Shooting Longer Shots

The wind was a pain today. It never slowed and certainly didn’t stop. The wind made shooting in the yard, just adjacent to the river a special kind of challenge. That was in the morning where I’d been working at 18-meters. Hitting a penny-sized X at 18-meters in the wind is frustrating. Scoring a nine isn’t so tough, getting close to the X happens, but an X is a rare occurrence when you are being wafted around like a banner.

When I started shooting in the afternoon, after a dozen or so gale fought attempts an idea sprang to mind. It’s not as windy on the 3D range just across the way. Seemed to me that if I practiced long 3D shots that would be an okay substitute for 18-meters.

img_5701
River enjoying a stick and perhaps thinking, “You’re going to lose another arrow” (There’s a mosquito target at the base of that tree in the center of the frame)

Last Friday, I worked on short shots. The average distance was only 24 yards with a range of 10 yards to 40 yards. Up close and personal I ended with an average score of 10.53 points per target. Often there are short shot targets sprinkled about in tournaments just to throw off archers. Typically the close shots are small targets. I was also preparing for an indoor 3D contest that featured 15 targets between 14 and 24 yards.

But, my maximum competitive distance is a tad longer and well I’m still scoring better when shooting a tad closer. So, with the wind in mind or rather in my face I decided to switch things up and see how I’d do shooting over a greater distance.

img_5702
Managed at 8 at 34 yards.

On the 3D range I retreated from the wind as best as possible. The leaves are beginning to thin and there was some motion in the woods. It was, nevertheless, a whole lot better than the yard.

img_5700
Just 5PM, facing west, what remains of daylight is blocked by forest on this target

I ended up shooting an average distance of 39.8 yards with the shortest shot, on a bobcat of 31 yards and the maximum distance of 53 yards at a deer. The shots yielded an average score of 8.5. A lot lower than the close up shooting from a few days ago. Every shot was either a 10 or an 8.

On the bright side, I finished practice having the same number of arrows with which I began.

img_5704
Last shot of the day, 38 yards and another 10. This wasn’t my day for finding a X.

Practicing Form

A little bit high, a little bit low, a tad to the right and a tad to the left. That’s how this morning’s 18-meter practice went.

It was a prefect morning for practice. The temperature was 68°F and no wind. Excellent conditions to work on form.

IMG_4483

During the past week a lot has changed. The bow has new limbs, a new string, new stabilizer and more weight with which to deal. To complicate it more, the practice arrows are shorter and lighter than the usual indoor target arrows and my PEEP aperture reducer fell out. (I ordered a new one, but selected the wrong size. A phone call to Lancaster Archery, a RMA number received and the correct size on the way.)

The session this morning focused on form more so than hitting the X. Almost like blind bailing except with open eyes and 18-meters from the target. Of course, hitting the X would have been nice.

th

Occasionally, an arrow ended up in the X, about 25% of the shots hit home. All the others landed close, all just a little off the mark, all nines.

th

After 90 minutes, during which very few shots felt right, it was time to give if up for a while and watch the Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati live from London. Hopefully, this afternoon things will fall in place.

Addendum: The afternoon practice was moving along much like the mornings. Have you ever been shooting and think, “Damn, I shoot better than that!”? You know something is slightly off. Then, you feel where the screw-ups originated, make an adjustment (for me the culprit was the thumb of my release hand) and things begin to return to par or better.

First Hard 3D Practice in A While

The local gossip suggested there was an indoor 3D tournament in Elizabeth City on Friday night.  I picked that bit of trivia up on Thursday afternoon. It seemed like a reasonable rumor. Naturally, I was in and would need to prepare.  Lately, the focus of practice has been 18-meters.

img_5679
First 2 warm-up shots; I stopped while I was ahead.

I figured on Friday I’d get ready for 3D.  A few minutes of warming up and out to the 3D range for a days work.

The 3D tune-up started with short shots then working to a maximum distance of 50 yards with a concentration on 20 to 35 yards.  The greatest distance on a target for the alleged Friday competition is around 32 yards. At least that was the case when I last shot there.

img_5688
First arrow at 20 yards.

I started practice on a bear at 20 yards and backed it up to 50 yards.  There would be no 50 yard shots on Friday night, but 50 yards is such a fun shot.

img_5684
Nope that second arrow is only 35 yards.

