Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight

When I started shooting an Olympic recurve bow 266 days ago I did so with minimal investment. The entire rig was under $460.00.  That included everything from sight to bow stand.   The arrows I am using, an upgrade from the initial arrows, are priced at $4.42 each.

Two of the items were replaced within weeks:  the bowstring and finger tab. The first string price was $19.99 and it didn’t last long. The tab was worn through just as soon.

I replaced the string with a 60X that I replaced after 24, 431 shots to another similar 60X string.  The finger tab was upgraded to a Fairweather – worth every penny.

The most recent up grade was the sight.  I’d already gone through two Cartel inexpensive sights. They bow did the job for the level I shoot.

Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight

A coach suggested early on getting a good sight.  I sold two older but well maintained kayaks then used the cash to buy an Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight with a 9 inch extension.  It wasn’t cheap, $358.44 tax included.

On the very first shot the difference was apparent.  The very first shoot was stunning – the bow was amazingly quiet. No loud rattling from a lesser quality sight. The new sight was worn every penny.

The elevation and windage dials are so much more precise than the lower priced sight’s dials.  Being able to dial in the dot in the aperture is a new experience. Before sight was “close enough.”

The thought the sight put into my head was to wonder how a really nice riser, limbs and stabilizers might perform?  To answer than I suppose I’ll need to sell something else.

Under Recovery

This morning the plan was 100 arrows at 45 yards.  I stopped at 70 arrows.  I was exhausted.

The fatigue I am feeling was obvious during the pre-archery workouts of stretching and cardio.  While running I slowed my pace but made the distance.  When it was time to shoot I didn’t have that usual spark. In fact, over the past week or so I’ve been tired.

Furthermore, and to my dismay, my groups have been expanding and my ‘test’ tournament scores have dropped. Something is up.

A friend of mine, a ex-pro PGA golfer, Tim Simpson, once told me, “You don’t want to be tired going into a tournament.”  I am 11 days out from a Georgia State Target Championship (International Round).

Going into the event my training has been 100 arrows per distance per week with a practice tournament on Saturday and recovery on Sunday.  The distance interval practice means 1000 arrows over 5 days.  The practice tournament (all distances arranged via a random number generator for those 5 yard increments) with warm-up is 80 arrows (60 for the scoring 20 warm-up).  That comes to 1080 per week.  Not overwhelming.

When it comes to any delayed onset muscle soreness and arms feel good.  When running or cycling I admit some ache.  Overall, the fatigue seems greater than the exercise input. So, physiologically it comes down to inadequate recovery. (1)

Not all physical effort is limited to an athlete-training plan.  Outside my plan I do a lot of other physical activity.  For instance, this week I’ve dug holes and planted 10 moderate sized trees. That included carrying 50-pound bags of soil around my property.  In itself not exhausting.

While shooting field distances there is a lot more walking versus winter training for 20 and 25 meters.  The walking, by itself, not an issue.

Cycling has been slightly harder since everyday there has been more wind that usual.  Again, by itself, not an issue.

Combined, there is an increased workload.

The way out is a slight reduction for a few days regarding the overall workload.  Evaluate my nutrition, hydration and sleep.

The first problem that comes to mind is sleep.  The inadvertent increase in workload probably pushed me to the edge and has led to sleep disruptions.  A key indicator for me in this regard is a lowering of my concentration.  That is easily picked up for me while shooting and playing music.

Playing music is a standard for me when it comes to concentration.  While I am playing and reading the sheet music and not know where I am it is a sign of mental fatigue I’ve associated with poor sleep.

I also expect my caloric intake has been low.  There was a time when I recorded it, when I was racing, because it was hugely important.  It is important in archery as well but I have taken a more relaxed tracking of my input and output.

At this point I feel my hydration isn’t a problem.

I also have had exercise-induced anemia in the past that is controlled by iron.  This is been just a low does of iron supplement until the sinking has passed.  Although I’ve not checked by hemoglobin I’ll get that done.

Hopefully, I can get through this in a few days.

Reference:

(1) https://sportmedbc.com/news/tired-athlete-issue-underrecovery

Listening to your body

Today I am exhausted.  Outside it is storming, it is Monday and all the local indoor ranges are closed.  The plan for today was 200 arrows, 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon.  My scheduled recover day was Wednesday.  The training plan will need some refinement to reach my weekly goal of 1200 arrows. (1200 at this phase of my training plan)

I am glad for the rain.  We’ve just returned from a week’s vacation where there was no archery.  There was a lot of cycling on vacation.  Since the return my arrow could has gradually reach 200 per day.  After a week off it was had to stop at 100.  But, lowered the daily count to give my body time to get back into archery form.

The archery and conditioning training isn’t what has caused the fatigue.  It was been planting trees or rather digging holes.  We’re talking 10 trees, fairly larges trees, digging holes through Georgia clay using a Maddox and a shovel.

The initial thought on the trees was to hire someone to dig the holes and plant the trees.  The lowest price for the holes was $175.00 per hole. (That’s $1750.00 for those that are math adverse)  I can dig a hole.

