apparel wasn’t enough to stay remotely close to warm and too much for decent arrow placement.

An hour of cold was enough for the morning practice.

Arrows, Arrows, Arrows….

It didn’t seem like a wise use of money to fork out big bucks for high-end equipment when switching to an Olympic recurve from compound bows.  (145 days ago) Why do that when the compound bows were in the $800.00 range purchased new. It wasn’t as if prior archery gear had been high-end.

When it came to high-end gear the nicest pieces of equipment associated with the compound bows had been the sight and release.  Those were high quality Axcel/TruBall products.

The arrows shot using the compound bows had been purchased and prepared by folks that, at the time, seemed to know better.  Two out of three times their suggestions were correct.  For the remaining third the arrows are too stiff.

Some ‘expert’ on YouTube presented a video suggesting that spine calibration is a myth so long as the arrows shot are fletched.  The video he posted was an experiment where he fired off sets of arrows of various spine strength using fletched and bare shaft arrows.  He was shooting a recurve bow. I repeated his experiment.  My results yielded an opposing result.

I’d hoped for similar results.  I’ve got some nice arrows, those among the good 2/3 of my moderately priced arrows and wanted to upgrade the Easton 1000 arrows I’ve been shooting with the Olympic recurve.  What I found is that the stiffer more expensive arrows didn’t bend properly and the tail end of those arrows hit my riser.  The flex between nodes simply wasn’t flexing properly. I was hoping to save some money by avoiding the purchase of new arrows.

The Easton 1000s are excellent beginner’s arrows.  I’ve won two State Championships using a $249.00 Olympic recurve in the Men’s Senior Division shooting those $5.00 arrows.  However, I know the $5.00 arrows are holding me back when it comes to a few extra points. (For now there is nothing wrong with the inexpensive bow)

The tip of the Easton 1000s comes included along with fletching for the five bucks.  The tip is 65 grain, which is okay.  The fletching is a bit tall again okay for indoor tournaments.  Okay is not great in competition.  The set up does mean being just a hair off on form and the shot will be completely uncompensated.  In words too often associated with archery gear – these arrows are not very forgiving.

Part of the lack of forgiveness is that the spine of an Easton 1000 peaks at around 29 pounds.  As I’ve improved I’m pulling 34 pounds. On a 3-spot with the gear at hand I’m averaging 9 points per arrows without a clicker (I don’t have one yet). I believe with a stiffer spine and more weight on the tip I’d get my average per arrow up a little.  The current fletching is dragging on my rest and that too can be improved by shooting a smaller profile vane.

If I cut the 1000s a bit that would stiffen the spine. But, adding a heavier pile weakens the spine.  Changing the fletching isn’t an issue aside from I know it needs to be done and simply haven’t done it.

The best bet is to purchase new arrows with the correct spine, cut them to the correct length, add the correct pile weight to compensate for the cut and have low profile vanes.

Victory Archery, a maker of arrows, does have a moderately priced arrow that, per their spine calculators, meets the spec for my current shooting. Lancaster Archery does have them on clearance (the 2019 version).  Even so, spine, nocks, vanes will still run around $250.00.

My estimate of points per arrows gain for the $250.00 investment is 0.18 points per arrow against a vertical 3-spot.* It seems like just a little but it really is a lot of gain.  I just hate spending the money right now. (It also might help to adjust the tiller to positive versus neutral)

* calculation based on distance from center, 60 shots, measured in the yellow only. (45 our of 60 arrows. 15 red arrows attributed to form errors and dropped) Distance mean variance on average times spine weakness estimated percentage.  (1.6 X 0.11 = 0.176 rounded up) 3-spot, outdoor, no wind – when it is windy all bets are off.

The NFAA Indoor Nationals

As I approached the site for my shot at the NFAA Quarantine Edition of the Indoor Nationals all I could think was “shit”.  There wasn’t a mask in sight.

The tournament venue for me was in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  That county has the second most Covid-19 cases in the state, around 50,000.

I’ll be 66 in a few months.  My age group is one of the harder hit clusters.

I had a mask with me.  My mask protects others by reducing my expiratory ‘plum.’

The others in this case, other archers, seemed not to care they might be asymptomatic.  Their ‘plums’ are harmful to me.

I left. I was and remain disappointed.

