Get Some Sleep

It is too easy to stay awake after a long day. Too many of us don’t want to miss a night out or a night watching a favorite show. While at the time your doing whatever it is that is keeping you away from the sack it won’t help your athletic performance.

Coaching Tip

As a species we’re becoming more sleep deprived. How many hours do you sleep per night? Six, seven, five? That generally is not enough if you are looking for peek sports performance.

There are e numbers of studies that suggest humans need from 7.5 to 8.1 hours of sleep per night. It is my opinion athletes are better off on the more is better end of time sleeping.

Dr. Cheri Mah, of UCSF, took a look at what happens to athletes with they get more sleep. In her study, the subjects (college basketball players) were averaging 6.5 hours of sleep per night. They increased their sleep time to an average of 8.5 hours of sleep per night. (1)

By the end of the study the basketball players had increased their free throw percentage by 11.4% and their 3-point shooting by 13.7%. (2)

Image what you could do with an 11-13% improvement in you shooting.

Reference:

You Gotta Know When to Hold ‘Em

Wednesday is hump day. On Wednesday, I was feeling it.

A typical day of training for me goes like this:

First thing in the morning I stretch. As we age we lose our flexibility. I stretch to help prolong my flexibility. It is also a nice way to start the morning. Then, I have breakfast.

After breakfast I run. All my current running is spent on the trails behind my house. River, my lab, joins me. It is about a half an hour of spending quality time with River and getting in cardio. River really seems to enjoy running in the woods.

By the time this is done it is around 0730. I gather my archery gear along with my plan for the morning’s practice. Depending on what is planned the practice can be anywhere between 60 and 120 arrow shot. This takes about two to two and a half hours.

Practice at 55 yards and 70 yards

Between 1030 and 1100 it is break time. From 1100 to 1200 I have write (as I’m doing now) and have lunch. After lunch I take a short nap.

Two days a week (Monday and Thursday) I go to the gym. By 1430 I am headed out for a bicycle ride – more cardio. The cycling is a practice that happens five days a week. I ride for an hour.

At around 1600 I am back on the range for another one to two hours. That’s a lot of arrows – the finish of this morning’s practice 1080 arrows had shot in practice. I stopped a little early on this Wednesday. I was feeling a bit fatigued.

You need to be able to recognize when your body is tired. There are times to push through fatigue. There are also times when you need to listen to your body and ease up a bit.

Taking a break when your body calls for it may reduce the risk of an injury or developing a habit that is poor form.

How Much Do You Shoot Everyday?

It is a question I’ve been asked a lot, “How Much Do You Shoot Everyday?” I’ve asked it of others. Is there some magic number where if you fired off that magical number of arrows it would make you a champion is a set amount of time. There is not such a magical number outside the world of Harry Potter. Harry, of course, wouldn’t rely on an archer’s skill, he’d simple apply the magic.

Neither you nor I have that magic. We have to practice. So, how many arrows per day is a good goal?

One of my favorite answers refers to Olympic archers. The answer posted read that Olympic  archers shoot 5000 arrows per week. I doubt it. Here’s why,

5000 arrows per week comes to 833 arrows per day for a six-day week. I do not use a 7-day workweek for sports since there should be an allowance for recovery.

Assuming Olympians are on a 24-hour day allow 8 hours for sleep. Athletes that are sleep deprived don’t make for excellent performers. That leaves 16 hours. Among those sixteen hours three will be used up eating and other nutrition necessities (intake and output) leaving 13 hours. An hour of the day is used up for dressing, undressing, showering and other hygiene making a remainder of 12 hours.

If 100% of those 12 hours could be spent flinging arrows down range that would be 69.4 arrows per hour for 12 solid hours. That’s one arrow every 51.87 seconds for 60 minutes per hour at 12 hours non-stop. Once again, the number doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Realistically, setting a number of arrows isn’t the best way to frame practice. Your time available to practice is going to determine how many arrows you can shoot per day. If you’re lucky you have several hours of practice time available per day.

