Range Notes

“If you don’t measure you can’t manage.”  When I worked in the medical field quality control was a part of my life.  I was constantly recording data for quality assurance. A bonus is, I really enjoy statistics.  Today, I measure and manage all sorts of data when it comes to athletics – mine to be exact.

When I look at my training plan for a practice session I also consider how best to monitor and measure that practice.  On Excel I have a data bank filled with spreadsheets, each of those having subsets of data.  It might sound a bit intimidating but it’s easy.

There are commercial apps that people use instead of their own systems.  I prefer mine since I am more familiar with what it does and how my brain worked it out.

On the range I take notes, snap photographs, sometimes make videos and record scores.  Therein lays the data I mine. Here’s an example of my hand notes from practice.  Aside from the scored points you can see (but probably not read) notes where I made a change.  These notes further include where I did something on a shot I wanted to remember what it was that happened.

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Notes form the range

Examples of these notes include (since you can’t read them and they’d make no sense if you could):

45 degree angle  – meaning where my hand was positioned.

Pull to side angle – meaning my pull positioned with my elbow flat

Rushed a shot – meaning I screwed up by rushing through a shot.

When I finish practice I evaluate my range notes.  Much is tranfered to one of the spreadsheets.  Those allow me to drill down and measure progress.

If you’re not measuring you are not managing, and there’s nothing wrong with that, you are shooting for fun.

EPO-Boost®

Training for all sports takes a lot of time. In archery, training for me is more than just shooting arrows all day – even though I shoot a lot of arrows all day.

Jerry Rice is the greatest wide receiver of all time and possibly the greatest all round football player ever. He was not the fastest or the biggest to play his position. He was the best at running patterns and he stayed healthy for nearly his entire career. Part of his success in football can be attributed to his off-season training.

All athletes have sports ability. One of the key abilities is “availability” – being healthy enough to train and showing up for training. At the London Olympics 7% of all athletes suffered an illness while at the Games. A sick or hurt athlete won’t perform at their maximum.

Part of my training for archery does include cardio work and weight lifting. My training also includes rest and diet.

I make an effort to hit the bed at the same time every night and awake at the same time everyday. I’d like to sleep more at night but 7.5 hours is all I can handle. I do take a short nap every day, about 30 minutes, after lunch between training sessions.

When it comes to diet one of the top priorities on my list is not eating at restaurants. There are times when that is impossible. Food that my wife or I haven’t prepared is always questionable. It’s not that we worry about germs; we are more concerned with the quality of the food.

My wife, also an athlete, and I eat well. We don’t follow any specific diet, like vegan, and eat what we enjoy. However, we eat food we’ve cooked and we don’t overeat. We consume very little processed food.

Neither of us drinks a lot of soft drinks or alcohol. She has a small glass of wine everyday. I made have a couple shots of whiskey (the good stuff) once every week to 10 days. If either of us has a beer, it is rare. Not that we don’t enjoy an occasional beer, it’s simple we don’t drink often.

Nutritional supplements also are low on our list of dietary intake. I take a multiple vitamin, but I doubt it does much to support health. I will add iron when I’ve been training really hard, say for a long road race or triathlon. I occasionally experience exercise-induced anemia and an over the counter iron supplement gets me back on track.

The only other supplement I take is a product from BRL Sports Nutrition. The product is EPO-Boost®. Before I added EPO-Boost® to my diet I studied it. In that study I first checked to be certain it was not a banned substance – it is not banned. Then, I turned to the scientific data on the primary active ingredient Echinacea purpurea.

Echinacea purpurea comes from a North American plant and was used in Native American medicine. There is research to support that it reduces colds and may shorten recovery time.

What I found is that while taking EPO-Boost®, I was able to train, race the Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, a few weeks later race the Ironman Eagleman 70.3 and a week later race the Mt. Evans Ascent in Colorado. The very next day I raced a 5K in Boulder. What I am saying is that my recovery time seemed enhanced. It didn’t dawn how much the association with the EPO-Boost® may have helped until I reviewed my training and race notes. After that I published two papers on that association of EPO-Boost and performance.

What I find as important is that since I began taking it in 2012 I have not been ill. To be fair, I rarely ever got an illness. But, occasionally, I would catch a cold. I have not had a cold in four years and I do not take flu shots.

How does this help me in archery – availability and recover. Staying healthy means I have more time available to train. Having a fast recovery means I can take a greater advantage of the time I have available.

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Disclaimer: My comments are purely anecdotal. BRL Sports Nutrition is one of my sponsors. They did not ask me to write this post. They do provide me with TriFuel® and EPO- Boost®. TriFuel® is their sports drink. (Sports drinks are an important consideration during long tournaments and training)

Shed Shooting

It was cold and windy this morning. Not real cold and not real windy. The combination, however, was enough to hurt.

