Having to Make a Sports Deal

Getting involved with archery manufacturers is tough on my ego. I hate asking for support. Each year I swear it will be the last time I approach any company with my hand out. Each year I still approach companies with my hand out.

In sports, hunting sponsors seems to be part of the game. As athletes improve the sports sponsorship deals become better. To initiate the sponsorship process the athlete has to make the preliminary contact most of the time. Big companies like Nike don’t accept requests for help; they have scouts that contact top athletes. Archery manufacturers may have scouts, I wouldn’t know for certain. A fellow, at a 3D tournament, told me he’d been scouted and recruited by Mathews and was a member of their ProStaff. He was wearing, as proof, one of those flamboyant shirts that simultaneously announced Mathews while expanding his head.

Maybe that archer was as he claimed a member of the Mathews professional elite factory team. Supporting evidence, that is from an independent source (like the Mathews webpage) seemed inconclusive at best. Certainly the archer could have been a local archery shop’s premier selection whereby he adorned, for the local shop, a Mathews jersey while he pranced around local 3D competitions. (For paranoid readers in North Carolina: This archer and the recounted events here occurred outside the Tar Heel State) The strutting archer, in my humble opinion, wasn’t a top choice for product representation or placement.

Once, I tried to persuade an archery shop to help me become associated with a bow manufacturer so that I too might wear one of those colorful banner shirts. The owner promised help, all I needed to do was drive to his shop for his sagely advice and direction. He’d even assured me my efforts would be rewarded with the prized apparel. Among the advantages of being under his wing included substantial discounts on all supplies he sold.

In preparation for our in person meeting I sent, as requested, resume and results. Where after my arrival there followed serious conversation, acceptances and wringing handshakes. Before departure the complimentary proprietor tried, unsuccessfully, to sell me a new much improved bow. I did depart with a new 3D target and supplemental attachment for my old inferior bow, both conveyed at full price. Nevertheless, I’d offered my hand and remained true to my word accepting his shop for promotional placement on my website for the term of one-year.

Over that year a different archery shop approached me to see if I’d be interested in becoming one of their sponsored shooters. Sadly, and perhaps foolishly, I declined the offer based on the value of the prior handshake contract, which in hindsight seems to have been unilateral.

Today, I bumped a sponsor from my website. I liked their products and used them. They approached me to become a member of their staff. Until that contact, I’d never heard of the company. We signed a deal. Nevertheless, that company no longer has my attention. The notice is most likely mutual.

Their initial representative seemed like a smart fellow and understood marketing. As he grew within his organization a variety of product managers rolled into and out of his earlier vacated job. It reached a point where I simply did not know who was my contact and eventually the company become to me more worry that worth.

In that ex-sponsor’s spot I’ll be soon announce a new agreement and arrangement. Again, it will be a company that I sought, with reason – I use their products.

We’ve signed a deal and I’ll get a discount when I need more of their goods. I don’t currently need any of their wares; I am fully stocked via previous retail acquisition. My reasons for seeking them out: 1) They seemed like nice people, 2) I use their products, and 3) the company is based in my home state of Georgia.

For me getting sponsorship is less about money, shirts, or ego. It has to do with getting to understand the business of archery. Occasionally, I learn a bit about the organization that sponsors me. As such I expand my knowledge about the sport and athletics.

By the way, I do have one of those vibrant ProStaff archery shirts. It even has my name printed on the front at back. I rarely wear it. See I don’t get paid to wear it, and it does make me feel a little self-conscious. The self-consciousness most likely could be remedied by an injection of cash.

Eight Days in the Winnebago

Despite taking a break after the Nationals, only a few days, I was a bit worn. I exercise and practice archery for hours nearly everyday. A few times a year there are breaks in my schedule for physical and mental recovery. This past week was one of those breaks.

First stop in Virgina

This vacation coincided with my youngest grandson turning four. Brenda and I planned a trip to enjoy the graduation from a mere three years old to that pinnacle of maturity – four years old. My youngest daughter and her family, that holds title to the birthday boy, live in Pittsburgh.

The view in Charlottesville.

