We Took A Little Trip

View facing our campsite

Brenda, our two dog and I took a short camping trip to the mountains.  Less than 2 hours from our home in Good Hope we ended at Don Carter State Park near Helen, Georgia.

Looking our from the Winnebago

The Don Carter State Park is on Lake Lanier and is the newest of the Georgia State Parks. It is in a great location, on the Lake and close to Helen and Dahlonega.  Both towns are about a thirty minutes drive from the campground.

River stopped here apparently wanting to follow this trail, so we took it.
You can just make out this deer

The park has  nice boat ramps and 8 miles of paddling trails.  We didn’t bring kayaks on this trip but next time the boats are coming along. There are 12.5 miles of trails which River, my lab, and I spent hours investigating. More than once we walked up on deer.  I was glad we didn’t cross paths with any bear.

We went along the trail where she’d stopped. She really seemed to like this one.

Even though the trip was short we learned that camping nearby could offer a change of scenery and easy access to trails, water, and cool Georgia towns.

Some of the deer weren’t too camera shy

 

Fitness Minded

I often mention the number of archers that I compete against that appear, in my expert opinion, to be taking beta-blockers. They’re taking the drug, a PED in archery, to manage their hypertension.

I spent a solid decade studying hypertension and methods of treating it.  During that period I published research, sponsored the research of others, and helped develop methods to improve the health of people that have hypertension.

One of the best ways to combat the typical hypertension I see is through diet and exercise.  I worry about hypertension and the impact it could have on me.  Personally, a stroke would seriously limit my activity.

With that in mind, I exercise a lot.  The exercise aids in keeping my weight down – I do enjoy a good meal.  I admit I have exercised a lot all my life.

Picking up archery later (at 58 years old) than most archers being fit has not hurt me.  If I stopped shooting a bow tomorrow I’d still run and ride a bike.  In fact, I run almost everyday and ride a bike at least 4 times a week.

Wear these once then wash them. Fives days worth this week

I used to ride more when I raced bicycles.  When I picked up duathlons and triathlons cycling became another element of the sport. Of all the sports I’ve done cycling is my favorite (no offense to archers).  Actually, football is my second favorite sport and had it not been for cycling I’d have played in college.

Lots of nice open roads here in rural Georgia to enjoy cycling

In my junior year of high school I’d been scouted by a few college teams.  My high school coach had all but guaranteed my parents I’d get a chance to play in college. To them that meant college tuition they’d not have worry about.

But, I got hooked on cycling and thought I’d give it a ride to see if I’d make an Olympic Team.  It is impossible to keep weight on while racing bicycles.  So, my football opportunities dropped as fast as the weight.

Cycling didn’t pan out either.  Just out of high school I did have a chance to race in Europe but passed and gradually migrated my attention to academics then a day job.  Through out it all I stayed on a bike. And I eventually raced in Europe.

ITU Long Course Duathlon, World Championship – 2007

Decades of fitness are paying off now that I’m in my mid-60s.  I take no prescription drugs.  My blood pressure runs around 117/68 and my percentage of body fat is in the single digits.

Where fitness pays other dividends is in archery.  Over a long two-day tournament I am far more bored than fatigued.

I thought I heard someone yell, “Get him!.” So I ran like I stole something.

The hardest thing for me in archery is to remain in the game.  During a 4-hour 100-mile bicycle race or a 5-hour 70.3-mile ½ Ironman, I can stay focused.  (The young professionals are much faster than those times.) During a marathon or ½ marathon focus isn’t an issue.  During a long archery tournament my mind becomes numb.

That lack of focus might be assisted by a PED.  Certainly, those early end jitters would be reduced.  But, it is better to be fit and get through an event without the aid of a hypertension support medication. It is even better not to have high blood pressure.

Want to get fit? Check with your doc before you run around the block.

Well, that was dumb!

