An Untested Win

Gradually I am out living my competition.  This morning, after running with River, I drove down to Good Hope to run a 5K. Before the race started I noticed I was the only runner in the 60 – 64 year old age group. The field is slowly dwindling as I move through the age brackets.

The race was a local event that supports veterans.  This was the inaugural 5K.  It was held just few miles from where we live.  I was disappointed there wasn’t anyone to run against.  The leisurely pace I trotted allowed me the breath I needed to have conversations over the entire distance.

The major event is in October, the 5K was held on August 17th

“The Poppy Festival honors the Poppy Lady, Moina Michael, born in Good Hope in 1869. Moina MIchael used the red corn poppy as a symbol to honor and raise funds for fallen WWI veterans. The tradition continues today to honor servicemen worldwide.” (1)

During the run I learned that a women and her daughter who’d entered were from Brighton, England.  The red corn poppy is worn in the UK to honor veterans.  As she stated, “It is part of our culture.”

River is so proud

It was apparent women out numbered the men running.  The mix on those running were 54% female and 46% male.  This is becoming typical at least in the 5Ks I run.

Reference:

  1. http://www.goodhopepoppyfestival.com/festival

 

I Lost An Arrow

I’ve not lost an arrow during practice in a very long time. To me, losing an arrow is money down the drain. It was one of those things I didn’t see coming.

I’d been practicing at 80 yards. After 30 arrows I moved back to 90 yards.  That’s when it happened.

The range is bordered on either side by trees.  I keep their limbs trimmed to provide clearance for arrows.  The problem with trees and limbs is they continue to grow.

On the very first arrow at 90 yards I heard the slight snap as it intersected with a limb. I then thought I heard the arrow smack into the target.  When I walked up to pull the arrows there was one missing. Where is landed I may never know.  I searched to no avail.

Behind the target butts there’s a slight natural berm. It is covered with underbrush.  You probably couldn’t find a wallet in the ground cover there much less an arrow.  Still, I tried. The entire time I looked I was hoping not to find a rattlesnake or copperhead. Last year I shot an arrow at a rattlesnake there in the brush.  The snake twisted, squirmed, and slid deeper into the brush.  Then, there was silence. I didn’t verify the outcome deciding the arrow, which seemed to have passed through the snake was sacrificed.

I never found it. Money down the drain.

 

 

 

Beginning to Consider 2020 and Costs

About this time, each year, I begin thinking about the upcoming archery season. There are only two more tournaments on my calendar for 2019.  As I begin planning for 2020 I review the results of tournaments where I competed and where I didn’t shoot in 2019.  The data of other athletes are can be important to review.  No team in the NFL would go to a game without reviewing film on their opponent. Why go into any other sports competition being clueless regarding your opponents.

The tournaments are expensive.  There’s the entry fee to consider along with food, gas and lodging. If the data shows I’d wind up outside the top three then that contest is put on a second tier for consideration. A top three position and the event is on the ‘A’ list.

Just because a tournament makes the list doesn’t mean I’d enter.  For example, while I won the USA Indoor 18-meter National Championship in Suwanee, Georgia it is basically a regional event not a true National Championship.  The scores are eventually complied from all the regions in the US and even though I won in Georgia eight other archers scored higher than I did across the country.  If my chance to compete had been in St. Louis rather than Suwanee I wouldn’t have made the drive.

Last year I considered going to the NFAA Indoor 18-meter. Looking over my numbers, there was an 80% chance I’d score 600 with 97 Xs.  That would have earned me a 4thplace finish in the Silver Senior division.  There was also a variance on the low end of my performance curve.  Considering that section of the curve I’d have shot 595 with 81 Xs – not worth the trip for that score. The NFAA winner scored, in the Sliver Senior division, won with 600 with 109 Xs.

Still the 2020 NFAA Tournament is currently on the list.  The drive to the 2020 shoot is 476 miles, two days hauling a camper each way.  The total cost (gas, camping, food, entry fee) for the event would cost me $921.00.

