Pandemic Archery

I’ve shot 4 tournaments in 2020.  That is pitiful. I know many archers have competed in a lot more events. No me.  I know too well how healthcare in America functions.  I don’t want to end up at the mercy of our healthcare system.

Wait, you might think we have the best healthcare in the world.  You’d be wrong.  When it comes to healthcare we’ve dropped from 6th in 1990 to 27th.  (1) I know firsthand how our healthcare system works and how other countries manage their healthcare. I spent 42 years in the medical field and 21 of those were international medical experience.

Last week I was visiting a hospital.  Honestly, I’ve never seen worse. So, I am cautious when it comes to my health. This has meant only four tournaments in 2020.

I won 3 out of 4 of them.  I also used this time away from competition to switch to Olympic recurve.

Olympic recurve is a different game all together.  Comparing compound bow shooting to Olympic recurve is like comparing checkers to chess. Recurve shooting is an entirely different world.  It is a nice switch so far.

I am looking forward to competing using this recurve.  I have completed one event with the recurve.  It ended well.

1) https://www.businessinsider.com/us-ranks-27th-for-healthcare-and-education-2018-9

 

 

It’s Cold Outside

A fellow I’ve shot with posted a picture of his practice on Facebook.  He’s got a nice indoor range at his home.  I was envious.  My range is outside and it is cold.

Nice to have this in your basement

My old range for indoor distances began in a shed where I stood next to a heater.  It was cold but not in the wind and it was warmer than outside standing in the shed.  My new range at my home in Georgia is entirely outside.

It is a nice range.  I can practice out to 90 meters and have a 3D range with 18 animals on it.  I’ve also put an outdoor propane heater on the target range.  I stand next to it when I shoot.  It isn’t all that bad.  It isn’t as nice as this friend’s indoor range.

He’s an elite archer and built his house to accommodate a range in the basement.  That is pretty awesome.  He doesn’t shoot 3D so he doesn’t need a large area for foam animals.  He does have a nice outdoor 70-meter range.

The temperature here when I practiced today was 37°F.  The average for this day is 60°F.  I know this cold won’t last and the mild winters we have here will return.  Even so, I got out and shot.

I’d put up new targets so I had to shot them

Yesterday, there was a misty light rain and it wasn’t much warmer.  I ended up with 180 arrows shot before I was frozen.  I didn’t try to ignite the propane heater in the rain.

Despite the cold and damp weather going outside to practice archery beats staying indoors.

Dang! That’s a lot of money. Oh, he’s blessed!

I don’t often look at Facebook.  The propaganda spewing unchecked is too awful.  I tried to delete my page and failed.  So, once in a while I look.  It is like looking at some circus sideshow freakishness.  Yesterday, I looked.  I was rewarded.

My reward was a post written by Mr. Archer.  You may know him.  He’s the fellow that is blessed with the latest gear provided by the most pious supplier and whose archery performance remains superior because of his unparalleled support from God.

God has provided Mr. Archer has some extremely expensive gear.  Excluding his stabilizers I looked up the price of his bow, sight, scope and arrows.  The package price: $2588.98.  The bow, a compound, is the 2021 edition.  Along with the bow he’s “blessed” to now have a new sight, scope and arrows.

Mr. Archer posted one if his practice session’s results.  No doubt it was excellent! Not perfect but pretty close using Vegas scoring and relating it to USA Archery scoring on a 3-spot.  Nevertheless, pretty impressive.

Mr. Archery is, also, a “Pro” archer with a number of sponsors! Perhaps, this guy is really good.  So, I checked.  You know finding results of archery performances are not difficult.  What turned out to be amazing is that he was a rare find and a winless one at that!  It seems his “Pro” sponsorships are based on his potential and perhaps God’s recommendation.

Mr. Archery is indeed blessed not with one $1549.99 bow but two.  He has one for target archery and one for 3D.  Obviously, I attend the wrong church.  Clearly, neither God nor Jesus has been so inclined to provide me with cash or sponsorships to subsidize $3099.98 in brand new 2021 bows.  Heck, it was all I could do to get permission from my wife to purchase a $249.99 Olympic recurve bow.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Archery and God, I admit I do have two compound bows.  Their combined price was $1398.00 spread over six years.  Both are similar models made by the same manufacturer.  Neither, the Shaker 5000 or the Decelerate remains on the market.