The range where the event was going to be held has a lot of smaller targets.  So, I spent ample time on my small targets. There are a few turkeys on every 3D range and it is likely two would appear for the main event later in the evening.

img_5690
This turkey at 35 yards is a nice shot with enough stuff between the stake and bird to make it interesting.
img_5691
I’ll take these whenever I can get them

Focusing on small targets, I have my fair share – they’re inexpensive – I spent extra time on a bobcat.  The bobcat’s rings are impossible to see.  Trying to figure out the geometric arrangement of the rings, spots and rocks is a brain buster.

img_5693
The 12 is just below the 2nd and 3rd dot, closer to the 3rd, about 6 inches down and 4 inches above the rock. Or, X= [(D2 / D3 – 6) + 4]/r
The truly exciting target was a new one – saved for the last. I’ve been wanting a javelina to add to my foam menagerie. The perfect spot had been prepared on a downed tree to await its mount.  In 2016 javelinas standing on trees 40 – 50 yards from the stake seemed to be standard.  The issue with a javelina is the price.  It is really expensive.

I found a small pig instead.  It was about a third the price and almost the exact same size.  Maybe I’ll get some paint and touch up this small black pig up to make it look more like a javelina.

img_5694
My javelina/pig standing on a tree in the shadows. (All black targets suck light from their surroundings. It’s a law of physics. If you stick a black target on an open field it will create a small black hole.)
img_5695
A closer view of the pig. If you look just right it is almost a javelina.
img_5697
Inaugural shot – a 12. I was thinking javelina (It’s one of my favorite targets)

It was a good day on the 3D range.  Three hours in the morning 2 hours in the afternoon.  I was done by 4PM with time to rest before the tournament.

Then, I got a feeling that perhaps I should double check the facts regarding the shoot.  Sadly, I couldn’t confirm the event so I did not drive into Elizabeth City. I’m not a gambler.  Plus, I’d be embarrassed showing up at a private event having not been invited. No worries, I’d probably left all my good shots on the practice range.

On the practice range I did have some good shots.  The distances were from 15 yards to 50 yards.  At each target I guessed the distance then verified it with a rangefinder. As I mentioned I’d not done serious 3D practice in a while and didn’t want to play hunt the arrow.

In most cases the rangefinder closely matched my estimate for yardage.  To be fair, it’s my range and I’ve been shooting on it for over a year, so I know the distances.  When there was a variance, it was close enough that I leaned toward my estimation.

The result was pleasing with an average score of 10.53 per shot.

Up Early and Looking Up

It is not unusual for me to be awake early. It is not because I set an alarm. In fact, I hate alarms and one that is set next to my head will bother me long before it activates. The way I see it, when I wake up I get up. That means I am typically up between 0530 and 0600.

Certainly many of you too are up and about before the sun rises. If you are outside before the sun is up in an area where city light does not obscure the sky there are some cool astronomical objects to check out.

Sitting in blind or tree stand there may not be a clear visual path to the sky. If you have an unobstructed view of the sky and you look east before sunrise you can see Jupiter. Good binoculars will improve observation of the giant planet. If your binoculars are really nice you might even be able to make out the larger moons of Jupiter.

jupiter-in-small-scope-n
View through a low end inexpensive home telescope. Those little pinpoints of light aside Jupiter are moons.

Being up early and with Jupiter on the horizon I took a look with my low-end second hand Meade telescope. Very impressive.

If you are up early, take a little time and enjoy what’s happening around you and look up from time to time.

 

New Limbs and String for my Elite

I got new limbs for my Elite 35. The old upper limb began to split. Elite was quick to respond. Bumper Williams, owner of PGF Outdoor in Elizabeth City, sent an email and in a little over a week Elite replaced the limbs.

unknown

While the bow was at the shop they replaced my old string, with a new 60X Custom String. This string was red and black. My new arrows, when they arrive, will be silver (Easton 2314) and have red and black vanes, a University of Georgia theme.

None of my degrees came from UGA. Even though I attended a college in Georgia (before I transferred) I never made it to the University of Georgia. My undergraduate degree and graduate degrees are the end result of universities in California. But, my heart was always at UGA.

images

Taking my red and back inspired bow home I reset my sight for 20 yards then began backing it out to 50 yards to find calibration for my sight tape. There are programs where an archer can enter data about the bow and arrows and the data will provide a computer-customized tape. That would be nice and it would be great for 3D. The tape I used was close but not perfect. The perfect tape is missing, of course.

When the body says rest.

The past few weeks have been hectic. Everyday has been consumed with hours of shooting, running, weight lifting, cycling, and some swimming. Add to that the cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew. Today, it caught up with me.

It’s been coming, that level of physical fatigue where the mind wants to continue but the body screams rest. It is important to rest. I make efforts to find one day in 7 or 10 where I do minimal physical activates. This was that day.

fox_squirrel_110528_4998
Time for a short break.

