Get Outside and Play

I write a lot about ‘playing’ outside.  It is my opinion that too many people are not giving themselves time to enjoy the outdoors.  There are times when I notice others outside and to my dismay I see them typing away on cell phones. That’s crazy!

View from my morning run

I own a cell phone.  It’s primary function is to take pictures and play audiobooks.  Nearly every picture on this site was taken with my cell phone.  I listen to audiobooks when I run.  I don’t always have audiobooks on while running.  But, for those long out and back runs it’s a good way to learn something new.  Most of the audiobooks I listen to pertain to sports, history or science.

But, I am outdoors everyday regardless of the weather.  I’ll spend hours practicing archery outside even on the days where I add an indoor session to my training.

A little snow and cold is not a barrier to being outside

No one can shoot all day.  When I take breaks, I find there are plenty of other activities that keep me outside.

Need a break, take a boat ride

When I worked, I found time to get outside.  Before work I ran or rode a bike.  Travel didn’t keep from fresh air.  I found a great way to experience a new city or country was to get outside and run.  I even have a Bike Friday that I traveled with so I could ride.

You know, an hour or so playing outside is a great way to refresh yourself. I’m fortunate in that my work paid off and I can spend a maximum of time doing outdoor activities.  But, you can find the time – so do it for yourself.

3D, a New Sight Tape, and Some Longer Yardage Practice

This morning was a 3D test. Lately, I’ve had my Axcel Achieve set up for indoor shooting. It has been connected to my Elite Energy 35 bow. For months I’ve been working to gain a few points here and there. What I’d been doing was having a run with the Elite, now I’m switching back to my Mathews Conquest Apex 7.

The change meant re-working the site and changing the sight tape. That’s another post in itself. Back to the Mathews, well I now want to measure what happens with some deliberate practice using the Apex 7.

The Elite and Mathews have a very different fell. But, for the most part, I score roughly the same shooting either bow. So, I’ll give the Mathews some exclusive work and see how that pans out.

This dirt mound is about 3 feet higher than the ground. Standing on it gives me the highest elevated shots on the range

The first order of business, following the sight change, was to go out to the 3D range. The reason I selected 3D over paper for a start was, well I needed a bit of a break from paper. Shooting 3-spots day in and day out can become stale.

This turkey is a bit close at 42 yards from the dirt mound. The mosquito is shot from another angle.
Had to work this bird a while until these 8s improved

Last week, when practicing 3D, using fixed pins on the Apex 7  I did a lot of work from 14 to 35 yards. The reason was that I’d be competing in an indoor 3D tournament where the longest target is only around 30 yards. Today, I used a sight and was eager to test my tape setting on long shots.

This turkey, from my elevated height of 3 feet, is a 52 yards shot.

Nearly every shot today was at 50 yards are greater. The new tape did just fine. I practiced for three hours before hunger sent me off the range. There is a real benefit to having a 3D practice range only a few hundred yards from my kitchen.

River inspecting a longer shot placement on this turkey.

Shooting Back to Back Indoor 18-Meter and Indoor 3D

In the past, I’ve done multiple sporting events over a single weekend. For example, I’ve raced a 5K and 10K, then after each competed in a 3D archery tournament. The 5K was a quick short run and there was no “DOMS”, delayed onset muscle soreness. The 10K was another matter. The race was a trail run, hilly, and left me with some minor DOMS. The next day, the 3D range was not flat. I can say, having sore legs and climbing around on a hilly 3D course wasn’t hard, but definitely not my easiest day on a range. I’ve even raced in cycling time-trials, racing against the clock, then the next day going out for an archery tournament.

In archery, I have shot back-to-back days at tournaments a few times. In all of those, I was a bit behind on the first day and pulled up a bit on the second. Those events encompassed, indoor, field and 3D style events. Until recently, one combination I hadn’t done was indoor and 3D on the same day.

When that opportunity presented itself I jumped on it. The first was an indoor 18-meter 3-spot shoot, followed by an indoor 3D shoot.

Both events were fun. Here’s what I learned – bring more to eat. I ran low on gas during the second tournament. It didn’t sink me but I wasn’t a long way from ‘Bonking.”

I’ve bonked in triathlons and cycling training. It’s not a good feeling. Archery isn’t as physically demanding as those other two sports, but mentally an archer needs calories. On this double tournament day, I had miscalculated how long it would take and was low on my caloric intake. I’ll be more careful next time.

In the long run it didn’t matter all that much as I ended the day with two first places. But, I’ll be more careful on the food I bring from here moving forward.

Mental Toughness In Athletes

There are days when every athlete has to deal with events that weren’t expected. Among those athletes some will deal with the unexpected better than others. It is the ability to cope then excel with unforeseen events and thrive that can make a difference in performance.

