Prior to shooting this morning I ran. River, my dog, ran with me. After about a mile we were joined by Coco. Coco (the light coat Lab) is a good friend and joins us on nearly every run. For the most part River and Coco sprint and chase one another while I plod along for the next mile or so. Then, as they get hot, winded, and begin to slow I plod past them. By mile three they are inline and running at my pace. In fact, they often take breaks in water filled ditches to cool down. When it comes to running long distances in the heat it is good to be human.
Over 40 years of competing in various sports, at times abroad and against top athletes I’ve learned how to lose and occasionally win. The win/lose count isn’t why I enjoy competition. (Even though it is better to win) I enjoy the people I met and folks with whom I get to train. Along the way, I’ve met some very interesting people.
A friend of mine recently posted, on Facebook, “0 and 5”. He was referring to zero wins in 5 World Championship attempts. These have been in triathlon. He’s good, and is ranked number 1 in his class (which means he’s really good). In August he completed the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, held in Austria, in 5 hours and 8 minutes. That is, he swam 1.9 km in 31 minutes, cycled 56 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes, and ran a half marathon in 1 hour and 45 minutes. The extra 2 minutes spent were burnt during the transition. But, as fast as that was, it wasn’t fast enough for the win – this time. This was not his fasted time for the distance raced.
I met Dana while doing a swim training session at the YMCA in Easton, MD. He was in the lane next to me. I was carrying on a one sided conversation with him. I was talking and noticed he was so seriously into his swim training that he didn’t talk. I’ll admit, I was thinking, this guy might be a bit of a jerk not even bothering to acknowledge me.
Honestly, if I was bothering him or breaking his concentration I would understand if he simply explained that he couldn’t talk while training. That, however, wasn’t this issue. The fact of the matter is that Dana is deaf.
When he did finally see me trying to communicate Dana let me know he was deaf. Over time I learned he was a college decathlete and currently works as a teacher in Maryland, where his students have excelled.
What Dana has, aside from a 0-5 record for World Championships is an athletic drive that is incredible. It is that drive that is shared by athletes all over the globe. Even though Dana’s deaf – I often forget he is – it is difficult to image he can’t hear.
Dana is a tremendous athlete and a big hearted man. What he provides as a teacher is exhibited by the excellence in achievement by his students. He’s one of those people that inspire as well as teach. A true champion his every sense of the word.
Hopefully, next year he’ll go 1-6 at a World Championship.
Since the IBO World Championships I’ve been shooting paper. For the most part, the 3D season is over and during the next several months I’ll be shooting indoors. Shooting 3D is good practice for hunting and there’s another 3D tournament where I’ll be competing in a few weeks. So, this morning I shot some 3D.
I’ve also changed my rig so that it has a scope and adjustable sight. I changed the center dot on the lens to a vertical pin. It’s great with the only issue – getting the yardage tape set. The tape is off a couple yards on the short side. A new tape and things should be right.
Being off a bit for a know distance, like 20 meters indoors, isn’t a big deal. Rather than setting the site to 20, I set it to 22. Not a problem. Shooting 3D with unknown yardage tape variance is more of a problem. Errors on the sight and off on the yardage estimate could combine to make a really bad shot. Not my problem today.
Today, most of my shots were fine, that is I was fitting a lot of 10s with a few 8s and a few Xs. The real screw up came when shooting a deer from 48 yards. Now, these are my targets and I know the range rather well. I mix it up and do a variety of practice exercise so I don’t become compliant with simple shots that I’ve repeatedly done.
But, when I shot at this deer from 48 yards I heard my arrow go popping and snapping through the woods. Naturally, I first thought was “What The F…!” I immediately hiked into the brush behind the deer and after a short search found the arrow. That was lucky.
Still, I had no idea how I’d missed so badly. Nothing was amuck with bow. Actually, the set up prior to the shot and the release felt good. I double checked the sight and herein was the heart of the matter. Twisting a sight to 58 yards, when shooting 48 yards is never a good thing. Unless you are, in fact, shooting at birds and you’re really lucky.
