A Cone of Warmth

Last month I paid $60.00 for unlimited use of a local indoor archery range. It was a good deal. In North Carolina the same deal was $30.00, a better deal. I made the purchase of the archery pass because the weather during the past month has been cold and rainy. The problem with the $60.00 deal is the drive.

The $60.00 range is excellent, the time spend going back and forth is in my opinion is wasted time. The round trip takes an hour. An hour might not seem like a lot but it does impact training. While an hour on the road might not be spent in direct physical activity it does impact how I recover from a morning practice period before entering an afternoon practice period. To make this matter better I got a gift from my son-in-law, an outdoor gas heater.

Glowing red this little heater does a decent job of keeping a limited area warmer.

The little heater makes a big difference. While it doesn’t match an indoor climate controlled environment it does provide an ever-escaping cone of warmth. It uses propane, which is selling for $0.76 a gallon. The gas heater operating on the lowest setting is all the heat needed at around 38°F along with a few layers of clothes. Hopefully, this will help save some cash and time.

That Picture from the Event

Throughout my sporting activities there have been loads of pictures taken of the events where I competed. In running and triathlon races they’re always a pile of photographers snapping shots in hopes those digitalized athletes will exchange money for the memory.

I good friend of mine was a professional photographer and he’s often come to races where I’d entered and take pictures. Some of them were of me.

At the IBO World Championships, one year, I’m pretty sure photographers where on the ranges snapping up images they sold. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure.

During that tournament, I looked over the photographs available to review at a booth with a computer at the ready to search for pictures of yourself. My search proved empty. I moved on without further inquiry.

There are a few pictures of me on this website, mostly taken by my wife unless the image is of me is some race. In that case, I probably bought the ego-enriching photo.

What I can say about archery is that I rarely make the cut for a picture unless my wife takes it. I did, however, finally make to cut at the Georgia Archery Association 25-Meter Indoor Championship, this past weekend in Statesboro, Georgia.

The tournament had around 152 archers competing. At the Facebook page where the organizers said we could find our pictures that I checked.  I discovered there are 257 pictures of the event. That’s nearly a 2:1 picture per archer ratio. It seemed the odds of finding myself at full draw, looking determined and dashing were pretty good.

Scanning the 257 pictures it was clear that whoever captured them knew what they were doing with a camera. There were some excellent shots. In one the fellow shooting directly to my front was shown a full draw in perfect form. In another the lady behind me, a bare bow archer, is seen, bow in hand, gazing downrange, in silent contemplation.

Alas, there is no glorious close up of me with bow in hand projecting an air of professional athleticism. On the other hand, neither is there a ruined image of me with a finger up my nose. However, there is one picture where I made the cut. (See below)

Look closely, at the end of the line, under the letter ‘n’ in the word ‘center’ you’ll notice a sleeveless elbow. That’s me.

Georgia State 25-meter Championship

It feels like a long time between major archery tournaments. The last one was an outdoor championship in September – the 15th and 16th to be exact. Since then there have been a few league shoots. This weekend, finally, there is a major tournament in the State.

Georgia Southern University

The Georgia State 25-meter Championships is today at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. I’ve never shot a 25-meter tournament. So, this is pretty cool. A bonus is that the competition is being held at the Georgia Southern University Shooting Center.

Georgia Southern’s Shooting center

There are 149 archers competing as of December 6th. So, when I say major tournament, I am speaking on a State level. This tournament isn’t like a National Championship or a Vegas sized competition.

Most hotel rooms remind me of a box

I drove from our home near Athens, Georgia for this Statesboro, Georgia shoot a day before the Championship. On this trip I didn’t travel with my RV. The weather forecast is for rain, ice and a little snow. Not the idea conditions for pulling an RV. It will mean two nights in a hotel.

Regardless the outcome, and despite the hotel stay, competing at 25-meters seems like it will be a lot of fun.

Well, it is the bow.

There seemed to be something off during my last competition. In fact, my arrow placement has been dropping. It was so bad during last week’s tournament I shot two eights at 18 meters.The last tournament was scored with the inner ten equaling 11 points. Despite a recent slump I was optimistic.  Before long it was apparent something was clearly amuck.

Things started pretty good but didn’t last. Before I’d shot nine arrows I knew the monkey was on my back. My arrows were flying all over the place. My first thought was that I’d hit rock bottom. My second thought was that something was wrong with my equipment.

The equipment should be fine. It had been checked out in the previous week. Still, when I got home I took my stabilizers and scope off my Elite Victory X and put them on my Elite Energy 35. Low and behold – the arrows were landing more or less where I wanted them to land.