During 3D I shoot, mostly, with pins.  More than once I’ve put the wrong pin on a target and messed up the shot.  You’d think this wasn’t too smart and you’d be right.

This morning, shooting from 55 yards, I put scrolled my sight in at 45 yards.  No matter how perfect your form might be it is not going to be a good shot.

Dial in at 45 yards then shot from 55 yards makes for one less arrow to carry around

Dumb things happen from time to time.  One of the dumbest is shooting at a target twenty yards away for your first shot of the day when you last shot of the day before was at 60 yards and not adjusting your sight. Do that and you’ll probably never find that arrow if you’re shooting outside.  I left a number of arrows in the woods near our old home in North Carolina having not learned my lesson the first time or two.

Dial in at 55 yards and shot from 55 yards is better. You can see where the 45 yards arrow stuck into the brick. Another 10 yards on the arrow and it would have been just fine.
River could have cared less. It’s hard to ignore a fresh bone.

When I do these dumb things I’m often glad no one is around to witness the mistake.  That doesn’t stop me from writing about those mental farts. The only witness to my practice screw-ups is typically a Labrador retriever, River.  If she’s gnawing on a bone she doesn’t even notice.

It’s You Not the Bow!

It’s you not the Bow! Well, we’ve all heard that one.

Last year I bought a new bow specifically for USA Archery and NFAA target shooting.  The old bow was fine.  The old bow is a catchall advertised to be useful for hunting, 3D and target shooting.  It is exactly as advertised.

I was at a point where my groups were tight; I’d won a number of tournaments with the one-bow-does-it-all and felt it was time to invest in equipment that might yield a few more points.  Specifically, a bow marketed exclusively for target shooting.

70 yard group with the old bow

This would mean a longer axil-to-axil for certain and perhaps a few other target specific alternations.  I bought a highly recommended target bow, which according to the salesman, “All the top pros are shooting this bow.”  I bought it.

With the new  bow I practiced and practiced.  At each tournament, new bow in hand, I lost and lost.

Notice the shotgun pattern formed with the newer bow. Now look at the three arrows that missed the target! I paused, took a bio-break, returned and the arrows all shot right. This is when I put the new target specific bow down and picked up the old bow, again.

The groups would be rather tight then there’d be a flyer.  The groups would widen and my scores would drop.  I just could not figure out the problem.  One day things would seem okay, the next arrows flying all over the place.

In the middle of 2018, after losing in a major event where I was up 6 points going into the final six arrows I put the bow down.  I loaded up the catchall bow, went to the next tournament and set a new State record. I figured it was a fluke. I grabbed the fancy target specific bow and started working with it, again. And again, I lost and lost.

I took the new bow to my local archery shop and they checked it out, made some adjustment and returned it.  It shot well for a while – then arrows began landing in shotgun patterns. I emailed the manufacturer and explained what was happened.  There was no response.

Most notably, when shooting at increasing distance, the windage needed to be adjusted. Those adjustments were not slight.  Arrows would land wider and wider as the distance increased. Oh, there was no wind and it was the same target.  I’d shoot at 30 yards and work my way out to 70 yards adjusting the windage every ten yards.  It felt like it wasn’t me and I began asking more questions. I even hired a coach to see if I’d gotten out of tune.

When it came to the problem of shooting the new bow there were all manner of answers and voodoo remedy: “You have to bend your bow arm with this bow,” “You need to keep your bow arm straighter,” “ You bend your bow arm and keep it straight at the same time,” “Keep your bow arm and back really extra tight, “ “If you’re too tight you’ll shoot your arrows right with this bow,” “This bow likes to be closer to the thumb of your bow hand,” “You need a new string,” “The string has stretched, “ “It is a little out of tune,” ”Your peep rotates,” “You’re too short for this bow,” and finally, “Maybe you just shoot the other bow better.” No doubt about the last comment. But, the question is, why? The other older bow isn’t a true target bow.  The flawed new bow is a true target bow.