First place money for my age group is $3000.00, second is $1500.00 and third is $1000.00.  Right now there’s an 80% chance the event would cost me $921.00.  My stats also suggest that using trend lines there is a 98.5% chance, if the trends remain constant, I’d win which means the event would end up in the positive side of cash flow by $2079.00.  So, the NFAA Indoor Nationals remains a consideration.

There’s very little potential for income in sport for an athlete over 40. Archery isn’t great money maker for professionals of any age. Sport, in general,  isn’t a career many athletes can bank on.

“The general salary range for Olympic archers is between $36,000 and $97,000. Serious archers who win tournaments on a regular basis can take in between $10,000 and $75,000 depending on their skill. They may also be paid for endorsements, training, running shops, and working with archery companies to develop better products.”(1)

Archery isn’t the most expensive sport and the total cost (entry fee, food, lodging, gas) for something like the NFAA Indoor Nationals just covers the entry fee for a major Ironman event.  If I’d not had the help of a sponsor the Ironman World Championship would have cost me $10,000 at a minimum.

In 2011 I qualified for a second USA World Championship Team in the Long Course Duathlon.  The race was being held in Switzerland and the event would again have been in the $10,000 range.  I declined my spot on the team unsure of how I’d finance the trip.

Athletes, the professionals, don’t all make the big bucks.  Archery isn’t alone when it comes to being tight fisted regarding supporting its players. (2) Many seasonal professional athletes maintain a ‘day job’ in order to make ends meet. (3)

As an athlete, you might expect the archery industry to help pick up your tab. That is unlikely to happen unless you become one of the very best.  As a whole the archery industry grosses not that much than some of the top paid athletes in the world. (4)

Lionell Messi earned 1/3 the total revenue of that which the US archery industry grossed 2018. (4,5) Messi, however, isn’t even in Floyd Mayweather’s league or just barely when you’re talking $111 million versus $275 million US dollars. (4,6)

For most athletes, the dream of earning a living wage in their sport remains a dream.  In some sports even the top athletes need a ‘day job’.  Archery, for the most part falls into the ‘day job’ athlete category.

Once, I watched an archer shooting at his local range.  He was firing arrow after arrow into the X on a vertical 3-spot. One of the employees at the range said, “He never misses.”  In fact, I didn’t see him miss.

Later, I asked him way he didn’t compete at the major events.  He replied, “I can’t afford it.”

Looking forward to 2020 I’ll continue to do the math (I’m enjoy math.) If the statistics suggest a break even or positive cash I’ll probably go to an event.  Certainly, I dream of winning the big tournaments but reality keeps money in my pocket.

Reference:

1.) http://www.kaycircle.com/How-much-does-a-Professional-Archer-make-per-Year-Average-Annual-Pro-Olympic-Archery-Salary-Range

2.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2014/10/29/so-you-want-to-be-a-pro-athlete-you-might-not-get-paid-well/?noredirect=on

3.) http://mentalfloss.com/article/84792/11-things-you-might-not-know-about-athlete-salaries

4.) https://www.statista.com/statistics/258571/archery-sports-equipment-wholesale-sales-in-the-us/

5.)https://www.yardbarker.com/all_sports/articles/the_25_highest_paid_athletes_of_2018/s1__27894155#slide_1

6.) https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2018/06/06/floyd-mayweather-leads-forbes-highest-paid-athletes-list/676948002/

The Hot Juice, Juiced, Wasps, Roids, and Other Dope

This morning I spoke with my long time friend and former USA Cycling World Team Coach.  He’s been in involved with competitive cycling for over 55 years.  He’s never doped or had any of his athletes dope. He’s lived in a clean athletic world at a time with doping was unchecked.

Nestor and me, circa 2000

The phone call was among other things a friendly chat.  We hadn’t spoken in over a year although we stay in touch on social media. Social media is okay but a call or seeing someone face to face is much better.

Coach Gernay with the Jr. World’s Team 1976

He is a great coach and has won a number of National Cycling Championships as an athlete.  He knows how to ride a bike and to inspire other riders to excel.  There’s even a race series named in his honor, The Nestor Cup.