It felt good while digging the holes.  It has caught up with me.  I am glad for this storm. Equally glad to have not hired anyone to have dug the holes.

Building a Training Plan

USA archery coaches have access to general training plans for archers.  These plans are generally good.  If you work with a coach that coach might make changes on such a plan to meet the specific needs of an archer.  It is good to have a plan.

Among an archer’s training plan a coach might include activities for fitness.  Those activities may include cardio workouts and weight training.  Both are excellent for archery. Another element of a training plan may include stretching.  The focus is, of course, on archery.

Plans should include periodization.  That means a cycle based on workloads prior to specific tournaments, base training, and recovery.  The cycle might include exercises that cover volume and intensity.  They can also focus on unique points for technique improvement.

One simple measure of training is going to be arrow count.  It takes a lot of arrows to ‘get good’ even more to become ‘great.’

Starting new to recurve it is important not to overdo it from the beginning. Throughout the training there are periods of several days in a row where there is no shooting.  Becoming an excellent archer takes time.  No one gets there overnight.  A plan can reduce wasted time and provide a foundation for growth in the sport.

Training for an International Round

Twenty yards to sixty-five yards at five-yard increments doesn’t sound to tough.  Go shoot these distances and you’d discover it is pretty tough.

What might become clear is:  You can drop points at 20 – 30 and gain points at 55 – 65 yards. Or you can drop points at every distance.  Or you can hit the center at every distance.  In other words – it is tougher than one might think.

Shooting set distances even 70 meters isn’t as complex as shooting multiple distances.  Seventy meters is a long shot (@ 77 yards) but you’re set and can make corrections should you be off a tad.

Shooting an international round you get three shots per distance and move to the next target.  So your sight must be spot on.

Say you shooting 55 yards and the arrow on your elevation scale looks like it is in the correct position.  The needle on the elevation block has a diameter and can cover your calibration mark and still be a few clicks high or low.  If either is askew despite a flawless shot execution the arrow will be off the mark.

Walking through a forest, on and off of fields, and through mixed shade will have an impact on lighting and center placement of a shot. Chances are it won’t be horrible but light can still impact aiming.

Then, there are, at times, the potential for a shift in target elevation.  When the angle becomes significant aiming at your usual center will float your arrow high whether shooting toward a downward set target or an uphill target.  Shooting a set distance, such as 50 meters (compound) or 70 meters (recurve) this isn’t an issue.

When preparing many archers focus on improving their long shots to the neglect of the shorter distances.  The result can be slight improvement at the long shot, over confidence at shorter distances and overall less than optimal scores.

To prepare build a training plan.  For example, practice twice a day once in the morning and one in the afternoon.  There are ten distances.  In the morning pick a short or long distance and shoot 100 arrows.  For the afternoon shoot another 100 arrows at the reciprocal distance.  Over 5 days you’ve shot 1000 arrows at 100 arrows per increment.  Then on one of the two remaining days do practice International Rounds – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. With warm-up shots this is going to put you in the range of 1200 arrows per week. (Your shot count can vary depending on your time available for practice)  The last day is reserved for recovery. Start your international practice as far in advance of an International Competition as feasible in consideration of your event schedule.  (If you’ve been shooting less than 100 arrows per day adjust your load to prevent an injury)

Malson’s BBQ

I travel a lot.  Not as far or as often as before I retired.  Some folks enjoy travel.  For others it is a necessity.

While traveling for work I was frequently on the road with a friend, Andy.  Andy was a great travel partner.  He’d attended college on a dual scholarship as a quarterback and pitcher for Wake Forest. Andy is a large man and not an obese man.  To look at him you’d easily cast him as an athlete.  Physically we are pretty different.  Although I’ve been an athlete all my life at just over 5’7” I am rarely thought of as an athlete.

One thing we do have in common is a love for good barbeque.  On our trips we’d make it a point to seek the best barbeque we could find.  More often than usual we ended up with weak BBQ. Too often the BBQ was simply awful.

After nearly a decade of travels we parted ways.  I left the company and headed into the riskier section of business, smaller startups.  Still I continued our quest for good BBQ. He’d do the same and we’d intermittently share notes on where we found good and bad food.

It has now been a few years since I’ve spoken to Andy.  If I do talk to him soon I’d have to let him know about Malson’s BBQ in Kingsland, GA.

Malson’s BBQ

While staying in St. Mary’s, Brenda, my wife, and I decided to look for BBQ.  Malson had great reviews online so we chose it to try.  It can be an adventure searching for BBQ.  This wasn’t an exception.

The ‘shack’ was seriously a shack.  Malson’s isn’t a fancy sit down joint.  With BBQ never let the appearance fool you.  Often a real shack means real good food.  Malson’s fit that bill.

Brenda and I both ordered a pulled pork meal with Cole slaw and baked beans.  It is a traditional meal and one that best allows a common denominator for comparisons.  We were both pleased.  It was some of the best pulled pork I’ve eaten.  Frankly, off the top of my head I can’t recall purchasing a better pulled pork.

Weak and Tired

Rolling into a tournament tired isn’t good.  I’m tired. It showed my practice this morning. I compete in 3 days.

