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

 

Nothing Like a Rattlesnake to Bring Neighbors Together

Our next-door neighbor sold his house.  It took only a short time and sold for over the asking price.  It seems like good news that the house sold so fast and the value had increased substantially.  Of course that sent us to Zillow to see what it reported about our house’s potential value.  Indeed, it had risen.

However, we’re not in the market to sale and buy another house.  This means we’ll be getting new neighbors.

A few days ago I noticed one of the new owners outside in her new backyard. They’d not moved in while the interior was being repainted to suit their tastes.  I walked over to introduce myself.

On that meeting I learned the couple, about the age of Brenda and I, were adding a pool, clearing some of the woods for open a parking space for their 38 foot long RV, and putting up a privacy fence.

As my new neighbor explained, the fence was to keep their two dogs at bay not because they were unsocial.  I’d considered the privacy fence and pool then suggested inherent opportunities for nude bathing while avoiding prying eyes.

In fact, she was very pleasant despite avoiding my humour, again lost or ignored by the intended target. She mentioned her husband was overseas and due home soon. Appareltly, making slight off color joke can send up needless alarms. We exchanged phone numbers and I offered my help if they needed it. That exchange left me believing our post-joke conversation had satisfied her that I am safe.

A few days later, at night, I received a phone call from her.  It went like this, “Mr. David, do you own a gun?” I replied, “Yes mam, this is Georgia, everyone owns a gun.”

Indeed, at least one town in Georgia has a law that the head of the household owns a gun and has ammunition for that gun. (1)

The call continued, “Well, we’ve got a rattlesnake out front.  Can you come over and kill it?” she asked.  “I’ll be right there.”

It took a minute or so to get the key to my gun safe, retrieve a .410 shotgun and some snake shot.  Once collected my armament I headed over to shoot the snake.

I’d seen video of people shooting snakes with snake shot.  Large snakes seemed annoyed by the shot.  I’d always felt those were rare cases.  Snake shot did good work on the moccasins and copperheads around us when we lived in North Carolina. I was about to learn a lesson.

When I met the snake it wasn’t a small one.  This snake turned out to be just over four feet long and weighted several pounds.  My .410 is a double barrel and I shot it twice with the snake shot.  That really pissed it off.

I walked back home and grabbed a couple of shells with four shot.  I figure that would do the trick.  That is if I shot it in the head a couple of times.

Two shots later, now four shots had been delivered, the snake’s head was pulp.  A group other neighbors had gathered to witness the execution.  Prior to the final shots there had been calls to wait while pictures were taken and requests not to shoot it in the body so the skin could be salvaged.

When the task was complete the crowd that had gathered stared at the massive snake. A great deal of advice regarding snake prevention was bantered about. A father lifted the dead timber back  with a stick allowing his boys to touch the undamaged skin. It turned out no one wanted to take the body home to remove that skin.  A hole was found to be used for the monsters headless body’s final resting place.

The crowd slowly dispersed everyone mumbling about the rattler.  What I took away from the event is that next time I’ll gather up a 12 gauge.

Reference:

(1) In 1982 Kennesaw, GA passed an ordinance [Sec 34-21]:[21]

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

Manners Are Important To Me

As I explained it to my wife, Brenda, “Their children have excellent manners.”  This comment was regarding a couple’s, both USA Level 4 Archery coaches, children if frequently shoot near during practice or tournaments.  In fact, on more than one occasion, I’ve shared my similar remarks to my wife regarding the younger people I practice and compete with or against in archery.

Good manners are important to some people.  Years ago our cycling coach told the team one of the fastest ways to get bumped from the team, regardless of how good one might be in the cycling, was to be rude or disrespectful.  The coach was a USA Cycling Coach that had been head coach for several of the National Teams.

As my parents taught us, the children, about manners and we learned.  We learned, Yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir, please, thank you, opening doors for others, lending a hand, to be respectful and to help others.  We were taught to carry out good manners to everyone.  There were no exceptions. Good manners are part of good character and we should never forget it.

What I can’t abide is disrespectful behavior and poor manners.  I also can’t abide good manners to cover for disrespectful behavior.

Decades in sport have taught me that most athletes have excellent manners. Occasionally, the bully pops up that is rude or aggressive in a general sense as opposed to playful smack talk.  There is a difference.

Those folks are best ignored.  It is better to out perform to in order to put them in their place.  If you find yourself in a group where such behavior occurs you might be inclined to snap back.