Gernay on the velodrome
Nestor Gernay and Eddy Merckx

The call was initiated by a question I sent to him.  I’d been looking at time trial results for a few riders in my age group.  I noticed a number of them held speeds matching individual time trial speeds of professional cyclists reported during the Tour de France.  Those data seemed very unlikely without some form of artificial support.

I wanted to know if those speeds were natural.  I didn’t suspect they were and the former coach immediately called a foul.  He added  he’s observed a lot of riders today picked up the sport in their 40s.  They missed those early youthful years of development. They wanted speed, had money, and were doping. He estimated as high as 60% of older cyclists may be doping.

I think the number is high but lower than 60%.  There’s a lot of attention being paid to doping.  Doping regardless there is still a problem with doping cycling. (1) Amateur athletes don’t seem too worried about getting caught. Many don’t need the sport to support them financially and have nothing to lose if they get caught. Furthermore, the current opinion on doping seems to lean heavily toward to older athletes. (2-4). In the past I’ve written at the rate is probably around 25% of older athletes are doping based on research I’ve read. (5)

Me on the Dick Lane Velodrome

According to my former coach, “These older guys have the money and they want to win, so they’re doping.” He added, “If it were less expensive to test riders, we’d catch more.”

Crash on a bike and archery will likely be out of the picture for awhile.

No matter, I’ll probably race bikes again.  I do miss it. It would only be in a time trial – less chance of a crash that might mess me up in archery.  Don’t even get me started about the doping in archery.  Well, I’m started….

If you’re on a beta-blocker, over 50, and don’t have a therapeutic use exemption and compete in archery you are cheating.  I doubt you’ll get caught.  You’re over 50 and no one seems to care whether or not you’re taking a beta-blocker for hypertension or other problem or if you get eat some of your buddy’s drugs before a tournament.  The sport organizations would rather have your annual dues and registrations fees than worry with sportsmanship. Heck, you can get your dope online. (6)

References:

Long Stabilizers and Scope Versus Pins and Short Stabilizer During 3D Archery

During the recent GBAA 3D State Championship a friend of mine, Mike, pointed out that over the previous week or so he’d been shooting better with pins compared to using his scope. To a degree I understand.

In 3D archery I’ve nearly always used a hunting rig.  This, of course, means fixed pins.  I love shooting with fixed pins.  It’s fast, fun, and like playing.  Using a bow equipped with long stabilizers and a scope is more like work.

I don’t mind work.  Work to me isn’t a negative. When I was six years old my parents asked me what I wanted Santa to bring me for Christmas.  I remember it well.  At the time we were living on 10thStreet at Tybee Island, Georgia.  What I wanted was a microscope.

From that Christmas, when Santa delivered a good boy his microscope,  I’d found a life long love – science.  Science was a hobby until I began to earn money doing science.  I always found it funny that I got paid to do what I’d do anyway.  So, work comes with variable levels of emotional effort.  There are people that hate their work, some love their work, and others can take it or leave it.

Equipment I used in a study we did on the iatrogenic progression of acute lung failure

When it comes to shooting fixed pins I enjoy it more than using a scope.  Mike was enjoying the change so much he shot in the GBAA tournament using pins in addition to long stabilizers.  On the other hand I did an experiment (a little science – I did some math).

Because I only have one bow at the moment it means switching the rig back and forth from a hunter rig for 3D to a target rig for outdoor shooting.  At this last 3D tournament, the same one where Mike competed, I just left the bow set up as it had been for the Georgia State Field Championship held a couple of weeks earlier.  This meant I’d been shooting long stabilizers, scope, and skinny arrows.  It meant I’d not have to switch back to the target set up before preparing for another outdoor target competition coming up in a few weeks.

Knowing in advance my laziness would bring me to a 3D shoot using I target rigged bow I decided to see whether or not there was any real difference in scores. The mathematical interaction was determined using an unpaired student’s t-test, where the p=0.097. This meant the two methods of shooting were not different.

In other words I shot a little better using the target rig in this test but not significantly different. Or so it would seem at first glance.