The arrows are Easton 2018s. The Victory X is a 60lb bow set up for around 54 lbs. The Elite Energy is a 50 lbs. bow giving me 52 lbs. I’d shot 2014s with the bows in the past and moved over to a stiffer arrow few weeks ago. With the Victory things had been looking good. Then, things didn’t look so good.

At last year’s Georgia 50 meter State Championship, I was training with the Victory. Prior to the Championship I went back to the Energy and won the event setting a new State record. I did the same for the next outdoor tournament and again set a new record* using the Energy. When shooting the Victory the arrows just seem to shift. I’d have to adjust windage when there was no wind.

Following that I took the Victory to the local bow shop where I’d purchased the bow explaining that something seemed off with the bow. I also contacted Elite looking for help. Elite didn’t respond.

Indeed, the limbs had somehow loosened and one was no longer matching the other. Corrections were taken and the bow performed well. Well, for a short while.

This latest problem was soon chased back to the bow. The Victory, set at 54 lbs. was tested and found to have a draw weight of 46 lbs. Forty-six pounds from a bow that has a maximum draw weight of 60 is seriously out of whack. At the Indoor Nationals last year (the tournament for which I’d bought the bow) during bow check in I discovered the bow had dropped the poundage. I’d assumed it was a variance between measuring devices.

The Victory X is a nice bow. Mine is nine months and 5 days old. I shoot about 100 arrows a day on average. My Victory X seems to have some issue with staying tight.

The recent discovered change in draw weight isn’t the first time – it is now the third. The first, I blamed it on variance of measuring devices. The second time, well no fault was assigned. This third time, well it is the bow. The third time is also the charm.

Today, while practicing, I had to pause and tighten the locking screws that are on the sides of the limb pockets. At this point I have no idea why this bow gets loose. But, I do hope it can hold together long enough to compete this weekend.

*Unofficial record. No higher score can be found online and I have contacted the State officials to verify – they’ve not yet responded.

 

Something has clearly gone afoul

Heading out early on Saturday morning I was on the way to practice at Ace Hardware’s Indoor Archery range in Social Circle, GA. The weather has been sort of tough for practicing outside. So, I’d purchased a month’s supply of practice time on the range. The temperature wasn’t bad on this morning; it was the downpour of rain that herded me inside. (The forecast was for 3-5 inches over the next several hours)

Arriving at the range I was surprised to discover the parking lot nearly full. It isn’t too much of a surprise; Ace’s archery pro-shop is often really busy, especially on the weekend.

Collecting my gear, heading into the building, it was pretty much packed with people. Seriously, there was minimal space to simply walk. A voice called out in my direction, “What are you doing here?” asked a friend. “I came to practice,” was my reply.

It turned out there was a tournament underway. Warm-up was just started and I figured I’d sign up if there was room. Seemed like a great form of practice and I got the last unassigned lane.

I got assigned a great spot to shoot from, 8D. There was a lefty in 7D – ideal. As an aside that lefty is ranked number one in the world. He’d just returned from competing in Argentina. I was pleased to be able to compare my shooting to his.

Ace is a great place to shoot and just down the road.

Well, I was pleased for the comparison at the beginning. What started off to be a decent performance soon dropped into the depth of near embarrassment. To be fair, I wasn’t bouncing arrows off the floor or sticking them into the ceiling. But, I did fire off two eights and a boatload of nines. There was a fair share of X’s and 10s at the beginning, but those shots migrated to the lower scoring rings after short time.

After a few days of trying to figure out what went wrong, I remain at a loss. The day after the failure to win, I took a critical look at form and equipment. I did discover the lens of my scope had rattled loose and my rear stabilizer had shifted a tad. Neither of those minor conditions should have led to an eight, much less two eights. What I do know is that my average scores have dropped from around 290 (small ten ring, 30 arrows) to around 280 over the past 10 days. Ten days ago I’d moved my 30-arrow goal to 295, now I’m messing around with 280s. What is just as concerning is that over the last 1000 arrows I’ve shot three eights. Something has clearly gone afoul.

The day after the poorly executed tournament I took a critical look at my equipment. It seemed okay, but I’m not 100% certain there isn’t an issue with the limbs of my target bow. That concern will need to be addressed by a professional bow technician.

At any rate, there is one more practice league competition, and one more major practice session before heading out to Statesboro, Georgia for the State 25-meter championship at Georgia Southern University. There are also two easy practices and on rest day scheduled for the week. After that, I’ll have to be as ready as I’ll be for Saturday’s big event.

Well, that was fun!

It was a pretty exciting day. It was cold and it started with stretching an indoor activity. It wasn’t long before River, my lab, and I hit the trails to run. By then, it had warmed to a toasty 28°F.