Archery is not a sport where physical toughness is a major component. Granted, archery practice where hundreds of arrows are fired a day is tough. A significant element to such an endeavor is remaining mentally focused to ensure all shots are equally good having a proper advancement for a specific skill level.

Aside from any development outside of a planned practice the mental fatigue of archery is demanding. Adding any sort of adverse event that alters the conditions of the practice or competition could diminish the quality of the performance.

Nicholls, a British scientist, and his team of investigators took aim to discover what mental and psychological toughness among athletes means. They evaluated 1031 athletes for mental toughness, resilience, emotional intelligence, sport motivation, and self-efficacy.(1)

What they learned is that be the presence of constructs such as resilience, emotional intelligence, motivation, and/or self-efficacy enable mentally tough individuals to excel under stressful circumstances rather than just cope.

Something to consider the next time you find yourself in a tight spot in the line or at the stake is whether you’ll cope or excel. By making efforts to increase the intensity or stress during practice learning conditions you may acquire the ability to not simply cope but to excel.

Reference:

  1. Nicholls AR1, Perry JL, Jones L, Sanctuary C, Carson F, Clough PJ. The mediating role of mental toughness in sport.J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 Jul-Aug;55(7-8):824-34.

Archery – Not a Topic for Conversation at a Party

Recently, Brenda and I were at a party. We knew everyone with the exception of one person. It wasn’t a large gathering. During the course of the festivities I overheard, “…triathlete…one of the best in the world…..Ironman.” The heads of those having the conversation were pointed, bobbing and nudging in my direction. Without doubt, I was the only person at the party that had ever done a triathlon. So, I assumed they were talking about me.

Admittedly, I was never one of the best triathletes in the world – not even close.  I was just good enough to have earned a spot on the 2007 USA Team to the Long Course Duathlon World Championship and was lucky enough to have raced the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in 2008. But, one of the best multi-sport athletes – never.

Ironman 70.3 – New Orleans

Long course triathlons and duathlons are hard.  The short course races are hard.  At least for me, they all seemed hard.  My goals regarding triathlons were simple: 1) Come out of the water under my own power, 2) Don’t crash on my bike, and 3) Don’t finish last in the run.  Aside from that I trusted my training to get me through the event. Hearing the misconception I was one of the best was a laugh.

It’s best to come out of this under your own power

To be fair, I did win or place in the top three finishers at about a third of all the triathlons where I competed in my age group.  Of those finishes the races were never the long ones.

Playing catch-up after a 2.4 mile swim

Of course, the guests at the party might not have been talking about me. I assumed they were since I was the only person present to have done any triathlon. Today, at nearly 62 years old, I have little desire to do another 140.6-mile triathlon. Short triathlons and any duathlon distance aren’t a problem aside from the conflict with archery tournaments. Still, a 140.6-mile race at any age is a really hard race. And having done my share of triathlons, another of the longest distance races is off my list of things to do before I die.

As hard as a full distance Ironman or Ultra distance triathlon is those events are not the toughest races in my memory. Three others stand out: the Tokyo Marathon, the Mt. Evans Ascent, and a cycling race of 120 miles where I only had one water bottle for the entire race. I don’t recall the name of the cycling race, I do recall the suffering. I also remember an Australian, Phil Anderson, won. Anderson is also the first Australian to wear the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France.

Looking down from the finish line at the Mt. Evans Ascent.

Here’s the thing, I had never mentioned to any of the people at the party even the word triathlon. After Brenda and I left I asked her if she’d ever mentioned to anyone that I’d been a triathlete. She said, “I might have – I brag about you all the time.” She might have mentioned it, but she was teasing me when she said she brags about me all the time. So, I will further assume she’d mentioned, at some point, to someone in attendance I’d done some triathlons.

Here’s another thing, only the host, who is an elite shooter, tried to engage into a conversation about archery with me. He does this all the time in order to bring the conversation back to his shooting. Folks that shoot firearms do this to me a lot. If I’ve met anyone that has ever shot trap, skeet, a pistol or rifle in competition and they learned I shoot a bow, it is like a switch has been flicked in their brains. That shooter immediately wants to regale their experiences and offer advice. They are also quick to add how many guns they own, how much they paid for them, and share their regrets about the guns they sold. (For the record I own a pistol, a shotgun, two rifles, an air gun, and two BB guns.)

I don’t mind firearm shooters offering advice.  At times, the advice is good.  Thus far in my archery career, I think folks that shoot firearms are more open with advice than folks that shoot bows.  At least in my circles.

Beyond the host’s initial mentioning archery that led to a dissertation on shooting,  archery never came up in any ‘party’ conversation. That got me to thinking of how rarely archery comes up in conversation among my friends that aren’t archers. It could be me, since I rarely bring up the topic. Or perhaps, Brenda doesn’t brag enough about my shooting skills.