With whatever amount of time you have for practice build a plan for that session beforehand. On other words, don’t just show up at a range and start shooting. Be prepared with a specific practice plan. That way you can get the most of the time you have available.

To answer question – more can be better. Too many isn’t good. Too few are not enough.

Georgia ASA State Championship

I camped for this tournament at Hamburg State Park

Alas, life is full of disappointment. Among them, for me at least, was this past week’s Georgia State ASA Championship. One thing that was not remotely close to disappointing is the Po Boy’s Archery 3D range near Mitchell, Georgia.

On the road to Po Boys Archery

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from my campsite

The Po Boy’s 3D range is one of the finest I’ve seen in my nearly five years (4 years, 8 months) of archery. It was such a nice range I wanted to ask if I could shoot it again for fun. I didn’t, the range was full of archers, young and mature, giving clinics on how to shoot 3D.

Smacked with two 12s and two 10s at 40 yards

The competition was so strong that if you messed up on a single shot you’d more than likely be out of the run for a first place award. That was me, only I managed it on a few shots. But, there was only one that was strictly unrecoverable – a big hog.

I have a couple pigs on my 3D practice range. The hog on range ‘A’ was honestly one of the easier targets. It was a giant of a pig at least 3 times the size of my largest and my downfall. It was sitting behind two trees which bordered it.  It was a great target. It looked so close.

I misjudged that hog by 10 yards. I knew it in the millisecond before my arrow released. And there flew any chance for a descent finish. You know, a giant hog at 38 yards looks a lot like a small pig at 28 yards – at least it did for me. Despite a very solid second round, on range ‘D,’ my tournament was over on range ‘A’ target 10. Unless there would be others that might botch a shot.

On range ‘D’, the second of the two ranges I’d been assigned, I hit seven upper 12s. I knew I’d hit them before I shot. I never called them. The fear was that if I called them I’d shoot an eight and I needed to be conservative and finish with all 10s. The hope being that the other archers in my class (Senior Hunter) would screw up. They did not provide me any help. I finished a sad third place.

These “Po Boys” put on one excellent tournament on a spectacular range

My plan going into the tournament was to finish even. Shoot for tens and maybe pull out a 12 here and there. It seemed that 2 to 4 up would win the day in the Senior Hunter class. Shooting even might even bring home a fancy belt buckle.* If I could have stuck with the plan it would have worked. If I’d shot range ‘A’ like range ‘D’ it would have worked. If I’d just shot range ‘A’ a bit tighter. If only, if only….

Yes sir, you can expect to find this little fellow somewhere between 32 yards and 38 yards these days. Our little buddy here was at 36 yards.

Believe me, these archers in Georgia aren’t going to cut anyone any slack. The average (eyeball measurement from Facebook posted scores) winning score was 8.7 up with a couple division winners hitting plus 28. If you shoot yourself into a hole there is little opportunity to dig back out.

Mike, another archer, also camped at Hamburg State Park. We met as we were leaving.

Once again, there’s next year.

I’ll return to Hamburg State Park
  • As it turned out shooting even would have won the Senior Hunter division.  It is a tough class with a 40 yard maximum yardage, using a hunting rig, and at unknown distances. The winner took the prize at 8 down.

Two Points

Two points is the difference between shooting my Black Eagle Challenger arrows and Carbon Express arrows. One point can be the difference between first place and second in a 3D tournament. At this weekend’s upcoming ASA Georgia State 3D Championship; I’ll not be able to fire off my Black Eagle arrows.

I’ve got plenty of the Black Eagle arrows. Some are only the shafts; others have busted nocks and ripped vanes. Two weeks ago I dropped off seven of these arrows or shafts to have them readied for the upcoming shoot and ordered a package of extra nocks. I kept five for practice while I traveled.

By the time I finished my travel those five Black Eagles that made the trip didn’t completely survive the practices. None of the shafts got busted but I lost three nocks and the vane off of one of the other arrows. That left me one intact arrow. No problem, I had seven more to pick up that should have been perfect. Those arrows along with a package of extra nocks would me sitting just right.

When I arrived at the shop to pick up my arrows is where I learned they weren’t ready. They were also not going to be ready before I left town for the 3D championship.

