Good day for shooting

This morning, another spectacular sunrise over the water, River, my Lab, and I took a short run before I practiced shooting a 3-spot. During the afternoon, I headed onto the 3-D range. Neither practice resulted in perfect scores, although there were more than a few decent shots.

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Shooting paper at 20 yards is a great way to start the day. Actually, a run starts my training for the day that is followed by shooting. Mornings are best to shoot because the wind is usually least during that time.

Even though it’s December, the temperature reached into the low 70’s and before the day was out I was in short pants. My kind of winter.

The morning session wasn’t my best and I ended up with a 581, using the new USA Archery scoring system. I’m struggling to get the release point just right on my hinge release. Adjustment after adjustment still it seems either too light or too heavy.

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A tough angle for a 10
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You can image the glare on my scope. There’s a deer 47 yards away.

While shooting 3-D in the afternoon, I switched to a thumb release. I feel more comfortable with a thumb release, but my data is beginning to suggest I shoot a few points higher using a hinge style. The difference isn’t statistically significant, but statistical interactions aren’t necessarily indicative of finishing places.

3-D was pretty good despite I haven’t been spending as much time on that range as on indoors or aiming at paper targets. Because it was early afternoon and the sun was getting low a few shoots were very tough – it was hard to see the target. Nevertheless, it was a good practice. Ended up with a 206. (20 targets)

Bowstrings

When it comes to tires on my vehicles, well I am fanatical about monitoring the thread, wear, and tire pressure. Many folks aren’t so careful and that’s a shame. The tires are where your vehicle meets the road and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In archery, I feel similarly when it comes to my bowstring. I check my bowstring every morning before I shoot. Bowstrings should last between 3000 and 5000 shots (about a year for most people). I don’t keep a record of how many arrows I shoot in a day, but it is a lot. When I practice I have specific goals in mind, which are not always associated with the number of arrows I’ll fire. But, I know the approximate number of times I’ve shot and sometimes the exact number.

Because I do shoot so much, I am extra careful with my bowstring. This is where the arrow meets the bow. As a string wears it can get thin is spots and stretch. Because this happens over thousands of shots, it’s hard to notice. Another telltale indication a string may need to be replaced is peep rotation. When I notice my peep is beginning to twist I consider a new bowstring.

Over the past 28 months I gone through 8 bowstrings, excluding those that were on bows I owned for only a few months before selling. Including the first compound bow I bought and kept for about 4 months before I replaced the bow, that is 9 different bowstrings over 28 months. And finally, adding in the Bear Authority I owned for a few months, I’ll say I’ve had useful life out of 9.5 bowstrings.

It turns out that 9.5 bowstrings over 28 months is roughly 3 months per string. It’s also roughly 4770 shots per bowstring. That’s at the top end of the expected life of a bowstring (3000-5000 shots). I’d expect that since I shoot a 50-pound weight.

Finding a good bowstring isn’t hard; there are plenty of good strings from which to choose. Finding a really good one is another matter. The strings that came on my bows when I bought them seemed to stretch the soonest. One purchased locally in Maryland was a middle of the ground product.

The strings that appear to hold up best are those from 60X. Granted, they are going to wear out and need to be replaced but one major difference I’ve noted is that as the string thins, I don’t get peep rotation. That impressed me, so I went to the 60X website and dug around.

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This is what I found on their blog, “60X Custom Strings warrants each 452X, 8190 and X set against peep rotation, serving separation, creep, manufacturing defects in materials, craftsmanship and design for a period of one (1) year from the delivery date.”

Granted, I change strings faster than once  a year, then again, I shoot nearly 20,000 arrows per year. Even at that pace, I have not observed any peep rotation with 60X strings.

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New string arrived in the mail, yesterday.

When it comes to bowstrings, they are where the arrows meet the bow. I give them plenty of performance evaluation and expect them to hold up to a lot of work. Like the tires on my vehicles, the bowstring provides a measure of safety and performance.

296 – UGH!

I practiced on a 5-spot this morning. The weather was a crisp fall 47°F. There was no wind; it was going to be perfect for a perfect practice. It didn’t turn out the way I’d imagined when I pinned up the target.