The comparison was unfair because the yardages were longer.  So, what?  A little longer doesn’t mean much.  Comparing a few 40-yard 3D yardages you guessed it, no difference using the t-test.   However, where the longest shots are out to 60 yards compared to 40 yards that’s a long haul shooting 3D.  (The GBAA max distance is 60 yards) That has to be different – maybe.  You don’t know until you test.  On the other hand, as an archer shooting those distances, 40 max versus 60 max, you know.

You’d be right, too, if you felt there was a statistically significant difference where ranges, at least the ranges I held data on, when one has a maximum distance of 40 yards interacting with another range with a max distance of 60 yards.  In this case, P=0.0075. (Which means there is a significant difference)

It just so happened that I recorded the distances in my shot notes during the last two tournaments, the GBAA and those of the last ASA tournament I shot.  Using those I learn that the GBAA tournament was longer by a level of mathematic significance.

So, while my scoring interactions weren’t significant the target distances were significant.  This suggests the scoped rigged versus the pin rig preformed a little better where the distance is increased.

Common sense says, if I can average 0.5 points more per arrow at any distance go with the equipment that provides a 0.5 increase per arrow.  That’s 10 points over 20 targets. We all know 1 point can be the difference or even the X count or even the inner X count. I’ve lost in each of those ways.

The results are that the bow with the long stabilizers and scope is the better method for shooting compared to pins and a short stabilizer when applying the most recent data I have on hand.

You can take the geek out of the lab, but not the lab out of the geek

I don’t know how Mike’s shooting went over the last weekend.  I do know this; the longest yardage I can comfortably shoot with my pins is 50 yards.  I was glad I had a scope so I could set it for greater than 50 yards.  My guess is on a coyote at 54 yards, trying to hold a 50-yard pin high on that little foam varmit might not have yielded a 12 without a little luck.

Note to Jack L and Don C:  Remember those 900C days? We did some cool stuff.

The GBAA State 3D Championship hosted by Ace Apache/Ace Hardware

It isn’t easy to win an archery tournament.  If you’re a competitive archery you know that to be true.  To win it takes a lot of work.  Even if you put in the work you can still fall short. At the 2019 GBAA 3D Georgia State Championship I fell short (GBAA is the Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association).  A friend of mine beat me.

We didn’t shoot in the same group.  By the second day I’d forgotten he’d shot.  I remembered when the final scores were posted.

When it came to posting the scores the results were available online almost immediately.  Too often at non-national level events athletes have to wait for the data to get posted.  It was pleasing to have the results available so fast even if those data were disappointing.

Going into the tournament I expected an average score of 10.4 points per arrow would win my age group. Over the past four years the average per arrow winner scored 9.3 points per arrow.  However, the high over that period was 10.4.

The GBAA isn’t like an ASA or IBO event.  The maximum distance to a foam animal is 60 yards.  The organizers of the tournament were not shy about using their real estate.  There wasn’t a 60-yard shot, but there were a fair number of targets over 50 yards.  To mix it up there were two targets so close it made setting a sight a non-factor. Archers used their closest distance and guessed at the variance.   It made you think.

Most days the parks trails are enjoyed by hikers

Throughout both days of the competition I over heard archers comment on how nice the course was laid out and how it was being held in a beautiful setting.  The Ace Apache Club in Social Circle, Georgia, hosted the championship.  The park where it was held is really nice.

One of my favorite targets setting partially behind a tree. This was an easy one at 27 yards. Well, there really aren’t any easy ones.

Day one of the shoot I misjudged my travel time.  Arriving with 5 minutes to spare I just got in under the wire.  I also thought my maximum distance would be 40 yards.  There’s a big difference between a 40 yard max, which I was expecting, and 60 yards.  Well, 20 yards is the difference.  Not far for a bike ride or run, but that’s a haul for an arrow in 3D.

I wasn’t too concerned not having warmed-up.  I often practice without warming up to be prepared for just such of a mishap.  Heading into the first target I’d planned to shoot my game and I expected to score 6 up by the end of the first range. (At they point I didn’t know about the 60 yard thing)

A group taking aim at a bear 48 yards out

After a number of targets out in the 50-yard range I paused.  I’d thought I was shooting from the incorrect stake.  A verification with the marshals; they clarified I was firing from the right spot. I was momentarily angery with myself for not knowing 60 yards would be the maximum distance not 40.  Well, I had to let that go and shoot. My score wasn’t too bad when I finished day 1 and I thought I was leading.