One of my grandchildren has been studying martial arts for 6 years.  He’s only nine years old.  Over the course of those years he’s moved up in skill and rank.  He, also, regularly competes in martial arts competitions.

This grandson isn’t a large fellow.  He is fast and wiry.  He typically wins in competition and is frequently the smallest fighter.

There was a gang of bullies at his school that aimed their attention at my grandchild.  He reported it to his parents who in turn notified school officials. Those officials failed to remedy the problem.

Weeks past and the bully group continued to pester my grandson.  He warned them repeatledly to not bother him, stop pushing him and stop harassing him.  They failed, just as the school staff had failed, to end the harassment.

Finally, in self-defense, one against three, and with numerous warnings to stop which the bullies ignored, the little boy took action.  When he was finished and standing in the principle’s office he said, “I told them over and over to stop.  My parents told you what was happening.  They (the bullies) were pushing me and no one helped.  I defended myself and made sure not to hurt them, just to knock them all down.”  Once all three were one the ground he told them, “Stay there and don’t get up while I call a teacher.”

(His parents and his coaches instruct him to not use his skill to hurt people. I’ve heard the lecture.)

My grandson got into some trouble from the school officials.  No one bothers him at school today.  He’s actually very popular, now.  I’ve seen him in practice and competition.  He is fast there is no doubt.

In archery, bullies aren’t a serious problem on a range.  Heck, everyone is armed.  As a general rule everyone is polite and have good manners.  Still, we find that occasional jerk whose got a mouth on him (I’ve not run across a rude women in the sport).  Those are the ones where I must bite my tongue and politely move away.

Dang, that was windy

I’d planned to start at 70 yards (not meters).  Then work out to 70 meters. It was cool with the temperature around 51°F. That would have felt pretty good except for the wind. Morning practice was going to be a challenge.

It was windy. The wind was blowing steady at 12 mph with gusts up to 28 mph.  I can shoot through that – I thought.

The problem was the gusts blew my target over twice.  On the second crash, one of those gusts, which felt like more than 28 mph, I moved to a heavier target.

The heavier target is smaller and without the overhang clearance of the larger less wind adaptable target. I have lots of trees along the range lanes and some still need to be trimmed.  So, I moved closer.  It was still frustrating.

My light introductory level recurve arrows, Easton Vector 1000s, aren’t ideally suited for gusts of wind.  Trying to time a steady wind with the intermittent gusts was good practice should I, or rather when I, find myself competing is such conditions. Before any major tournament I imagine I’ll need an arrow upgrade.

I got in 70 arrows before I had to move on.  I’d lost some time setting up a blown over target twice so I didn’t get the 90-arrow practice completed.  This afternoon the wind is forecast to drop to 6 mph.  That should be a more humane practice.

Total Recovery

Sunday is supposed to be a complete recovery day.  The past 53 days have included a fair number of days to take a break.  In fact, there have been 12 days off from practice and training.

This works out to 41 days of work.  That work has been serious.  Archery-wise, shooting recurve bows exclusively, I’ve shot 5026 arrows for an average of 122.58 shots per day.   Not every day yielded 122.58 arrows.  Some days there were low counts other days the quantity was high.

This upcoming week is a recovery week.  There will be less shooting before practice ramps up though mid-October.  At present, this schedule is focused on base and form.

Mid-October holds a point where archery plans will get a major edit.  It will be the end of a quarter of shooting recurve.  It will be time for a fresh assessment and plan revisions.

In the meantime, forcing a short break is tough.

Watching my caloric requirements

As we age our BMR, Basal Metabolic rate, decreases.  Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest. I do a lot of exercise and need to check caloric intake versus caloric burn to ensure I have the right balance of intake and output.

I check this every few months and adjust based on training demands, body weight, percentage of body fat, and the food I am eating.  Getting this as correct as possible improves recovery times along with optimizing sleep as well as fat, carbohydrate and protein intake.

Staying aware of my BMR changes helps to monitor intake, which differs in quantity compared to when I was in my 20s. You can use the internet to find all sorts of calculators to find your numbers.

When I was competing in cycling, running and swimming I never seemed to get enough to eat.  As an archer the caloric load is significantly reduced.  For example, while training for the Ironman World Championship I was burning about 6720 calories a day on top of my BMR.  Archery, alone, burns 777 calories a day.  (Based on my weight, height and hours of training) Add daily supplemental training and I burn 2572 per day on top of a BMR of 1472 for a total of 4044.  That is significantly less than what is required for Ironman type conditioning. Heck, add my BMR needs to triathlon caloric needs and you’ll be looking at 8372 calories per day.

