Thanks for the Nudge, Dr. Waugh

Dr. Jonathan Waugh

 

Dr. Jonathan Waugh has been my friend for over twenty years. Together we conducted research, prepared and published medical manuscripts, and traveled the world lecturing audiences regarding our work. Over those decades we only once lived in the same city. During that time we had nearly weekly meetings at a favorite Indian restaurant, Haveli’s in Atlanta.

Haveli on Spring Street.

Each year he or his wife, Linda, has never failed to send their annual Christmas newsletter. My wife and I read them and hang onto them for a while before they become misfiled somewhere in my office.

Me (in the center behind the computer) preparing for a presentation in Nagano, Japan.

Aside from the typed news, that everyone who receives the Waugh Family Christmas message reads, there is often a hand-written personalized note to me. This year was no different; there was a note and a question. The question is, “What new thing do you plan to learn next year?”

Among our last collaborations we dealt in end-tidal CO2 monitoring

I’d once told Jonathan that every year I pick a new academic subject to learn. That’s true, I do. Some years the topic may expand to multiple years as did law school. Others are less structured, for example I once spent a year studying the Civil War. During another year I enrolled at Liberty University and completed a graduate course on Biblical Studies. I’ve also done accounting, math, art, Spanish as a language (that failed); learning amateur radio (I’m AE4PG for those who understand), sleep medicine, and took a regulatory affairs program to better myself concerning FDA matters. That is not a complete list. All of those were completed after I’d earned my doctorate.

Most people are done with school with a terminal degree. For me it was not about earning another degree. Heck, when we moved here to North Carolina, my wife and I both tossed our diplomas not wanting to deal with the continued storage of the framed piece of egocentricity. They’d been in an attic for decades and were relics.

Nope, it isn’t about more degrees, it is the mental challenge to learn something new and different or to augment a foundation of learning. I am ashamed to admit, this year I can’t decide between taking a paramedic course or earning a computer science degree. I want both.

I need the paramedic program because we live in the sticks. I taught in a paramedic program at Georgia Southern in Statesboro, GA but was never a student. I know, having been around paramedics I am ill equipped in that field. The primary motivator is where we live. If something really bad were to happen to someone here getting emergency medical support will be too slow. It wouldn’t take much for me to catch up with the knowledge and skills, but it means some time having reduced travel freedom to attend the local college where the program is offered.

Computer Science the other selection and it would be a major benefit to me. I took three or four computer science classes in college. It was required. When it comes to computers, I’m as good as the next nerd that isn’t a computer geek. But, so much has changed since my schools days (my first course used Basic) that I know I’ve lost ground. I could apply new computer skills in so much of my personal work and this website that it would be advantageous. In addition, there are still so many medical and physiological assemblages that I can’t help but think about where more computer skills would help me in discovery.

Sometimes, it’s hard to think

Each year I make a plan. I make one for sports, I’ve written about it here, and one that is academic. Each path offers challenges in time, effort, focus, and concentration. My sports plan is so far underway it is being refined. The academic one, well if I had more brains it would be done by now. Thanks, Jonathan for the nudge. (And to answer the question, I am leaning toward the paramedic program that starts in the spring)

Rainy Days at PGF Archery and Outdoors

It’s been raining here on the coast of North Carolina. It turned a bit colder as well. Naturally, it’s windy. Not ideal for shooting a bow. Thankfully, there’s an indoor range a little more than a 30 minutes drive from home. The range was there last year. Then, it was under the name of ‘The Cutting Edge.” As “The Cutting Edge” the shop, a hunting and fishing supply store that dealt in archery gear decided to close it doors.

Cold, wet and windy – heading into the big city

In the meantime, “PGF Archery” in Hertford was looking to expand. The proprietor, Bumper Williams had been operating his archery business from a small shed behind his house. When the “Cutting Edge” was preparing to close its doors, those doors opened to “PGF Archery” now doing business as “PGF Archery and Outdoors.”

Before hitting the range: swimming, lifting weights, and treadmill running. This bottle of TriFuel will be empty when all the training/practice is done.

The range remained open and from what I see “PGF Archery and Outdoors” is busy. The inventory seems to be turning over – no doubt the archery inventory is moving. I don’t pay a lot of attention to their other stock. But, a quick glance of their stock, when I enter the store to pay for use the attached archery range, does seem to wax and wan. I do my best to spend a bit of cash there every week.

Much of what I need can be bought online or from other friends that own archer businesses. Bumper, is a local guy and I really do like supporting local businesses. It’s the least I can do for a friend and what little I can to support that wonderful indoor range – a rainy winter day harbor on the coast.