Working with bow techs every manner of adjustment was tried and tested.  More weight, less weight, different release, different arrows, new angle on the front stabilizer, shorter rear stabilizer, etc. The course of less tight groups marched onward.

The ‘flawed’ term is what I’ve determined.  Over and over the new bow fails to shoot consistently.  You’d automatically want to blame the archer. The archer gave the bow a solid year of practice and over that time scores diminished with the new bow, while scores increased with the old entry level catchall bow.

Today, I shot 5% better with the catchall bow compared to the super target bow.  The comparison was over two days. I went back to the data on the two bows. Looking back over two years I averaged 10 points higher at 50-meters with the one bow does it all. In a final test, I took the catchall bow to an indoor range and shot a 5-spot.

Using the target bow I’d lost, taking second place, at the State NFAA 5-spot indoor championship missing the 5 three times.  I’d wanted to go to Cincinnati and compete at the NFAA Nationals.  In order to make the trip I set a minimum requirement for the State Championship.  That goal was 600 points over two days and 96 Xs.  I failed to reach that mark.  However, when testing the catchall bow, using skinny outdoor arrows, I shot a one-day total of 300 points and 52 Xs.  That was the final straw.

Yes, I know I need to get get my elbow around. This lands the arrow wide right. Even so, wide right is still in the white if not a 3 o’clock X.

I believe good equipment is paramount at a certain level of competition with any sport.  I also believe, in archery, shoot the bow you shoot best.  Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed in the bow purchased with the intent to improve my scores a little.  That new bow didn’t pan out. No, in this case, it is the bow. But, the question why remains unanswered.

Lots of Competition Among the Older Runners

Before I left the house on Saturday morning, aside from stretching and eating breakfast, I took River for a run. We ran a short mile.  I kept it short because I needed to get on the road. I had a 5K race at 0900.

The race was really a nice run.  Over half of it was off road.  There was a good crowd even if the weather was a little sketchy.

Interestingly, the collection of subsets of runners on this Saturday is becoming more defined by my observations. I’ve been noticing this evolution of the running collective over years. It breaks down something like this:

There’s the young crowd of local track team members.  Then, there are women and more mature men.  By mature men, I mean the population of men over 50.

Here’s the thing about this group of runners at the 5K, some male age groups were totally unrepresented. There were no male runners from 19 years old to 24 years old.  There were two male runners between the ages of 25 and 29 and zero male runners between 30 and 34.  The age groups didn’t get populated for men until the 45 years old group. From 45 years old to 75 years old the grey haired male runners were abundant. Not only were there plenty of mature male runners those in attendance were fast.  The second fastest time of the day came from the 70 – 75 year old male group with the old fellow pacing out sub-7 minute miles.

After the race when I read the times I wanted to meet the 70+ year old man that ran sub-7 minute miles. So did another runner or two and we searched for him looking for his bib number.  We didn’t find him.  Obviously, he’d won and headed home, back to Snellville.  We all assumed he ran home.

I won my age group and did well overall.  I’d noticed the medals and wanted one so I stayed for the award ceremony.  Sometimes I see the award medal decide it isn’t worth the wait then head home skipping the award ceremony. But, this medal was clearly unique and a fair amount of thought had gone into its design.  I wanted it so I waited.

The wait wasn’t long – they started with the higher age groups and I’m in the third from the oldest group for this race.  When they called my name I walked to the awards area.  They’d handed the 2ndand 3rdplace finishers the cool looking medal each with a bronze or silver finish.  I received a water bottle!

To be fair, it is a nice metal water bottle.  I’m sure it cost more that the medal.  The water bottle has nothing on it to represent the race.  It’s a water bottle with a local middle school logo – the school whose grounds were used to host the race.  I am disappointed.  If I’d known, I’d had held back for second.