When I raced my percentage of body fat ranged from 3% to 7%.  Now that I’ve switched to archery that percentage has increased to 10% – 12%.  If I didn’t do any cardio work and ate the same amount per day as I did before archery I’d expect a much higher percentage of body fat.

Because I am 65 and plan to compete in the Men’s Senior (rather than Masters) Division of Olympic recurve it is paramount I maintain a focus on fitness.  Part of that focus is optimizing caloric intake and output.  Part of the benefit is not having hypertension (high blood pressure) and I don’t require medication to control it. Beta-blockers, a drug of choice for treating hypertension is a banned substance in competitive archery.  I doubt a therapeutic exemption would be allowed for a beta-blocker in archery. Nevertheless, I rather be fit and not need it to begin with.

My mother, an 87 year old, walks two miles a day with a Labrador retriever on a leash, mows nearly an acre of land using a push mower, and works on her property everyday except Sunday.  She takes no prescription medication.  She gets a physical exam every 6 months and is in superb condition.  As she describes it, “It is better to exercise than to take drugs to maintain health.”

Her physician follow her last exam told her, “Mrs. Lain, you have the blood chemistry of a 35 year old.  I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep it up.”

Finding the right balance of intake and output is critical for athletes.  Archery is no exception. For that matter, life is no exception. Eat right and exercise and you’ll be healthier than if you didn’t.

Time for New Running Shoes

When Hurricane Sally’s remnants passed over us there was a lot of rain.  There was a pause in the rain around the usual time I go running every morning.  Taking a chance, River and I, headed out to the trails.

The rain was only a slight drizzle as we left our yard, passing through a fence gate to start pacing through the woods.  Our first path led to ponds of water that aren’t usually on the path.  Back tracking we found a clear path and headed deeper into the woods.

Less than a mile in the drizzle was getting louder in the trees.  Gambling we ran on.  The gamble was a loss.  Within minutes the rain was a torrent.  We turned around and ran for home.

There was no point in sprinting we were going to get soaked no matter what we did.  River did pick of the pace.  She’d gallop ahead, pause to look back to make certain I was still behind her. Once we made eye contact she was off again.

You can take the nerd out of the lab, but not the lab out of the nerd. What a goober.

As soon as we reached home the rain slacked up a bit.  Nevertheless, both dog and man were drenched.  Worse for wear were my tired old Nike shoes.

Those shoes had finally given up the ghost.  They were 15 months old!  The soles had been re-glued three times.  The black rubber bottom heels were worn to the white foundation of the bottom rubber.  But, man did they feel nice running trails – they were seriously broken in.

Slogging through puddles had been the last gasp of the amateur shoe repairs. Still, 15 months for Nike’s least expensive (or near about) shoes, at $50.00 a pair via Amazon, is a deal.  Those shoes didn’t owe me a thing.

Rather than pull out the Elmer’s and try to bleed another few weeks from the shoes I guessed it was time to reorder.  Coincidentally, my most recent issue of Runner’s World (RW) had arrived in the mail a few days prior to Sally’s arrival.  On page 63 RW has an article meant to help me, “22 Best Shoes You Can Buy Right Now”.

Pictures of sleek sneakers are runners’ porn.  There was a time I invested in really extravagant shoes thinking I’d shave a few minutes over a marathon or salvage a toenail.  I don’t race beyond an occasional 5K so my elaborate spending isn’t necessary.  In fact, it probably never was needed.

The average price of the 22 best shoes, as advertised in RW, is $140.68.  Shamelessly, I have spent that and more on a single pair of running shoes.  In fact, I have two pair of big money shoes still in their boxes.  I don’t wear them; they are too expensive to waste for everyday training.  I’ll save them for that day I might enter a race, again. (Even though I expect they won’t help me run any faster at this point.  At least I can still look serious)

I’ve even got a pair of old track shoes.  I raced wearing those in just one race years ago at the US Track & Field Masters Indoor National Championship. Now, they are just a relic from days gone by.

There’s no way I’m forking out $140.68 for shoes when my old $50.00 pair lasted 15 months.  I went back to Amazon to reorder those same shoes.

It took a second to change that plan.  Those $50.00 shoes are now $80.00.  As a running shoe goes the $50.00 spent was okay.  Certainly, the $50.00 shoes were not worth $80.00. The toe box was just a bit off, the rubber sole hard, and heel was sloppy.  Fair for $50.00 but a rip off at $80.00.