The Carbon Express arrows are old. I bought them three years ago in Pittsburgh. I’d had a dozen and have eight remaining. They’d have to work.

The Carbon Express is not fat (23) like the Black Eagle. Typically, I don’t get too many line cutters. The arrow is either on or off the mark. Still, I’ll end up getting a few extra points thanks to a wider diameter arrow.

Yesterday, in practice, there was one shot where a slightly wider arrow would have made a two-point difference. I guess I’ll need to be on this weekend.

Reviewing Practice

During practice it is a good idea to take notes. A small pad or folding piece of paper is adequate for making notes on shots.

Coaching Tip

I carry a small pad in my quiver on which to record my notes. Here is what I am reviewing from this mornings practice.

First off, today’s morning practice was a mock 3D tournament. This means, in ASA style, 20 targets. There are times when warm up isn’t possible, so to make this practice more complicated I did not take any warm-up shots.

The twenty targets included three bear, three pigs, three turkey, three deer, two javelina, two mountain lions, badger, mosquito, bobcat and a rabbit. All these targets are either small or medium sized.

All targets were shot without the benefit of a range finder. A range finder was used after the shot to compare its measured distance with the distance I selected for the target.

Notes from this morning

The final score was not overwhelming well – 181 or 9.05 points per target. I shot three 5s which need attention. The first 5 was a small black bear at 33 yards. The elevation was fine and the range finder was in agreement with the distance I’d judged. The problem – I rushed the shot and pulled the shot right. The next 5 was a badger at 28 yards (ranger finder 29 yards). The arrow was perfect right to left; I’d judged the yardage well. But, I’d had poor placement of my aim. I attributed this to the early morning lack of light and overcast sky. Perhaps, if I’d approached the shot more slowly I might have had a better score.

The worst 5 was on a target I typically hit in the 10 ring. This was a cinnamon bear at 32 yards. The error was a major, my worst mistake, judgment of distance. I shot it for 38 yards, it was only 32 yards.

I did have 3 twelves. One each on a javelina (26 yards), a deer (30 yards) and a small pig (32 yards.) The other scores were eight 10s and five 8s.

This afternoon I’ll go back to the range and shoot most of these targets again from 20 to 45 yards in 5-yard increments. The very small targets, bobcat and rabbit for example I’ll not shot from over 30 yards because their shooting lane isn’t long enough. But, my notes reveal where I need work. Without the notes I’d be guessing at areas where I need to improve.

Keeping notes doesn’t take much time and reviewing them for weaknesses then working on them is important to improving your scores.

Another Year Celebrating the 4th of July

Every year Ray Gastin, my father-in-law, puts on a fireworks show that rivals that of the small towns near his home on the Lake at Clark Hill. These aren’t firecrackers and sparklers. Each is at the maximum class he can purchase having around 500 grams of explosive power. It is a big show that takes days to prepare.

Our 4th of July campsite

While getting ready for the 4th Brenda and I spend time with Ray.  We used to stay at his house on the Lake.  Now, we take our camper and use it for home base. That doesn’t mean Ray is home alone.  The 4th brings his sons home, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren.  There is a house full of people getting ready to enjoy the show while swimming, fishing,  heading out on a boat, jet ski or kayak.

Morning view from camp

The fireworks are ignited and launched from the top of Ray’s double decker boathouse. Prior to the show there is dinner of low country boil, smoked ham and desserts for the family and friends that come to watch and eat.

One of the neighbors near our campsite

Looking over the crowd this year I noticed that nearly everyone was either a veteran, the child of a veteran that had grown up while dad was in the military, or spouse of a veteran. Ray is a retired master sergeant that after active duty went on to teach ROTC for 20 years.

Just before dark the cove, where Ray’s dock serves as a launching pad for the nighttime spectacle, becomes filled with boats. We don’t know these people that come to watch. But, over the years the number of boats has risen to around 15 to 20. It is hard to get an accurate count. Boats continue to drift in as the show progresses.