Trying to Coordinate 2017 Archery and Racing

My 2017 event calendar is partially complete. Well, a little complete. I have the USA Indoor Nationals in Snellville and the ASA Pro/Am events inked. The Indoor Nationals, and ‘A’ event, is where I hope to take back my 2015 win in the South and out perform my 2016 second place finish.

There are a lot of archery tournaments. There are also a lot of other races. In 2016 I missed a number of the other races because archery took priority. Nevertheless, I get some nice finishes racing bicycles and running.

There is one race I’ve have been wanted to run for a few years. That is the Xterra ½ Marathon Trail Run World Championship. Trail running is a blast. Seriously, running through the woods is fun. I’ve even cut a trail run circuit in the woods across from my house to practice.

Trail running is a bit tougher than running on the road. Footing is a major factor. The ground tends to be uneven compared to a nicely paved road. I wouldn’t attempt another long race off road without off road several test races in my legs.

I looked at the 2017 Xterra Off Road calendar for 2017. So many races and so little time – much of that time being already locked in with archery. One of the really great ones is in Georgia a few miles from my oldest daughter’s home. Her place is a perfect location to spend the night before the race, get up, drive over, run, then come back and shower. I’d done just that a couple of years ago. It’s the: XTERRA GEORGIA “THRILL IN THE HILLS” – HALF MARATHON TRAIL RUN.

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The race started uphill.
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Race map

It is a very tough race and hilly. The race, just north of Athens, in February is cold. On race day when I ran it was cold and rainy. River, my dog, came along on the race and warmed up with me. She waited in the truck while I ran the race.

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Cold, wet, covered in mud. Sweet.

I say ‘ran’ with reservation. The rain mixed with the Georgia red clay made the ½ marathon more like a 13.1-mile slide. I didn’t win and ended up 6th. If I’d spent more time running rather than falling down I might have come up a place or two. It seemed the faster I tried to run the harder I slid down. I finished wet, red (from the clay) and bruised. It was a blast.

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Rain and Georgia Red Clay guarantee somebody is slipping down

Sadly, that race and the ASA Hoyt Pro/AM are the same weekend. I’ll have to keep looking and see what other races might help prepare me for the bigger race in December of 2017. That is, if I can get fit enough to run an off road half marathon with some of the fastest trail runners in the world. If not, there are plenty of races to satisfy.

Starting to Come Together

I’ve got this 2014 Mathews Conquest Apex 7. Mathews no longer makes that bow. I’d sold it to a friend, and then got it back from him. My coach Charlie Sneed, a Level 4 USA Archery coach,  has encouraged me to shoot the Mathews rather than the Elite 35 Energy that had replaced the Apex 7. Statistically, there is no difference between my shooting regardless of the bow. There may not be enough data to measure the interactions of the numbers recorded for the bows. To complicate the math, I’ve improved over time. I’ve also changed arrows, releases, sights, scopes, and stabilizers. All of those variables make the math tough. I enjoy math so I’ll play with the number more later.

What I know is that I have been in a slump. While in this slump I changed bows. Whether or not the switch back to the Mathew made a difference I honestly cannot support with data. In two days of practice I shot my worst and best scores with the bow.

To clarify, I have not been shooting the Mathews bow. My plan was to use it only as a 3D practice bow so I wouldn’t have to mess around with changing my sight/scope setting between shooting paper targets and 3D targets. I use different arrows for 3D than used for indoor shooting. My objects are yardage practice as well as general practice. Changing arrows with the same bow means wasting time aligning the scope/sight after 18-meter shooting.

The past two competitive 18-meter shoots have resulting in two 2nd place finishes. Each time I shot below par. Last night, while reviewing my notes on those contests my errors popped into clarity. Today, I planned to verify my finding. I did it with the Mathews bow.

To start, and a potential error in my test, I used 3 pistol targets arranged like a Vegas 3-spot. What I intended to do was isolate the center ring. On those pistol targets the center 10 is orange and all other rings are black. Essentially, there’s a real clear frame of the center ring. The 10-ring and nine ring are the same size as the archery target.

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This desk is a cluttered, but there’s room to record notes on shots.

Next, I worked through 25 warm up shots to get a feel for the wind that was kicking up off the river. I ended up having to shoot from inside my shed out toward the target.  Then, I shot 75 arrows of which 66 were tens and 9 were nines. Sadly, I didn’t get an arrangement where I had 60 tens in a row.

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My pistol targets with a highly visible center ring in a Vegas 3-spot arrangement. (Looks about right)

The better shooting was even more of a surprise since this was ‘arm’ day at the gym.  It was also swim day and run day.  I always swim before I lift. Trying to swim after lifting weight is tough, archery after swimming and lifting can be a bear. The weight lifting and swimming can lead to fatigue during the afternoon archery practice session.  Today, it didn’t appear to be much of a bother.