The drive from New Hope, NC to Pittsburgh, PA can be done in a day. However, it is literally a pain in the butt to drive straight through. The drive is a much more tolerable, if not pleasurable, when breaking the trek up and going camping along the route. We decided to make the trip last eight days and have a little adventure.

Our first stop was outside of Charlottesville, VA where we camped at super KOA. Typically, we don’t stay at KOA facilities preferring smaller campgrounds that are less commercial. This one, KOA Charlottesville was a gem and one of their highest ranked facilities.

Maryland – aside from Georgia the State where I’ve lived the longest

This time of year the campground was not packed and we had site choices with views from which to select. There was a nice wooded hiking area and key to being outside, it was quiet.   While in Charlottesville we met up with Tomas Rahal at his restaurant, Mas Tapas and ate like royalty.

View near our campsite in Little Orleans

From Virginia we made our way to Little Orleans, MD and stayed at the Little Orleans campground, another outdoor treasure this time of the year. The park has just 16 spaces for transient campers in area separate from the permanent campsites. Each night we stayed, we were the only transient campers.

Camp in Maryland

The Little Orleans campground is a ½ mile from the Potomac River and the C&O Canal Towpath. We didn’t pack our bikes or our kayaks for this trip but we’ll plan to return with those toys.

This screams kayak

Pittsburgh was, well Pittsburgh. It is a beautiful city in a hardy way. Passing though it does it little justice. We once lived there and made lifelong friendships. We found a KOA in Washington, PA. It was too close to a major highway and noisy. Aside from the non-stop road noise the camping was okay. Being 30 minutes from my daughter’s home counted for something.

Washington, PA

The time with my daughter and her family wasn’t marred by any sports and they got our full attention. The birthday party was exactly as requested – pizza and cake. Oh, and an over-abundance of presents.

On the trip home we booked the same campsites as the trip out and were just as pleased.

The first day home, I shot an easy practice in the morning and skipped the afternoon. I was forced to spend the afternoon grooming the lawn and 3D range.

Slow and Tedious Work

Practice today was hard, it seemed like work. The plan was tedious, but necessary. When it was done, it had been hard.

To start there would only be 11 targets. There’s been so much rain here that a few of the targets are blocked by water. Sure, I can stand in the water but it makes pulling a bow down a mess. Heck, this bow and bow stand don’t really cooperate and both are frequently laying on the ground despite careful efforts to balance the two.

Those eleven targets would be shot from 20 to 45 yards at five-yard increments depending on the target. Not all targets reach 45 yards. Not all got 5 shots. That meant a total of 48 shots provided all arrows landed in the 10 ring or center 11 (IBO scoring).

Yardages and targets

If an arrow landed outside the 10 ring, at whatever yardage, there was were I stopped until I shot 5 arrows in a row into the 10 ring. Hit the 10 ring 4 times and land an 8 then it was back to the beginning. I’ve not done the exercise yet where I hit all tens are better. There always an eight or five to stop on and begin working to get things right.

I was glad to have hit a 10 on this badger at 40 yards! I did hit an 8 at 30 yards and had to stay there until I shot it 5 times in a row for 10 or higher.

It is a slow progression.

Bows, Bikes and Rudy Project

Gabe was a two time Silver Medalist at the Comrades and a world record holder in cycling

Gabe Stanley, a South African, friend and coach was looking at me. We were on our bikes heading out for a 60-mile training/recovery ride. It was a Tuesday and an easy day. Gabe had pulled off the front so I could take the wind. He didn’t ease back and sit on my wheel. Instead, he rode next to me and stared. He didn’t seem happy.

Gabe was a talker. No matter how hard we rode, the two of us, or in a group of 50 riders, Gabe always had something to say and was saying it. At times during a ride it could be irritating, especially when I was sucking wind and he was jabbering as if he was sitting in a club having a beer.

On our easy recovery ride, as he peddled his bike next to me; I could sense a lecture was forming. I was hit with his heavy South African accent while he verbally hammered me. “Where are your glasses,” he fussed. Before I could respond, “You have only one set of eyes. Something could blow in the wind and hit one. Something could bounce up from the road,” and on he went with his tirade. It seemed to have lasted for miles. Gabe was seriously a talker. He was also one of the greatest athletes and coaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling a friend.