I didn’t run, I did ride my mountain bike, easily. And I only shot about 30 arrows. Throughout even that little bit of “active recovery” I hurt. Even, River, my lab, seemed a bit tired.

IMG_0393

It’s not an unwelcome hurt. It’s that ache of fatigue where if pushed you can do more even if you don’t really mentally want to push. So, after 30 or so shots, I put my bow away and stopped exercising. Tomorrow is another day.

An Eye on Exercise

Archery is not a sport where the athletes involved are going to gain a lot of fitness. ESPN created a method to determine the level whereby sports could be evaluated related to: endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, nerve, durability and analytic aptitude. Of the sixty sports measured boxing topped the list of 60. 1 Archery ranked 55th followed by curling, bowling, shooting (non-archery), billiards, and fishing.1 Depending on how you search sports there is some variance in ranking. Archery is never among the most difficult when measuring athletic fitness.

IMG_0647

If you have read the site you may be aware that fitness is a frequent topic. Archers to some degree are not really fit. That is not to suggest that a skilled archer is not a great athlete. It is my opinion that being physically fit is an important adjunct to an archer.

IMG_5466

As a former internationally competitive cyclist and later triathlete I continue to complement archery with the training needed for those sports. In other words, I still run, swim, cycle and lift weights. Occasionally, I log the distances I walk while practicing archery.

Swim Start of the F1 Triathlon in San Diego

On one of those recent occasions I continued to log distances, after running, using my Garmin Forerunner 310XT while I trained against an 18 meter 3-spot. In that session of shooting I walked an additional 1.66 miles.

images

Walking less than two miles is not a huge accomplishment. Still not everyone can walk that far. It seems easy, but there a many people who consider 1.66 miles quite a hike. The calories burned per hour, for me, during that session of archery was 238. Obviously, there is more involved with archery than walking, but not much related to physical activity. Without adding archery for the 1.66 miles (walking only) the caloric burn is 203. On average I shoot 4 hours per day and burn 952 calories through archery.

Considering the other exercise I do, I think of it as an adjunct to archery. Being more fit means I can practice longer. It may also help me live longer. Fitness isn’t the sole avenue to longevity but it does help. Fitness and strength training, at least for me, are part of my archery-training program.

images-1

Adding a fitness program to your archery training can be beneficial. If you aren’t already involved in other training systems, it is a good idea to have a physician give you a green light to begin.

Reference: http://www.espn.com/espn/page2/sportSkills

Practicing with an Archery Target Thief

 

img_5673The weather report indicated we’d have a windy weekend. Today, Saturday, proved the advance notice correct. Sunrise was nice and calm. The calm did not last.

img_5671
The river looked calm as we headed out for a run
IMG_5417
No Coco today

River and I enjoyed a run before archery. Coco, River’s Labrador friend from down the road didn’t join us this morning. Too bad for Coco, I’d brought extra treats to share. When they run together River comes home ready for a nap. Today, she wasn’t ready to nap and hung around me while I practiced.

img_5670
Running was less frantic without Coco

Preparing for archery I surveyed the conditions then considered making the drive into Elizabeth City to practice indoors at PGF Archery. The calm of dawn was gone and the river was covered with white caps. Being Saturday I couldn’t be sure who would be on the range in town. Saturday is often a team practice day for the JOAD groups. So I decided to stay home and deal with the wind.

My fall back to adverse conditions is to shoot from inside a shed. It is a last resort when there is simply too much wind. When I started practice, outside of the shed, it only took a few shots to realize that was not going to work.

img_5678
River intent on watching for that moment to begin her theft of targets.

River seemed calm while I focused on my target from inside the shed. She walked around and didn’t offer suggestions to play rather than work. Often we play ‘shoot three arrows – throw and stick.’ It didn’t take long until I discovered the reason for her silent prowling.

img_5676
Getting caught

There’s a trash bin in my shed where I deposit used targets. River had been sneaking to the bin, stealing the balled up targets then slipping outside to shred them. I caught her, well into her activity, with a mouth full of wadded up paper targets. Her response was, naturally, to run for it. For River, this was game time. For me, it was chasing time to retrieve bits of targets dancing away on the wind.

A Little Help From a Friend

It is too easy to waste money on sports equipment. Everyday there’s a new and better product to make athletes run faster, jump higher or go further. Archery, a sport where we don’t need to move a lot, isn’t immune to the gizmos and marketing hype that surrounds gear promising to deliver an almost practice free perfect shot.

Decades to competitive sports taught me a number of lessons. Among those lessons is that it is easy to waste money on the latest new toy. After I began competing in a sport that wasn’t supported by a public school program I began a long career of financing my athletics habit. The most costly was and remains cycling.