Yes, there are three archers scoring a target at 54 years. Of course, it is a black target. What else might you expect?

On the second day I made certain to arrive on time, warm up a little and shoot better.  I really thought I had a chance at winning a major 3D tournament.  I’ve not won a State level 3D contest in a couple of years, the last being the Virginia IBO State Championship in 2017.  The second day I did shoot better but overall fell below what I expected it would take to win.  Still, my score seemed good enough to pull off a victory.  I’d forgotten all about my friend, Jerry.

A coyote (it is out there) is a decent haul at 53 yards

It seemed to me I remembered Jerry telling me he didn’t shoot 3D.  I figured he was there just for fun.  Apparently, I was wrong on both counts.  Jerry, in fact, scored exactly what I’d expected it would take to win dumping me into second.

Come and get me

Second is not a fun place to finish.  This makes the fourth time in 2019 I earned a second place. Each one has been tough. All that can be done is figure there’s another tournament just around the corner.  That and learn from what happened to causing the loss occur and fix it.

Jerry, showing where to hit the 12 ring at 54 yards

Despite the loss, the tournament was 2 beautiful days in the woods.

 

Everybody Misses, Everybody Gets It

There are two archers. Between the two of them they have 16 individual world championships.  (Seriously, I checked)  You can imagine they are great archers.  One shoots dots the other shoots foam animals.  Both are extremely pleasant and polite. Neither is a perfect archer.  They’ve missed before and they’ll miss, again.

This year the 10X world champion at 3D made a mistake adjusting the yardage on his sight.  It cost him a win.  Two years ago the 6X world champion against paper targets lost it on his draw and missed a target.  These are two of the very best archers in the world.  They’ve made mistakes.

At their level a mistake will cost.  In the case of 3D champion it dropped him from 1stto 3rd. In the World Cup Archery style the miss took the other world champion totally out of the money.  In both cases, they simply moved on to the next practice and next event.  Neither got overly out of sorts or concerned.  Both have won subsequent tournaments.   At their level any opening given to the competition is costly.

Some folks will have good days, some folks will have less good days

When you sign up for an archery tournament your registration pays for you to have the maximum points allowed.  If it’s an ASA 3D event you’ve paid for, at 20 targets, you have bought 240 points. If you’ve entered an indoor USA Archery style event with 60 arrows you’ve bought 600 points. They are all yours. The question becomes how many are you prepared to give back? Every shot where you miss the X or 12 you’ve returned points.

You’re not alone. Unless you’re one of the top the world you’ll be returning points throughout events.  A problem can develop when you make a mistake and dump a pile of points in a hurry.

In a field tournament this year I was losing by a few points going into the second day.  The competition was extremely tight.  In fact, the top three finishers in my class all broke the previous State field record.  It was truly an exciting tournament with anyone of the top three within a point or two from taking it all.

All your arrows won’t land like this – but a lot will

Then, the fellow that was leading made a mistake.  It was a big error and I moved ahead by four points.  Did he lose his composure after error he’d made? No. In fact, he seemed to loosen up and finished the remainder of the targets nearly perfectly. He slowly pulled ahead and took 7 points to win by 3 points.  It was truly an amazing comeback.

He’d had a bad break. Aside from a momentary shocked look on his face all he could do was laugh about it and move forward.  He didn’t let that single error get him so upset that his shooting spiraled downward.  Although I wanted the win it was honestly fun to watch this athlete shoot the remainder of the day and honestly I was happy for him.

He’d reached a point where he’d given up all the points he could have afforded on that day.  He laughed at the error and continued to trust his training.  His efforts and composure led him to the victory and a new State record.

You’ll miss.  I miss. We all miss.  We get more than we miss. The questions become how badly do you want to keep the points you paid for and how do you deal with adversity? Staying in the frame of mind that every arrow counts and each arrow is a single shot helps. Be positive and be able to laugh off a mistake.  You might not win after an error.  But, next time the error might not be as great.  Keeping the right attitude can make the next small mistake count less those in the past.