The Shaker 5000 was notorious for rattling limbs so hard they would crack and the Decelerate lost parts every few thousand arrows.  Both were introductory bows and I expect the maker never expected anyone purchasing those bows would shoot over 3000 arrows per year.

I understand, from Mr. Archer’s posts on Facebook, his new bows are very forgiving. I’ve never really understood how a bow can forgive an archer.  I expect my current $249.99 bow is simply shy and quiet around those big money bows.  If it had emotions or empathy enough to forgive it likely feels a little dejected next to all those prouder more forgiving bows.

Now, Mr. Archer does offer advice beyond how one makes the best sublimation to God via Facebook in order to get the most bang for your prayers (and as such become Blessed).  He further points out that it is currently time to get ready for the indoor archery season.  In fact, he makes this recommendation a full six days before his first announced indoor competition.

On Facebook he reveals to all that might read his post that he has spent a couple of hours practicing to get ready.  I can only suppose with God and Jesus on his side that is ample practice.  His sponsors are fortunate to have such a hard working athlete to inspire others to run out and purchase their forgiving bow.

I’ve often wondered how an individual athlete seeks heavenly support for victory.  Would a prayer be like, “Oh Lord, give me the strength and skill to vanquish my competition?”  Or, “Dear God, help the beat everyone here today.”  Or, “Sweet Jesus, help me performance my best in order to win.” Maybe it is good enough to type “Amen” and forward Mr. Archer’s prayer on Facebook. I haven’t tried that, yet.

No such prayers would ever be in my thoughts and being blessed with two new bows remains absent for me.  I remain simpler, “Lord, help me be a good example and let me help others where it is needed and help me to treat folks with kindness.”  That prayer too often fails.  I miss a lot and not just when it comes to shooting arrows.

Georgia 25-meter Indoor Championship Coming Soon

The Georgia 25-meter Indoor Championship is about three weeks away.  It is being held that the Georgia Southern Shooting Education Center in Statesboro, Georgia. Aside from poor lighting, fluorescent bulbs high above the floor, it is a nice facility.

This year is a bit different.  First only 24 archers are allowed to compete during any of the three times offered. Spectators are not allowed in the building.  Archers must wear a mask at all times and temperature checks will be taken before competitors are allowed inside the building.  All of this is understandable considering the current state of this pandemic.

While I have no issue with the conditions, I admit shooting while wearing a mask is a challenge.  I’ve been testing masks to see how it goes during practice.  It doesn’t go well. Wearing a mask my average score at 25-meters drops 26 points!

On a poor day shooting my average will fluctuate about 10 points.  Ten points is my worst drop off from my average.  That is unless I am wearing a mask. The difference from my high score at 25-meters and low score is 27 without a mask.  The difference with a mask is 49 points. The low score without a mask was shoot over a month ago and was my first attempt at 25-meters.  It was also the 69th day of shooting a recurve bow.  Even that score is higher than any score I’ve achieved wearing a mask.

Obviously, more practice is needed while wearing a mask to bring up my score when wearing a mask.

 

 

Shooting while wearing a mask

In a few weeks Georgia Southern University is hosting the Georgia State 25 meter Championship. Over the past two years, since moving home to Georgia, I competed in that event in the Masters 60 Age Group using a compound bow.  I won it once and took a second place (losing by 1 point).

This year is different.  First, I switched to Olympic Recurve, second I am shooting in the Seniors Division, and third archers must wear a mask at all times during the 2020 25-meter event even while shooting.

The first two differences, the recurve and competing as a senior (the younger group) versus the masters (the 60-69 year old division) aren’t issues.  The mask on the other hand is a problem.

I practiced while wearing a mask a few days ago.  It was awful.  I shot 54 points lower than my mask free 25-meter average.  I tried again today and landed 43 points lower than I scored while not wear a mask on the same day.

I have no concrete idea what is the problem.

How Many Arrows Per Week?