His point was taken and soon I was donning my first pair of Rudy Project glasses. It wasn’t long I was also sporting one of their cycling helmets.

In cycling, running and triathlon I’ve worn Rudy Project eyewear. Today, I can’t imagine doing any of those sports without protecting my eyes and head. Even though I’m not looking to do another triathlon or bike race in the near future I still train and I still use Rudy Project. I’m always looking for a run that doesn’t infringe on archery and will, of course, be wearing my Rudy Project glasses on the course.

My Rudy Project gear

In September 2013 I decided to take on archery as a new sport. Rudy Project glasses were the eyewear of choice for me.

Winter trail runner

Rudy Project has been around since 1985. It is an Italian company found by Rudy Barbazza in Treviso. In 2003 while bike racing in Florence, Italy, the apparent solo competitor that spoke English (other than me), noticed and complimented by Rudy Project glasses. Treviso is about 175 miles from Florence. It would have been cool to have visited the mother-ship while I was in Italy, but there was not enough time.

Some of my bikes and bows

Barbazza, with the onset of his company’s vision sought to create the world’s most technologically advanced sports eyewear. He and his team have worked with athletes from all fields, listening to what they want and what they need. Their goal has been to find the most advanced materials to develop products that elevate an athlete’s performance. They’ve summed up their research and efforts in two words: Technically Cool.

A really cool time trial / triathlon helmet

Shortly after I picked up a bow and started my project of talent transfer I contacted Rudy Project hoping to get them as a sponsor. From that first official contact I have represented their products. It was cool to wear them, even cooler to be one of their athletes.

Aside from the obvious advantages such as protection from wind, dust and insects, which may adversely affect the vital concentration of an archer, there is one major impact – light.

At my first ever NFAA Field Archery competition (NFAA Sectional Championships. June 11th – 12th, 2016) we’d be shooting from light restricted forests to bright open fields. It was so bright when we’d emerge from the woods that without my Rudy Project glasses I eyes would have been watering. Fortunately, I hadn’t left the glasses in my truck (It’s happened) and I shot well enough to have earned a 3rd place finish.

If you are an archer trying to get sponsorship, you know the difficulty. I may have had a slight advantage when I contacted Rudy Project because I’d done well on other sports as an amateur. The company did take a chance by agreeing to support a true novice in archery. There’s still a long haul ahead of me before I start earning more money shooting. But, I am happy to have Rudy Project behind me – or, to be specific protecting my eyes and head. Gabe, rest his soul, would be pleased.

A Solo Day During a 3D Competition Turned Fun Shoot

The weather wasn’t great; it was cold, windy with a chance of rain. Certainly not the worst conditions for a 3D archery tournament. But, I was seemingly among the minority that held that opinion.

It was windy

When I got to the range hosting the event, there were only a few trucks parked around the entrance. The shoot was scheduled from 1000 to 1400. It was 0945 when I signed in and paid my fee. Mine was the first name on the sign in sheet. It wasn’t encouraging.

As normal I showed up hoping to find a cluster of 2 or 3 archers and beg my way into joining their group. So, waiting I took a few shots on the warm-up range. Taking those shots wasn’t part of my plan for this day. The plan was to head out to the range and start shooting without any warm-up. Not that warming up isn’t good; it is that most of the major events on my list may not offer the time or circumstances for a warm-up. Therefore, this event, as will all others be, needed to be done without a warm-up. But, I was wasting time and getting bored so I shot a few arrows at 20, 30 and 40 yards – the three distances where there were targets on the warm-up field.

A nice 12 from about 32 yards

As another 30 minutes passed it was becoming obvious today wasn’t going to one where I’d get to shoot with other people. Three traditional guys, who’d been waiting inside a clubhouse had hopped on a golf cart and headed onto the range. There were only three. I considered running and trying to catch up with them. They’d already had a significant lead before they gunned the cart and would likely have been at target 3 before I’d catch them. They got clean away before I could react. So, I waited some more to no avail.

In the woods, on some shots the 10 ring was the choice. The limb in front of the 12 was too much.

