Mental Error

I was ready to practice this morning.  I was shooting outdoors at 18-meters.  The was little wind.  The light was perfect.

I lined up for the first warm-up shot. I went through my mental process.  I drew back an arrow. I put the dot in the middle and it was holding steady.

The hinge released and I felt a perfect follow through.

My ear told me milliseconds before my eyes confirmed it.  I heard the arrow sailing away.  Not a poor shot.  The shot was great. But, I knew I’d never find that arrow.

The last arrow I shot the evening before was at a target 85-yards away.  The first shot of the morning 18-meters.

Not for the first time, I did everything except check the yardage on my sight. Opps.

A Rare Day Without Wind

There was no wind. Not even a puff of it. That usually only happens when it is about 100°F. Not today, the temperature this morning was around 70°F. An ideal temperature for running three miles. The lack of wind made it perfect for shooting.

No white caps today

The next event on my schedule is an 18-meter indoor competition. It starts at 10:00 AM. A 10:00 AM start means shooting through lunch and impacting naptime. You know the first scoring arrows aren’t going off until 10:30 AM. It will take three and a half to four hours to finish shooting. That means by the midpoint of the tournament it is lunchtime. Shortly after lunch is naptime.

Barely a hint of a breeze

So, I’ve been moving slower in the morning to adjust my body to the cycle of the upcoming shoot. As such, I run a little later. River, my four-legged running partner, doesn’t seem to mind the delay. The issue is that running later means that there is a greater chance the winds will have picked up a bit off the river. Today, at 10:00 AM there was still no wind off the river.

River is good to run on any schedule or hang out and eat a stick. Either way, no problem.

Not wanting to push my luck I didn’t even change from my running clothes before shooting. There aren’t too many wind-free days here and I enjoyed this one. Once the morning exercise and training were complete I had a nice lunch and took a short nap.   A short 15 to 30 break after eating is a good way to break up a day of training. The break resets the day. Following the break it is time to begin the afternoon training schedule.

Hurry, hurry, hurry. (I’ve been trail running hence the orange cap.)

At the upcoming competition I will bring a small lunch. The sandwich will be quartered. I’ll eat a quarter every 15 minutes or so starting around 11:30 AM. The idea is not to put a large bolus of food into my gut at once. What that does is shifts blood flow to the stomach to aid digestion and is one of the reasons we might get sleepy after a meal. The tournament judges don’t offer a break for nap time. So, small bites are best.

Shoot and pull

Once I commented to a judge that we were shooting during naptime. He didn’t respond with a snide remark. He concurred and seemed saddened by the reminder. We both soldiered on.

By shifting my training schedule I hope to get ready to reach peak performance during a specific time of day. There are days where I shoot indoors to best replicate the competitive environment. Travel to and from an indoor range kills about an hour of time that could be otherwise used to train. A day without wind is a pretty good deal when is comes to saving time. Shooting at roughly the same time of a scheduled tournament helps get the body ready to perform at a specific time.

A problem with running shorts is that the quiver wants to slip down.

As John Kessel of USA Volley said, “The Game Teaches the Game.”

You have 2 Minutes to Shoot

You’ve probably been there. Standing behind a stake waiting for your turn to pop an arrow into a foam critter. Waiting while the archer in the limelight of the moment readies for the shot. The studious athlete, at the stake, takes mental renderings of the environment, the wind, impact of lighting – present or absent – verifies with binoculars and moves through a process that appears to take a little longer than the allotted two minutes. Even at that point in the process the nocked arrow remains undrawn. Occasionally, the stake star waves to friends in passing shouting out what are meaningless comments except to the shouter and passing recipients. By stake 11 there is a back up on the range as the stake hogs make a day of it.


You have two minutes. You don’t need two minutes but there yours to use. But, only two minutes and whatever you do with your time don’t check out your shot until you’ve moved off the stake. Step away stake hog, once your arrow is released the clock starts on the next archer! Really, the shot is over, the arrow will wait.

During indoor 18-meter competition there is also a two-minute time limit. True, you must shoot 3 arrows in 2 minutes. So, there is a little more pressure. If you’ve been there, you know that two minutes is ample time to fire off three arrows. Yet, there is always that person that covets every second on the line. You see them, the last archer standing; you hear the countdown, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…. Most of the time the arrow is loosed without fault.

Unlike 3D, there are judges watching everyone during indoor competition. You get 2-minutes and no more. Should you fail to sail 3 arrows in 2 minutes only the points for the arrows shot before the 2-minute deadline count. It is too bad too sad should you miss the time limit. There are marshals in 3D and they could encourage any slow archer to pick up the pace. From my observation, there aren’t too many people that want to force the 2-minute rule. In 3D, people appear overly polite when it comes to exception.


Often everyone around knows the slowpokes. Everyone quietly works around the pontificating shooters.

Inside shooting, well everyone knows the clock. If you don’t often compete under the pressure of a clock, those large bright numerals steadily dropping in value can get to you. This is especially true when there are three arrows to shoot at a penny sized bulls eye you can’t really see and a super nova bright LED is right in your face.


Out of curiosity and for the fun (I make my own fun) among notes on each indoor shot while training I added how much time remained on a 2-minute timer following each end. The timer is not fancy; it’s the timer on my iPhone.

Alone on the practice range

I placed the iPhone on a table within reach at the line. I started the timer then settled in to shoot twenty 3 arrow ends. I’d start the 2-minute timer, shoot 3 arrows, stop the timer and record the times. I shot 60 arrows into a Vegas 3-spot followed by 60 arrows into a vertical 3-spot.

Until today, I’d never recorded the time consumed to shoot an end. There’s never been an occasion when I thought I was running out of time and I’ve never gotten the countdown.

Here’s what I learned about time expenditure shooting 3-arrows per end: Applying the Vegas 3-spot it took an average of 85.03 second to shoot 3 arrows. Against that target my slowest three arrows took 97 second to shoot and my fastest 3 arrows took 72 seconds to shoot. On both of those ends, the slowest and the fastest I shot a ten and two nines.

Against the vertical 3-spot the shooting was slightly faster. The average time to shoot 3-arrows was 82.31 seconds. The slowest end took 95 seconds and the fastest end took 71 seconds. With the vertical 3-spot after the 95-second end scored 10, 9, 9 and the 71 second 3-spot scored 10, 10, 10. Let me point out that those scores, at this point mean very little. There not enough data here to suggest anything about the accuracy of my shooting versus time spent per 3-arrow end. What I mean by the lack of data is that those few data points don’t mean much statistically.

I was a little faster overall shooting the vertical 3-spot. It makes sense because once my feet are set on a vertical 3-spot there’s very adjustment between arrows. The Vegas 3-spot requires, at least for me, more lateral movement. That is a likely explanation for the 2.74-second difference between times shooting the two targets.

Time on the line or at the stake might be one those nagging thoughts that creeps into consciousness when shooting. Two minutes is a fair interval to fire off 1 to 3 arrows. It’s probably a good idea to practice with a timer so that you get a feel for the clock. Use all the time you need up to 2 minutes – then back away.