Training, archery practice and keeping up with this website takes a lot of time. Therefore, days are planned to make the most of them. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Yesterday was one of those messed up days.
My morning archery session went okay. That is, I had plenty of time to shoot even if my arrows were all over the place. I was practicing against a 5-spot and hit the blue ring about 10% of the time. Not par, but lately this has been typical of my shooting.
Next on the schedule were swimming, weights, and running. Brenda goes with me for these workouts. While I’m swimming she does one of her workout. After I swim, and she finishes her workout, we meet up for weights and running.
We left for the Y on time. Ten minutes into the drive she says, “I forgot my shoes.” Opps, turning around meant something was going to be missed. I gave up my swim and she had to give up her 10:00 am workout.
We still got in weights and a treadmill session, but I was sorry to have missed the swim. Some days just don’t go as planned. Afternoon archery practice was busted by a rain storm. It happens.
During pistol and gun shooting competition many of the athletes wear shooting glasses. That isn’t the case in archery. A few archers use them. I do for a number of reasons.
My first reason is safety. While I don’t fret about an exploding arrow (I check mine religiously) or a snapping cable (I check and replace strings often) there are other ways to mess up your eyes in archery.
One of the biggest problems is getting smacked in the eye by debris or branches during 3D tournaments. Granted, most courses have been well manicured there is still that wild branch which can snap back then hit an eye.
Bugs and other airborne matter are other problems when shooting outside. Shooting glasses can help improve the chance that the gnat aiming for your cornea misses.
My second reason is the changes in light – going from light to dark on any given stake. Tinted lenses help take the strain off my eyes when I hike from a brightly illuminated trail to a target so dark it can barely be seen. By wearing shooting glasses it takes less time for my eyes to adjust to the changes in light. (Personal observation)
My third reason is light gathering. I have multiple lenses and can change them based on the conditions of light. In low light yellow lenses seem to be best for improving illumination. The medium orange lenses work best earlier in the morning to provide contrast.
High quality lenses are critical. If you use an eye prescription the top companies can fill that for you in the lens colors you order. If you haven’t tried shooting glasses – give them a test and see what you think. Some archery shops have them and might let you test them out on their indoor range if they have one available.
Many people don’t actually practice what they preach. I’m not one of them. When I write about fitness, I’m serious about it. I find sports and competition a lot of fun. So, here’s what I do in a typical week.
Sunday – I generally use this day for long runs or long bike rides. I consider a long run anything over an hour and a long bike ride anything 50 miles or longer. When I was purely a completive cyclist I’d ride much further. But, that was many years ago. On top of this I’ll typically shoot 2 to 3 hours.
Monday – This is a swim day. I don’t swim as far as when I was training for an Ironman. However, I swim shorter distances at a faster pace. I do about a kilometer. Once I’ve completed the swim, I’ll lift weights. I lift to preserve muscle mass. At 60, I know that weight lifting is important for my long-term health. Next, I take a short run that is primarily intervals in nature. Before swimming I shoot for an hour. This morning session ends around lunch. After lunch I’ll shoot again and train on my Computrainer (cycling apparatus)
Tuesday – Generally a lighter day. I do an easy run in the morning then shoot. In the afternoon I shoot again, and do another session on my Computrainer or ride outside. I’ll also do speed rope work.
Wednesday – This is exactly like Monday. It is a long day.
Thursday – I’ll only shoot once and have an active recovery day on the bike.
Friday – I may only shoot, or take the day off entirely. If I shoot, then it will be a short session.
Saturday – This is either an archery tournament, race day, or day where I duplicate the activity if I can’t find a formal event to enter. It is essentially an easy day since I try to train harder that I compete.
I can do all of this because I’m retired. When I worked I wasn’t involved in archery. Still, my training for triathlon was very similar to what I’m doing now – only longer. One other advantage I have is that my wife is an athlete. She understands the work I put into fitness since she is similar in her activities.
There is also room for flexibility with my training. Travel can alter my plans as can a specific competition where I need more focus. For example, I have a 5K race soon. It is a short and fast event, but one where I’d like to do well. Therefore more interval and speed work versus long slow runs.