Finally, I walked over to target one. I stood there waiting and watching the parking lot through my binoculars. Still not another archer had arrived.

Another bear, at around 38 yards and another 10.

Having paid my fee I was hugely disappointed. The event was part of a coalition and each shoot counts for their Shooter of the Year competition. Had I known in advance I’d be shooting solo I’d have entered the “Fun” shoot and possibly saved a few bucks. I’d have been the only person having any fun, but it would have been less expensive –or so I think. I believe the fee for a “Fun” shoot is only $5.00. It’s not so much a matter of the extra cash laid out, but there’s no sense in wasting it. And since points or competition weren’t on the line it was disappointing. (There must be at least 3 people per group for proper scoring protocol)

Top of the 12 on this one

Without another archer in sight I begin my solo trek. There was not a person in front of me or behind me. The tradition guys were off the range – I’d heard their cart rolling off the course as I entered. Maybe they weren’t shooting and just riding around.

At target 5 Charles, a new fellow whose moving here from Maine, looking for Joe, his friend, walked up and inquired whether I’d seen Joe. I told him no. He asked, “Are you just practicing?” I explained that now, “I was.” Despite the cold and wind, Charles, from Maine, was dressed lightly. He was easy to recognize as someone not from the South.

Yep, they like their real estate

The course was not a disappointment. In an unusual set-up they had 5 bear targets. I like bear targets. The first four targets, a pig, two deer and a bear, were out in the open and the wind made them difficult. I shot those, rather simple shots, ( 22, 26, 34 and 38 yards) all 8s. I blamed those 8s on the wind and being a little pissed having driven so far (Nearly two hours), paid, and realizing I’d get no points to add to my total for Shooter of the Year. I miss a lot of the coalitions events traveling to other competitions. I’ve already missed several and needed this one. Having no points to contribute will pretty much take me out of the running. Which may be good, I can head over to the central part of the State without concern of missing any points here on the coast. In the central part of NC there are plenty of hills. Here on the coast, it is flat. I need to practice on hills.

This was a center 12, for me shooting today in the Hunter Class, only 21 yards
At 21 yards, about the same as shooting 18-meters, only using pins and a short stablizer

Once in the woods, and perhaps feeling a bit less frustrated, I improved – no more 8s, but only three 12s. I ended up 2 down for the day.

As I walked back from the last target, over a mile to the clubhouse, there weren’t any other shooters on the range until target number 4. There at the beginning of the targets, the field containing targets 1 – 4, were two groups, one with four archers the other with three.

Like I said, they like their real estate – actually that’s not a far as it looks – 37 yards scored a center 10.

In the clubhouse I explained to the judges that had taken my money that, “I suppose the weather keep people away today,” and “Since I shot alone I can’t turn my score card in, it was just for fun.” I wondered if they’d get the message and return some of my money. They didn’t get the message or a fun shoot costs the same as shooting for points. Even if they’d had offered an exchange, I’d have not accepted. By now I was feeling pretty sorry for them. A lot of effort had gone into setting up a nice course. Perhaps a crowd showed up later in the day, some time before 1400.

The hike out, like the hike in, empty

 

3D Practice IBO Style

“Yes, you are suppose to stand there”

When I set my goals for 2017 I needed to make them achievable. For example, hitting a perfect 60X 600, on a 3-spot is statistically unlikely this year. However, hitting a 60X 300 on a 5-spot is expected. Aside from practice scoring goals (tournaments are not the same as shooting in the yard no matter what you’re told) I have a number of high place finishes on my list.

Two of those have been achieved, winning the NC State Indoor Championship and the 48th USA Archery Indoor Championship in Snellville. Those were my early season goals. As the months move forward 3D season gets into swing.

When preparing my goals for 2017 I considered the USA Archery Outdoor Nationals and took a look at the National Field Archery Association events. Those were compared with the ASA and IBO events. Both the ASA and IBO had more opportunities to compete within a more reasonable travel expense base. So, I made specific choices on travel costs as well as competitive training events.

Getting random numbers for yardage

By, competitive training events I mean tournaments within a similar venue frequently available to shoot. Plainly, I can get more 3D competition to practice than I can anything else.