The last time I tried to have a conversation about archery was while having dinner with Brenda and a friend in Brevard, NC. I was there to compete in an USA Archery Sanctioned 18-meter indoor tournament. The tournament was in Columbus, NC and we’d camped in Brevard a short distance away. That enabled me to shoot and Brenda and I to visit our good friend, Ken.

Having dinner with Brenda and Ken I mentioned the competition, which I’d won. In return I got a polite congratulations from Ken and no leading questions that might have moved the topic forward. It was an exciting event that I’d won by 1-point. My attempt to explain the result led to two pairs of glazed over eyes. I might as well have been talking about curling to the Southern dinner guests. It wasn’t that I wanted to impress either of them with the win.  I wanted them to appreciate the close finish of the competition.

Over the Christmas holiday I spent some time with my brother, Chris, in Savannah.  He’s an avid outdoorsman. During bow season he hunts with a PSE bow. Our archery conversation went like this:  Chris, ” So, you’re shooting the pro class now?” Me, “Yes” Then the topic moved onto how he and his buddies accidentally burned down their hunting camper at their club. Certainly, more exciting.

Many of the same folks that don’t talk about archery will engage me into hours of conversation about running, cycling or triathlon.  Swimming isn’t such a major topic.  But, archery, aside from anyone that might be an archer remains seemingly off-limits for social conversation. Heck even some of the archers I shoot with or against prefer to talk about well – fishing.

Considering non-archery people, I think the reason no one seems interested is a general lack of understanding about the sport. Whereas the public can find cycling, swimming, running, and triathlon on television, archery isn’t a TV sport.  Strange when there are 18 million adults that participate in archery and only 1.3 million triathletes in the US. When considering the vast difference, 18 million to 1.3 million, it could be that generally sports like triathlon create an illusion where anyone can compete and finish a life altering challenge.

That’s true, anyone can compete in triathlon.  Every year people die trying to complete a triathlon.  I am unaware of anyone dying during an archery tournament.  It wouldn’t be a shock to learn someone has died during an archery tournament.  Some of the archers I’ve seen at tournaments look like they might die any minute.  On the other hand, enough people died during triathlons to have produced medical manuscripts of investigation on the subject.

Triathlons can be dangerous

Aside from that the top non- archery athletes are often amazingly fit.   People fantasize about being fit.  Fans see an elite triathlete (swimmer, runner or cyclist) and want to be that fit or look like the elite athlete being admired.  In archery being fit helps but from observation it is not a requirement.  The image of the soft, dumpy elite athlete isn’t sexy. Archery doesn’t have a super fit hero admire. Unless you consider Jennifer Lawrence of the Hunger Games, who is not dumpy, not an elite athlete, not really an archer, but is admired.  Lawrence plays a fictional character, Natniss Everdeen, who shoots a bow in a movie, and is a hero to many young girls.  Also, their catalyst into archery.

Beyond all of this, none of the sports listed here are really close to being the most popular.  The top three sports, by popularity in the US are:  football, baseball, then basketball. Football lineman could be considered dumpy.  Probably an opinion best kept silent should an aggressive pro lineman be within earshot at a party.

I don’t expect archery to become a topic of conversation like football, baseball, or basketball.  Despite it’s current lower ranking of conversational appeal, it is clear archery is gaining popularity (only not in my social circles.)  Thanks, Katniss.

For me, I anticipate archery remaining a rarely selected conversation topic of choice at parties. Actually, the most frequent conversation that comes my way are those wherein the primary audience (me) hears a recitation of the speakers medical ailments. Unless, of course, the speaker has ever shot trap.

Cold Feet While Shooting 3D

This morning, after working out at the YMCA in Elizabeth City, I drove over to PGF Archery and Outdoors to practice inside.  The weather has been rough here in New Hope for the past several days.  Being able to take a break from cold, snow and ice seemed like a good idea.

Stil a tad on the cold side here

Things inside didn’t do so well.  All I could shoot were nines with a rare 10 and one seven.  While not a real excuse, after I lift weights and go directly into archery my shots are off.  This morning, my shots were definitely off. No sweat, I’d get back to shooting after lunch.

Despite a Southern wet cold – it is hard to stay indoors

I did that – I got back to shooting after lunch.  Pretty much the same deal; shooting a 3-spot. Arrows were landing all over the place.  So, I decided to take a break from shooting at 3-spots and head over to the 3D range.

You’ll get wet feet shooting outside in these conditions

Now, the afternoon practice was pretty much the oppose of the morning session when it came to comfort.  That is, it was cold, icy and wet.  I’d worn rubber boots to keep my feet dry.  The boots succeed in keeping my feet dry, but after an hour or so, I couldn’t feel my toes.

Gloves helped prevent cold hands – this Apex 7 was cold

Taking a short break, I when inside to thaw my feet and try another pair of boots.  These were less waterproof but insulted. They did the trick.