During the display you can hear from people yelling with pleasure and boat horns blasting. Along the shoreline more people gather to watch. Other families have also joined the show firing off similar fireworks – not nearly to the same degree as Ray’s. The result is a cove where above there are explosive colors filling the sky while encircling the audience below. It really is awesome.

For some the 4th of July is just another break from work. For Ray, a 40-year Army veteran it means more than another holiday. The same holds true for the other NCO’s, Chief warrant officers, and commissioned officers that share a special bond with Master Sargent Gastin.

(Note: as I write this I am reminded of a group of archers in Maryland. They have a Facebook page. I shared a posting about the 4th of July with them several years ago. That act got me banned from their Facebook page. I honestly have forgotten who they are and have no idea if they remain fanatical about their treasured Facebook page. I’ve imagined them totally committed to the sport of archery by example of the time spent working on and practicing Facebook. As for me I remain unassociated with them. I feel a certain pride in their rejection. Although, I look forward to competing against any of their members.)

Rushed Shots and Follow Through

There are excellent archers here in Georgia. Along with those experts are superior coaches. That’s not to suggest that in your neck of the woods there are less qualified coaches and less amazing shooters. Despite the quality there are occasional missteps by archers that seem highlighted during 3D competitions.

The top professionals do make these two mistakes; only not as often as archers who are not as proficient as professionals. These common errors are: rushed shots and lack of adequate follow through.

Coaching Tip

During practice these two errors don’t pop up so often. Yet, the archer that smacks all 10s, 12s or 11s (for IBO) on a foam animal while practicing can at times get caught making one or both of the errors when competing.

In competition you can reduce the likelihood of committing these two mistakes. Rest assured if you fall into the group of decent archers failing during a 3D tournament because you are rushing and dropping your follow through you are not unique.

You may be like many archers that study the form of great shooters. It is a good way to learn. Notice how calm they seem letting the shot happen then holding on the target long after the arrow is released. Next time you’re in competition watch how often less accomplished archers appear to rush a shot or shorten their follow through.

If you suspect you may be committing one or both of these errors work them out during practice. When you find yourself in competition relax and move through each shot deliberately. Take all the time you need (within the time limit) to find your best position on the target. Once you’ve made your shot hold on the target until you hear your arrow strike it. For some the follow through in this manner may seem exaggerated, but a longer time holding on the target during the follow through may buy you some points.

If you’ve practice working though these mistakes trust your training during competition.

Trying to Get a Handle 3D

9.5, that’s my average for the two 3D competitions I’ve entered in 2018. 9.5 is not a great average. I’ve been shooting in the senior hunter class aiming at unknown distances.  The Georgia ASA State Championship is in a few weeks. I have no idea how my average score compares the other 15 qualified seniors (50 year old group) are performing here in the Peach State.

There are lots of people who say don’t worry about the score. Certainly, there is no need to worry. You go out and do your best. “The score will take care of itself,” to quote Coach Pete Carroll of the Seahawks.

Still, is good to have some idea of how the people you’ll be against against are performing whether it is archery or professional football. You then know what to expect and it provides you a scoring goal. Yes, you’ll try to shoot all 12s. I won’t. There will be times I’ll not risk going for a 12. There will, also, be times I’ll shoot an eight and hopefully not have any fives.

Having no idea what to expect at the upcoming State Championship I reviewed the top three scores from all the ASA Pro/Am tournaments for 2018 among the Senior Hunters. It is 10.1. My average score wouldn’t have landed me in the top 10 among this year’s ASA Pro/Am events.

A few variables I don’t know might make a difference. Those are the terrain and distance. I’ve shot the ASA Pro/Am in Augusta and know that course is mostly flat. It seems the distances weren’t outrageously long. This far for 2018 it seems the local events are rolling hills and lavish use of real estate. As best as I’ve recorded the mean distance for local hunter targets has been between 31 and 33 yards.

I don’t like going into a tournament cold, meaning not having a clue how the other guys are shooting. Coach Carroll may advocate not worrying about the score, but I bet he is real clear on how his team, the Seattle Seahawks, matches up against their opponents on any given game day.