The Price of a Sight

In August of 2020 (it is December 11th today) I ordered an Olympic Recurve from Lancaster Archery in Pennsylvania.  Even though I’d been shooting compound bows for six years, seven months and 22 days when I placed the order I’d wanted to try shooting an Olympic recurve style bow. The new Olympic Recurve bow arrived 133 days ago.  I’ve now shot compound bow over the past 133 days.

When ordering the recurve I tried to get the most bow for the least cost.  I ended up spending around $460.00 for everything including a tab and stand.  The bow, riser and limbs, priced out at $249.98.  The accessories for the bow ended up costing another approximately $210.00.

The riser is good the limbs stack but aren’t bad.  The stabilizers seem okay but I lack the experience to make a comparison.  The original string lasted a few weeks and a replacement was purchased from 60X.

Of the 133 days I’ve owned the recurve I’ve allowed 30 days of recovery from practice.  So, I’ve shot the bow 103 days.  Those days have been part of a process of gradually building arrow count.  I started with only 50 per day.  Now I am roughly at 1000 arrows per week and have shot 11,054 arrows (to date) using the recurve bow over roughly four and a half months.

I remain satisfied with the riser and limbs.  In fact, I’ve won two State Championships in the Men’s Senior Division with the gear, the Georgia Field and Georgia 25-Meter championships. There is, however, one major problem.  The sight I initially purchased.

The sight is an inexpensive Cartel Focus K with 9-inch aluminum extension.  The cost was $34.99.  It wasn’t a bad place to start.

The first problem, which really wasn’t a problem at first, is the large stem mounted pin in the aperture that is included in the $34.99.  I ended up aiming so that the pin and the upper curve of the aperture bordered the spot on the target I wanted to hit with an arrow.  I replaced that with a Spigarelli aperture which ran $18.99 excluding shipping, handling and tax which brought the priced to $26.70.

The Spigarelli is better.  Both apertures have one problem in common not associated with the aperture. The sight itself fails to maintain a grip of the apertures and both rotate clockwise while shooting.

The thumbscrews on the Cartel Focus K all loosen following every shot.  Now part of my shot sequence is to tighten the four thumbscrews and check the position of the aperture prior to each shot.

The sight also fails when it comes to small adjustments.  Although the marketing material suggests micro-adjustments are possible – not with my fingers.  When it comes to adjustments its approximate.  For example, yesterday my arrows were shooting slightly to the right.  For those with expensive sights ‘about two to three clicks’.  The Cartel K features a large screw rotation that means there is no exact click of calibrated movement.  So, it is easier to aim a little to the left to compensate.

The elevation is also rough.  Since the block moves rather stiffly and the tigthening of the thumbscrews after movement isn’t exact the elevation is a hit or miss process. This was especially challenging during the Georgia Field Archery Championship.  But, so long as the distance doesn’t change and the thumbscrews are tightened between shots and the aperture hasn’t rotated the sight has been okay for an entry-level sight.

It really is time to upgrade.  Therein lays another problem.  There isn’t any point in purchasing a half-ass medium grade sight.  The difference in quality doesn’t warrant the outlay of cash.

I do know that the current sight has caused me to drop a few points.  Partly my fault for missing the thumbscrew-tightening element of the shot sequence.  So, I decided to check out a proper sight.

The sights I used with compound bows have all been Axcel sights with the exception of the first sight I bought. The Axcel sights are excellent.

Looking at the Axcel Achieve RX recurve style, non-carbon, I am going to need $334.99.  Before I retired there would have been no hesitation – I’d have had that sight weeks ago.  In fact, I have two of their sights now on compound bows, both purchased prior to retiring. Since retiring I’ve gotten more discrete regarding spending.

When I look at the really nice gear I can’t run out and grab as I once did all I can do is shrug.  I know of lots of local men and women that get free stuff or greatly discounted gear.  Heck, even I once had “sponsors.”

Those sponsors, ‘Pro-Staff’ arrangements offered a discount to me.  I maintained those relationships until I learned a friend with the same affiliation received his products free.  In head to head competitions I’d beaten him 5 out of 6 times. In this  case it wasn’t so much how he shot but who he knew. The following year I stopped all affiliations with manufacturers that provided a minor discount and have not since sought supplementation.

Certainly, I’d enjoy help with gear.  I’d loved to have top gear.  But, I don’t and I am still shooting this $249.98 recurve fairly well along with the rickety sight.  I just need to remember – “Tighten the screws, Stance, Nock, Hood and Grip…..”