Perfect scores are rare, great scores aren’t as rare. Creating a mindset to reach greatness and perfection is part of archery.

When I was talking with the multi-time world champion 3D archer he laughed and told me he’d made more mistakes than he could remember.  The multi-time world champion at World Cup and USA Archery style shooting said everyone he competes against is great.  All you need to do is put the dot in the middle and shoot the dot. Both agreed you have to love the sport and be willing to understand you’ll make mistakes.

Trying a Target Rig at 3D

For those archers who focus on 3D here in Georgia the ASA tour your year is over.  Since we don’t have IBO in Georgia practically all 3D is rolling up for the season.  There’s one more relatively big 3D event in Georgia, the Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association’s (GBAA) State 3D championship.

3D wasn’t a major part of my competitive year for 2019.  Hopefully, 2020 will be better for 3D in that I’ll be able to shoot more of the faux animal events.  Missing so many 3D tournaments wasn’t a matter of timing or practice, the problem stemmed around equipment.  That situation may have a remedy soon.

There’s one more major outdoor tournament, non-3D,  here in Georgia in a few weeks.  Rather than change the attachments on my bow prior to every practice I’ll compete in the 3D tournament using skinny arrows, long stabilizers and scope – the outdoor target rig.  This means I’ll be shooting 3D in the Super Senior division.  The benefit is in timesavings.  Being able to practice 3D and long targets without switching the bow from a target rig to the hunter class rig speeds up practices.

Those 3D tournaments I shot this year had me competing in an age class one level below mine since there is no exclusive hunter class, in ASA,  for archers over 60.  I like shooting 3D using a hunter class rig, it is more like hunting.  But, it is a little aggravating changing the attachments on the bow everyday as I change the practice format.

Shooting a target set up in 3D isn’t a simple change.  It take some getting accustom to the scope and aiming at a foam animal.  In the woods there is much less light than on a field. There’s also glare to deal with on the lens of the scope.  Having nearly always used pins in 3D the transition feels awkward.

I’ll see how it goes this coming weekend over in Social Circle, Georgia at the GBAA State Championship.

Staying in the Present

In archery we need to know how to close our minds to everything aside from the shot.  If you’re on the line or at the stake having your mind drift is bad mental timing.

Occasionally, just before a shot you lose that mental clarity and start thinking about something. It doesn’t matter what that something is, what matters is that you catch the drift. If you’ve drifted start over.

Coaching Tip

Letting down during the shot process is tough.  Your process becomes automatic. Still, you need the ability to stop the process, break the pattern, let down and begin the shot anew.

It can feel a little awkward letting down especially when the clock is running. However, by staying present in the moment, letting distractions not be the reason you missed an X or hit and 8 you’ll become more comfortable when the time arises where you need to reset.

Kennesaw Archery Club has a nice range – Atlanta Traffic Sucks

A couple of weeks ago I competed in the Georgia Archery Association’s State Field Championship held by the Kennesaw Archery Club (KAC).  The KAC has a very nice outdoor range.  It is located not too far from where we once lived in Kennesaw, Ga.

As I drove to the tournament I couldn’t help getting that feeling of nostalgia as I passed familiar landmarks.  On the ride in during the morning I decided to take a side trip to go see our old home after the tournament.

Kennesaw Mountain

The home isn’t really old. We built it in 1995.  It is one of my favorite places we’ve lived.  The house sits on a small hill in a quiet area of Cobb County.

We really liked this place when we lived there

When everyone finished shooting and after the awards ceremony I hopped into my ole’ 200,000+ miles Ford F-150 and headed toward the house.  I got about 5 miles and within a few when I threw in the towel.

I’d have loved to see the old place.  But, the traffic around Atlanta was absolutely insane.  Trying to weave my way around it was no use.  The roads were clogged in every direction.

River, again, pleased to where a medal.

It was nice to get another win.  It would have been nice to have seen our old home in Kennesaw.  I will admit I do not miss living near Atlanta.  The traffic is crazy.