There was an article written by an archery coach.  In the article he wrote that in order to achieve a National Championship an archer needed to shoot 120 arrows per day.  That seems reasonable to me.  Or so I thought. But, the coaches count for success seemed vague to me.  Still, it was a number and a place for me to start.  With that number in mind I worked to shoot around 120 arrows per day when I was competing in the compound bow division.

The results I earned using that count as a compound bow archer were fine.  I won a lot of tournaments in the Masters division.  I did well on a National level despite having a very limited exposure to archery.  In less than 18 months I was winning on the State level and doing respectably in National Indoor events.

Then, I heard a quote from Reo Wilde that he practices about an hour per day.  It seemed too short to me for 120 arrows.  Certainly, Wilde has been shooting much longer than I have and I figured his base was adequate to maintain a high degree of excellence in archery with fewer arrows per day.

When Covid hit us archery slowed down for everyone.  It did take some wind out of my sails.  It also provided a pause for me to evaluate my activities in archery.

I’d always wanted to shot recurve.  So, after 6 years and 8 months of flinging arrows using a compound bow I bought a $249.99 recurve bow – riser and limbs.  I added a full kit and had an Olympic Recurve from stabilizers to stand for $460.00.

I started slowly learning to hit the target.  During the first 12 weeks of practice I shot 688 arrows per week.  Excluding recovery days from those weeks the daily count of arrows shot with the Olympic recurve is 138 arrows per day.

At that level I won my first tournament using the $249.99 Olympic recurve bow, the Georgia Field Archery Championship.  I competed in the Men’s Senior division, not as a Masters archer.  The coach’s number of 120 arrows per day seemed applicable.

While looking at Olympic recurve archers in Youtube I watched an interview with Brady Ellision.  He was being interviewed after winning an early season competition.  In it he said he was out of shape and only shooting about 100 arrows per day. He added he’d begin ramping his training up to 200 – 300 arrows per day.  It seemed like a lot of arrows.

I decided to look more closely into the quantity of arrows shot by some of the world’s top archers on a weekly basis.

I found interviews of some of the world’s top archers, 52 % men and 48% women. Twenty-two of them were Olympic recurve shooters and eight shoot compound bows.  Twenty-five of them provided a weekly arrow count. Five of them didn’t count their weekly total arrow count.

As a group these elite archers average 1088 arrows per week or 181.3 arrows per day over a 6-day week with one day for recovery. When I broke out the recurve versus compound bow archers the numbers changed.  Recurve archers claimed to shoot 1332 arrows per week while compound bow archers say they shoot 646 arrows per week.  The recurve archer claim to shoot more than twice the number of arrows compared to the compound bow archers.

The range was larger than I expected to find.  The low number of arrows shot per week was a compound bow archer who claimed to shoot 300 arrows per week.  She shoots at a very high level.  The high number on the range is 3000 arrows per week by a recurve shooter.

At first I called foul on the 3000 arrows per week.  The archer also reported the number of hours per day he trained.  I checked his arrow count versus the hours spend in training that he reported.  Over the hours he claimed to train it is possible to shoot 3000 arrows per week with one day of recover per week.  However, the hours to arrow intersection is 8 hours and 32 minutes per day.  I think this is an exaggeration.

On the other hand the 300 arrows per week is easily achievable.  I believe this is an under count.  Perhaps some can be tops in the world of archery with relaxed practice, but 50 arrows per day (one day recovery) seems low.

Admittedly, I’ve increased my weekly average as I gotten stronger.  My count is still lower than 1332 per week.  I’m in the 930 arrows per week.  I take 2 days off per week, which means I am averaging 186 arrows per day.  To get to the 1332 arrows per week I need to increase my count to 266.4 arrows per day (5 days per week training 2 days recovery).  Using two-practice session a reasonable number.

Now, I just don’t go out to the range and shoot for the sake of an arrow count.  I approach each practice with a specific goal for that practice.  There are variables that, at this point of recurve shooting, influence the arrow count.

Arrow count is important but it shouldn’t be the primary objective of practice. If arrow count where the exclusive factor for archers all contests could be determined beforehand by having each competitor submit their practice logs.  The athlete with the highest count could be declared the champion.  It just doesn’t work that way.