Fortunately, when I began racing bicycles I was still in high school meaning I didn’t have much money to waste on new fancy and often pointless innovations. Nevertheless, over decades I’ve ended up wasting a lot of many to replace gear that came on bikes that was simply wrong from the start. Where I am with archery is more bothersome.

When it comes to archery I am a novice, in that I’ve been involved with archery for 37 months. Today I’m a bit more conservative with my cash than I was just 3 years ago before I retired. So, for a large part I do my best to investigate before I purchase. That doesn’t mean that more than once I’ve put trust in a shop’s expert and walked away with pure archery crap. An example would be arrows.

I was on the road and had been for weeks when it became necessary to purchase more arrows. I bought the shop experts recommended product – a recognizable name brand. The arrows sucked.

They had the correct – per the labeling – spine. But, they popped and cracked so badly that I emailed the company to complain. I’d already tossed three of the arrows when the fourth broke. Their return policy was so encumbered that it would have ended up costing nearly the price of a new arrow to complete the transaction.

They offered to send me a new arrow after I completed forms, packaged and shipped the broken arrow. Once they received it and investigated the break my would consider sending me a replacement arrow.  Because I need to improve the specifications on arrows for indoor competition I was concerned that I’d screw up an order and relive the prior experience.

Of course, I went online and searched the top guns to see which arrows they shot. That was a little helpful. But, the real help came from Big John Chandler in Social Circle, GA.

IMG_2411
Big John

John is an expert archer, a Level 4 USA Archery coach, and runs a bow shop. From our brief times together he knew some particulars about my equipment and needs. He sent me an exact detailed list of what I needed to order. We also talked by phone and he provided even more information.

John was a big help and probably saved me some cash and earned me some points on the range. This was an unexpected treat and I really appreciated the help.

Bow Woes

The Apex 7 was my first bow purchase in September 2013. I knew absolutely nothing about compound bows or archery for that matter. I don’t know a whole lot more today.

I shot that Mathews bow for hours everyday. It wasn’t too long before it became a less that common occurrence when I missed the entire target. But, as nice as the Conquest Apex 7 is I felt that something was off.

IMG_1990
Shooting my Mathews Conquest Apex 7 in 2014

In 2015 I bought an Elite Energy 35. The Elite bow is a couple of inches shorter axil to axil. Both bows weight 4.5 pounds. Going from a 65% with the Mathews let off to an 80% with the Elite let off took some adjustments.

Both bows have the same-marketed draw length and both shoot at the same draw weight. When I shoot them I use the same stabilizers, sight and scope. Those items were purchased at Lancaster Archery. I drove up and had them help me with the Mathews bow in 2014. I use the same Scott Pro Advantage release when I shoot either bow. Without fail, I score higher with the Elite.

I like Mathews, a lot. Not because I have any particular knowledge about their bows. I don’t have the technical background to make a judgment about bows. When I bought the Apex 7 I simply requested from the shop where I ordered it, “I want to buy the best bow available for target shooting.” They ordered me the Conquest Apex 7. I like Mathews primary because they were so receptive to helping me when I began shooting.   What I do know is data. I keep data on all my archery shoots whether competitive or practice.

The 2015 Elite Energy 35 has been shot a lot in the past year. When I say a lot, I mean approximately 23,725 times. Last week the top limb began to delaminate. Or what seems to be splitting about at the seams. So far a sliver about 1/8 inch wide and 6 inches long has separated and popped off the limb. It still shoots, so I am shooting it.

img_5664

I put the Elite away for a while and shot the Apex 7 as my primary bow. Actually, I’d been going back and forth trying to make a decision which bow to shoot in 2017 until the Elite’s upper limb separated off a part of itself. But, without doubt my shooting suffered with the Apex 7.

I called Elite to describe the problem and, of course, left a message. Elite returned my call during the time we’d left town rather than stay to greet Hurricane Matthew. In my call I explained I’d return the bow to the shop where it was purchased for help.

At that shop the owner took a photograph of the bad limb and emailed it to Elite. That was last week and I am waiting for resolution. In the meantime, I am shooting the Elite and even with a missing piece of the upper limb I shoot better with it than the Apex 7.

I look at sports equipment as tools. In the case of archery the job is to hit the center of the target. I could go a purchase another bow/tool to replace both bows. (I considered the Hoyt Podium for a minute, the price through me off) But, unlike a workman’s drill or saw, any bow takes time for the archer to become acclimated to the tool. For whatever reason, most likely my fault, I can’t shoot the Mathews as well as I can shoot the Elite. So, the Elite is my tool of choice even with the current state of the upper limb.