Instead, I searched and found a pair of ASICS for $45.00.  ASICS is a trainer that in the past I’ve used for 1000s of miles of running.  I invested the $45.00; the new shoes should be here in a few days.

Years ago, well more than a decade, I was running in ASICS.  A fellow I was working with on a project was one of their athletes.  He’d won a Gold Medal in the Olympics and his ASICS shoes looked comfortable to me so I tried a pair. (Not his, I bought my own)

They were just fine.  I ran wearing them for many years. (ASICS never did contact me with a contract.Do they sponsor archers?)

2008 Beijing Olympic, Gold Medal, Decathlon: Bryan Clay.

When I was running in high-level events I did pay a premium for shoes.  Now a-days, I run a few miles each morning because I enjoy it.  The old Nikes had about 1600 mile in them. That is a heck of lot more miles than I once got out of a pair of shoes running roads.  Running roads I’d have been lucky to get 600 miles out of a decent pair of running shoes.  Trails, at least mine that are mostly pine straw covered hard pack, have been generous to the life of my shoes.

I’ll date the $45.00 ASICS when they arrive and see whether they hold up as well as the $50.00 Nikes did.

The old Nikes will go to the trash, soon.  I always takes me a few days to say goodbye to old friends that have supported me.

Active Recovery

Learning to shoot an Olympic recurve is a challenge.  It is a challenge that is enjoyable.  It is so much fun it would be easy to over do it and end up with an overuse injury.  A way to help avoid an injury is to schedule recovery days.

Initially, I planned two recovery days per week.  This week I’ve dropped one recovery day and added an active recovery day.

The active recovery still allows for shooting, however, with reduced poundage.   There are also fewer arrows fired for the day.

One a regular day, at the moment and per the plan, I stop shooting after 180 arrows using the Olympic recurve.  For an active recovery I use a simple recurve at 28 pounds.

I only shot 48 arrows during the active recovery session.  Those arrows were shot at 15 yards with a metronome is keeping time.  The idea is to shoot a little faster, no sighting and get the form and shot process matched with the beat of the metronome.

It was fun. No arrows were lost in the process.

Typical Morning With Some Rain

Training and practice started early today – at 0520.  Training starts with 30 minutes of stretching and balance exercises.  (Nothing can start until my dogs are let out then fed) This is followed by breakfast, a run and then archery.  On non-recovery days, they all start in this manner.

Stretching and balance regime is done before breakfast.  This includes 25 exercises that are specifically pit together to be an ad to archery.  It takes 26 to 30 minutes to move through all the positions and stretches.

When that’s complete I have breakfast.  I wait a few minutes, using that time to make up the bed, gather River’s collar (My Labrador running partner), and don my running apparel, before we head out to trails.

The run lasts 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the trails we take.  Post run I do a brief workout on with my speed rope.  If you’ve never skipped rope using a speed rope give it a try.  It is a great addition to conditioning. By now I’m about 2 hours or so into my morning and it is time to move to archery.

Each archery practice begins with a plan.  The plan is based on a weekly schedule.  As improvements or goals are reached the plan evolves.  For example, replacing my string meant re-calibrating my sight tape.  That chore is incorporated into yardage practice, which was the plan for yesterday.

Yesterday, I did go beyond the planned arrow count.  My new Fairweather Tab arrived from Lancaster Archery so I added 60 more arrows as part of condition the tab.

The new tab will require a breaking in period.  The Kangaroo leather is still stiff.  So, this morning, the plan archery training plan was amended a bit.  I moved back to 18-meters and spent the morning working with the Fairweather.

As I head out to the range, I pause and let the chickens out of their coop.  They are allowed free range while I’m shooting.  They are rounded up when I return from the range.  The range is about 20 yards away from their coop and I’m hoping my shooting will discourage hawks from swooping down on my chickens. So far, so good.

Practice went well and I landed 98% of my arrows in red or better with 67% in yellow.

Rain had been forecast and the weatherman was correct.  It rained.  There was a light rain falling off and on during practice.  Minutes after I’d finished this morning’s practice it switched to a downpour.

Between morning and afternoon practice I put notes in my logbook and write these posts. I’ll also have lunch and take a short nap.  Then, it is onto the afternoon training schedule.

Tomorrow is scheduled recovery day.  I am considered adjusting my plan and moving this to an active recovery day.  That means I shoot but will use a reduced poundage bow.

This describes my morning training schedule in general. The afternoon has a similar repeat except running is replaced with cycling and there is no jumping rope.