There’s a snake on my butt

I’ve had all manner of critter intersect with my target during practice.  There have been rabbits, squirrels, owls, hawks, dogs, cats, horses, raccoons, turkey, chipmunks, chickens, turtles, mice, frogs, lizards and snakes.  Several of them have hung around long enough to sit for a photograph.  Some of those pictures I’ve posted here.

I find it odd that so many and such a variety of animal has taken time out of its day to pause near where I am shooting arrows.  Only one has reached an accidental end. A tree frog was unseen and too close to an arrow.  The arrow was the last thing that went through its mind.

 

If snakes such as moccasins or copperhead slithered past they were always greeting with an unfriendly welcome.  If one of those passed within range of the pistol I carry for just such encounters it would eventually be shot.  That is so long as it held still long enough.  Copperheads being stubborn have been the easiest to reach with a bullet.

Today, I was using one of my target butts as a desk to record shots.  On it I laid a pad and pen.  After each end I’d record the results.

On the last end as I was recording the shots I noticed out of the corner of my eye the target butt edge was moving. Looking in the direction of the motion there crawled a black snake.

I have no idea how long it had been there.  Using an arrow I scooted it away.  Believe me I was pleased it wasn’t a rattlesnake.

That Was Awful

It wasn’t horribly cold this morning. The temperature was in the low 40s.  It wasn’t bad during my morning run.  I didn’t even notice the wind during the run. Archery was another matter.

Heading out to the range to practice 25 meters I needed to make an about face.  The apparel I was wearing for practice was inadequate for the temperature.  The more I wear the warmer.  The down side is the bulky warmth inhibits accuracy when shooting.

Even with the extra layers for protection against the cold the wind seemed to breeze right through.  After 30 arrows I was miserable.  In addition to being cold the down filled puffy outer vest was snagging my bowstring.  The cold and wind were only adding insult to injury when considering the frustration of warmth versus satisfying shots.

Today’s practice was supposed to be a 25-meter tournament game.  That is a game where I work to duplicate the timing of a tournament. As such, I was shooting a vertical 3-spot the same size as those for a 25-meter event.

By the time I’d competed my ‘warm-up’ shots it was clear I wasn’t warm. Nevertheless, the show was going on.

My first three arrows were a 9, 7, and then 6.  I recognized the problem with the puffy vest and tried to compensate.  The next three shots, 10, 10, and a 7.  Then, 10, 9, 9. Those were followed by a 10, 10, 9.

With only four ends completed it was apparent today wasn’t going to be a highlight of my week’s work.  The colder I got the less accurate I became.

The wind didn’t ease throughout the practice.  I because less careful with the puffy vest.  In fact, my goal for the practice changed.

Initially, I head in mind a specific goal of every arrow in the yellow.  The colder I became the more relaxed the goal – eventually, don’t miss the target face seemed enough.  At both levels, I failed.

It was a miserable 516 kind of day.

First Olympic Recurve Event: Georgia State Field Championship 2020

On Saturday October 17, 2020 it was 38°F in Acworth, Georgia at 0830.  The weather report had ‘suggested’ the temperature would be 48°F at 0830 with a rapidly increasing warmth to follow.  The weather forecast had been off. It was cold at the Kennesaw Archery Club for the Georgia State Field Archery Championship.

On Wednesday the 14th of October, a day before registration closed I entered the event. The reasoning was to put off entry until nearly the last moment in the event of a forecast to rain or me still flinging arrows like a clown with a water gun.  The forecast for the weather wasn’t the main deterrent for a rejection to enter.  In reality if was the drive through Atlanta being the major issue against attending.

The secondary consideration was whether or not I’d make a fool of myself shooting at $249.00 Olympic recurve in the Men’s Senior Division having only just started shooting a recurve.  In total I’d had 62 days of actual practice shooting an Olympic recurve.  Granted, I believed those days to have been fairly high quality practice days.

The Olympic recurve is a satisfying bow.  At $249.00 for limbs and riser a barging for entertainment.  As a serious competitive bow, well since I’ve not shot any other Olympic recurve is seems just right.  The arrows that are flung off the bow’s rest cost $5.50 each complete with fletching, pile and nock.