There are some big mushrooms in these woods. (My shoe is a size 10 for reference)

For sure, I’ve run when it has been colder. When I lived in Cleveland during the winter temperature around 0°F wasn’t uncommon. Still, I got up and ran.

Lake Erie in the winter

Running here, back home in Georgia, temperatures are as rough in the winter. Heading out on single track or animal trails through the woods is plain fun.

But, archery outside in 28°F isn’t a lot of fun. You just don’t work up enough internal combustion to stay warm. Wearing everything you own to stay warm while practicing is too cumbersome for me. The other night, after league shooting, a fellow and I were heading to our vehicles. It was around 8:20 PM and already getting cold. He bragged about the temperature not being cold to he – being from Boston and all.

For seven years I had an office in Boston, I lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I worked for extended periods of the winters in Sweden. In all of those places, I ran in the morning before work. I understand cold. Spend a winter or two in Uppsala, Sweden and Boston winters seems cute.

Uppsala, Sweden

After running it was off to Ace Hardware is Social Circle, Georgia to use their indoor range. Yep, Ace has an archery pro shop and very nice indoor range. They are also the major sponsor for an archery club, where I am a member, in this area.

Mornings at the hardware store archery range often mean the early risers can have their choice of lane to use. I try to get to the shop as soon as possible. I’m never entirely alone, other shooters come in, fling some arrows, and leave. As a rule, I do have a solid place to practice away from the cold.

Perfect for winter practice

On this morning I used a new target after the first 50 or so arrows. I moved it higher on their archery butt to take some time shooting the top target with a bit more elevation. On my second end on this new target I screwed up.

My shoulders were all wrong, my anchor felt off, my peep had rotated, so I needed to let down and start over. As I was becoming aware to let down I blinked. It seemed that something hit me in the eye. Naturally, with my eyes closed and my braining thinking, “Ouch” the arrow launched away.

All I could do was wait to here the arrow crash into the wall above the target. But, that’s not the sound I heard. I was lucky I heard the arrow hit the archer butt.

Looking for a five at best I didn’t immediately notice the arrow. Looking off the target entirely I still couldn’t find the arrow. Then, no, that is too lucky – the arrow hit the X. Not only hitting the X but it couldn’t have landed more perfectly. It was probably a one in a million shot.

The top arrow, eyes closed, the arrow got away, but seems like a well trained arrow

The weather “person” promised rising afternoon temperatures. So, after the morning at 18-meters I hoped to practice at 25-meters in the forecasted warmth. Sure enough, after a short cold afternoon bike ride, the temperature peaked into the 40s. On top of that, my new target arrived.

The sad, old, poorly repaired, block targets on my range could no longer do their jobs. Sure arrows slowed down, but there was no stopping them. I’d resorted to shooting a bag, which isn’t a great butt for a 3-spot. On the bag I use a vertical 3-spot is too long and the Vegas style target has only on sort of flat target. It was time for a new butt.

Target are expensive. It is one of the items on which I hate spending money. I know that before long the purchase by using it will end up wasted. You can shoot a bow over and over, you can use arrows over and over, but anything you shoot an arrow into eventually is gone.

What I’d been looking at for a replacement cost over $300. The same item was available on Amazon for $260. Amazon also had another brand that was a little smaller, a few inches, but a third the price. I figured for around $100 I’d take a chance.

In this case, that chance paid off. The target is very high quality as good as or better than the more expense products. The bonus is that it arrived about 30 minutes before I was planning to practice 25-meters.

Found on Amazon for around $100. It is heavy, 70 pounds.

During 25-meter practice daylight began to fade. The range is on a cleared area in the woods behind our house. In those woods, off not too far, I could hear coyotes howling. Usually, I’ll carry at least a pistol with me on the range; particularly in the summer as defense against rattlesnakes and copperhead. During winter months I don’t always bring a pistol. Those coyotes were too close for comfort even though I had a bow.

The coyotes marked the end of a fun day. There was running and riding and shooting. Granted, it was all part of training to do well in archery, which is sort of like a fun job.

Archers Run

If you’ve read “Putting it on the line” you know I’m an archer as well as runner and cyclist. You know that I think fitness is critical to sport including archery.

I try to post stuff that supports fitness and athletics beyond shooting a bow. Often those posts are about bicycling or running.

Cycling isn’t a 100% everyday activity because of weather. I’ve ridden in the rain or cold, but rather not ride in the rain and cold. I’m also not heading out on a bicycle in a storm.

This trail leads home

Running is another matter. Unless the weather is really bad, I’ll run. Once I read a saying that went, “Athletes Run.” In a general sense that seems true. Archery is a bit of an outlier in that many great archers don’t look like they could run 10 yards. There was a time, however, when archers ran as a matter of course.