Of course, in the cold, we can bundle up. The problem I have with the bundling is that it makes for weird shooting.

The solution, when there’s not indoor range open, is to do ‘Shed Shooting.’

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‘Shed Shooting’ is pretty darn nice. Its name is an apt description. I shoot from a shed out toward the target. The shed is really nice. It blocks the wind and has heat.

Weight Lifting and Archery

This is not a post about which exercises are best for archery. It’s about a heavy day in the gym followed by trying to hit a decent shot afterwards.

It is important for people in sports lift weights.  All sports seem to gain a benefit from lifting.  It is also a good way to protect from the loss of muscle mass as we age.

Today was a long one in the gym.  It felt good and the YMCA where I lift in Elizabeth City was quieter than usual.  Taking advantage of a basically empty weight room I skipped swimming and spent extra time lifting.

Back home, after lunch and a break, it was time to pick up my bow for afternoon practice.  Not for the first time following a heavy workout I shot poorly.  Shooting around 100 arrows at a 3-spot I hit three 8s.  Hitting 10s was more frequent but the winner of the scores where the nines.

Compared to weights in the gym the Elite bow in my hand felt light.  Even so, there was a bit of a post workout tremble somewhat like a muscle vibration during many of the shots.

Tomorrow things will be better and  time in the gym pays off in many ways.

Okay, That Was Too Cold

When I ran earlier this morning it was 40 degrees.  Dressed in shorts under warm-up pants, gloves, t-shirt, a running jacket and knit cap it wasn’t too bad. It was, actually, nice.

Archery was another matter. It had warmed to 45 degrees.  Again, not too bad.  I was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, jeans, boots, a sleeveless sweater, and baseball cap.  It felt fine – for the first 21 arrows.

Actually, by arrow 9 I was noticing my hands were starting to get cold.  My face was next. That was quickly followed by legs, arms, and torso.  The wind picked up a little and convective heat loss began to generate a chatter of teeth.

When I began shooting I hit 10, 10, and a 9.  Those scores remained unchanged for the first 5 ends at 18-meters.  The sun was still low and trees were blocking any radiant heat gain it could have provided.

When I sunk two 8s into the target it seemed like a time to stop, go inside and thaw.  No, be a man, shoot some more! I shot some more and ended the next two ends with 9,9,9 and 10, 9,9.  That was man enough for me.

It will be warmer in a few hours. I’ll be back.

Fun Run With River and Coco

It is with regularity that you can read on this site about more than archery. There are frequent posts about other sports and events. These can include running, swimming, cycling and weight lifting.

Those topics are covered because being fit is better than not being fit.  Loads of medical and scientific research points to fitness and health being strongly related.  But, does improved fitness improve archery performance?

“To many people, archery is not usually seen as a sport requiring high levels of fitness, however archers need to attain a certain level in many aspects of fitness to allow them to perform the action of shooting with accuracy and be able to repeat the actions without fatigue. With high fitness levels the archer can shoot with greater intensity and frequency during training, and to shoot without fatigue during competition. A successful archer requires good vision, hand/eye coordination and balance, flexibility, strength, aerobic fitness and low body fat level.”1

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Starting a run with River (in the background)

Aside from the potential health benefits there is the potential to shoot better for longer if efforts are made and maintained to become and stay physically fit.  There are other benefits to fitness one of the major ones being fun.

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On the path home, now with River and Coco.

Reference:

  1. http://www.topendsports.com/sport/archery/testing.htm

Progress at 18-Meters

I keep extensive records of my archery practice. Today, I looked back over the past 3 years to evaluate the changes at 18-meters.

In October of 2013, a month after I’d purchased a Mathews Conquest Apex 7; I scored a 447 shooting a 3-spot. At the time the score was based on the larger inner ring being 10 points. (The old USA Archery Scoring)

That is the scoring system I used until switching to the current USA scoring where the former X ring and the next ring where both valued a 10. Today only the smallest ring is a 10.

With the old scoring method in October 2014 I shot a 539. That turned out to be my largest increase in score; consistent with advancement in a new sports disciple. The following October (2015 for non-math folks) my score was 551, still using the old scoring system.

The new scoring system makes hitting 10 a little more difficult. It further complicates data analysis – trying to monitor new versus old scoring methods and improvement. Nevertheless, for November 5, 2016 the score is 570 or 30Xs and 30 nines. It’s not my best score under the new rules, the best score was 584. I don’t include that score because it remains an outlier.

The jumps in annual score between the 1st and 2nd year was 90 points, between years two and three there was a 12 point gain, and the current jump is 19 points.