The fatigue isn’t from shooting.  It is from planting spring crops, running, cycling, building an extension on the chicken run, blowing leaves and pine straw, and power washing the back of our house.  All of this happening on my archery ‘recovery’ day.  I need a recovery day for my recovery day.

While shooting felt good this morning I looked at my arrow placement afterwards. I am practicing on a 5-spot.  Typically, 70% if my arrows on a 5-spot are Xs or 5s the reminder (out of 100) are 4s.  I do this twice a day.  This morning, 45% of my shots were 5s or Xs.  It was weak.

It was raining a bit and very dark at 0830 when I began practice.  But, I often shoot in similar conditions or worse.  I can’t blame it on the weather.  Nope, I blame it on a 17-year-old brain in a body that is nearly 70.

The 5-Spot Dilemma

The Georgia State Championship and NFAA Sectional (5-Spot) are in a week. I am still shooting my low-end beginner Olympic Recurve – riser $149.00, limbs $99.00.

The arrows, a recent change, are Black Eagle Intrepids.  These arrows are $4.42 each. By competitive standards not typical high-end gear. Nevertheless, I am shooting well with this entry-level equipment.

The initial plan for the upcoming competition was to shot a single spot.  The problem is that when I shoot 5 arrows at the same spot I break one every 10 to 15 arrows.  Often it is just the nock.  The problem with that is the nock won’t release from the shaft for a quick replacement.  The inner diameter of the Intrepid arrows is simply too tight for a fast repair.  In fact, I’ve yet to have a successful repair.  I end up cracking the arrow trying to free the remained of the nock.

Of the broken arrows, that is while shooting 5 arrows at a single target, over twenty ends it us usual to have a Robin Hood.  I have, from practice wear, 15 arrows remaining.

At the pace the arrows break after the first day of shooting the upcoming tournament, using a single spot, I have just 9 arrows remaining. That means on the second day at 2/3 of the way through the tournament’s second day I have 5 arrows remaining.  If the stats remain true on the last end I’d be an arrow short.

The solutions: 1) buy more arrows before I depart for the tournament, 2) shoot a 5-spot.

I’ve been practicing exclusively using a 5-spot.  This is specially to save arrows. Occasionally, 1 out of a hundred times, I miss the four line by a hair.  A single spot would be a never miss.  My 5-spot practice scores aren’t for a beginner recurve archer: mean is 283 with a range of 278 to 292.  Out of 100 arrows 66 of them will land in the white for a 5 and out of 60 arrows (tournament quantity) 18 will be Xs. (average)  My concern is the 1 in 100 where I miss the blue.

The dilemma is whether or not to shoot the 5-spot versus buying more $4.42 arrows and shoot the single spot.

A Small Victory

The Georgia State / USA Archery Indoor 18-meter Championship where I competed, at Georgia Southern University, wasn’t too bad.  I didn’t win.  I ended in 3rd Place among the Senior Men’s category shooting an Olympic Recurve.

For those that don’t follow archery, men’s senior is 21 – 49 years of age.  If I’d entered using my age group allowance I’d been in the Master’s 60+ class. I’ve competed in both age groups shooting compound bow.

At Georgia Southern everyone inside the Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center is required to wear a mask, a precaution against spreading the Covid-19 virus.  Since I am approaching 66 years old, a high risk group, shooting where masks are being worn seemed a better choice that the other location in Georgia where the competition was being held.

Some archers feel that a mask interferes with that shooting.  I don’t think wearing a mask is much of a problem.  Catching Covid-19 has a greater risk of being a problem and dropping a few points in archery because the mask got hung up in a bowstring.

Taking a 3rd place during a pandemic is just fine by me.  I am happy to be able to fine a safe environment where I can go play.

Taper

In nine days I’ll be heading to the Georgia State and USA Archery Indoor Championships. At the moment I am shooting like crap.

Over the past week or so my practice scores have been decreasing.  The volume of practice has been high.  Obviously, fatigue (hopefully) is a symptom of reaching a point of diminishing returns.

A friend of mine is an ex-pro golfer. He once said not to go into a tournament tired.

From past sport experience I understand that excessive fatigue can impact quality of performance.

With that in mind I’ve dropped my daily arrow count o 140 arrows broken into two practice sessions.  Still my scores aren’t competitive.  However, they are creeping up, again.

This afternoon during the 4th quarter of my practices my groups began getting tighter.  I’d jumped from 8.45 points per arrow to 8.8 points per arrow. Then, on the final five ends the average increased to 9.125, closer to where I expect to be shooting at this point with my recurve.

It was hard to stop shooting, but to continue deviated from the plan.  There’s nine days left before I hit the road for the tournaments.  That is a realistic taper.

Since I began shooting an Olympic recurve 186 days ago I’ve taken 49 days for compete recovery.  I understand that shooting a recurve isn’t something that can be picked up over night.  Still, I’ve managed, starting with a lower volume of arrows per day and working my way up, to shoot 16,728 arrows. That’s an overall average of 122 arrows per day.  I’d peaked at 1000 arrows per week but have now dropped to 700 (allow two days break per week at this point) per week.

It feels like a huge drop in volume.  I hope it works.