Assigning the numbers, in sequence, to a target

See, not every event is one where the total focus is on winning. Sure it’s nice to win and I want to win every contest. But, if a local 3D tournament is near and I am working on distance, I might sign up in a 50-yard max class. Last year, that was not atypical since my max distances were 45 to 50 yards depending on whether I shot ASA or IBO. This year, I’ve also switched back to pins and a short stabilizer meaning my max distance is either 35 or 40 yards, IBO or ASA, respectively. So, I’ll likely shoot some courses in the Open class to get work at distance. Chances are the folks with a scope might out score me. But it is excellent practice for the three major 3D events on my list: ASA Pro/Am Augusta, Virginia State IBO Championship, and the IBO World Championship.

This one turned out decent on yardage at 34

This year, because I’ve moved from a sight/scope to pins (last used in competition in 2015) it’s taking a bit of work to familiarize myself with the set-up. Aside from working yardage, I do intermittent verification on my progress. Beyond how I might score at a local 3D shoot, I do somewhat controlled tests of my shooting accuracy on my 3D range. I’ve mentioned this in the past and I’m a believer in measuring and managing my training. (I record all sorts of data)

Had to settle for an 8 at this 35 yard dark spot.
This one turned out good at 23 yards. You can’t see the rings on this bobcat until you are right up on it

Today was an example of one of the methods I written about where I use a Random Number generator to assign targets in series to yardages generated. In this case, I wanted to make a comparison of where I would be at an IBO two-day shoot, such as the IBO World Championship, in the Masters Hunter Class. I set the random number generation to provide 20 numbers (to be yardage) between 18 and 35 yards. I chose 18 as the low value because there might be a close target on a 3D course meant to throw archers off. The max range for the MHC class is 35 yards, which is where I set the upper limit.

An 11 at 26 yards

I selected 20 values because that’s what I think the IBO uses for a 2-day event, 20 targets each day. Then, I went and shot the targets recording the scores. When approaching a target, I have the yardage recorded for where to stand and make the yardage estimate based on what I think is, for example 34 yards. After shooting I check the yardage with a rangefinder.

That shot will feed you

I ended the practice with an even 200. Lower than I would have liked but it is still early in the season. I shot nine 11s, eight 10s, two 8s and a 5. The two eights were really tough – small targets at longer yards. The five was a brain fart. It was an easy 34-yard shot where I mentally drifted. The result was an average of 10 points per target. While that is pretty good, it is not good enough to make it into the MHC class finals. Those other guys are excellent archers who average more than 10 points per target. The IBO World Champion MHC in 2016 hit 11s nearly 50% of the time (His average was 10.24 points per target). So, did I today, but I also hit a couple of 8s and a 5 dropped my average points per arrow to 10. That won’t cut it.

Throughout the practice River played in the water

Feel the Burn

In a sport like triathlon, frustration and anger can be resolved during a hard workout. Going for a long run, swim or bike ride is a great way to clear your head. Archery doesn’t work quite the same. But, there may be a slight overlap.

Last week, at a 3D shoot, I fell way below my average. It was frustrating. When that happens, especially during a tournament, you can’t go harder. In a triathlon, when I had poor swim, which was most of the time, I could get over it on the bike. Shoot a 5 and there is no bike ride to burn off steam. All you can do is let is slide and shoot better on the next target.

I practiced with my Elite 35 set-up for 3D Hunter Class.

This week, during practice, after that less than stellar event, I practiced more and harder shots. Everyday, I’ve been getting in between 100 and 120 shots on paper in the morning. In the afternoon it’s been another 80 – 100 on 3D targets.

Being outside helps a lot to clear your head

Today, between archery practices, I hit the pool. Man, my arms were burning. Afterwards, it was a planned 3D practice. By arrow 100, I was feeling the burn. The nice thing was, I was feeling a little less frustrated.

Making shots a challenge helps make long practice entertaining

OH – Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Revising and Focus

Moving away from 18-meter is not an activity to be dropped while I get 3D squared away. There remains a major 18-meter competition in Florida this November. To do well I need to bring my average point per arrow up about 0.5 points. 3D, however, has not been stellar thus far in 2017.