Most of my shots were good – there were four strays. Shooting a 300 is still not a given for me, but I am beginning to expect a 300 when shot a 5-spot. This morning, well what can I say, it happens.

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Dang-it! X 4

I recorded each poor shot so I’ll know what I did wrong. There were no surprises with my errors, the same ones I am working to correct that I make too often.

This afternoon, I’ll see if I can’t improve on this morning’s performance. Until then, off the lift weights, run,  buy a Christmas tree, and put up more outdoor lights.

Back on the 3D Range

Over the past month I’ve focused on shooting dots. Primarily because I had an indoor tournament in Georgia and another two in January, one in North Carolina the other in Pennsylvania. Which reminds me, I need to make hotel reservations for Lancaster. What I’ve missed is shooting 3D.

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This pig between trees is a fun shot
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Especially when the shot hits the X

During the past several weeks I have shot live animals, but no fake ones. In both cases precision is critical – more so with live animals. In either situation practice is imperative.

Today for my second practice, rather that shooting more dots (I am starting to see them in my sleep) I headed onto the 3D range. I’d gone out earlier to put out a trail camera. The brief time in the woods was all it took for me to grab my bow and head back out.

One of my concerns is getting “cold” at judging distance. Sitting in a blind or tree stand I always prepare by using a range finder and learning distance where I anticipate a deer (for example) to pass. In all my hunting shots, where a deer appeared I knew the range before I aimed.

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On the 3D course, I work to make each shot a different distance from the last time I worked a specific target. Because I was “cold”, having not judged distance in a month I carried a range finder. I estimated the range, and then verified it before I shot. Often I’ll verify after the shot, today I was being cautious.

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Going for this badger at 32 yards. With the leaves down you can see my turkey on the left.
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Just cut the center ring

When I practice I bring paper to make notes about my shooting. I record my distance, the range finder’s distance, the type of target and the score. When I get back from shooting I record these notes on a spreadsheet then evaluate that practice against prior training. I was happy to see that the difference between my range and the electronic range was only 0.6 yards. (Clearly, home field advantage)

I did manage to shoot a few 8’s but the distance was good. Those 8’s were pulled to the left, my error – I knew it as soon as the arrow released. In each case it was poor follow through, a bad habit I am working to correct.

I ended up the day with an even 200 (20 targets). My 8’s were evenly countered by 12’s.

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The center on this “Big Buck” is about gone after 10 months. The arrow nearly passed through.

Shooting in a Fog

Rain and fog complicate outdoor archery practice. So far, this week that is about the extent of the weather we’ve had here on the coast in North Carolina.

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The fog is beginning to lift

It rained off and on all day yesterday. During breaks in the precipitation I was able to work in a couple of practice sessions. Overnight, it has warmed considerably bringing with it fog. Fog isn’t really a problem when aiming at a spot 20 yards away.

We’re expecting more rain later this evening. So, I’ll shoot through the mist until the rain begins.

Back To A Routine

Seventeen days of competition and hunting can break a routine. It is good to have breaks. It is also nice to have a routine.

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Back on home turf

For me that routine is a formal exercise program that meets competitive goals. Those 2015 goals meant a number of faster 5K wins. I only missed one win. Going long is fun, however during the past decade I’ve done a lot of long distance racing. This past year I wanted to practice going faster and over shorter distances. In itself, it was a break from routine.

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The chase is on

I also have a formal archery-training program. That program is not as refined as my running, swimming or cycling. However, there are overlaps. Swimming, in particular, is an excellent way to maintain fitness and strengthen muscles used in archery.

C-Man Swim

Shooting remains at two or three sessions a day. Typically, I shoot twice a day. There are days where I practice for shorter time periods and adding a session accounting for the three session practice days. Recently, my focus has been exclusively aiming at paper. Form has been a key element as well as coming to some conclusion with my release. As yet, I still bounce back and forth attempting to judge which style release is best for me: the thumb style or a hinge style.

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Yesterday, I shot entirely with a thumb, this morning exclusively the hinge. Still seems to be six of one, half a dozen of the other. In either case, and in general, being home means moving into my daily schedule of working on my performance.