Those arrows are a tad under-spined, un-cut, and there is no clicker on the bow.  There is a sight, which is, as sights go, one level above the trash.  I admit openly, the sight is awful. The price for the sight was around $20.00 new.  In this case, you really do get what you pay for.

The sight moves on it own, the aperture rotates between shots, and the calibration assembly aligns “in the ballpark” at best. “In the ballpark” after 62 practice days is probably good enough.

At 0830 there I was, sitting in my Ford-150, at the Kennesaw Archery Club’s range for the tournament.  I was thinking, this is really stupid.  I am going to be so embarrassed. But, I’d made the first leg of the drive (getting there) paid my $35.00 registration fee, so I might as well enjoy, albeit cold, the learning experience.

I unloaded myself from the pick-up, grabbed my introductory level bow and somewhat miserably began the hike to the check-in table. There I confirmed my initial target assignment and walked over to the warm-up range.

Along the way I passed friends and opponents.  This is my first recurve tournament.  I’d won the event in 2019 in the Men’s Masters 60 year old age group using a compound bow.  The recurve contest wasn’t as a Master.  I’d decided to compete for a while in the Senior division.

A friend of mentioned he’s not going to Gator Cup because they don’t have a 70+ division.  Many tournaments bail out of the age group divisions at 50.  I figured I might as will shoot with the guys under 50 since I’m starting something new.  At least there will always be a division in that age group.

There were comments about the in my hand recurve, of course.  There were folks suggest their opinion that the discount equipment was “Good for you.”  Said in the vein of “That’s a piece of crap but maybe you’ll have some cheap fun and not lose too many of those toy arrows.”  There was even the curiosity regarding what happened to the blue rubber tips I’d removed from the arrows to insert the 65 grain pile. One polite fellow, when he mentally digested my bow and arrow set changed the subject to cycling.

Others had more invasive questions. As answered: No, the set did not arrive in the mail zip tied together on cardboard and sealed in vacuum packed plastic. No, this bow isn’t available at Wal-Mart.

Admittedly, the budget bow and arrow set assisted in a good time. The sight was a frustration since it wouldn’t stay locked. It was a minor problem that was dealt with after each arrow.

One thing I will add is the Kennesaw Archery Club has a very nice facility.  Another is Atlanta traffic sucks!

When I left I brought this with me. (No 5-finger discount, I actually won it) 1st Place Senior Mens Recurve Division

Planning a recurve tournament

I’ve been shooting a recurve for several weeks.  It isn’t a fancy high priced rig.  It is an Olympic recurve style bow priced at $249.99 brand new off the shelf.  The arrows are Easton Vector 1000s, which are $66.00 for a dozen online.  The event is the Georgia State Field Championship.  I think it could be fun.  Winning isn’t the goal.

Nope, I think I’ll be pleased to hit every target with every arrow shot.  At this point I am certainly not competitive.  My arrows are under spined; the sight added to the bow rattles loose after every shot and the stabilizers bounce all over the place. I do have a nice tab and decent string.  I’ll also say for $249.99 the riser and limbs seem fine. But, at this point what do I know.

The arrows on the other hand are okay for the price but not really high end.  They are too long for my draw length, which doesn’t matter so much since I don’t yet use a clicker.

The under spined problem isn’t horrible.  The limbs are at 34 pounds.  At my draw length (calculated) I am pulling 32 pounds.  The arrows are labeled for use up to 29 pounds.  (These were represented as the correct spine for 34 pounds upon purchase) Since the arrows haven’t been cut (a matter I’d planned to have addressed on October 6thbut was disappointed when I arrived to learn the person to have had been assisting with this endeavor had forgotten the appointment, despite correspondence less than 24 hours prior to the meeting confirming the meeting) shortening them may just correct the floppy spine. Until then there will be floppy arrows flying out from my bow.

The issue isn’t a problem at 30 meters or less other than an occasion funny flung arrow.  Beyond 30 meters I have to use a version of Kentucky windage to correct the rightward shift.  The real problem is when I overdraw just a tad.  There seems to be a break point where the overdraw (beyond 26.4 inches) when the arrows throw in the towel.

At this point none of it matters. With ten weeks of recurve shooting this upcoming tournament is purely for fun. The biggest hurtle is the drive.

Gotta drive through Atlanta