3D, especially after shooting a 170 in Beaufort County last week, is a whole different challenge from 18-meters. For 2017, I remain shooting at unknown distance, which means a lot of practice judging yardage. I have noticed many archers that shot unknown distances in 2016 have switched over to known for 2017.

I made some changes but moving over to known distance was not one of them. My changes for 2017 are going back to fixed pins and a short stabilizer – a hunter class rig. Why? I enjoy it more that dealing with long stabilizers, a heavy bow in the woods, and adjusting my sight. For 18-meter, outdoor (50-meter) or field archery I’d use the more elaborate set up.

The thing is that not having shot with a hunter class rig since 2015 and my practice focus on 18-meter; I am not shooting where I’d like to be pin rig. That was too apparent at last week’s abysmal contest.

In order to improve I will be doing what I can to increase the difficulty of my practice. That means moving my targets around, which is a pain in the butt. Over the years I’ve gotten very comfortable with many of the targets and where they sit.

Another change is not new and one I’ve used often. For now, I will be, once again, moving at 5-year increments from 20 to 50 yards and shooting each target over and over. In that exercise, I’ll stay at whatever yardage I’m shooting at the time until all arrows are in the 10 or higher ring. If one arrow missed, the process starts over at the current yardage point. Typically, I use 5 arrows.

I sat here at 45 yards for quite a while until I could move on to 50 yards. In this case, only 4 arrows. I’d broke a nock at 40 yards.

I’d not stopped practicing moving form 20 to 50 yards.  But, I wasn’t as diligent with the arrow placement. So, I am making it harder by not being satisfied until I am not missing the 10 or better ring.

At 35 yards, this group was tight. The mountain lion has not been one of my favorite targets. This old fellow I picked up at Schraders Outdoors in Maryland three years ago when they replaced their animals.

It’s slow work. And in the meantime, I still have to get in at least 100 18-meter practice arrows per day – except on rest days. It means a lot of time on ranges.

Owned by BOCO

On Saturday, at the Beaufort County Archery Club’s (BOCO) 3D tournament I shoot poorly. A full point to shoot lower than my 2017 average (Four total 3D events). Last week I shoot an average of 10.05 points per target. This week at BOCO I averaged 8.5 points per target.

All sports it takes a few years, some say eight to ten, to become an elite. At the elite level, evaluating the senior pro scores at the ASA Augusta Pro/AM (won by Roger Willett) there wasn’t a single archer that scored less than 10 points per arrow in the top twenty.

The archers in that group shot from a maximum distance of 50 yards. I have competed at that distance. The data, on my scores, range from a maximum of 40 to 50 yards depending on the class. I think the mean yardage overall may not be statistically significant (all arrows, all distances for my events) for the subsets of targets and max distance. The value of the longer shots, though, in my opinion carries a heavier degree of complexity. But, I am limited on the data I can measure outside of my recorded numbers. So, I used what I have to help analyze BOCO. From that analysis perhaps a revised training plan can emerge.

When I measured my average with other masters at the simular ASA events, therefore the same or greater yardage for all scores, I am in the scoring ballpark at over 10 points per target with the top shooters (for 2017). The winner in the class where I’ll be shooting ASA in Augusta 2017 won in 2016 with an average of 10.4 points per arrow. in thirty percent of my events I score an average of 10.5 (top third) for the same maximum distance. Overall, my average is 9.5 points per arrow, which lands me around 9th place in Augusta using 2016 numbers. Not where I want to be, there’s still time to get the 18-meter distance flushed and reset my internal range finder. Then, there’s BOCO.

Last year my maximum distance was 50 yards for ASA style events. Considering that distance for 2016 BOCO and the one BOCO 40 yard maximum for 2017, my average score per arrow is 8.1. Yesterday, I averaged 8.5 (170 / 20 arrows). The week before at a 3D event in Elizabeth City, I averaged 10.05 points per arrow.

It hadn’t occurred to me that BOCO was a particular problem until this most recent shoot. I knew it was a tough range, but it’s seems tougher on me than many other archers. It’ a great range in a beautiful patch of forest. But, for the moment it has my number.