What I did get was a more confident feeling, which is all-important. I also worked to eliminate the form errors that have been plaguing me of late. I suppose the Mathews bow is what I’ll be shooting during the upcoming events.

“What the heck am I doing.”

There are days when I think, “What the heck am I doing.” The past few days have been among them.

Archery is a humbling sport. Just when you think things are getting good well things fall apart. Lately, my shots have been flying all over the place. That is all over the yellow ring and just away from the center. To be fair some arrows land in the center. To be sure, not of enough arrows have been landing in the center. It leads to a degree of frustration.

That level of irritation is complied with the pressure of knowing I have not been shooting enough 3D. All the time being spent on 18-meters has limited the occasion where 3D takes priority.

From around 9:00 AM this morning until noon I flung arrows 18-meters. Back and forth I walked to collect arrows that seemed to land all around the center. Only 12% of the 100 plus projectiles smacked home with all the others scoring nines. It was truly aggravating.

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Of the last six shots the first 2 landed in the nine ring and then an X. The next 3 were all Xs. I decided to stop on a high point, rest and head back out after lunch.

Reversing a Downward Spiral

The past few weeks have been a flurry of competitive shooting.  It began with a USA Archery Sanctioned Indoor 18-meter event in Columbus, NC.  That was quickly followed by two leagues shoots and a Christmas Tournament in Elizabeth City, NC.

All four of these were interposed on other forms of sports training. Not to mention hours of archery practice everyday. After competing today, my wife Brenda mentioned, “You look tired.” Well, I admit, I was a bit tired. Maybe that had a little to do with shooting below par, maybe not.

The four shoots mentioned are not ‘A’ events.  They are all ‘C’ level events.  I rank competitions based on the goal of the contest.  Certainly, it is nice to win, but the primary objective in a ‘C’ is to discover what it takes to win.  In that effort I often try something I’ve practiced that I am not 100% comfortable with.  Examples of this are: a change of my release, my anchor point, or weight distribution on stabilizers.

During the all events I make notes, sometimes during the shooting, but always afterwards on problems or about things that worked.  What I know from the data is that I have been dropping points at each shoot.  Not horribly, but definitely moving in the wrong directions.  Reviewing my notes and data indicated the point degradation was associated with change I made in my release. It probably wasn’t a matter of fatigue as Brenda’s earlier comment suggested.

After shooting another low score today, dropping 19 points at 18-meters, it seemed clear there needed to be an adjustment.  I made one, another, then another, and after shooting to verify those changes I set up to test the modifications.

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River checking my groups between playing catch

Those modifications weren’t huge, the misses had not been that far from center.  It turned out on a test at 18-meters in my yard and at that point 3 hours of shooting behind me, my test results revealed an improvement of 8 points, still down 11 by moving in the right directions.

Tomorrow I’ll be back on the front yard range hopefully continuing to move a positive direction.

No Gains to Be Found in the Release

PGF Outdoors in Elizabeth City has a league competition underway. There are a number of really good archers shooting. Several have attended USA Archery Indoor Nationals and many are upper level 3D shooters. One travels the country competing – and she’s the youngest among the top archers.

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I’ve been shooting in those league events. There will be eight contests before the conclusion and were at number four in the series. The target is a Vegas 3-spot, 30 arrows and they are scoring the outer 10 ring as a 10 and in inner as a 10X. With that larger 10 ring I would hope to have been shooting 300 every time.

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Because the range is small (still a nice size for an archery shop) archers can compete on Thursday night or Saturday morning

I shot my best score the first night. That time I used a thumb release. All other times I have used a hinge release. My average has been 287 with last night’s low of 285 and the thumb release night earning a score of 289. It has been somewhat frustrating. I feel I should be shooting no less than 296 with by now at least one 300. But, it just isn’t happening.

It’s not like my arrows are all over the place. The groups are tight even though last night I hit one 8.

A recent article in Live Science investigators pointed out something all elite swimmers already know – they go faster with their fingers slightly apart. The increase in speed is very little, however, when hundredths or thousandths of a second separates these athletes every little marginal gain counts. I’ve written about marginal gains and where they might be found in archery.

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When it comes to swim fast is good – coming out of the water under your own power is Rule Number 1.

By marginal gains I mean those small measures of improving an element of performance that when added together mount up to important differences. I’ve also mentioned that I am looking for a 4% gain in the past in order to reach an elite competitive status. That 4% had been 6%, then 5%, and 4%. I don’t attribute much of the 2% gain to practice. The gain came too fast for athletic improvement. I feel that small amount came from a change in stabilizers and addition weight.

Equipment can account for margin gains. The stabilizer improvements attest to the value of equipment to some degree. It still takes practice to get the most out of equipment and I practice a lot.