I also listen to my body. I don’t want to be on of those 60+ athletes that drops dead because they’ve over done it with their heart. In addition it takes longer for me to recover at 60- than it did at 25. I allow for it, which means I might skip a workout or lighten my load.
There is a fair amount for work written regarding fitness for archery. For the most part, the teachings of others regarding fitness for archers leaves me a bit cold.
What most sports writers will suggest is that archery isn’t a highly cardio sport. I agree, to some degree. That degree of agreement relates to indoor or outdoor shooting where hiking or climbing hills isn’t a factor. During some 3D tournaments, fitness is more critical.
At this year’s IBO World Championship, while the course wasn’t a workout equivalent to running the Leadville 100, much of the terrain was steep and many targets were not easy to reach. In fact, the group in which I shot, on more than one occasion, needed to stop can catch their breath before continuing. Some of the guys needed to wait before stepping up to a stake because they were too winded to shoot. In these conditions cardio fitness can be an important factor in scoring good shots.
Stretching is often suggested as being benedifical to archers. Here I diverge from the opinion that stretching is useful. In fact, static stretching has been shown to reduce power and a short-duration static stretching warm-up has no effect on power outcomes. 1, 2 If you want to warm-up prior to shooting, do dynamic exercises. Once you feel ready, take warm-up practice shots.
That isn’t to say resistance training isn’t beneficial. By resistance training I mean lifting weights. Some others have written against lifting weights. What I’m not suggesting is that becoming a body builder is necessary or even helpful for archery. However, lighter weights and more repetition is good especially as you age.
Overall, doing cardio (running, cycling or swimming) is good for you. Lifting weight, not body building, is good for overall muscle health and may reduce the loss of muscle mass. Remember, you are an archer, not a weight lifter. Nevertheless, we all loose muscle mass as we age. But, will any of this make you a better archer?
Look around at your next tournament. Notice the body types of the other archers. You’ll quickly notice, as a group, we stand apart from many other athletes. There are a lot of big people among us. You’ll also notice, they shoot very well.
Our closest sports kin are shooters. These two sports require athlete be able to remain very still and focus. Slow is often times better. As a result, archery has a lot of people that shoot very well without great physical fitness. The bottom line is that you don’t have to be in great shape to be a great archer.
However, being in great shape, will help your overall well-being. It is unlikely that being in great physical shape is going to help your heart rate become so low that that pounding chest is not going to be a factor. (Which has been ‘suggested’ by others. My resting heart rate is low, but calming myself mentally is the best way I have to attempt to reduce the pounding in my chest.)
If you are out of shape, you will fatigue sooner during a long tournament. Having poor fitness and poor health may limit the time you can shoot, practice and effectively compete.
Here’s my advice: If you want to improve in archery, practice more archery. If you are out of shape, get into a program to improve your fitness. Prior to beginning any fitness program get a check-up and advice from a physician. Then, get on a formal program, and set some fitness goals.
Will you become a better archer? Probably – not certainly. As you know, someone has likely beaten you in really poor physical fitness. But, image that you have the fitness to shoot a lot. That means being on a range and practicing for hours. The better condition you’re in the more likely it is that your ability to sustain a long practice session will improve. You’ll become less weary during practice. As your point to exhaustion lengthens your mental focus improves during the duration of the practice. With proper practice and a focused training plan it would be hard not to improve.
1.) McCrary JM, Ackermann BJ, Halaki M. A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. Br J Sports Med. 2015 Jul;49(14):935-42. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094228. Epub 2015 Feb 18.
2.) Knapik JJ The Importance of Physical Fitness for Injury Prevention: Part 2. J Spec Oper Med. 2015 Summer;15(2):112-5.
Aside from running, swimming, weight lifting, and shooting, today I checked some of the stats regarding this website recorded by GoDaddy.
In the eighteen months that I’ve been writing about this adventure in archery and fitness on this site it has had 1.3 million hits, there’ve 248,661 pages read, and 102,122 visitors.
My next post won’t be about stats.