This little target has room for 1 arrow in the center ring. Shooting it first in a group is the place to be.
I was able to just fit two arrows into the center ring of this little bobcat

Wearing the improved heat holding cold blocking boots, I spent another hour out on the 3D range.  It was cold and I shot wearing thin gloves.  The bow selected for 3D was not my Elite with the scope, rather a Mathews Apex 7 with pins.

Plenty of room for arrows in this bear

I have not spent much time with pins in a few months.  Not since my last deer hunt. You know, shooting fixed pins is a whole lot of fun – even in the cold.

I bought this old bird used – it’s going to need another repair soon

Frozen Feet

It is still real cold here for coastal North Carolina. The high today was 27 degree F. Aside from cold it is wet and there’s plenty of ice with a little snow on the ground. It was a little rough outside on my feet.

On a bright side – the wind wasn’t blowing

With these conditions I wore rubber boots during archery practice. I shot until I could no longer feel my toes. Then, I headed inside to thaw them out.

Kept my bow near the heat. It was so cold I thought my hand might stick to it.

Once I can wiggle my toes, I’ll go out for some more practice.

Even had to heat up my release

A Little Winter Fun

Years ago I spent a lot of winters working outside the US in some cold places. In the US I lived in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, it’s cold during winters there. Outside the US winters in France and Sweden were seriously cold. Here in New Hope, North Carolina it is cold today. Not Swedish cold, but cold enough.

In addition to the cold we have a little ice and snow. By Cleveland or Pittsburgh standards, what we have here in New Hope is a light un-newsworthy event. But, here in the South it is newsworthy. In fact, I expect much of the South impacted by this cold snap to make the news for the next few days. After a few days, the temperature for us will be back in the upper 50’s and low 60’s.

Winter and snow in France is bad. Winter in Sweden is a totally difference form of life. On the coast of North Carolina it is simply a bit of cold weather fun where a nice hike around the 3D range beats sitting indoors.

Third Annual Trip to Wildcat.

Three years ago, while in Savannah, GA, I discovered Wildcat Archery in nearby Pooler, GA. Naturally I visited the shop where they informed me there would be an indoor league competition during my stay in Savannah. An archery novice I had never shot in a competitive situation. It seemed like it would be fun so I joined the event.

Wildcat Archery in Pooler, GA

In that – for me inaugural – tournament the targets were paper screened with animals. I recall being nervous, I didn’t even know how to score. After the shooting was completed I was quietly happy to have not missed an entire paper animal.

A year later, another trip to Savannah, and again on the path to Pooler to practice at the Wildcat indoor range. Their range is small and can handle a line of about 6 archers. But, it’s well illuminated and their backstops are nice. It’s an ideal range for practice.

December 2016 now in my third year of shooting ( actually three years, three months, and 4 days) I found myself back in Savannah. I also learned Wildcat Archery’s 5-spot league was having their final night of competition during my hometown visit. Pooler was again on my itinerary.

I like 5-spots because shooting a 300 seems somewhat possible. Hitting a 60X 300 is a  challenge, but a whole bunch easier than getting a 60X 600 against a 3-spot using the smallest ring as the ten (the USA Archery scoring method.) That 60X/600 remains elusive to me for now.

My practice of late has been exclusively shooting a 3-spot. This in preparation for the USA Archery Indoor Nationals. I expected to shoot well at the Wildcat Archery’s event.

The Wildcat’s final league shoot was scheduled to start at 7 PM. I’d planned to leave from Windsor Forest in Savannah a little before 6 PM. The 18-mile drive should take around 30 minutes according to Mapquest and my Garmin GPS.

Inside Wildcat Archery

Since moving from Savannah in the 80’s a lot has changed. I’m rarely there and retain my Old Savannah traffic memory.  I’ve been stuck in a lot of nasty traffic in cities like: London, Boston, Atlanta, Paris, Singapore and New York. Those cities stand out as miserable places to drive. Of smaller cities Norfolk, Virgina takes the bad traffic prize.

I’d allowed an hour and 10 minutes for the Wildcat drive.  It seemed ample time to make an 18-mile journey leaving plenty room to pay the $10.00 registration fee and take some warm up shots.

The plan to arrive early was a flop.  Traffic was shockingly bad – not how I’d remembered Savannah.  The trip to Pooler felt more like a drive in Norfolk.  Still, I arrived it in time to pay my ten bucks and have a few practice shots before our five shot official practice prior to scoring.

When it was all over I didn’t shoot a 300.  I was seriously disappointed.  I’d let an off centered target get the best of me as we began.  After a few frustrating shots, I figured, ‘oh well, I’m a bit off line’ and ended up with a 296.  I’ll wait to see what it is that will draw me back to Wildcat Archery in Pooler in 2017.