The final 30 points, 570 to 600, don’t seem impossible. The percentage difference is 5%. When I measure size of the groups, the holes left my arrows, they are getting tighter. In other words there are less wide nines and more nines that are closer to the penny-sized 10 rings. Equipment has made a difference as well as 36 more months of practice.

Until recently I had been shooting an improperly set stabilizer system. Believe me when I say don’t trust the sales person to set up your equipment unless you’re totally confident. I was so naïve I trusted everyone that spoke the archery language.

A new coach during our first lesson pointed out I had an incorrect stablilizing system.

The stabilizers, the same brand – Bee Stinger, where switched to more appropriate length and weight. The average scores since the change is 6 points higher than the last corresponding scores. That comes to a 2% improvement.

I am still shooting 3D arrows at 18-meters. I have new ones ordered. Aside from practice where I can gain another percentage point or two, I am looking for changes in equipment that might add a percentage point or two. I am trying to reduce my need from 5% to 0%.

I think there is another 2% can be gained from equipment adjustments. (Arrows specific for 18-meters and a target arrow rest versus a hunting 3D style arrow rest) This could mean an average score of 581.4. More practice with those changes (and the strictly back tension hinge) needs to reach the remaining 3% improvement.

Wind Chases Me Into the Woods

The past couple of days have been models for archery. The sun was just right, warm but not too warm, and the wind was totally absent. Last night  that changed. A cold front brought in heavy rain and wind that reeked vengeance on the reminder of what had been an otherwise calm week.

There was no time to drive into Elizabeth City to practice on the indoor range at PGF Outdoors. See, my wife, Brenda, has been out of town visiting friends on Mystic Island, Connecticut. Before she returned it seemed like a good idea to restore the house from a temporary bachelor pad back to the home she’d left.

In addition, she’d been eating seafood a lot, you know lobster and such, while on northern coast and I wanted to prepare for her a delicious red meat meal. I’d decided on beef bourguignon, wild rice, Brussels sprouts and fresh baked bread.

So, I cleaned, prepped food and began cooking. Those activities meant staying home and dealing with the wind.

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Ready to go

It was obvious that shooting at 18-meters would be futile. Instead, I headed to the 3D range where I hoped the remaining Fall leaves would help block the worst of the gale.

I don’t shoot the same arrows for 18-meters as I do for 3D. That meant re-sighting my Elite Energy 35 for the shorter lighter arrows. I made a quick twist of the windage and took a shot aimed at a point on a block target. The arrow landed within a millimeter of where I’d aimed. Figuring that was a good sign I headed over a path that led to my 3D targets.

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Shoot 3 arrows, pull, repeat, then back up 5 yards

The 3D exercise was not as much fun as shooting and moving. The revised training plan was to shoot individual targets at 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 yards. At each yardage increment shoot 3 arrows, retrieve them and repeat at the same distance then move to the next point. Essentially, this is yardage practice.

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This target sits on the edge of the woods. To the right it’s open to the river. This is the least protected part of the range.

Even in the woods the wind made shooting a challenge. No doubt, it was not as frustrating, as shooting in the open would have been.

Saying Goodbye to An Old T-Shirt

It was 1996 in San Diego, California. I was there for a meeting that I’ve long forgotten. It had already been this road trip before San Diego. Seattle had been the first stop on the cross country jaunt.

The meeting in San Diego was an addition to the west coast trip added after I’d flown out of Atlanta. I’d packed for three days and now I’d be on the road for six. Plus, I had a down day, a day between meetings and nothing to wear but suits, ties and running gear. I had no causal attire.

San Diego is one of my favorite cities. With a little down time, I didn’t need long preparation for the meeting as I was already well versed on the subject, I left my hotel to find some inexpensive casual clothes so I could walk around the city.

Near where I was staying were loads of nice clothing shops. None of them, I mean absolutely zero came anywhere near an establishment where inexpensive was part of their vocabulary. All I wanted was a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I don’t remember the shorts. I do remember the t-shirt.

It was a plain t-shirt without an over-priced logo. The shirt was marked at $38.00! To make matters worse, I could not find a less expensive t-shirt. This was 1996 and by 2016 prices $38.00 for a t-shirt still seem pricey to me.

In a jam, I bought the shirt. That was 20 years ago. That t-shirt has outlasted any other t-shirt I’ve ever owned and I’ve worn the thread out of it.

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So long old shirt

Sadly, its time has come to an end. It is literally falling apart. It is kind of sad to see it go, but it needs to go. It’s not just saying goodbye to the shirt. It is the memories associated with the shirt.

Memories of how badly I wanted to be home. How I was trying to make the best of another road trip. How I wished my family could be with me to enjoy San Diego. How I had a job that most people can only imagine. And how I hated to spend that money.