What I do know is there seemed to be percentage-wise few young adult males in this race.  When I first began running, then racing, the male population was by far the largest percentage of a race.  Not too long ago at major marathon the women, for the first time in that race’s history, outnumbered the male runners. Since then, not knowing the exact count, I think the races I’ve entered have been at least even based to gender and if anything the higher number of runners appearing to be female.  Certainly, in this 5K the female population was greater in number than the male population.

Turing the heat down


A new target – nice

Slowly spring is coming. There was a bit of a struggle during the past few days and it was cold.  It has starting warming up, and– hopefully – the struggle is over.

Started off okay then went downhill
Maybe, just maybe, this little heater can remain off until October

Practicing at 60 yards in the cold sucks. As practice continued to grind the temperature slowly climbed.  As it warmed apparel was removed. The little outdoor heater was cranked off and the gloves came off.

It warmed up and the jackets came off

Despite the warming I still shot poorly.  Far too many 8s.  Still the outdoor season is young and the first 50-meter tournament is not until May.

River is happy regardless of the temperature

Oh, Nike, My Nike!

On this very site there was once a page dedicated to my “sponsors.” I liked and used their products. For several years I kept in touch with them, sent the required quarterly updates, had links from my website to their website. Some provided a small discount to me when I bought from them. A couple even gave me stuff at no cost other than using their products.  Over time I decided to drop my sponsors.  I got tired of putting together all those reports, emailing them, and then following up to see if my report had been received.  I supposed the marketing folks at those former sponsor companies had bigger fish to fry.

Nike!  If you want a great sponsor don’t even consider Nike.  They’re a great sponsor.  Nike isn’t interested in your request for sponsorship.  If you are good enough, they’ll find you. In cycling, decades ago, Nike was one of my sponsors. Nike probably had no idea I was one of their athletes.

I got free Nike apparel because I raced bicycles for Trek.  I had a contract to represent Trek as a member of their “Mid-Atlantic Factory Team.”

A lot of my “stuff” is still in the original packaging

Trek gave me all manner of free stuff including bicycles, bicycle parts and racing kits.  Those kits were adorned with the Nike swoosh. One of those free bicycles was the equivalent of getting seven top end Mathews or Hoyt compound target bows a year.  It beats the heck out of a 25% discount on a dozen arrows or bowstring. To make matters better I never had to send in a personalized summary of my races. Someone knew and kept track.

Never been opened. (Most of my Trek kits have been well used and are still in use.)

A Nike sponsorship would be nice.  I need new running shoes.  This year I’ve run through four pairs of running shoes.  The last pair on hand is disintegrating with every mile.  I have a race tomorrow and am hoping the shoes don’t fall apart during the run. If they do, it won’t be Nike’s fault.

Running shoes aren’t so expensive that a new pair will break the bank.  A new pair is around $134.00.  Call me cheap, but I hate buying new running shoes.

Nike never provided me with running shoes.  My loose connection with Nike didn’t go past the free kits from Trek.  Once, a representative from Nike did give me a free pair of Nike bicycle racing shoes.  I think he just wanted to get rid of them and they happened to be my size. I still have them – I can’t run a step wearing them.

When it comes to sponsors I miss the free stuff.  Buying new running shoes or a new bowstring pains me.  It is also a pain to pay entry fees and travel expenses.  There was a time those costs didn’t come out of my wallet either. But, for the most part we athletes have to pay to play. I suppose I’ll have to bite the bullet and fork out the cash, again, for a new pair of running shoes.  Then, I’ll need to do the same for arrows and a bowstring.

It will happen if you run trails. 

I’ve read and been told that archery is the second safest sport.   It really depends on the reference.  No doubt, archery is a safe sport. Running on the other hand, while it seems safe, can be hazardous.

If you do a lot of trail running you know where I’m headed.  Sure, you might get attacked by a mountain lion and need to fight for your life.  You might run up on a rattlesnake, copperhead, or other poisonous snake.  That’s when you sprint away while doing the hopping chicken dance.  Heck, in some places there’re bears to worry about.