So, do you train 3 to 4 times per week?

I was an innocent question, “So, do you train 3 to 4 times per week?”

I honestly didn’t want to answer the question and tried to side step it. However, our friend, a yoga student of my wife’s, was persistent.  I provided the short version:

I train everyday.  If there is a day off it is part of a plan for recovery.  Generally, this is how it works:

When I wake up in the morning I spend 26 minutes stretching. I eat breakfast then run for 30 to 40 minutes. When I finish the run of skip rope using a speed rope for 5 minutes.  Then, I shoot my bow for an hour to an hour and a half.  Next I eat lunch followed by a short nap taken on the floor so I don’t get too comfortable.

From there I get up and have a snack.  After the snack I ride a bike for 30 minutes to an hour.  This is also the time when I’ll write something for this webpage or one of the books I am writing. Then, I shoot my bow for another hour to an hour and a half. The last part of my training is to play my trumpet for 30 minute to an hour (brain training). Playing music, I believe, helps with concentrations and seeing ahead.  By seeing ahead, I mean having the notes written on sheets of music in my head before I play them. For me, this is like seeing (and feeling) where an arrow is going to land before it is released.

After dinner I watch something on the television, usually something on Netflix, Amazon or the BBC. Sometimes it is YouTube where I watch archery videos. That lasts between and hour and forty-minutes and two hours.  I am never in front of a screen until 7 to 7:30 pm aside from this computer. Then I go to bed and read for a short time before I fall asleep.

Essentially, that’s it.  It doesn’t explain the training plan, shooting reviews, practice objectives, etc.  That detail would have certainly put an inquiring mind into a deep sleep. It is a six days a week occupation.

Turf Toe versus String Finger

Turf toe, a football injury, is a pain.  It isn’t horrible like a broken bone.  It is just a pain in the toe that prevents elite performance.

The skin on the middle finger of my drawing hand has a small split.  It bleeds and hurts a little when I shoot.  My wife calls it string finger and compares it to turf toe.

It isn’t a blood blister.  Practicing in the cold, I believe is the root cause. This is just a small split in the skin.

I use a Fairweather tab.

All I know to do is put the bow down while it heals – completely – then use a Band-Aid to help prevent this from happening again until the weather warms up.

Any suggestions?

Dang that was too rough

It happens every winter – the outside temperatures drop. Today was rough.  The temperature was in the upper 30s so not horrible.  The wind on the other hand just cut through me.

Even the cold and the wind aren’t awful shooting a compound bow.  But, the string on my fingers in the cold is another story.

The cold makes the calluses on the middle finger of my drawing hand crack. Then, it bleeds.  It is tender but I can shoot through it.  Every once and a while the release is a hair off and the cut gets stung.  It wakes me up.

I shortened the morning practice since the cold wasn’t abated using the outdoor heater.  The little propane heater couldn’t keep up with the wind.  It will warm up into the 40’s my mid-day and I’ll lengthen the afternoon practice.

Oh Well There’s Always Next Year

The NFAA Indoor Nationals for 2020 couldn’t have been any better.  There would be no long haul to compete.  The venue is a 45-minute drive away. Excellent.

Because of Covid-19 the NFAA created a format allows NFAA Affiliate ranges to provide a base where to compete for the 2020 Indoor Nationals.  These Nationals are being held at ranges all across the country.

I’d signed up and selected the Archery Learning Center just up the road.  I could drive over shoot and come home.  Easy.

A few days before the event I cut my finger.  Not a bad cut but a cut.  In most instances I’d hardly notice.  In this instance the cut is on the middle finger tip of my drawing hand.

I sort of reminded me of turf toe. Not a horrible injury but a real nuisance – painful and bothersome enough to keep professional football players out of a game.

Practicing while hoping for a speedy recover of the cut was a loss.  Each session the finger’s small wound would open and bleed.  It hurt enough to cause a minor shift in finger pressure leading to more on the index finger that is correct.  The arrows landing a bit higher as a result.

The practice scores suffered a little with a few more points dropped per practice than the pre-cut scores. There was only one solution, hold off shooting for a few days and let the cut heal.

Such a little thing

The NFAA Indoor 2020 as convenient as this year’s might be is a miss for me.