In the early days of archery, say 1480 England, archers not only needed to shoot well, they needed to be fit. They needed to be able to run away from or toward a battle. In some accounts they joined a battle from their positions to finish off an opponent. They didn’t wear armor making them more mobile and perhaps fresher than the enemy that had been taking a pounding. Anyway you look at it archers were fit.

Found this remains about a mile from home. Not far from a road. This deer probably got hit by a car and made it into the woods before dying.

Fitness training is an excellent adjunct for the sport of archery. Taking a morning run through the woods is pleasant. Along a trail run you get to feel the outside. You never know for sure what you’ll pass and it is always a bit of an adventure.

Leveling the Playing Field

Backyard archery isn’t as controlled as shooting indoors. Shooting outside is great and ideal for 3D practice or long shot archery. Its fortunate that I’ve got room for long shots, up to 100 yards, and practicing 3D. But, those short shot practice sessions, when conducting the work outside, can be a bit of a challenge.

A major part of the problem is a level archer’s box. My property slopes and rises. That’s great for 3D. It isn’t so great for shooting dots.

At intervals from the target I have little flags stuck in the ground for distance. Each flag, in 5-yard increments out to 80 yards (at the moment no flags from 80 to 100 yards). Every flag drops in elevation from the target. At all of the flagged positions my left leg lands a little higher than my right, which makes for some lope-sided shooting.

25-meter spot

In order to remedy the awkward stance I use a hoe and level the field. That makes for better shooting and less frustration.

Archery Fans’ Signs

In my current issue of Runner’s World magazine they had an article that pictured lots of signs held by fans lining marathon courses. Marathons were never my favorite distance. I only ran them to train for Ironman races where we had to run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and cycling 112 miles. A single event like a marathon was essentially a fun way to train.

All marathons are different. The distance remains the same but each race is unique. The distance isn’t the only constant; there are always thousands, if not tens of thousands of fans watching the race. At the Tokyo marathon a few years ago (yes Japan) the course was literally packed with fans. The noise was incredible. Like all the other marathons I’ve run Japan had another constant of the race – fans with signs.

I couldn’t read the Japanese signs. For the most part I couldn’t understand what was being said around me. I had the same problem racing or training in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. Usually, I’d find someone that spoke English and that person was a prize. But, in every race, no matter where, there were signs.

I love that about sports, that fans come out and watch us suffer while often providing a bit of humor is wonderful. That is except for archery.

I did a search for signs by fans of archery. I found one. Apparently the Koreans are less inhibited than other fans and produced signs in support of their champion Park. (I can’t show it. The sign, while available in the public domain, came with a copyright warning.  Typical.)

Signs for runners aren’t necessarily going to support a champion, at least in the sense of the race winner. They support runners in general or a runner in specific. My wife, Brenda, at the Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii, drew me a sign on the road with chalk. I hadn’t known she’d done it but I saw it. It was a small thing in the grand scheme of a lifetime together but I haven’t forgotten the gesture.

There may be a sign or two at major archery tournaments, but they have eluded my search. I think fans with signs supporting their favorite archer is a good thing and it is sad we don’t see them. I think it is great when fans of a sport make and hold up signs that are non-athlete specific and are meant to support everyone.

Some signs I read along a racecourse have stuck with me and I was thankful to have read them. Of course, archery judges or more stoic observers of the sport might not welcome some of the signs held up by rabid running or triathlon fans should similar signs migrate to archery.

Still, I remain in favor of fans enjoying archery even if enthusiastic ones held signs over their heads that might be a distracting to serious minded, stone faced, fans, competitors and officials of the sport. For me, the signs have always been refreshing and welcomed.

Time to Give the Senior Division a Shot?

As 2019 approaches and tournaments begin to open there is the matter of which division to shoot. A goal, when I started shooting a bow, was to migrate from the Masters division to the Senior. That move would be based on my scores. (In archery Senior is the group between 21 and 49 years old.  Masters are over 50 years old.)

Archery is one of two sports where age isn’t a tremendous factor. For example, if I were training for a triathlon the consideration to compete against a 25 year old would be out of the question. In archery I compete against opponents less than half my age all the time. However, I’ve not yet made the shift to a younger group in any major event.

At the moment I am preparing for the USA National Indoor Championship. I’ve not yet entered – entry for my area isn’t available at the moment. In the meantime we have a 25-meter State Championship in ten days time. I’ve entered that as a Master.

My rolling average is creeping toward 600

The internal debate of Senior versus Master Division is a matter of confidence. I suppose it can’t be truly earned by simply comparing scores. It will come from head to head competition and a bit of guts.