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In an experiment to learn whether the thumb release is an approach to gain a percentage I shot all morning going back and forth with a thumb versus hinge. Absolutely no difference over 120 arrows. Exact number of 10s and 9s every time. At the end of all scoring exactly 4% off the mark. But, I am fairly sure there are no more gains to be found from the release products I own.

You’re Touching Me, You’re Touching Me

I’ve done a lot of sports competitions. They’ve ranged from full contact sports like football and karate to less physically impactful sports like archery. Even cycling is a contact sport where bumping shoulders and elbows while sprinting is normal. Sometimes you crash in cycling – I have the scars to testify- and that is full contact. In triathlon during the swim you can bet, you will be hit, pulled, clawed, and kicked. Many sports include physical contact. Not so much in archery.

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I am in that mass of swimmers – there was contact during the swim

At smaller indoor tournaments space can be at a premium. Occasionally, there can even be unforeseen obstacles that reduce lane size. This is simply not a problem to worry over, if it happens it happens. Or so I thought.

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A touch during a bike ride can hurt

At a recent indoor competition a problem occurred while I was standing at the left side of my lane. The archer next to me, in a lane beside an unforeseen obstacle, found he had slightly reduced real estate. Therefore, he needed to position himself at the extreme right of his lane. I needed to stand at the extreme left of my box because the target, set by the range keepers, was not centered. Even when I was due left, I was shooting at an angle. Nothing that I was going to cry about and nothing I couldn’t handle. As you can envision, the two of us were closer than usual.

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To avoid being touched during a run simply run faster than everyone else.

The atypical box arrangement meant, that on occasion, when my bow was down, its side stabilizer touched archer’s, in the next lane, puffy fanny gear pack. Well, it wasn’t exactly a fanny pack; it was a large bag puffed out holding stuff. Many of us have smaller ones on our quiver belts.  The one in question seemed to be the gallon sized edition. It happens that my side stabilizer doesn’t extend with much of an angle.  It runs nearly parallel with my bow pretty much the exact opposite direction of the front stabilizer.

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There can be a lot of archers on a line. It will be tight. You might get touched – be prepared to deal with it

I never felt my side stabilizer touch the fellow’s puffy pouch. It didn’t matter, he made certain I knew. Of course, I did everything possible to not touch the fellow. With my best effort, while not shooting, my side stabilizer touched the archer’s large waist purse more than once. He made it clear he did not want to be touched.

Proposing, after pointing out he was shooting from a size reduced box, if he slid his waist purse around an inch there would likely be no further contact. His waist purse, I implied, seemed to be extending beyond his invisible vertical box limit into my lane. He was not inclined to slide the offending purse off his front hip.

After a while I was reminded by another archer that some folks are whiners. The sad and sometimes touched archer, his stress exhausted, stopped whining and began to imply that I didn’t need to worry about a potential future touch. I supposed he realized that much of the fault was generated by his need to adorn large archery attire. Long before this decree of box freedom, I had stopped paying attention to him.

Without reservation none of his shots were in anyway affected by a foreign stabilizer brushing past his front facing fanny pack. On every shot, prior to loading an arrow, I leaned back to ensure there was ample distance between the two of us.

Archery is not a contract sport. In other athletics, where contact is the norm,  I’ve been injured severely enough to require hospitalizations and surgeries. Contact with another athlete has never caused me mental stress even though at times has resulted in physical discomfort.

Justifiably, archery is a mental sport. Part of an archer’s mental conditioning should include preparation under less than optimal shooting circumstances. Otherwise, how is a mentally squishier competitor going to deal with it?

A Typical Training Day

This is how it rolls:

Up at 0600. Cook or prepare breakfast. Today it was prepare (not a hot meal). The first meal of this November day was yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, maple syrup, coffee and orange juice. That eaten it is outside to run with River.

The first range time begins at 0730. This morning the practice is focused on paper targets shooting from 20 to 40 yards.

At 0930 it is time to leave for the YMCA. The workout there begins at 1000. That session begins with a swim, followed by weight lifting and running on the treadmill.

Home by 1230 and time for lunch. After lunch there’s a short nap from 1300 to 1335.

From 1335 until 1430 check emails. Let sponsors know I am still interested and will complete their paperwork soon.

Afternoon archery practice session number two begins at 1430 and runs until 1600.  The paper distance was 35 to 55 yards then shift to 3D. It ended early because it started to rain. Usually I shoot until it is too dark to see during the fall and winter months.

Finally, on the bike and ride the Computrainer – 1630 until 1730.

Dinner, news, write some for this webpage, watch a couple of episodes of some Netflix show, hit the hay, read (Moneyball by Michael Lewis), fall asleep around 2230.

And that’s a day.