Most likely all of those animal intersections with a runner are limited.  The more likely trouble comes from something that doesn’t even move – the root. In come cases a root might be a rock, stump, or other obstacle that just sits there waiting to trip you.

If you run trails it will happen. You’ll cross paths with that non-moving hazard and eventually the impact will be just right to create a face plant.

Run trails and a face plant is just a matter of time

I’ve had more face plants mountain biking than running.  I still have a fair share of running tumbles.  Yesterday, I ended up face down on a trail.  It wasn’t a bad fall.  Nothing has broken; there was a slightly scraped nose and a little frustration.

I was running with my dog, River, and I swear when she saw what had happened she laughed.

A Big Tree, Cold Archery, and a Tailwind

Before archery practice this morning, like nearly every morning, I ran. On the trails where I run there are some enormous pine trees.  I’ve been trying to remember to carry a camera to take a picture so you can see. Here is one of them:

Reminds me of “Hometree” from the movie Avatar.

For comparison, you can see the regular tall pine trees next to this larger pine tree.

30 degrees when I headed out to the range. It was 27 degree while running.

Of course, after running, I practiced archery.  For the past couple of days outdoor archery has been rough.

This little heater is great
It wasn’t all bad

I put on every article of clothing I own to stay warm, use an outdoor propane heater and get through it just fine.

Mountain bike gloves keep my bow hand warm, but aren’t good for archery

What really hurts, is heading out on a bicycle when the temperature is still in the 30s and the wind is howling.

Speed 20.6 mph. Coasting with a tail wind.

Changing the 2019 Event Calendar

When I completed my 2019 goals and event calendar I made certain conditions.  Those conditions are associated with the more expensive archery tournaments.  For example, in order to put out the money to compete at the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio, I needed to shoot a pre-determined score at the NFAA regionals.

It wasn’t a difficult task. I needed to shoot two 300s at the regionals.

When I shoot a 5-spot, the target for both events, I shoot a 300 83% of the time.  Sometimes, I mess up a shoot a 299 or 298. Those scores are essentially meaningless at the Nationals.  No, at the NFAA Nationals you win by having the high X count.

My highest X-count is 104 out of 120 arrows.  That’s not a winning score.  But, it would be a fine score, yielding 600 total points and 104 Xs, and worth the trip. At the regionals I didn’t come close.  I ended up with a 597 and I don’t recall the X count.  With shooting like that there’s no point in spending big bucks for a trip to Cincinnati – at least for me.

This change opened up my weekend calendar.  In fact, as far as archery is concerned, I found a significant gap between competitions. I had to fill that gap.

I run nearly every day. I ride a bike often in the winter and nearly every day once the weather improves.  Once, I raced triathlons.  Could a triathlon fill that gap?

Ironman World Championship – seems so long ago.

No, I’ve not swum a stroke in over a year.  If you don’t train for swimming, you can die in a triathlon. It has happened. Even if you finish the swim, without proper training you could fail to met the cut off times and be pulled from the race.

I could, however, race in a duathlon.  There are two duathlons within 45 minutes of where I live.  I prefer duathlons to triathlons.  I decided to add both of those races to my calendar.

Swimming – it is always cold to me.

To start, I’ll race some 5Ks and 10s.  I do run often, I don’t run fast.  My daily runs are purely for pleasure and health management.  When I’m on a bike, I’ll sometimes crank it up.  Running is another matter and I’ve just not been going fast.  I’ve been exclusively running trails with River, a Labrador retriever. She stops a lot to sniff I have to slow down and wait. If I don’t she might cut to a chase or roll in something foul. I can change that without much thought.

Pushing into a head wind.

Archery is fun.  It is a whole lot less expensive than a duathlon. But, if there aren’t enough easy to access archery events I’ll pay a bit more to register for a duathlon and save on travel expenses.